Sunday, June 24, 2012

Crossing Washington On The JWPT - Prologue

My route across Washington on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail looks like this:

An interactive version is available here. Obviously, the route doesn't cross all of Washington; it finishes up at Puget Sound. A tacked on ferry ride and a crossing of the Olympic Peninsula out to the Pacific is awesome to think about, but wasn't in the cards for this trip. Another time, maybe.

The other thing worth noting about the route is that the JWPT trail only goes as far west as Rattlesnake Lake, on the western slope of the Cascades. From there, the route follows four other public access trails to the Sound. I'll talk about that section in detail in my Day 6 post.

I'd planned to take eight days plus a short beginning day that I called the "Prologue", to make the crossing. This was based on an expectation of a rough average of 50 miles a day and an average speed of 10 mph.  This meant 5 or 6 hours a day in the saddle, which should leave plenty of time for some R&R. The last thing I wanted this trip to be was a rush - I wanted time to really get into the experience and enjoy the surroundings. I wanted to take lots of pictures. And read a book. Oy, if I had known then what I know now.

In the spirit of getting immersed into the trip, the Prologue was all about cheating a bit, by escaping and getting onto the trail a little early. To avoid wasting any part of the first actual tour day on logistics or acclimation.  I worked until 2:00 on Prologue Friday and then bailed straight for home, where everything was packed and ready.  I loaded up and then Patty and I swung by Eric's house and loaded him and his gear and bee-lined for the Idaho border.  Our goal for the day was to get roughly 10 miles into the trip, which should place us right where we wanted to wake up on Saturday morning . . . smack in the middle of nowhere, WA.

We reached the border, loaded up and were ready to roll by about 5:30. Was I born to wear a cowboy hat or what?  (As usual, click any pic in the post to supersize.)

Under sunny skies and amidst the greenest fields ever, we basked in the euphoria of a tour just begun.

Five or six miles in, we reached Tekoa, where we joined up with Scott and re-joined up with Patty. We dined at their rad Bar and Grill, as per the master plan.

A bit about the cast of characters is in order, at this point. You already know me (left) too well. Eric (center) is a bike-circle friend who also turns 50 this year and who you may remember from the next-to-latest series of rack building classes. He's a seasoned tourer and pretty exceptional endurance athlete - he just ran a 3:17 in the Windermere Marathon, thereby qualifying him for the Boston Marathon. He loves this kind of stuff and originally planned to go halfway with me, but then later threw down for the whole enchilada. Scott (right) and I knew each other from the interwebs, but were just meeting for the first time in person. I was aware that he had a thing for rail trails and so I tossed out some trail-bait and he took it. He's a strong cyclist who nerds out on all manner of bike and camping gear, so he fit right in.

After a swell dinner complete with a coupla microbrews, I bid my lovely bride farewell and headed out on the open road with my tour mates. The massive trestle that spans Tekoa is closed and so we were forced to endure the horror of this detour.

We were in no big hurry to get anywhere, really, so once back on the trail we backtracked to the trestle, just 'cause.

Spiderman checks out the view from the deck. Neither of us particularly cared to join him.

We were treated to some damn fine scenery on the way out to our (as yet unknown) destination.

The trail was at times a bit challenging, possibly a portend to the events of the coming days, but we were too damn giddy to pay much attention.

Yes, it was in the middle of cow country and yes, it smelled as bad as it looks like it smelled.

We encountered the first of what would be many "routine" trestle detours on the eastern portion of the trail.  Most of these trestles spanned creeks or roads and the detours were a pretty minor inconvenience, although they did contribute in some way to slowing the overall pace. More on that later.

We found our spot for the night atop a nice vantage point next to a killer trestle and watched the sun go down and listened to packs of coyotes volley calls across the rolling hills. Life for the moment was very, very good.

Prologue Ride Stats
18 miles
2:02 saddle time
8.7 mph avg
28.2 mph max


Andy D. said...

Gotta say you and your hat were meant to be together.

Is that a Troll that Eric has for a rig? My inner gear nerd is curious about how your bike worked and what the other guys rode. I'm sure you'll lay it out in future installments.

Pat S said...

Yeah, Andy, stellar eye. Not sure how on earth you figured that out given the minimal detail, but yep, Eric's on a Troll. And yeah, I'll get into more detail about the bikes, but what I can tell you is that Eric spent a lot of time watching my tires roll over various portions of the trail and got pretty dang interested as the trip progressed.

Jacque Hendrix said...

I'm telling ya Man. This is getting exciting. Looking forward to more and more.

Andy D. said...

Being a fully accredited bike nerd, the color and the slope of the fork crown tipped me off. The Troll came out about the time the idea that I "needed" an adventure bike was beginning to gel. Lots of braze-ons, lots of possibilities. Then the Ogre appeared with a bigger rolling diameter. Fate was sealed when I realized I could have the braze-ons, big rolling diameter and twice the tire width with a Pugsley.

I'm not surprised that Eric became mesmerized with fat tires rolling. It's the mechanical equivalent of turning a bike up to 11.

Anonymous said...

Pat, I just want to let you know what an amazingly adventurous person you are!!

bmike said...

Keep em coming! Enjoying the reading thus far.

(Fanta, really?)

Pat S said...

Thanks Anon.

Mike, Fanta. I know. But on the road, yessss.

Unknown said...

Wow, Pat...sweet ride so far! And the pics are great! As a matter of fact, the one with the winding road nestled in the rolling palouse is totally frame-worthy!

Pat S said...

Phil, that's not even a road . . . it's a creek bed or something. I agree, on of my favorite pics from the trip.

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