Roadtrip Vignettes, Part 5: Duthie Hill Park, Issaquah, WA

I hit the road early from my campsite at Hilgard Junction State Park, OR, and was around Richland, WA, when I spoke with Aaron.

"Wow," he said. "You're only a few hours away."

"Yeah. I should be there a little after lunch," I said

"Cool. I won't be available until about 8:30 tonight, but I'll leave the place open for you," he said.

"Hmmm," I said. "Maybe I'll come up with a plan B."

A little Google searching led me to a Seattle Times article entitled, "Washington's top ten mountain-bike rides." I cross-referenced the rides against the map--I don't know Washington for shit--and found that two of them were more or less along my route. One was substantially off the highway, but the other, a place called Duthie Hill Park, was just a few miles from the Interstate. The article called it, "The most-visited mountain-bike trail system in the state." (The author apparently had a real thing for hyphens.) I read a few reviews and it sounded like a lot of fun.

Issaquah, WA, is not far on the western side of Snoqualmie Pass, which puts it well into the rain-forest climate for which Seattle is so well known. The trees there are huge and ferns abound on the forest floor. The canopy is so dense, I had to return to the car to replace my sunglasses' dark lenses with the clear ones. It felt like I was riding in some enchanted forest, or maybe on Endor.

And the riding was incredible. Many of the freeride trails were far beyond my ability, but there were also some nice, progressive stunts so I could practice my rather impoverished technical skills.

And still being acclimatized to high altitude, I was blowing by the locals on all the cross country trails. I felt like a superhero.

It was among the most fun days I've ever had on a mountain bike.

Want to get a feel for it? Here's a video of a trail called Boot Camp, a non-technical little flowy descent that I must have ridden at least six times that day. Notice how quiet the bike is in the video. That should give you some idea of how smooth and flowy those banked turns are.

Now that is a hell of a good way to spend an afternoon.

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