Kanaskat-Palmer State Park

Back in March a group of local WTF riders (women-trans-femme) planned a trip to Kanaskat Palmer State Park. It looked fun but I couldn’t make it at the time. So without any route planning Jen and I decided to go!

Jen booked us a yurt #GLAMPING for two nights. I did minimal route planning, mostly focusing on how to get to Renton (original plan was to bus), with less focus on the Renton to Kanaskat route, since I saw few turns.

The way out seemed to take FOREVER. We left around 10, headed up through the arboretum and hopped on Lake Washington Blvd, then along the lake until we saw signs for the Mt. to Sound/I-90 Trail. UPUPUPUP through a magical forestland with beautiful lush waterfalls to get to the trail. Some of the grades/turns here were dicey and we had to walk bikes due to our wide turning radi.

We headed east over the lake to Mercer Island, breaking for lunch in the shade before following the hilly trail along the highway. Why do hills always come around a curve so you can’t see the top?

At the I-90/Mt. to Sound split we took Mt. to Sound to the Lake Washington Loop. Here we found a gravel trail parallel to Lake Washington Blvd. It’s not on google yet but I had heard from a friend that it was good! And it was! Be aware of narrow bridge crossings. We just fit walking our bikes (trailer included) but no one could’ve been coming head on. But then it just ended. So we turned around and headed up a block to the road. There’s a nice shoulder here but it looks like it would be narrow with weekend pedestrian traffic.

Google routed us through downtown Renton which was less than pleasant on a HOTHOTHOT day because the massively wide roads radiate heat right back at you and there’s no shade. If I rode it again I’d follow the map below to avoid that section. The trailhead is not well marked and the beginning is actually just roadway. Cars aren’t allowed to cross 3rd from Mill, but we did it and found the trail is a sharp left after the intersection. It looks like they may make a more direct connection to 3rd in the future.

Once on the trail we found it to be lovely! It was relatively shady until we ran up against 169. There it’s quite loud and sunny. And all just slightly uphill which makes you feel crazy – like you’re going way too slow on flat ground.

Where the trail turns to gravel we made our critical mistake. We should’ve take the right fork uphill (be aware steep and very loose gravel) to the Green River Trail, but the sign was behind a pole and the path looked too steep to conquer so we continued straight. Our mistake added about 7 miles, including a less than pleasant bit of highway riding. Had we not missed the turn we could’ve gotten all the way to Fred Meyer on the Green River Trail.

Once at Fred Meyer we walked around in a daze shopping. We had been on the road about 9 hours. Food acquired and lights mounted we forged ahead the last 8 miles. Traffic moves fast but the shoulders are wide and not too debris filled on the main road. Once you turn off onto Kanaskat-Retreat you lose much of the shoulder to collapsed gullies but most drivers passed in the oncoming lane (albeit at high speeds).

Arriving to camp in the pitch darkness was confusing as signage inside the park is lacking. We rode in circles, our sense of direction shot in the inky blackness. Eventually we found our way to the campground and got to our yurt around 10:15.

After a 12 hour day we unloaded and devoured a rotisserie chicken in the darkness on the floor. The next morning the camp host fixed our power issue so we drank coffee on the porch and meandered through the woods.

The Burley trailer had issues with one wheel coming loose and we decided that it just wasn’t safe to ride back with. Jen called for back up and her husband and kids made the drive out (about an hour and a half compared to our 12 hour debacle) to pick up the trailer and extra gear. They also brought a floor pump which was great because it turns out my rear tire was running at only 30 psi! Talk about living #thesupplelife!

The next morning we packed up and headed out around 8:15. Baby H rode in a box mounted Yepp Maxi seat and we constructed an impromptu sun shade with my new Therm-a-rest Z Lite. The ride back made me truly appreciate the grade we had been riding on Thursday. No wonder I felt like we had been doing so much work! We had been doing SO MUCH WORK!

Four our return we followed the western side of the Lake Washington Loop. I was worried about the Rainier portion – but it was okay. It was the Seward Park Ave S portion that was a miserable disaster. People driving large SUVs passing with only inches to spare at high speeds on a marked bike route. The road was narrow with large parked vehicles taking up much of the driving lane. We ended up on the sidewalk and then taking a hilly semi-detour to avoid as much of it as we could.

After a daisy chain break at Seward Park we headed out on Lake Washington Blvd. It’s a signed bike route and posted signs say BIKES HAVE RIGHT OF WAY and yet the speed limit is inexplicably 30 mph. Some people passed with enough clearance but they still drove far too fast for the curvy road conditions. Instead of the arboretum we followed the signed loop route back to the U District.

