Saturday, April 24, 2010

Do the Wynoochee.

Since my dad just bought his new WR, we wanted to take a good day trip to try it out.  Because my dad hadn't ridden a dirt bike in nearly 30 years, we decided it would be best to take it a bit easy on this first day and not try anything too difficult.  So with this in mind, we decided to ride some of the forest service roads in the south part of the Olympic National Forest.  We started in Shelton and before too long, we were up on the gravel forest service roads.  Our first destination was the "high steel bridge".  I had actually been there before with the Tahuya group almost a year earlier but it was just as breathtaking as the first time.  The waterfalls and bright green water are beautiful to look at.  We stopped and took in the sights.  We took a few photos and decided to get moving.  

Dad was a bit concerned about tripping and falling over the edge.

Our goal was to make it to Wynoochee Lake and back and since none of us had really ridden there before we didn't know how long it was going to take.  We did have a map and 2 Garmin gps units so we were feeling pretty confident that we weren't going to get lost... but you never know.  

After awhile we came to an intersection and had to make a decision about which way to go.  After looking at the map, we decided on a direction and headed off.  Roughly 2 miles later, we rounded a corner and encountered a fairly good sized snowbank.  My experience in the past has generally been that the spring snow on these roads are much like cement in their consistency and as such, it makes it very difficult to travel much more than a bike-length into it.  But being the optimist that I am, I decided to give it a shot.  Amazingly enough, I was able to keep my momentum going and with some help from my feet, I was able to make it the 50 yards or so through the snow.  I think the depth was just shallow enough to allow the rear tire to occasionally grab a bit of traction on the dirt below and that's what got me through it.  We discussed the options and decided that before we tried to get everyone through that I should scout ahead to see if there were any more snowbanks to deal with.  It didn't take long for me to find another much larger snowbank about a mile ahead so I turned around and headed back to tell them not to bother blasting through the snow.  As I was returning though, I could see across the ravine to where my dad and brother were standing and I thought it looked fairly scenic and stopped to take a couple photos.  As I got off the bike, I remembered that my gps has a radio as well and I thought I'd see if my brother had remembered the same thing.  Sure enough, he had ran back to his bike to grab his gps just in case I called him.  We definitely were thinking along the same lines.  We used the radios to chat for a bit and I was taking pictures of them from about a half-mile away at increasingly greater zoom.  I finally got my Canon SX20is zoomed as far as it would go and I got an amazingly clear shot of my brother and dad from a long way off.  I think for a relatively inexpensive camera that it was impressive that it could zoom in that well.

A look back toward the snowbank from across the ravine.

Zoomed in shot from about 1/2 mile away.

We all headed back away from the snow and within an hour or so we made it to Wynoochee Lake.  There was no-one around and the sun was out.  It was a great place to stop and eat lunch.  We spent about an hour there just shootin' the breeze and eating our sandwiches.  At one point, a truck drove up with a guy who worked for Tacoma Power and he gave us some good information about some of the roads that were under construction.  He reminded me of the Red Green character "Ranger Gord".

It was 4pm so we decided that if we were going to get back at a reasonable hour that we should get moving.  We planned our return route so we didn't have to back track too much.  Our only concern was whether or not we were going to have to turn back due to more snow.  Fuel was another concern... at least for dad and I.  Our bikes only have 2 gallons of gas each and peering inside revealed that we had used roughly half of it already.  As long as we didn't encounter any major detours, we felt that we should be fine.  Besides, my brother had a much larger capacity tank and if necessary we could siphon a bit from him to make it back.  

Wynoochee Lake


My brother blasting through some snow.

We we cruising along at a pretty good pace and found ourselves on a fairly steep and narrow road.  It climbed and twisted and the views were great.  I had to force myself not to keep stopping after every turn in order to take pictures.  We stopped a few times to take in the views and at one point we even found we had cell phone coverage.  We decided to check in with home and let everyone know that we were headed back.  We encountered a few smallish snowbanks but nothing that couldn't be blasted through fairly easily.  

We made it down the hill into a small town called Matlock and since both my dad's and my low fuel lights had come on earlier, we considered getting a bit of gas to make it back to the truck.  I was fairly confident that we could make it the last 15 or so miles without refueling since we'd be on pavement and getting good fuel economy.  So after a bit of discussion, we opted not to fuel up and just head toward the truck.  

About a mile before reaching where we parked the truck, I witnessed a small crash.  I was last in line behind my dad and brother and as we were getting on the onramp to Hwy 101, I noticed a guy on a Suzuki GSXR was going to be getting on the same onramp just after me.  I started accelerating up the ramp when I noticed something in my mirror.  It was a red flash with lots of sparks.  The guy on the GSXR apparently had laid the bike down in the turn for whatever reason and slid all the way across the road and into the grass.  I did a quick u-turn and headed back down to see if he was ok.  By the time I got there he was standing and seemed to be unhurt.  I could see that he wasn't wearing any gloves and the backs of his hands were bleeding but aside from that, he seemed ok.  A guy in a truck stopped as well and after a few minutes I determined that he didn't need my assistance and wished him good luck.

I made it back to the truck a few minutes after my dad and brother and they were just about to head back and look for me. I told them the story as we loaded up and before long we were on our way to grab some dinner and a brew.  The ride went great and we all had a blast.  Dad did great on his new machine and aside from the need to lower his suspension a bit, the bike worked perfect for him.  I anticipate many good rides this summer.

Miles ridden: about 115

Lonely Power company employees encountered: 1

Alcohol consumed: None... until after the ride was over.

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