Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Columbia Plateau Trail, Amber Lake to Martin Road

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

11:00 AM
Left the homestead in Post Falls. Amber Lake is just a short drive south of Cheney, and you drive through the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. If you're into that sort of thing.

12:30 PM
Arrived at Amber Lake trailhead/boat launch, where parking was definitely not an issue. As it goes in Washington, make sure you have a dumb Discovery Pass.

Yup, people are flocking to this place

The crew ready to roll, Amber Lake behind.
Mavis is wondering why my bike cost more
than hers and doesn't have a kickstand
12:40 PM
On the trail. The section right at the trailhead was fairly loose, course, and rough, so we questioned how far Mavis would make it on her cruiser bike. It smoothed out once we got going.

Loose, course, and rough. Like I said.

1:15 PM
Didn't take long to get into the groove. We immediately started riding through some rock cuts and large fills, one of my favorite aspects of rail trails.

Into a rock cut, full steam ahead
2:00 PM
After paralleling a beautiful canyon for awhile, we decided to stop for lunch. We picked out a nice little shady spot between the trail and the canyon (keep in mind, most everything outside of the trail itself is private property. Respect!) I took the opportunity to do our own version of a baptism for Kewpie. Places like this are what we consider church, and after all... it was Easter Sunday!

Chillin' in our church pews after Kewpie's ceremony
Never ones to pass up climbing opportunities

3:00 PM
Back on the trail for the return trip. We ended up being a couple miles short of the Martin Road trailhead, but we're not really into pushing the kids until they're miserable. The distance we went worked out perfect.

The Boo enjoyed finding old
railroad artifacts along the trail
4:30 PM
Back at the trailhead. Mavis nursed Kewpie while we went down to check out the boat launch, where we found MORE rocks to climb... which I made somewhat of a scene almost falling off of. Overall, this is a great trail that actually runs all the way to the Tri-Cities. However, much of it is not really improved, and currently some of the trestles and/or bridges are blocked off. I do know that just west of the Martin Road trailhead, the trail is nothing but huge chunks of aggregate roadbed. Hiking would probably be okay, but riding it would suck. It was around 65 degrees when we rode, which was fine. I'm not sure we'd have enjoyed doing this trail with it much warmer. The Palouse scablands get hot!

Distance: 7.5 miles one-way
Elevation Gain: Negligible

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bowl and Pitcher Loop

Friday, April 29th, 2013

Bowl and Pitcher is a sweet spot, no matter what your business is there. There are hiking trails (that exclude bikes), combo trails (that don't exclude bikers, a little to hiker's dismay), climbing rocks, and just plain great scenery for if you only want to sit on a rock and play a guitar. Or eat a sandwich. Or smoke a cigarette near the trail as non-smoking families ride by. I happened to be in Spokane to visit Mavis at her work, and decided to take the kids on a little adventure while we were there. This ride (and others in this area) are described in the book Mountain Biking Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.

Left from the Riverside State Park parking lot. Make sure you have a dumb Discovery Pass.

Very cool suspension bridge. There are some stairs you
have to carry your bike up, which kinda sucked 

1:45 PM
We'd barely started, and the kids already found rocks to climb. Which was perfect. This was a fun little knob that was safe enough for someone who takes their kids climbing regularly, sketchy to people walking by who didn't know that.

Going for the biking/climbing combo deal
2:15 PM
Reached the first Centennial Trail junction, which has one of those forest service-style outhouses. From here, you could ride north or south along the paved trail. We opted to cross and follow a dirt single track through a burned area.

Representative of the lower section. We came
across four deer, which I'm sure is common

2:30 PM
While riding through the burned area, several other bikers came screaming down from trails above. You could spend a lot of time exploring just this area.

2:45 PM
Curved around and ended up running into the paved Centennial Trail again. You could just double back on the single track, but The Goo was whining a bit (as was anticipated) so we rode back on the pavement.

3:00 PM
Back at the first Centennial Trail junction, and decided to stop and enjoy some view.

