Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Carbon River

Last weekend, I enjoyed a backcountry camping road bike ride with the Velomihottie that was a great adventure.

The aforementioned Carbon River.
How is this even possible?  The last 5 miles of the Carbon River Road in Mt Rainier National forest has been closed to motorized vehicle traffic since 2006, but remain accessible to hikers and cyclists.

The road winds along the river and leads to the Ipsut Falls Campground, which is still set up for car camping.  Based on a call to the Ranger Station in which the Ranger advised the road was probably 80-85% passable by bicycle, we decided that carrying packs with all the camping gear we’d need for the weekend would allow us to carry the bikes over any rough patches.  I also brought half a dozen inner tubes as flats seemed a distinct possibility over the unknown terrain.

Making Camp.
All of these precautions proved unnecessary – we only walked our bikes about 50 feet over the 5 miles the road followed the river.  After setting up camp, we went for a hike to the Carbon Glacier, which is apparently the lowest glacier in the US.  This route also intersected with the Pacific Crest Trail where it crosses the Carbon River with a long pedestrian suspension bridge that bounces and sways as one walks across it.

A view up the valley from the hike.

After a restful, quiet night absent the vehicular noise which often accompanies car camping sites, we had a backcountry breakfast and coffee and tea, then headed up for another hike, this time toward Mowich Lake.  The scenery astounds and amazes with beautiful, lush, mossy greenery along the forest floor, and filtered light from the high canopy above enhancing the greenness, while occasionally opening up to spectacular views to peaks and ridges above.

Breaking Camp.