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Author Topic: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike  (Read 7349 times)
frankfrank
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5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« on: 06/06/14, 05:28 PM »




I like to shift the typical skiing objectives around a bit by making the approach from home on bicycle. I still enjoy skiing more than anything else (otherwise, I'd just go for a bike tour without the extra gear), but I balance that desire and put it in context with the rest of the route between home in Seattle and the mountains. From this perspective, suddenly, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie road and valley appears as an obvious choice for direct access to the mountains. The gate 7 miles from its end makes it less favorable for those arriving by car, but it's all the same when traveling by bike. Once in the wilderness of the upper valley, there are endless options, but Mount Hinman jumped out at me as a perfect ski destination, with a nice (and low-hazard) route from the head of the valley to its summit by a series of ramps, bowls, and open slopes.

I also like rest and leisure (especially in the mountains), so I figured four days was the right amount of time to spend at this. Day 1: biking from Seattle to the end of the forest road, days 2 and 3: hiking and skiing (summit morning of day 3), and day 4: biking back. This plan played out well and comfortably, with a reasonable 8 or 10 hours of moving time (including breaks) each day.


A few notes from along the way (or skip to photos below):

The bike route through the city and suburbs is really pleasant (which greatly influenced my choice of destination), consisting mostly of a series of off-street bike paths (and some non-obvious road/street connections) starting with the I-90 bridge over Lake Washington, and ending in North Bend. The only worrisome section was a tiny bit of Fall City Snoqualmie Road (Hwy 202) necessary before exiting to the beautifully-forested Snoqualmie Valley Trail just up-slope. (One alternative would be to take the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail and Snoqualmie Ridge Trail, though the connection between those two may be only by a steep hiking trail and extremely awkward on a loaded bike. Anybody know?)

After North Bend, there is the 25 miles of the Middle Fork forest road. Getting through the ongoing construction project on it's first section was more complex than I was expecting. It's only open weekends from Friday noon to Monday noon (lucky for that to work perfectly with my timeframe), but on those Friday afternoons (12-4pm) and Monday mornings (7am-12), the full work crew is on site, so traffic can only pass in limited groups with a pilot car. The round trip along this 10-mile section (with dump trucks constantly coming and going, limited pullouts, and nonexistent turnarounds...) takes 40 minutes to an hour, so you may have to wait that long for the pilot car to come back. In my case, with the bike, after chatting with the flagger, we determined the best thing to do would be to toss the bike in the pack of the pickup bed of the pilot car and get a lift through. The remaining 12 miles of road beyond the campground (the rocky and uphill part) would be my own to ride (or push).

At this point, I should say that, for a solo trip to the wilderness, I sure ended up meeting a lot of other people. Everyone wants to talk to you when you're carrying skis on a bike, or at least call out encouragement in passing. There was plenty of time to chat with the other folks waiting for the pilot car on the way out (on their way to Mailbox, Quartz Creek, hot springs, etc), with the lonely flagger on the far end on the way back Monday morning, and with the the pilot car drivers (between calling out every tenth-mile post and telling jokes on the CB). But most notably, my breakfast on Saturday morning at camp at the end of the road was interrupted by JakeTheBrit as he was beginning his trip. By the magic of TAY, he was able to recognize me and call me by name while I was still absorbed in my bowl of noodles, which was pleasantly startling. A fine coincidence indeed, so we traveled together up the valley ("Have you ever toured with a splitboarder before?").

We hiked for about 2.5 hours before finding enough snow to ski at about 3600ft. Even then, there were lots of sections that forced our skis off again. Things got much easier around the meadows of Pedro Camp around 4000ft. Just past that point, nearing the head of the valley, Jake took a right, while I took a left. I went up to make camp on La Bohn Gap (which is marked incorrectly on many maps, it should be between La Bohn Lakes and Chain Lakes), and climbed La Bohn Peak before dinner for a short steep run in manageable mush (kicking off the kind of snowballs that roll and fizzle out into nothing).

Sunday morning, I woke up a bit before sunrise to find that the weather continued to look great and snow surfaces had crusted up nicely (though even more solidly higher above camp). So the climb up to Hinman's summit was made in great anticipation of a run down its NE side on Foss Glacier. I reached the summit at about 8:30, and after spending some time up there, found the Foss Glacier to be in fine, softening condition -- an almost endless inclined plane of blinding white smoothness. Yes, please! I made flying turns down about 1300ft to a deep bowl holding a small blue-green pool. I skinned back up to the summit, then glided back to camp with fast traverses and a short steep shot above the gap.