Kinda makes you forget that you're just slightly
downriver from busy downtown Spokane and a
gigantic sewage treatment plant...
3:30 PM
Back at the parking lot. Keep in mind that we rode fairly slow and stopped a lot.

Distance: 1.82 miles one-way
Elevation Gain: Negligible

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lewis & Clark Commemorative and Cowiche Canyon Trails

It's been awhile (almost 3 years!) since I've posted on this thing, but Mavis has encouraged me to start posting some of our weekend "experiences". So, here goes!

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

5:00 PM
We left Idaho at the time we had previously agreed to. Weird.

7:30 PM
Stopped for dinner at Michael Jay's in Connell, WA. I asked the waitress to tell me about Connell. She thought for a moment, and replied, "Well... we have a prison. It's one of those prisons for criminals who follow the rules." If only criminals could follow the rules PRIOR to going to prison...

Mavis enjoying a signature "MJ" burger:
beef patty, ham, bacon, and fried egg! At least
she opted for the side salad, I had the same
thing with fries.
8:30 PM
Arrived at the Kennewick Quality Inn, which I had previously booked on Hotels.com. I immediately noticed while walking to the room that the floors were incredibly creaky. The room itself was fairly dated (I haven't seen a Zenith TV in years!), but clean and comfortable. Having a TV with cable is a bit of a treat for us, because we don't really watch TV at home. I ended up watching a couple reruns of American Pickers, and found myself irritated with how Frank talks to Danielle on speakerphone while they're driving... like she's an annoying idiot. Get over yourself, Frank.

Extra bed for the baby... nice!

 Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

6:00 AM
I woke up expecting, as usual, for it to be caused by Kewpie G fussing. He and Mavis were out cold, but the neighbors were loudly "renewing their vows" (turns out, the beds are creakier than the floors in this joint!) Good for them, I say.

8:00 AM
Dressed and ready to go, we headed down for breakfast. We love hotel continental breakfast rooms, partly because it's fun to watch the freak show and/or train wreck people milling around trying to figure out how to operate toasters and such. My favorite pick on this morning was an old couple watching cartoons on an iPad (with the volume cranked) laughing hysterically... like they were 6 years old.

8:30 AM
On the road to Umatilla, which is near the trail we were going to ride. Mavis asked why we didn't just stay in Umatilla, and I said that I only found one hotel there... called the Tillicum Inn. And it was full. She asked if it was named as such because it was an "hourly rate" kinda place. Oh, that Mavis.

9:00 AM
Made it to Umatilla, and realized I forgot to get gas before we left Kennewick. Which really bothered me, because I absolutely hate having someone pump my gas for me. Feels incredibly awkward, for whatever reason.

9:30 AM
Arrived at McNary Beach State Park. It was 34 degrees, which I felt would be fine for Kewpie because I had a covered bike trailer, and he could wear his coat. Unfortunately, I forgot the bike trailer cover, and Mavis forgot his coat. With bike ride cancellation looming, Mavis decided to feed the baby a bit, and I explored the parking lot. I discovered that the rock wall nearby had some great climbing potential, and even ended up free-soloing a 5.4-ish wall... all while carrying a Dutch Bros. coffee cup! (How do you like them apples, Alex Honnold!)

Google Street View image of parking lot rock wall

When I made it back to the car, Mavis had bundled Kewpie up in a pair of pajamas under his clothes, and we papoosed him up with blankets. It was supposed to start warming up, so we decided to hit it.

Kewpie G, in the mix!

10:00 AM
We were now riding on the Lewis & Clark Commemorative Trail. (Described in the book Best Rail Trails Pacific Northwest) It's an old railroad bed, so it's fairly level. My Marin mountain bike had no trouble on the gravel/sandy surface, but Mavis rides a Cannondale cruiser that bogged down in a few places. The worst spots were where the original roadbed washed away, and they had to reroute up and over. The powers that be surfaced these spots with loose basalt rock that is somewhat sketchy to traverse. There were three areas like this, but they were short.

