Saturday, May 30, 2015

2015_05_31 Backbone Ridge (east side), Paradise, Backbone Ridge (west side), Cayuse Pass, and Chinook Pass Ride

Author:  Mike Hassur


Les Becker came by my office last week (we work in the same clinic) and asked if I was available to ride this weekend.  I said “sure, let’s head to the mountains”.  We decided to park at The Steven’s Canyon Entrance to Mt Rainier and head up toward Paradise.  If we had any energy left when we returned to the vehicles, we thought that we might consider Cayuse Pass as well.  I called Leon Matz to see if he was interested in going - he was.  I, then, sent out an email to the Cyclopaths (and friends) to see if anyone else was interested in joining us – and go no takers??!!  I talked to Les on Friday evening, and he told me that Dwaine Trummert was coming as well.  Great – Leon, Les, Dwaine, and I would have a good time together.

Leon and I left in my van about 4:45 AM on Saturday morning.  By this time, we had received word from Mark Delrosario that he and Kurt Maute would be joining us as well.  The weather was spectacular (early AM temps in the 50’s, clear, and sunny), and we were psyched.  When we arrived at our destination, we found Scott Wagar and Kevin Vilhauer waiting for us as well – awesome!!

We unloaded our bikes and were soon on our way up the east side of Backbone Ridge.  Backbone Ridge is a nice way to start.  It’s not particularly steep, so you can sort of cruise along and visit with each other on the way to the top.  The vista from Backbone Ridge is breathtaking, and today was no exception.

We were soon zooming down the west side of Backbone Ridge, past Box Canyon, and into the lower section of Steven’s Canyon.  Mt Rainier has many spectacular areas, and it’s probably not fair to single out an area as the most scenic; but Steven’s Canyon is certainly one of my favorites.  The road cuts across the face of the canyon wall all of the way up, so you have a sheer rock face to your right and a drop off too your left as you ascend.  The views are amazing and the descent on the way back down is… EXCITING…

After climbing through the Steven’s Canyon area, we proceeded up past Louise Lake and on to Reflection Lake.  After taking the traditional photo of our group by Reflection Lake (with Mt. Rainier in the background), we headed toward the final short climb to Paradise).

We stayed at Paradise just long enough to take in some food and liquids and refill our water bottles.  From there we retraced our steps back down past Reflection Lake, Louise Lake, the descent through Steven’s Canyon, back up the west side of Backbone Ridge, and the final descent back to our cars.  We didn’t take many photos on this part of the ride (going too fast) though we did manage one atop Backbone Ridge (it is always so spectacular).

After refilling our water bottles and restocking our food supplies at the vehicles, we bid Mark and Kurt farewell (they had to get home) and headed up Cayuse Pass.  About half way up, Scott and Kevin turned around and headed for their cars and home.  That left Leon, Les, Dwaine, and me (Mike).  At the top of Cayuse Pass, Leon left us – his goal being to ride his bike all the way home.  Les, Dwaine, and I headed on up to Chinook Pass.  The weather and riding conditions couldn’t have been better, but I was pretty happy to see Chinook Pass (I was getting tired). 

From Chinook Pass, it was – literally – almost all downhill back to our cars.  It was thrilling (speeds over 40 mph some of the time); and, at the same time, it was a little stressful (the descent required full concentration and focus which was difficult after 70 miles of riding in the mountains).  We made it back to the cars in one piece and with smiles on our faces.

Pretty awesome for an “impromptu” ride!!  Can’t wait for the next one…

To see all of the photos associated with this ride, click on the following link:  2015_05_31 Backbone Ridge (east side), Paradise, Backbone Ridge (west side), Cayuse Pass, and Chinook Pass Ride

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