MT Baker

Trip Date: 8/16/2008

Features:

  • Hyw 18
  • Snoqualmie Falls
  • Snoqualmie River
  • Falls City
  • Hyw 203
  • Carnation
  • Duvall
  • Skykomish River
  • Monroe
  • US 2
  • Hyw 9
  • Arlington
  • Stillaguamish River
  • Pilchuck Creek
  • McMurray Lake
  • Big Lake
  • Skagit River
  • Sedro Woolley
  • Hyw 20
  • Nooksack River
  • Acme
  • Vanzandt
  • Hyw 542
  • Maple Falls
  • Glacier
  • MT Baker Ski Resort
  • MT Baker
  • Mount Vernon
  • The Chuck Wagon

Hazards:

  • Deer

MT Baker Ride Video
16:9 Widescreen (400Kbps 22.3 MB)

Trip Details:

With the sun out and expected highs to be near 95 degrees I felt drawn to cooler temperatures. One destination I have yet to experience in all my years living in Washington was MT baker. I made a call to invite a ride buddy and proceeded to plan the route. In order to avoid the ultimate bore  (I-5). I included it only when necessary. As usual I had my Goldwing inspected and gear packed the night before.

Sun up soon came and it was time to hit the road. The temperature was already above 70 at 8:15 AM as I made my way along the water front on Tacoma. Ruston way is always a good road to start a days ride with. Its a short but sweet 5 mile ride along Commencement Bay. The morning sun was warm and the breeze off the salt water felt good. I made my way up hwy 705 on to I-5 heading towards hwy 18. I-5 wasn't too bad for the short duration. It's a different story heading through Seattle so I try to avoid it like the plague. 18 miles east on highway 18 I turned off on to 244th to meet the other rider (Lloyd).

Once back on the road after a bit of chat we rode on 11.6 miles to the I-90 junction. We continued on under I-90 on 3.6 miles on the Snoqualmie Parkway Rd. This goes right past Snoqualmie Falls (on the left) for those of you who wish to stop for a brief look at the falls. I highly recommend it as they are just off the road. No mile hike in to seem them.  4.3 miles further and we were passing through Fall City. We soon turned on to hwy 203. The first section of 203 Its a short but fun section of asphalt that provides ample shade and sweeping and twisting turns. hwy 203 is 24 miles in length and inter sects with US 2. While following it we passed a few cattle and dairy farms some of which looked to be abandoned. The ones that were operational were easily recognized by a far as they could be smelt quite some distance away. Ah the smell of bovine manure on a hot day! Needless to say it was quite refreshing to view those as they became smaller in my rear view mirrors. hwy 203 took us through Carnation, Duvall and on to Monroe where we took the left on to US 2. Every time I have ridden 203 I always enjoy it. I find it relaxing and just a all around fun road. We were not the only riders with the same road in mind and that was apparent as we passed countless riders enjoying the same stretch of highway. 

The ride on US 2 was brief as we used it only to get to hwy 9 which came quickly after only 10 miles. Once on hwy 9 we rode 26.7 miles through farm land, trees and Arlington. This section of hwy 9 is very straight. There are only a few turns and they are gradual at best. The remaining 16.8 miles of hwy 9 took us by McMurray Lake and Big Lake and did o so while treating us to some needed shade, twists and turns. We made a rest stop next to McMurray Lake for some photos and to let some blood into our back sides. Once on the road again we made our way to the end of hwy 9 at the UIS 20 junction. This is the small town of Sedro Woolley and a good stop for fuel. We rode through Sedro Woolley and up hwy 9 for another 23 miles. This stretch of road took us parallel to the Nooksack River through the towns of Acme and Vandandts. Both these towns are popular for tubers and that was plain as day as countless numbers of cars lined the road side as folks of both genders and the entire age range walked the road side to the rivers edge. As we passed over the River I was amazed how many people were out in the water. I should expect this on a hot day but there were allot of folks enjoying the cool waters of the South Fork of the Nooksack River. At this point the sun was high in hte sky and temps were pushing 87 degrees. I could have used a dip in the cool waters myself.

At the town of Vandandt we turned on right on to hwy 542. This highway twists and turns its way up to the MT Baker Ski Resort and the MT Baker view point. We rode the extremely fun and winding 73 miles of 542 paralleling the North Fork Nooksack River through Kendal, Maple Falls and then Glacier. We stopped in Glacier to get some shade and stretch our legs. This is a fun little stop. There are only a hand full of shops but there is a restaurant, town store and best of all a Ice-cream shop. Allot of folks were walking around eating waffle cones and the smell was driving me crazy. As much as I wanted to enjoy a cold waffle cone, I had plans to stop at the Chuck Wagon in Mount Vernon on the return trip to eat my #3 pick for best burger (Big Sue).