Mavis walking her bike around one of the washout areas

Beautiful undeveloped stretch of the Columbia River Valley

10:45 AM
Arrived at Hat Rock State Park. Nice area with grass and picnic tables, and several people were fishing in a little pond. Hat Rock itself is a little underwhelming, kinda reminded me of a miniature devil's tower. It is cool that it was named after a description in the original Lewis & Clark journals.

Mavis doing her favorite thing with Hat Rock in the background.
I realized I had previously made this landmark out of mashed
potatoes during dinner one night

You know those cool pictures where people
are holding sunsets? Hat Rock is not an
awesome application of that technique.

This thing would be fun to climb on, but it's
fenced off. At least this interpretive sign was
incredibly informative.

12:00 PM
Back on the trail for our return trip. By now it had warmed up a bit, and Kewpie was sound asleep in the trailer.

Rock cut near Hat Rock was completely full of tumbleweeds!

1:00 PM
After knocking off the trail, we decided to visit nearby McNary Dam. Interesting place that you can actually peruse without much oversight (suck it, terrorists!) There's a fish viewing room that allows you to watch migrating fish run up the ladders, and an interpretive center with a viewing platform that would be fun to watch when they're actually sorting and routing fish.

Kewpie at the fish viewing windows (minus the fish),
hoping that we will not be leaving him there

McNary Dam from the visitor center

4:00 PM
Back in Kennewick. We relaxed for a few, and then walked to an Indian restaurant that Mavis had eaten at before, and was excited to take me. It was closed. For good, apparently. So we walked to Red Robin. Which was packed. So we walked to Red Lobster. Which had a 30 minute wait. So we walked to Shari's, where we had the nicest waiter ever... along with some of the crappiest food ever. Back at the room, we had a quick swim in the decent pool and cashed out.

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

10:30 AM
On the road again (headed for Yakima) after a leisurely morning. The continental breakfast group was not nearly as entertaining that morning. Although there was the chunky woman in the mini-skirt ranting about an upcoming Stevie Nicks concert...

12:00 PM
After being misguided by our GPS (which was fun, because we ended up driving through some vineyards), we arrived at the Cowiche Canyon Trailhead. (Described in the book Best Rail Trails Pacific Northwest) It kinda feels like you're in the wrong place, as some of the nearby houses look as though the occupants would not be pleased that you're there poking around. Regardless, we loaded up and headed out.

Trailhead/broken vehicle storage

Cowiche Canyon is beautiful. You have somewhat of an "old west" feeling riding through it. While it's only around 3 miles long, the narrowness of the canyon coupled with the substantial basalt cliffs really gives an impression of enormity and length. There are several river crossings over old trestles (no railings, so be careful!) and deep rock cuts. The trail itself was easily navigable (another old railbed), even for Mavis on her cruiser bike.

Always finding things I want to climb...

One of the bridges that had been replaced at a higher elevation.
In the distance you can see the Upland Trail, which leads
to some wineries up on the bluff

Lunch break at the eastern trailhead, where Kewpie enjoyed
rubbing a banana in dirt... and then eating it

On the ride back, I asked these young fellas if they
were headed in to climb some stuff. They said no,
obviously thinking they shouldn't admit it. I was
 thinking yes, looking at sweet walls such as this one

2:00 PM
Back at the car, ready to head on home. Just outside of Yakima we stopped at a large fruit/antique stand place (similar to the Thorp stand near Ellensburg, for those who know). Mavis picked up some fun jars of stuff, and a few other goodies... including some white-chocolate covered pretzels that lasted about an hour.

I'd never heard of this organization, but I thought the sign was
super cool. Before buying it, I googled Altrusa in the parking lot...
and it was legit. I have a few other things like this hanging in our
living room at home.

4:30 PM
We stopped off in the town of Sprague to get some gas. While there, I noticed some "Columbia Plateau Trail State Park" signage. We followed those for awhile, and ended up at the Martin Road trailhead. While we didn't have time to try it out this time, this trail looked out-of-the-way fun and is definitely on our "pretty soon" list.

Stopped in downtown Spokane for some victory sushi at Sushi Maru!
Kewpie decided he likes the spam and egg sushi. Sort of.

7:30 PM
Back at the homestead.