Sunday, July 16, 2017

R2T: Ellensburg to Columbia River

I made it to the other side of Ellensburg.  Soon, there was a little rain, big threatening clouds and thunder off in the distance.  Big storm heading my way. I turn around and wait out the storm in a little shop a block away from the trailhead.  Winegar's - homemade ice cream and gourmet coffee, a perfect spot for me.  It was 5pm or so and with the storm not letting up, I called and made a hotel reservation.  Of course, the skies soon turned clear, and I debated about cancelling my reservation and moving on.  A little guiltily, I kept my res, and spent the night in comfort.


The trailhead is about a block from Winegar's on Alder Street and I looked around a little more closely in the morning.  Down Alder Street there's a set up for horses, RV Camping, and showers right close to the trail - part of the Kittitas Valley Event Center.  Looks like a good spot to camp, instead of forking over $'s for a hotel.  It's funny, but the day before I think I checked out the other side where the office is, but couldn't see where camping was.

On the trail again.

Why the John Wayne Pioneer Trail is named what it is:

 Just outside of Ellensburg and definitely on the dry, irrigated side of the state.

There's a closed trestle that crosses I-90 a few miles from this spot, and you have to detour.  I rode past a ways before turning back and taking the detour.  The trail is more scenic than the road, with some nice rock cutouts.

 On the south side of I-90 on the detour, the Renslow Trestle in the distance.

There's some debate amongst bikers if it's ok to skip the detour and stay on the trail.  The problem is you might have to cross private land from the trail down to a road that crosses under I-90 to the other side.  From what I could see from the other side, there's a short little trail leading down to the road.



Looking at the old railbed from the trestle.  I can't remember for sure now, but I think this was closed off and I rode down below then up a dirt trail back to the JWPT.

 My left pedal felt a little wonky riding up, but once I got going again on the flat and slightly downhill trail it felt fine.


This section is part of the Army's Yakima Training Center.  It's a live fire training exercise area which closes the trail sometimes.  It's a good idea to check ahead of time before riding.  The Friends of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail website says it's closed August 1-15 this year.
Getting my registration card.
The Army West Trailhead
This section is very sandy, and from what I hear is a real pain to bike up going in the other direction.  But it's not bad heading east, beginning the long descent to the Columbia River.




The Boylston Tunnel.  I missed the sign for a detour around it.

the detour pic, out of order.


Reminds me of parts of the Columbia Plateau Trail.


Not your usual Eastern Washington Basalt rock.



There's potable water just off the trail here at the tank in the distance.  It's just a few miles from the  Columbia and Vantage, but I stopped for a rest and to top-off my bottles.  And my favorite trail snack - Bumble Bee Snack on the Run - tuna or chicken salad and crackers.

That's the Columbia on the left in the distance

The Army East Trailhead

The Beverly Bridge at the Columbia River.  A fire in the area burned the railroad ties on this end making it impassable.  It was always closed off due to safety concerns, but before the fire there was talk of ways to cross over it.

To get across the river you ride north on Huntzinger Road to Vantage, where you can bike across on the I-90 bridge (no shoulder, dangerous, not recommended) or hitch a ride.  Another possibility I've looked into is biking south on Huntzinger Rd past Wanapum Dam, follow some dirt roads past Priest Rapids, around the bend in the river, and cross the river on Highway 24 near Desert Aire, then back north to Beverly.  It looks like a long way around.

So anyway, I'm biking on the road to Vantage.  It's a little hilly and I'm biking up and down some steeper grades. Suddenly my left pedal is wobbly.  I had forgotten about it, and hadn't checked it out any further.  I stop and take a look at it and discover it's barely hanging on to the arm.  The threads in the crank arm are almost completely stripped.  Well, shoot.  I hobble into Vantage and ponder my next move.  I get the pedal back on fairly tight, but I'm sure it's not going to last long.  I don't want to break down in some remote spot across the river.  No bike shops within a 100 miles at least.  This is my only bike I have set up with tubeless tires, and I'm heading into goathead country.

Somewhat reluctantly, I do what not-so-intrepid explorers do and called my wife for a ride home.

The plan now is to try again in September.

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