Proceeding on past glacier we rode 23 miles of hwy 542 that seemed to endlessly twist and turn our way to higher elevation and soon the MT Baker Ski Resort. At this point I thought this ride was perfect and then the smell of ant freeze became present. My temp gauge was reading half way between normal and hot. It has never done so which prompted me to pull over. I lost the smallest amount of fluid. I let the bike cool for a while then started it up. It seemed to be holding at normal. We then continued up. Within the 3 miles it took to reach the summit view point it had reached the same temperature. I pulled over with no loss of fluid. That is until I shut it off. It then release a small stream of coolant on to the asphalt. I was a bit pissed to say the least. The bikes 1 year old and only 14,000 miles on it. I took this moment to count to ten! This was also a great time to enjoy a gorgeous view of a small lake surrounded by trees and a view of Mt Shuksan in the Background.

After our rest we climbed on our Wings and started our way down the mountain. My biggest fear was that the bike wouldn't make it far before the temperature rose again. I don't ever let engines get to the hot point as it may cause engine damage. Lucky for me the bike ran at normal temperature all the way down the mountain. I'm not sure if the fans never kicked in or just one did. Maybe the incline on the hot day? Towards the top the turns were very tight and our speeds were very slow in the 5 MPH range. Who knows... I can tell you it's under warranty and its going to the shop for a look see.

We made our way back down hwy 542 with a rest stop at Glacier. The waffle cones were still a popular item and still smelled great. After a great lunch we headed back on hwy 9 stopping in the AM PM mini mart and fuel station in Monroe. This was a great place to stop because they had the killer "ICY" machine! It was hot and around 92 degrees. We both went for the giant "Bladder Buster". There is nothing like a Coke Classic ICY on a hot day.  Once back on the road we made our way back the way we came but made a short detour to MT Vernon. There we made our way through the back of the covered wagon that covers the pathway in the door. Once at the counter I ordered my favorite "The Big Sue". This is 4 beef patties, Bacon, lettuce, sauce, mayo and melted Swiss on a toasted 6 inch sesame seed bun. And to add to the heat of the day I had them throw on a bunch of Jalapeņo peppers. I must say they had some hot one. I really enjoy hot spicy food and the addition of the peppers really did it for me. After not eating all day the meal really hit the spot. Lloyds little cheeseburger was a bit lacking in portion size but it did it for him and that's all that matters.

We rode hwy 9 back the way we had come. This time we were treated to allot more shaded areas as the sun was lower in the west sky. Once on hwy 203 we encountered an accident. A couple riders gave us the slow down gesture as they rode by. We slowed down thinking we were approaching law enforcement radar. This was not the case. A teenage girl had some how lost control heading north on 203 near Duvall and went into the ditch. Her SUV plowed the hillside next to the ditch and through mud, water, grass and debris all over the road. She must have been driving a bit fast because she tore up about 25 yards of ditch.  I stopped and asked a young guy who was next to her car if they needed help or a phone but he replied they were ok and had a phone. We rode on a couple miles and stopped in at the Mini Mart and fuel station on the right. There we ran into a Sherriff and sent him to the accident in the event she did need help. She did look pretty shook up.

We stretched our legs and got a cold drink from the mini mart. As we were standing next to our bikes a lady pulled up within 15 yards of us and got out of her car. When she did the rather large white Pit-bull he had in the car decided the big guy with the helmet and Yellow riding jacket looked like dinner.  He charged me as she was yelling for him to stop. This was one of those moments that occur in seconds but they seem like slow motion. I didn't want to turn away because I did so at age 7 when charged by a German Sheppard and he bit me in the ass. I then went to the doctors and got a shot in my only good cheek and that was a bad day. All I could think was he's going to bite me so I raised my arm extending my padded elbow out at him pulling my fist to my chest. I mad a fist with the other hand ready to do battle. For some reason when I raised my arm he put on the brakes and did a 180 and ran back to the car. It was weird. He was growling so I knew he wasn't approaching to get his back scratched. The lady never apologized or anything just put him in the passenger seat and went in to the mini mart. It was then we noticed the drivers window was rolled completely down and that was enough for us. We climbed on our bikes and got out of there.

From here it was a short and thankfully un-eventful ride home. We had great weather and a great ride with the exception of the coolant issue and the vicious pit-bull. All in all another great ride!


 

Tacoma, Washington - United States (USA)
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