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The Hyak tunnel is open!

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The Hyak tunnel is open!

Old 05-14-16, 11:19 AM
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The Hyak tunnel is open!

On Friday the 13th, I rode up to Snoqualmie Pass.

The Snoqualmie Valley Rail Trail borders my neighborhood so it’s all gravel rail trail from that point all the way up to the Pass when the 2+ mile Hyak Tunnel is open as it was finally now for 2016…

About 6 miles up the Snoq. Valley Trail, I catch the Iron Horse Trail at Rattlesnake lake. Form here, it is about 30 miles to Hyak on the Eastern end of the Snoqualmie Pass ski areas.

The rail trail ascends gradually and is easily ridable on a road bike. Along the way you occasionally pass by other riders, walkers, runners, rock climbers and folks on horseback but for the most part, you’re alone - quite peaceful but not quiet with sounds of Interstate 90 traffic rising up from the valley below. If you use your imagination, it fades in the background as the sound of a waterfall :-)

You know you’re getting close to the entrance of the Hyak Tunnel when you pass by this snowshed. Looking back, you see Granite Mt. in the background.

Looking back at Granite Mt by NBend, on Flickr

The tunnel entrance some into view and looking left, you see I90 making a final push up to the pass below you with Denny Mt, home to the excellent Ski resort of Alpental standing high above the highway.

Denny Mt just before entering the Hyak Tunnel by NBend, on Flickr

I stop before entering the tunnel and put on a wind vest. A moist, cool wind is blowing out of the entrance. The vest is appreciated because you’re about to go underground for over two miles. I turn my headlight on and go in..

It takes the eyes a little getting used to riding in the dark, I’m a little wobbly until my eyes adjust. I see pinpricks of of moving light - it’s not the other end just yet but other riders and walkers approaching. Water drips from the ceiling sending chills down my body. You begin to see the other end of the tunnel after about a mile of riding…just a pinprick that slowly gets brighter. The wind becomes warm again when you reach the other side. The light at the end of the tunnel

The light at the end of the tunnel by NBend, on Flickr

I stop at the Hyak trailhead and take off my vest and let the sun warm me back up before riding up to get a beer at the DRUBRU brewery by the Summit West Snoqualmie Pass Ski Area.

Hyak Trailhead and Ski area by NBend, on Flickr

After replenishing my fluids, I order some food at the small coffee stand down the street and eat my Curry bowl al fresco in the sun.

After lunch, I ride west and explore Alpental Valley. I love this area, it holds for me some great memories of ski adventures. You ride up this narrow box canyon with Swiss style Chalets lining to road side. Snow still is deep in the shade and you get hit with sudden temperature changes as you pass by these tiny microclimates. I pull into the Alpental Ski Area parking lot. Riding across the bridge, I see the restaurant is closed in the lodge but the patio would make a great picnic spot for another time..

Alpental by NBend, on Flickr

I turn around and begin the ride back home. Rather than return via the same route, I decide to loop back by riding down the Old Snoqualmie Pass road - the pavement is in great shape and there are few cars.

The old Snoqualmie Pass road by NBend, on Flickr

The road passes by Denny Creek. Another place that holds special meaning to me. When I was little I asked my mom where I came from and she said “We found you under a log at Denny Creek”.

We used to camp and picnic here alot as a family growing up..

Denny Creek by NBend, on Flickr

The downside of riding down the old pass road is that it ends too soon and you have to ride on the I90 shoulder for several miles. The shoulder was relatively clean and because of the descent, over with quickly the exit to Tinkham Road. This is also part of the old Snoqualmie Pass road before the Interstate was built and it was known as the “Sunset Highway”.

The road follows the S. fork of the Snoqualmie River, parallel to I90 but very few cars use it. Great for riding! I ascend up to the Iron Horse Trail a few miles later and ride back down to Rattlesnake Lake.
There is a great Interpretive center located on the hillside above the lake. I like to stop here and listen to the rain drums and refill my water bottle before finishing up the ride.

At the interpretive Center by NBend, on Flickr

Rattlesnake Lake by NBend, on Flickr

It was a nice day, a perfect way to see how my ankle was healing - I had strained some tendons and muscles in it and had been off the bike for over a week icing it. It was a little sore but no swelling so alls good. I ended the ride at the Riverbend Cafe just outside my neighborhood with a cold beer on the patio.

Post ride refreshments by NBend, on Flickr

The best feature about this route is the fact I can do this right from my house in North Bend.
I was also thinking this would make a great C&V forum ride this summer. This could be accomplished either as a ride where we suttle up to Hyak and ride it one way or as an out n back

anyways, just musing. anyone interested?
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Old 05-14-16, 11:28 AM
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Nice write up! Sounds like a good route for a group ride.
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Old 05-14-16, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by northbend View Post
I was also thinking this would make a great C&V forum ride this summer. This could be accomplished either as a ride where we suttle up to Hyak and ride it one way or as an out n back
anyways, just musing. anyone interested?
Hey, pick a date and sign me up! As you know I've been on half of that ride, would be great to ride with you before sharing a beer this time.