I don’t think I’d do this again – at least not with baby. Maybe with a group of adults assuming that we were all kid free and brought a back up tent just in case we had to make an unplanned stealth campsite. But it was fun! And it taught me things about myself, plus things to do differently next time. Like bring a paper map because google is not for bikes. And bring good lights. And learn to fix a flat. And water. All the water. And coordinate who is bringing a light stove and coffee supplies so you don’t end up with a heavy stove and two coffee set ups.

Here’s the route I’d recommend for the most pleasant journey: http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=597418

The Hill Topper gets suited up!

I have some pretty epic plans for bike camping this summer (maybe too epic, we shall see) so I wanted to outfit the HT with racks and bags.

I was able to score some SWEET panniers at the Swift Industries “seconds” sale last weekend. They’re so pretty! The sale was a bit crazy! When we first arrived there was no line, but the wind was gusting 30-40 mph so we headed to a coffee shop in Pioneer Square. By the time we got back there was a line! I was able to grab a set of big rear bags for the back that I would’ve been happy with, but then a friend traded me for some that were a different color & gave me a front bag she didn’t want. It was kismet!

This week I dropped the bike at G&O for racks. I opted for a pretty standard rear rack (holds 50 kilos!) and basic front rack. The Straggler can be hard to add racks to, but they made it work! I like that the baby will be a bit further back to give him more space.

I’m hoping that the bags will fit down under the foot rests and then to use the front bag for easy access items.

I was looking to find a used Yepp seat in black, but opted for the newer version once I learned how easily it attaches! And it’s so light! I think it can go on any rack that can hold the weight, so it’s good for switching around bikes with Mike or visiting with friends! But of course color matching is a very important consideration, so I ordered it in the all black version. Hopefully it’ll be in next week!

I rode back to G&O with Lynne today while everyone else was at swim class. It’s a good thing I did because on the way over my gears were skipping. I had them shorten my derailleur cable to keep it from interfering with the bags.

The verdict is still out on if the left bag will interfere with the rear brake at all (fully loaded) but I’m goin to try to rig up a shim for the rack to hold the bag a bit further away if that’s the case.

On the way home we stopped off at R&E to check out their annual party and bid on some bikes! Woo!

Chilly Hilly is tomorrow! Going to fill up my bags with ALL THE SNACKS!

INTRODUCING…

I present to you: THE HILL TOPPER

I’ve been thinking about bikeventures this summer and how to take baby camping for midweek adventures while Mike is working. I knew I wanted something with more gears and something that could handle both roads and hard packed gravel. I wanted the ability to add a rack, fenders, and a basket. I wanted swept back bars and a dynamo.

So I sent a few emails and briefly flirted with the idea that I could build my own bike before summer. HA! I then hit a few shops and bike sales. I was pretty sure I wanted a Surly Straggler having ridden Madi’s before (and just look at how much that little bike can carry!). But hers is a 50 cm, 700c, which I found out was too big for me when I had to quickly step off the bike on my way up Capitol Hill. OUCH!

I hadn’t ruled out the Long Haul Trucker and had chatted with a friend on Friday about test riding hers soon. I had also lined up a test ride of the 42 cm. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t fit me because of the shortened reach, but I wanted to check for sure. I’m a tall 5’1 (HAHA) and I tend to fall in between sizes which can make it hard to find a good fit.

I saw an instagram post on Saturday morning about the Cascade Bicycles Bike Swap. We had plans to meet up with some baby friends later in the day, but decided to take a quick peek. The plan was for me to go in and look around and Mike to take the baby to oogle dogs at the nearby dog park.

It was so big! And super overwhelming! SO. MANY. BIKES. But then I saw the peek of a tire and the springy mint green. A Surly! A SURLY STRAGGLER 46 cm! There was a woman taking a close look at it and consulting with her friends. She wanted to test ride but hadn’t brought a helmet, she worried. Would it be there later? One friend encouraged her to buy it. She declined.

Phew! I had spent the last 5 minutes making awkward eye contact with the sales guy at the booth and now was my chance! He showed me how the shifters worked and I handed over my ID to take it for a test ride!

It felt so light! So responsive! Mike made his way over from the playground to check it out with me. What did I think about the drop bars? Uh, I have no idea how to use them. What would I want to change? Fenders, rack, basket, bars…

We waited in line for him to buy entry and headed inside to discuss further. It turns out that the shop (Bike So Good) was going to be closing and they were selling everything wholesale. After a little bit of haggling, we committed!

BUT HOW TO GET HER HOME?!

We were able to lash the bike to the rack of the bakfiets (with some trial & error) and I carried the front wheel on my rear rack. We really need one more strap, but someone biking by gave us a bit of bar tape that did the trick!

