|John, Martin, Les, Conor, Nick, Kurt (not pictured), and Mike (taking the photo) at Skookum Flats - North Trailhead|
A little late regarding the post for this ride which was two weeks ago, so my memory is a little fuzzy. Here's my best attempt at recollection. Our start time was 7:30 AM at the Skookum Flats - North Trailhead which meant out of bed by 5:00 AM and ready to leave home with Leon, Martin, and Conor by 6:00 AM. Conor Collins was home for ten days after completing summer classes at UC Santa Barbara which meant that the drive to our starting point provided me a chance to catch up on the latest "Conor news" (Leon was riding with Martin).
We arrived to find that the forest service road that led to our starting point was "semi-blocked" with tape. There were forest fires in the mountains; and, apparently, we were not supposed to enter the area. Since the tape was only across one lane in the road, we assumed that it was just a warning as opposed to a prohibition (we knew that the fires were not near us). Anyway, we proceeded to our starting point.
Everyone arrived, and we managed to get started around 7:30 AM.
|Trailhead on the way to the Huckleberry Creek crossing...|
|Right after this bridge over Huckleberry Creek was where the climbing really began...|
The first few miles were a gentle, rolling climb; we did a right-hand hairpin turn over Huckleberry Creek. This is where the climbing really began.
|Nick and Martin on the first and biggest climb of the day...|
|The views on this first big climb were spectacular...|
|Les, Kurt, John, Leon, Conor, Martin, Nick, and Mike (not shown - taking photo)...|
|That's where our road is heading on the mountain across the valley...|
|Les taking a photo of the scene below...|
|Pretty awesome view...|
This climb was tough. It was long, steep, and the road was rough which made getting into a rhythm tough. On the other hand, as long as we didn't "push the pace"; it wasn't too bad.
As we ascended, the group split. Les and I were the only members of the group who had been on these roads before. No problem - tough to get lost on these roads. Unfortunately, part of the group did take a wrong turn and got temporarily lost. Fortunately, they didn't stay lost for long.
|Les continuing up toward Haller Pass...|
|The view near Haller Pass (note Mt. Rainier on the left in the photo....|
|View near Haller Pass... Mt. Rainier on the left...|
|Part of the group at Haller Pass...|
When you get to Haller Pass, you have to take a short climb to get to a spectacular viewpoint. The group elected not to go to the viewpoint (except for Les and John) which was disappointing for me, because that viewpoint was to be one of the highlights for this ride.
|John at Haller Pass viewpoint...|
|Les at Haller Pass viewpoint...|
|John... Haller Pass viewpoint...|
|Mt. Rainier as seen from Haller Pass viewpoint...|
|Haller Pass viewpoint...|
The descent from Haller Pass was interesting. The road had some deep gravel added to it in places since last year, and there were numerous "washboard sections". Nonetheless, we made it down with only one mishap - Nick had a fall. Fortunately, he was going slowly through some deep gravel when it happened, and no significant harm was done.
|One of the views on the descent from Haller Pass...|
|Quick break to enjoy the view and to let our hands/arms recover from all of the gravel road vibrations...|
|Leon heading down from Haller Pass...|
Once we reached the bottom of our descent, we had to ride a few miles on Highway 410 to return to our vehicles. About a half mile from the finish, I had a flat rear tire. Conor rode ahead and drove my van back to pick me up.
|Kurt heading back on Hwy 410...|
|Nick heading back to the vehicles on Hwy 410...|
Eventually, everyone made it back to the vehicles. The ride was a qualified success. Some of the riders enjoyed it, and some complained of the rough roads. The roads were rough, the views were spectacular, and we hope to do similar rides next year.