I might be able to drag @jyl up as well, maybe a few other Portlanders.
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Old 05-14-16, 05:48 PM
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Ready to go, sign me up. C&V with cyclocross tires make me prepared for anything.
Not the first w/e in August, please. Will be announcing an Olympic Peninsula week-end then.
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Old 05-14-16, 05:58 PM
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I was also thinking this would make a great C&V forum ride this summer.
^ This

Had a great time with Wildwood and Drillium Dude doing the first two-thirds of this a few weeks ago, but would love to retrace the route @northbend posted here. Really gentle climb; the kind you can do all day.
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Old 05-14-16, 07:20 PM
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I'd be into this!
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Old 05-15-16, 12:37 AM
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Where do I sign up?

Great photos and description, NB. Thank you!
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Old 05-15-16, 05:01 AM
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Great pics and a nice write-up. Color me jealous!
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Old 05-15-16, 07:42 AM
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This was lovely to wake up and read.

Northbend, I (still) think I love you.
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Old 05-30-16, 06:55 AM
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Forecast for this next w'end looks good. Temps in the 80's. Anyone want to make a run on this with me? Sat. June 4 or Sun. the 5th I can do either day..
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Old 05-30-16, 11:14 AM
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I'll put the 24t on the Colnago and join you on Sat. or Sun. It may take me awhile, but I expect to get to the tunnel this time around

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Old 05-30-16, 12:26 PM
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Wish I were close enough to do this.
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Old 05-30-16, 01:27 PM
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I love this post! Thanks for sharing, it was a great read and view.

I keep meaning to get out that way, but it never seems to happen. My husband doesn't want to take his road bike on the gravel so I might need to double down on convincing him to rent a mountain bike so we can go out there.
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Old 05-30-16, 09:20 PM
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R.E.; The rail trail up and thru the tunnel is mostly hard packed - feels more like chip seal to me though there are some sections where it is a little loose but nothing too bad. I have ridden it a few times on my fixed gear road bike with 25mm tires with no issues. Dunno if that helps convince your husband but it may be he just doesn't want his nice road bike to be a little dusty and I can understand that. to each his own.

Glad to hear the Dude is coming along. Alex Moll is likely to go if we can do this on Sunday..

I have a set of extra lights I'll charge up in case someone needs 'em
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Old 05-30-16, 10:46 PM
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Would love to go up from Rattlesnake. Fun ride, lovely up and down. Working on a long haul trucker build but I have fat tires on my tourer for this one. Rain jacket in tunnel a must!
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Old 05-30-16, 10:54 PM
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I have to work weekends . Otherwise i would 100% be there.
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Old 05-30-16, 10:56 PM
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Sounds awesome! Would love to ride this with you next time I'm up there.
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Old 05-31-16, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by northbend View Post
R.E.; The rail trail up and thru the tunnel is mostly hard packed - feels more like chip seal to me though there are some sections where it is a little loose but nothing too bad. I have ridden it a few times on my fixed gear road bike with 25mm tires with no issues. Dunno if that helps convince your husband but it may be he just doesn't want his nice road bike to be a little dusty and I can understand that. to each his own.
Oh, that's great! I thought it was a looser gravel up there. I think his comfort level is just rather low. If it's a harder gravel he'll probably be more open too it, plus there's no car traffic.
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Old 05-31-16, 11:49 PM
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I'm out for June 4 or Sun. the 5th but please keep me on the list if this comes back around. Sounds like it could be a great ride and I'm finishing up a build that may work for the terrain.
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Old 06-01-16, 07:16 AM
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Ride will be this Sunday, June 5. Meet at the parking lot just past the Cedar River Watershed Interpretive Center at Rattlesnake Lake at 9:30.

Drive past the center and the lot is on the right. Parking is free. The park is very popular and will get crowded early so this is the best place for all to meet since it is well away from the main parking lots.

See you on Sunday
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Old 06-01-16, 07:35 AM
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Great write up as always, looks like a wonderful ride. Enjoy!
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Old 06-01-16, 08:45 AM
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Great travelogue northbend! I'm bookmarking this one for future use.
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Old 06-02-16, 11:53 PM
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I'm pretty sure Thomas & I will be there. Hoping to make the distance, but it kinda depends on my stoker..
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Old 06-04-16, 07:53 AM
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This is a reminder that we'll be riding tomorrow (Sunday) starting at Rattlesnake Lake at 9:30. Bring lights, a jacket or vest for the tunnel and plenty of water. It's supposed to get into the 90's. Park just past the intetpretive center. See you there!
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Old 06-04-16, 11:53 AM
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Wish I could attend, but it's my weekend "on" at the hotel and couldn't get out of it. Crazy busy with the NODM in town. My place is a block away from the finish line, so we're packed, of course.

I will second Matt's comments on the trail surface; very smooth. Most the time you don't even need to pay attention to bike handling at all. Very gentle grade, easy climbing. I'm planning on riding my fixie next time I go up. Have no fear!

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