Okay, there are a few different ways to interrupt that statement. I was going for more of a, “have you hugged your mountain bike today” kinda vibe.
Today I spent some time behind bars on the Whitehorse Trail. A wonderful, wild trail above the north fork of the Stillaguamish River. Snohomish County Parks Department maintains the trail, or at least the last 6 miles of the trail into Darrington, WA. The overall length is about 27 miles but the western end is overgrown and a mishmash of private land crossings. At some point in the future one may see the trail completed all the way from Arlington to Darrington.
I rolled out in the morning under a heavy layer of fog and low clouds… but with my usual optimistic weather watch. By the time I reached the parking area on Swede Heaven Road the was a patch of blue fighting for a small piece of the sky.
As soon as I threw a leg over the saddle I saw a Sno. County truck pull up. The man walking up to me was Al, a Park Ranger. Al wanted to know if I had ridden the trail up from the west and if I had seen any trees down across a bridge. I advised that I had just started rolling but I would be happy to give him a trail report when I was finished. Al gladly gave me a card with his phone number on it, and I shot off on a scouting mission… Well, I shot off for a few feet anyway. Then I stopped for more photos.
The ride was a dream. Smooth trail surface, covered in fallen leaves, just a slight elevation gain, and plenty of views down to the river.
I am happy to report that there were no trees blocking the trail, it was smooth sailing all the way. I’m sure Al will be happy too because he’d told me he had just had a hip replaced and hiking up the trail to cut up a fallen tree was not something he was looking forward to. No worries Al.
I was delayed further by bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and bushtits. Oh, and a bunch of mergansers diving in the deep river pools.
I was somewhat surprised to find that the trail cut right through the middle of the Darrington Bluegrass Festival Grounds. The festival is probably the event that keeps Darrington from slipping into obscurity altogether.
I noodled around the amphitheater for a bit and then rode down by the stage. Wow, what a view the performers have from the stage. Whitehorse mountain with it’s jagged peaks and snow white glaciers jab at the sky, just behind the seating area.
I spent a moment imaging myself on stage, playing my mandolin and singing along with a bunch of “good ole boys”… then I looked up at the mountain… and immediately lost my place in the song. “Where are we, Dm… oh, no… back to G… crap”. “Sorry boys”.
Back to the Rockhopper. I kept jamming up the trail and eventually popped out in Darrington. I had a notion to hit a little cafe I knew of along the highway for some breakfast, but alas it was out of business. I had to settle for some gas station coffee and call it good.
As always the outbound leg of the ride, with all the exploring and photo stops took the majority of the time. On the way back I pretty much threw it into time trial mode and blasted straight down the trail.
So, if you can’t spend time behind bars today, at least go out to the garage and hug your bike. You’ll both feel better for the experience.