TravellingStrom

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Day 263– 28th August 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on August 28, 2009

Friday – Cougar, Washington

Excellent roads today and the awesome aftermath of nature at work

I did not have far to go today, but it should be fun, so after a big breakfast and a very pitiful internet connection, I headed up the road to the local library, but it was closed until 11am 😦 Just in case though, I found a shady spot and fired up the lappy and found the WiFi hotspot active and made short work of a few days blogs and of course the photo uploads.

That was great stuff, while there I was approached by an Aussie lady, she had seen my flag, she has been here for a long time, but never gotton US citizenship, because it means renouncing Aussiehood, good on her 🙂 Anyway, I took off the old flag from my bike and gave it to her, some of the stars had been a bit worn down anyway, and attached a new one, my last one. But, I have been assured by Ziggy, that a package from home had arrived at his place, so I knew I had more available soon, these had been modified by my mum, so hopefully they will be lasting a bit longer, thanks mum 🙂 I headed off and saw this funny old pontoon type thing, there was no info on it, no plate or anything, maybe it is an old steam powered dredge or something?

Then it was off eastward, I was going to go and see Mt Rainier, it is a volcano that is still warm, but not terribly active at this moment of time. The roads were nice and winding, the weather was great, everything on the bike works except for the pesky TTR2, so it was nearly perfect 🙂 There is a lot of logging around here, you can see the scars on the hills, but also the regrowth.

I got into the park around 12.30, I had stopped to buy a sanger to eat up here, now that is a bit of work. I thought I would ask for a sandwich to take away, that should be easy, nothing special, just a ham, tomato and onion, but the drama that caused!!! I mean, I wanted butter on the bun, which they do not normally do, they leave the bun dry, or put on mayonnaise, so they had to go searching for that, the rest was sort of OK, but I asked for salt and pepper, they gave me some small packets to do myself. I also did NOT want fries with that, nor a side salad nor a packet of potato chips, now that caused a real panic 🙂 In the end I got away with a hamburger bun with the right ingredients, so all is good 🙂

So, anyway, back to the park, one of the first places I stopped had some info on this mountain, this is where I learnt it was a volcano, it looked very cold up there as well, I would need all my electrics to ride up that 🙂

It was a nice spot for a view and also to have lunch, I had also met Tim down at the shop, met him again here, he is on an extended ride as well, rubber side down m8 🙂

Well, after a feed, I kept on riding, the roads were getting a bit more twisty, but then I found out the road was going around the mountain and not up it, bummer!!

Oh well, let’s grab a map and see what else we can do, I had a sort of idea, so now I just needed specifics. OK, head to a place called Randle, that would take me in the desired direction and there is a ranger station there so I can get better info. There is a lot to do on Mt Rainier, don’t get me wrong, but not on a bike, you have to get wet or walk or other weird things so it was out for me on this trip. It was only a short run to the ranger station, here I found what I needed including a map, so off I go and soon was heading to a place called Windy Ridge, a viewing place of another famous mountain in this state. The roads to it were brilliant 🙂 🙂 🙂 The first few corners really had me on my toes, this is where a helmet cam would come in handy, that way I get to use both hands on the bars 🙂

For those that do not know where I am going, it is a Volcano, or the remains of one, which blew up in 1980, called Mt St Helens. I had seen this on the news back then and it really went off like a bomb, so it would be interesting to see what it is like now, 29 years after the event, I cannot believe it is so long ago!! There was another green swamp area just up the road, I like these, I wonder how they form 😕

I encountered more technical twisties, before I came across a landslide, or the remains of one, it looked quite fresh as the bridge itself looked new and temporary as well.

I then entered the blast zone, the scenery around here is like a wasteland, but it is all coming back slowly but surely. I even met some more Aussies at this particular viewpoint, the flag works at getting attention 🙂 There were some info boards up here, so rather than me type when there is a beer handy, I will just snap and paste as usual 🙂 The boards need some TLC though, they are seriously affected by the weather, I hope you can read them. The mountain behind my bike is the cause of all this.

The road was a fun ride, but slow in a way because of all the rubber necking I was doing checking all the devastation, you can see the way the blast went by the direction all the destroyed trees were laying.

Not long after this I arrived at Windy Ridge and it is a well named place I can assure you!! This is where I ditch the bike and try the hike 🙂 Now, I am sitting down with a beer writing this the day after and I can tell you my legs hurt after doing this climb, not then, I mean right now this minute, them steps are killers!!! A few more twisties and I could have had the bike up there I reckon:)

The view was worth it though, I do not know how far down my bike is, but a long way I reckon. I took a series of photos from left to right, maybe I can stitch them into a panorama one day, although the quality sucks, it may still be possible. The actual flow of the landslide and explosion was the same way, left to right.

