Since I wasn't racing in Wenatchee this weekend, I thought I'd take this opportunity to do an overnight with Mama Cass and Johnny P. It would be good practice to see how it would really be to pull the trailer with a mostly full load.
Where to go...I decided to go to Alder Lake. When I googled the route, it took me on Weyerhauser Truck Road. Sweet! I'd get an added bonus of getting to do some gravel to further the reality of this shakedown.
I took off this morning about 8:30. That's a fairly standard leaving time when I'm touring. I rode out Yelm Hwy to 510, and on into Yelm.
Look, Mama Cass and Johnny P are standing all by themselves! Getting out of this position is kind of tricky.
In Yelm, I turned onto Bald Hill Rd. The directions said to follow Bald Hill to Piessner. I did that and came to my first dead end of the day. Well, it wasn't really a dead end, but the only 2 options had signs that said "Private". One going so far as to say, "Keep out!" The other option appeared to be what Google had in the directions. The sign for that one was like this one.
This was at the other end.
There was also a gate and a surveillance camera. Since I didn't want to go back the way I came, I opted to go under the gate (easier said than done as I had to unhook JP, scootch MC under, because it was too high to lift over, get JP under, and hook him back up). I just hoped no one was monitoring the camera on a Saturday.
Back on the bike, I continued on the road. It was fairly grown over, but got better as I went. Then I came to the other gate. I pondered whether I could go around it, but decided it probably wouldn't work. So, I again unhooked JP, and re-hooked on the other side.
This was getting tiring.
Not much later, I came to another gate. This was a Weyerhauser gate. Here there was a sign that said, if the gate was closed, non-motorized recreation was allowed. Excellent! Of course, I had to do the same unhook, go under, hook back up routine. At this point I was warming up, so I took my sleeves off, and put my sunsleeves on. It was nice and sunny.
Soon, I came out onto the real Weyerhauser Truck Rd. It's a wide gravel road.
I thought it would be smooth sailing from here, direction-wise. Oh, I was sooooo wrong!
I rode the gravel for a few miles. Then, it became a little narrower. I consulted the Garmin, and went the way that would take me out to the Mountain Hwy. I had to go up a steep hill...I mean a REALLY STEEP HILL! I got off and started pushing. It's not so easy pushing the bike with the trailer attached! And, did I mention it was REALLY STEEP? I would take about 25 steps, then rest, holding firmly on the brakes. Then another 25 (yes, I was counting), and another. I finally got to the top.
The top was still around the corner.
I was rewarded with a nice downhill. At the bottom, I came to an intersection. According to the Garmin, both roads went to the same place, one was just a bit longer. I took the shorter one. I could see it went up, and logically (or not), I figured I'd rather do the up I could see, rather than the one I couldn't. I ended up pushing again, but not too far, or as hard (I could tell it wasn't as hard because, among other things, my speedometer was actually registering whereas before, it wasn't). I got to the top only to find out it was a dead end.
End of the road.
I could see down below that there was another dead end road. I told myself, that must not be the other road. Back down I went to the intersection, and turned on the other road. Well, it was that road, so another dead end. DRAT! I went back up that one, and tried one other, but it quickly dead ended. Now what to do? I could see the highway. I could hear the cars. I just couldn't get there.
I had no choice but to go back. At least I got to go down the really steep hill (okay, not so much fun going down either, but definately not as tiring). I thought I would go back to where I had passed another intersection, and try that one. When I looked at the Garmin, it said it would take me out to the highway. Annnnd, it was another gate. Yippee! You'd think I'd be pretty good at these by now. Nope, still just as hard (In the owner's manual for JP, it says not to hook it up to the bike fully loaded--yeah, I know why). I got back on MC. It was really more of a double-track with the occasional Attack Scotchbroom lying in wait. Oh, and the sneaky nettles too.
I followed the "road" down (of course it was down). There were sections of old pavement. I thought this was quite promising. I could hear I was getting closer to the river (Nisqually, I think). As I came around a corner, I saw a jersey barrier, and even said out loud, "Yes! We made it to the road!" Except, we didn't. On the other side of the jersey barriers was the river...and the remains of what used to be a bridge.
We'll not be crossing here!
At this point, I was down to about a bottle and some of water (I attached two bottle cages to JP, and put another bottle in a Revelate Mountain Feed Bag on the handlebar--instead of wearing the hydration pack). I thought, if I could get access to the river, I could get water, and I could just call it a day, and camp here. I walked a path of sorts to a spot where I thought I could get water, but when I got back to the bike, I decided it was too early (just 2:00). I consulted the Garmin once again. I could see Bald Hill Lake. I thought maybe that would be good. So, back to the gate I went...and under again (at least, this was the only gate I went through twice).
I was back on the gravel road. I saw another lake, but couldn't see any access, so I continued on. I passed where I had come out (glad I wasn't going back THAT way), and kept riding on the wide gravel road.
Amazingly, I came to a point where I could see a neighborhood of houses. Then, I came upon a couple of gals, a guy, and a toddler. I stopped to ask them if this road came out to a paved road. They said it came out to Bald Hill Rd just a short distance further. Turned out, they had seen me earlier when I was on Bald Hill. I decided I would just ride home. I figured with my now 1 bottle of water, I could at least make it to Yelm, if not all the way home.
Of course, I had to go through ONE MORE GATE! Then, I was out and onto Bald Hill Rd...for the second time today. I was at around 46 miles. Okay, this was going to be a lot longer day than it should have been, and not even camping! But, I didn't really need to do a shakedown for the camping part. I'm quite good at that. So, I guess I would have accomplished what I needed to.
As I was pondering my aborted mission, I came to a grocery store at Clear Lake. I stopped to get a bottle of Gatorade. Off hand, I asked the clerk if this place was just a neighborhood, or if there was camping too. To my surprise, she said there is camping (it's also a neighborhood). I asked her where, but she didn't really know because she wouldn't camp here because of the bugs. I said I guessed I could just ride around and see. I stopped at a house where the people were outside and asked them about where this so-called camping was. Turns out, there really isn't camping per se. Some of the people who own lots haven't built on them. Instead they bring their RVs and camp. I asked the gal where the beach was (because the clerk had said there were restrooms and water at the beaches). I asked if she thought it would be okay if I camped there. She said she was fine with it, and to just act like I knew what I was doing. I found one beach, but it really didn't have a suitable place. Then I found another beach, but there were lots of people there. On my way to the beaches I had passed a lot where there was an RV, and the people had a campfire going. I decided, instead of trying to stealth camp in the middle of this rather densely populated neighborhood, I would go back to that RV and ask them if I could pitch my tent on their lot.
That's how I met Jack and Nancy from Federal Way. They've owned the lot for about 6 years. This is their first weekend back for the season. They have two dogs, Coco, a Chocolate Lab, and Freckles, a Cocker Spaniel. Coco is quite friendly, but Freckles is very shy (and barky). They said I could pitch my tent, no problem. There's even a picnic table to cook my dinner. I sat around the fire with them for awhile (Freckles was slowly warming up to me). Now I'm in my tent finishing this post. Tomorrow, I won't have much more than 25 or so miles to get home.
Ending up at Clear Lake instead of Alder Lake is not what I planned, but I still accomplished what I wanted, and now I know NOT to go this way in June when my first day will be going by Alder Lake!