Mike walked the new bike and Creme up the hill to home while I continued on to our baby brew pub event at Peddler. He joined us a little later on his bike.

I’m still smiling from ear to ear after taking her out today – but more on that later! And I still need to introduce the bakfiets! SO MUCH TO WRITE, SO MANY BIKES TO RIDE!

Who Needs Padded Pants?!

It was day 3 of our first (& totally over zealous) bike camping adventure. We had worn our normal, cotton shorts (because who needs those special padded pants?) and were setting off on our longest day yet (each day was the longest day we had ever ridden before). It was a balmy 85 at 8 am and the humidity was already oppressive. The air was heavy and the sun was already high in the sky.

Our route took us along a relatively flat, paved trail but we didn’t anticipate the extreme lack of shade. Because it was a converted rail road line that was currently being used by a power company, there were virtually no trees along the trail. My shorts were soaked through in minutes. A bit after noon we stopped off at a bar for burgers and fries and I downed 2 beers to go with it. The air conditioning was like heaven.

We hurried out of the bar after checking the weather report & seeing that we could potentially beat the approaching storm. Not 30 minutes later I began to regret the beer. My ass was already sore from riding, but after using port-a-potty toilet paper for my beer induced diarrhea I couldn’t sit on my bike seat without crying in pain. Hemorrhoids are real my friends.

We made it home minutes before the storm began & vowed never to go bike camping again. Don’t worry though – we went again a few weeks later (but only for 1 night).

Why the flashback moment? Pregnancy hemorrhoids, obviously! 

I’ve taken to riding Creme because that seat is more comfortable. I can ride for upwards of 10 miles on Creme without any irritation, but I can barely make it 3 miles on Yuba without serious discomfort.

So how did I manage to ride 16 miles with minimal discomfort the other day? Witch hazel pads! I was nervous about the length of my ride so I decided to soak an overnight pad in witch hazel in an attempt to prevent irritation. It worked great! I’ll be sure to repeat this method for the remainder of my pregnancy, and to employ it for future camping trips.


If you’re still feeling soreness and irritation I’d recommend a sitz bath (you can find these at any drug store) with diluted apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes. Tuck’s also makes some nice witch hazel wipes if you don’t want to commit to wearing a pad while riding.

Happy hemorrhoid prevention!

Bike Camping at Fay Bainbridge pt. 2

Yay for part two! Here’s part one.

Okay so we’ve arrived at the campsite! It’s a small place with most of the sites backing the parking lot on one side & the water on the other side. There’s official hiker/biker camping but it’s really close to the parking lot side & it was full when we arrived.

We bumped into the host after paying ($7/person) & he suggested that we camp next to the kayaker campsite. This was further from the parking lot but still had a picnic table, adirondack chairs, and a fire pit. Our site was 200 yds from the bathrooms which was far in the middle of the night, but still doable.


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I love open fire cooking so we made black beans (remember to bring a can opener if you bring canned beans!), sweet potatoes, and onions for dinner & polished it off with a growler of icy cold beer from Fremont Brewery (in our Miir growler) and skittles from the ferry.


We sat around the fire for a while & played some music before heading to bed around 10. Tug wasn’t amused that we were camping again & both dogs reminded us that despite the purchase of the 3 person tent (upgraded from 2 person), there would be no additional personal space gains because they need to sleep right ON TOP of us. YAY!


In the morning we took the same route back to the ferry & the crossing was beautiful! The ferry was crowded & a woman at the campsite was worried that we would have to wait for a long time because of the Seahawks game but Mike reminded her that bikes board first.


We were pretty tired in the morning & I didn’t charge my battery overnight so I wanted to conserve energy & so we ended up taking quite a few breaks along the way. A guy on the ferry said we were “fast” but he also assumed that it should’ve taken us more than an hour to ride 4 miles (he passed us as we turned onto 305). We bought chocolate from some girls selling it at the terminal & chatted with their moms about cargo bikes. One of them assumed we were going to put the bikes in our waiting car at the terminal & then seemed very worried when we told her that no, we don’t have a car & yes, we are going to ride through Seattle to get home.


We opted for a longer, less direct, but more off-street & more flat route than on the way there. This is the same route I rode with Madi the other day. There are really only 2 uphill portions outside of the approach to our building.

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We were exhausted by the time we got home & Mike ended up walking the last 3 blocks with the dogs. Kunu tried to chew his way out but didn’t make too much headway although he did manage to add some new teeth holes to the carrier.

If we were going to do it again we’d leave them at home to relax with a sitter & spend the weekend by ourselves.