Now, the lake is called Spirit Lake and when the mountain collapsed and the landslide hit the lake it pushed the water up and out and into the hills, meanwhile the explosion had overtaken the landslide prior to this and blown all the trees down, so when the water finally came back down, it brought all the dead trees with it. The following picture is a lake covered in floating dead trees, a lot have already sunk, 20,000 or so, and apparently the roots are still attached to a lot of them so they stand upright under water. This would be an amazing place to do a scuba dive, no sharks for a start 🙂 The patch you see close to shore near the camera are tree trunks, up to 20ft around!!

Next I had to get out of the wind and the spitting rain which meant going down all them steps 🙂 I met another Aussie in the car park and while talking to him, I spotted an event up in the crater, yikes not again I thought !!!!

But, it turns out it is just a rock slide, it happens all the time it seems, that is good cos the road out of here is narrow and full of tourists! 🙂 Here are some more facts and figures for the eruption, some of these panels are in need of replacement very soon as they are hard to read.

Bored yet? I wasn’t but there was nothing else to read, so now, as it was 4pm I needed to go find a place to stay for the night, I had to backtrack to the main north/south road but I stopped a few times more as the scenery was awe inspiring 8)

Once at the junction I turned south and was soon very amongst the twisties, an excellent way to put a smile on the dial 🙂

Now, I came to an intersection, I can make a choice here between wild pussycat or itchybites, I am sure you can guess which way I chose. 😆

Yep, you guessed it, wildcats are my thing 🙂 The next hour was absolute fun and the only thing that stopped me going back for another play was the blinking fuel gauge, I was running out of fuel and had no choice but to get to Cougar! I took a selection of photos on the way, most of them while I was stationary as these were what were on nearly every piece of road up here, the only two signs I missed out on were the steep descent one and the ‘motorcycles be extra careful’ ones, I was too busy hanging on 🙂 🙂 In fact I am still unsure whether these are warning or challange signs 🙂

So for the last 20 minutes I was running in top gear at a slow speed to conserve fuel at around the 4500rpm mark but I got into Cougar and filled up, rats I still had 2lts of fuel left, gees I hate that, I could have ripped them last few hundred corners and still made it! Never mind, I met a couple of trail bikers here, they checked out my bike etc and invited me to come up to their camp, just up the road about 4 miles, it was free 🙂 That sounded good, so I headed off up there to the Merrill Lake campground place, but it was full according to the sign, but the camp ground lady sang this song, doo dah doo dah, whoops wrong page, I mean she told me I could not go in, so I headed back to the metropolis of Cougar and grabbed a motel room at the place there.

It was raining anyway now, so bugger tenting eh! I was soon sitting down to some beer and wings(now why does that remind me of 340) on the internet trying to organise some things for the next day.

Now, I can tell you that it is a pleasure to be back amongst cheap food again. Up in Canada and maybe Alaska(a bit uncertain here), I have bought wings, but they were expensive and small, I am sure they were sparrow wings, not off a normal sized chook anyway. These wings were big, they were cheap and they were filling, just the way they should be, I think I will start a wing and beer bar when I get back home 🙂 Anyway, after this, as I was at a camp ground/RV park/Motel I decided to walk up the road a bit to a place which looked like a bar, opposite the servo, this is not a big town, so I could not get lost eh!!

I met some nice people here and had a few beers, then a few Myers rums, and we chatted about a lot of things you should not do in bars, like religion, politics and sex, as well as some not so inflammatory subjects, we had a great time as usual and even an early night, only 11pm or so before we were hoisted out!

There are a few people missing, but the camera is being a bastard so it is hard to take pictures sometimes, never mind, it was a before midnight on a Friday night sleep for me.


Day 199 miles and 320 km
Trip – 33,416 miles and 53,778 km

Cheers
TravellingStrom

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7 Responses to “Day 263– 28th August 09”

  1. Vstrom Charlie said

    Glad your ride is getting more “comfortable” as the weather seemingly is better. I’m still enjoying the updates!

  2. Bruce in WA said

    Great to read this one as I rode some of those roads last year. In fact, it was on those corners you were so enthused about at the beginning of the entry (between Packwood and Mt Rainier Park) that I touched the hero pegs down on the 1150RT — two up with full luggage. Got my full attention, I can tell you!

    The engine in your photos is, I believe, a steam “donkey”. This was in effect a mobile stationary engine (how’s that for a contradiction in terms?) for the timber industry. Via belts and chains etc, it could run saws, winches, whatever. By virtue of the railway, it could be relocated where needed.

    I’m really enjoying this section; in fact, your name is “Mudd” when there’s not a fresh post every day! 🙂

    Cheers

    Bruce

  3. Bruce in WA said

    I wasn’t really being serious or having a go, m8 … I just love to read the posts. 😉

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