Baker, Sumas, and Back
What started out as a journey to get some up close and personal volcano photos, turned into an epic ride of 400+ miles, lasting 14 hours. It was an awesome mix of riding, and far surpassed just a mountain view.
We took the bikes as much "off-road" as possible. From Snohomish, to the Mountain Loop Highway, a dirt off-shoot from Whitehorse to Concrete, up way above Baker Lake, then around the hills of Sumas.
The plan for the day was to ride from home with my friend Doug, and take the back roads leading up to a Mt. Baker viewpoint. I had the hopes of a volcano backdrop photo, and to scout for PNWDS Group Ride: Mt Baker. My other buddies, Dan and Rob, were anticipating our arrival in Concrete to ride with us. I pre-planned a route to Concrete, one which most of it I have taken previously, and took off early.
At 4:15AM, I grabbed my gear and headed out the door. I was on the bike and rolling by 4:30AM.
We use VHF to communicate when we ride together, so I setup my comms ahead of time to run through my SENA headset. Doug doesn't have a bluetooth headset, but wired up some speakers and a microphone in his helmet, and hardwired it to his radio.
Doug and I caught up in Snohomish, setup our radios to link up, and rode a direct route north to Granite Falls. The following stretch was down the Mountain Loop Highway (530), which a large section of is unpaved. We stopped at a "secret" view point for a minute, then headed directly to Darrington.
After another fuel top-off, NF-18 was just a few miles down the road. Minutes after exiting the loop at Whitehorse, we were off on the dirt and headed north.
We both like to ride fast. With it being near peak summer time, there's a lot of dust on the dirt roads being kicked up. Spacing ourselves out a long way helped keep us both moving at a quick pace, and being able to see clearly. The VHF radios were perfect for this situation, and we were able to communicate the whole day, even in times where we were pretty distant. With just a bluetooth communication link, we would be out range with each other most of the ride.
Deep into the NF-18/NF-17 route, Doug led the way down a trail I've wanted to explore for a year now. The entire road was nearly the same elevation for miles. We were at ~3300', which that day was above the cloud line. Both of us got soaked with sky mist. It was also so thickly overgrown with bushes, both of our bikes basically got a full brush wash while we ducked behind our handlebars and charged through. It took us over a few rockslides that had wiped out what used to be a road.
After miles and miles of twisty logging roads that were constantly changing in altitude, we crossed a metal bridge and hopped on the loop for a quick hop to Concrete, where we met up with our buddies Dan and Rob.
Breakfast, a little bit of gas, and we were back on the dirt. This time, Dan led the way on his new Africa Twin with Rob helping navigate. We crossed the dam at the base of Baker Lake, followed switchbacks up a mountain almost directly above.
After a few photos, we headed back down the mountain and took Baker Lake Road to top of the tanks in Sedro-Woolley.
One short stretch down the highway, and the guys took us on a tour of their local mountain. This was definitely the highlight of the trip.
Big views, fog, rocky singletrack, muddy ruts, forest tunnel roads, high speed twisty dirt sections, slick steep gravel, you name it.
I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:
On our way out of town, I paid a visit to see Dan's epic motobus.
Following, Doug and I took I-5 south to our meeting point, and split off from there. I arrived at home around midnight.
400+ miles in one day. I was a bit sore the next day!
To follow this route, download the GPX tracks at the top of the page.