The return ski was quite efficient, at least until the snow became patchy. Jake had apparently made his return hours earlier since I could see only faint tracks, made before the snow had softened much. The 3 or 4 miles of hiking after that was a sort of killer, but I had plenty of time to recover, and dinner was as good as ever. Monday's ride went nicely. I think those hills through Bellevue and Mercer Island get smaller every time I go through there.

This stuff is pretty fun. If you've been thinking of a trip like this (I know you have), you should try it.


Photos:

trestle along Snoqualmie Valley Trail:


traffic on Middle Fork road:


logistical necessity:


upper road:


Well, hello there!:


Pedro camp:


view across the valley:


Chain Lakes basin:


view from La Bohn Peak:


camp at La Bohn Gap:


morning crust:


view of summit:


ridge walk:


Hinman Glacier and Glacier Peak:


summit view -- I came from ... somewhere out there?:


Foss Glacier:


bottom of Foss Glacier:


head of valley, Williams Lake:


Snoqualmie Valley Trail again:


loaded bike:



Gear notes:

I have tried carrying skis on a bike in several different ways -- on pack on back, with trailer, strapped along top tube. Each has its advantages. A trailer seems simple and easy, but adds significant weight (13 pounds for a one-wheeler!) and makes the bike handling weird, plus all sorts of awkwardness whenever you step off the bike or try to push it. For a full day of riding with some rough roads, I'd say skis strapped along the top tube is best. With good balance of other weight (as much as possible over the front wheel, almost-empty backpack on back), it rides about like a bike should. Though for the somewhat technical riding of descending the upper road on the way back, I did transfer the skis and a lot of other weight to the backpack for better bike handling and decreased unsprung weight (limbs as suspension). If I had a ton of money to blow on this, I could get a sweet 29er-plus mountain bike with a fancy bikepacking frame bag system and shred everything, but for now, I'll just rattle my brain and my cyclocross skills with 32mm tires on the Univega. It's perfectly appropriate on the pavement and packed gravel trails, anyway.
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mikerolfs
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #1 on: 06/06/14, 07:53 PM »

Bravo!  This is so inspiring I can't stand it!  I'm sitting at work bouncing in my seat.  Your adventure is so great!  Wonderful!
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Norseman
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #2 on: 06/06/14, 08:18 PM »

Great lookin trip.
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Splitter
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #3 on: 06/06/14, 09:04 PM »

What a great adventure. I didn't know I wanted to do this before but I sure do now. Thanks for the wonderful write up.
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Pete_H
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #4 on: 06/07/14, 07:21 AM »

Looks like a great adventure. Nice job!
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Randy
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #5 on: 06/07/14, 09:50 AM »

Very Cool trip!
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Jake the Brit
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #6 on: 06/07/14, 10:34 AM »

Ha Franks, that was a great impromptu ramble we took together.
It was good to know that I had some company way out there on the other side of the basin. Ramble on brother
Jake


* Frank_Frank-100.jpg (158.31 KB, 533x800 - viewed 1382 times.)

* Frank_Frank-102.jpg (167.65 KB, 1000x666 - viewed 1367 times.)

* Frank_Frank-200.jpg (179.28 KB, 1000x666 - viewed 1361 times.)
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GregLange
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #7 on: 06/07/14, 04:37 PM »

Jake and Frank's Excellent Adventure! Well done, gents...

Boys and girls; can we say, 'MONSTERS"? In a good way, of course!
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chmnyboy
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #8 on: 06/07/14, 10:40 PM »

Oof. Univega frame with a Brooks saddle, loaded up with ski gear. That's pure style. I love this report.
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freeskier
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #9 on: 06/08/14, 09:29 AM »

Love it! Thanks for the inspiration. Hybrid trips are the coolest!
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flowing alpy
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #10 on: 06/08/14, 11:11 AM »

you have put together the two best things a bunch of these cats dig!
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z-bo
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #11 on: 06/08/14, 02:19 PM »

really cool man.  i'm super impressed.
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r1de
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #12 on: 06/08/14, 11:50 PM »

Been staring at this blank white space for minutes trying to put thoughts to words, but words like "epic" and "awesome" don't deliver.  Double victory, totally inspiring, very well done.
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--
-bp
danpeck
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #13 on: 06/11/14, 09:34 AM »

Amen brother!
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ErikT
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Re: 5/30 - 6/2 2014, Mt Hinman from Seattle by bike
« Reply #14 on: 06/11/14, 10:54 AM »

Inspiring - thanks for the stoke! Really need to get my bike outfitted for this asap!
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