Trip Date: June 27, 2006
- Alder Lake
- Alder Dam
- MT Rainier
- Mossyrock Dam
- Nisqually & Cowlitz River Crossings
Friday June 23, 2006 the local weather reports a
persistent high pressure that will remain in place and provide for
increasing temperatures into the low 90ís through Tuesday. Enough said.
Road trip! Saturday I sat in front of my PC and fired up Garmin Map Source
and began plotting a ride. I was thinking Mountains on a hot day and started
looking at Mt. Rainier. This made me think of pie! Yes, Pie! The Copper
Creek Inn just 2.8 miles west of the Park entrance is well known for
excellent home made Blackberry Pie. The pie alone is worth the trip. That
said I had a primary destination. Since the trip would be fairly short I
looked at additional options to get in more riding. Then it dawned on me
that an old buddy of mine lived in Mossyrock. We actually grew up together
and after high school he was hired as an electrician on the Mossyrock Dam.
This soon led to him buying some land and building a house, moving away and
starting a family out in the country (far out in the country). Distance
severely limited visits over the years. I thought what a perfect opportunity
to stop in. After an email exchange I had the green light to arrive around 4
PM for dinner.
Sunday evening I give the VTX a bath and do a once
over the mechanics. After giving it a clean bill of health I retired for the
evening, logged into work and sent a notice that I would be taking a day of
Monday morning I woke to temperatures in the mid 70ís.
Indication that today would bring abnormally hot temperatures for this time
of year. I gathered my gear and camera equipment and packed my saddle bags
for the days ride. After saying good byeís to the kids, and checking my tire
pressures, I fired up my bike
and headed to the local Shell station. The ride started down 30th
and along Schuster parkway paralleling commencement bay. The cool air and
smell of the salt air was very refreshing. I5 South bound was uneventful and
boring as usual. I took 512 E. and jump off at Steele Street. Steel Street
is a good choice if you want to get out to Highway 7 but want to avoid the
traffic and lights. Once again, not a highlight of the ride. Once I got on
East bound 7, the surrounding began to change from city to country. Within
no time at all I was rounding the curve into La Grande just west of Alder.
The temperature is climbing and the town of Alder meant a ride parallel to
Alder lake with a great view of Alder Dam. All the way, enjoying the straits
and sweeping curves with small areas of tighter twisties. The road is pretty
much like this the whole way up. I pass through Elbe and take note of the
old train box cars that have been converted into a series of eateries. They
have always been there as far as I can remember but add a nice touch to the
little town. From this point I head left (East) on 706. Soon after, I
arrived in Ashford where I stopped for fuel and an ice cold bottle of water.
Shortly after which, I pass the Copper Creek Inn. The Inn is a small rustic
place that has been around as far back as I can remember. 2.8 miles later, I
stop at the park entrance, pay the $5 entry fee and start the ride up to
Paradise. I usually make several stops on the way up to take pictures and
enjoy the views. First stop was at the campground near the park entrance.
This stop provides for good pictures of the river and a chance to sit in the
shade and just watch the river roll through.
My second stop was about half way up where there is a
roaring water fall that descends rock cliffs on the left side of the road.
The water runs under the road and comes out on the right side and heads west
through a wooded area. This is a great opportunity to take some pictures and
enjoy a cool shaded area. Third and fourth stops are random stops to take
pictures of road side streams and water falls that run down the side of rock
walls and under the road. The roads are a bit more twisty, snaking through
the tall forest providing allot of shade with plenty of short sunny
stretches. As I arrive at Paradise Iím very disappointed. The entire parking
lot, with the exception of the perimeter, is surrounded buy a six foot fence
and work crews are operating heavy equipment breaking up concrete and
digging a whole. This may go on all summer. I snapped a few pictures and
decided the heavy equipment ruined the once peaceful surroundings and headed
back down the mountain. At this point I had only one thing in mind. Pie!
Once I arrived at the Copper Creek Inn, I was ready for
something to eat and some rest. It was hot inside and out. There was a
slight cool breeze blowing through a window so I took a table nearby the
window. As always, the Blackberry pie was exceptional. I finished off the
pie, a tall glass of ice water, left a tip and headed down the road to Elbe.
I took highway 7 east bound from Elbe heading toward Morton. Itís nearing 3
PM and itís really getting hot.
The road between Elbe and Mossyrock is a great high
speed road with long sweeping turns. In Morton, I took highway 12 West
bound. Between Morton and Mossyrock near the dam I noticed it was really
getting hot. It almost felt as if I was riding into a giant hair dryer. I
was riding into the sun (3:50 PM) with rock walls (no vegetation on them) to
my right. The rock walls had been heated all afternoon by the sun and were
really radiating heat as was the road. A few miles of this and I was really
feeling drained. I betting the temp on that stretch of road was slightly
over 100. Soon I approached the right turn on to 122. Within 5 minutes I was
pulling up the gravel driveway to my buddyís house. It was great to see him.
He had built the house himself and had done an exceptional job. We talked
about old and current times while grilling some burgers for dinner. That
burger sure was good after all the riding. After a few hours of great
conversation it was nearing 8:30 PM and I was ready to start the return
The return trip was back the way I came. The same
route, but a new ride in itself. Since it was approaching dusk, the
mountain was lit up with a warm amber glow from the sun. By the time I was
riding along Alder Lake the sun was a glowing pink that lightly reflected
off the water. Tree stumps scattered throughout the lake cast their dark
silhouettes making for a very nice scenic ride. From this point on it grew
dark and the ride was nothing but cool breeze and allot of bugs. Once I
arrived back home I couldnít help but notice the quantity of deceased bugs
that covered my windshield. Better the windshield then the rider!