Friday, July 25, 2008

Road Closed My Arse!

Hey-I have a deadline to meet. Do you think I am going to let a little thing like a road washout stop me from completing my latest guidebook? Hell, no! Alan Bauer and I recently spent some time in the Icicle Gorge Area finishing up scouting for our upcoming Day Hiking Central Cascades Book-due in your sweaty little hands this spring.

We finished up our Icicle work and move on to the Skykomish Area next where we'll deal with another washout and defy it as well. Heck, I didn't let all the washouts in the North Cascades and Olympics stop me from getting my other Day Hiking books out. Have mountain bike will travel.

Here's the lowdown on the Icicle Gorge Road. About a half mile of road is now river. Just incredible how this spring washout forced the river to jump its bank into the road. From high up on the Chatter Creek Trail you can see the earth moving culprit. Interesting enough, the slide originated in an old clearcut! Imagine that? The bad news now is that the road probably won't get reopened for at least three years-and that's if the Forest Service gets appropriate funding- (Go Obama or McCain-and write your rep!) and some whack-job Seattle enviro group doesn't decide to sue the Forest Service because they want to keep you locked out of your public land. I am a conservationist but also a trails advocate. I don't want any new roads-and I don't mind decommissioning many spurs-but when it comes to main access roads that have been around for decades (Dosewallips, Suiattle, White Chuck, Icicle)- Get them open!

Meanwhile on the Icicle, the Forest Service has built a .7 mile trail around the washout which is an easy hike or mountain bike back to the road. From the road closure at the Ida Creek Campground here is what you are looking at for distance to trailheads.

Chatter Creek 1.7 miles

Icicle Gorge 2.3 miles

Trout Creek 3.75 miles

Blackjack Ridge 4.75 miles

Upper Icicle 5.0 miles

Makes your trip a little more challenging now, doesn't it? But there is a silver lining to all of this. If you make the extra effort right now you'll get to enjoy an Icicle Gorge crowd free. Actually, practically deserted. Alan and I had Lake Edna to ourselves. Yesterday I shared the Upper Icicle Valley with a big black bear! Get that bike tuned and don't let a little thing like a road washout stop you from exploring your favorite places. And don't forget to ask Congress to help get these roads reopened (because not everyone can bike to trailheads) and fund our trails (like they deserve). The current trail funding deficiency is a far bigger threat to our trails than a washout!

(Photo by Alan Bauer)

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