Monday, October 27, 2008

Cruising the Cascade Mountains

ABOVE: Hot air balloon taking off in Snohomish

On Saturday we had the pleasure of meeting up with the Backroad Drivers Northwest group in Everett for a pleasant Fall tour through small towns like Granite Falls, Verlot and Silverton before we took Barlow Pass north to the Darrington area. The road through the Barlow Pass is known as the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway.

Rather than me try to remember all the highlights of the trip, I'll instead post the trip report done by Jerry Horn. Jerry has a wonderful writing style, as well as a wonderful radio voice. When you watch the you say? Why yes, I did do a video.....when you watch the video that deep, warm voice you'll hear over the C.B. is Jerry himself.

Trip Report Mountain Loop Tenth Year Celebration October 25, 2008

This run was a celebration of ten years of Backroad Drivers Northwest tours. We followed the same route as our very first tour and we enjoyed ourselves just as much this time as we did almost 200 trips and a decade ago.

We couldn't have had better weather as we met at Dennys Restaurant in south Everett, Washington. Joining in on the fun were Ed & Annette from Maple Ridge, BC; Rich & Jan from Beaverton, OR; Jim & Kerry and Jim's brother Ron from Lakewood, WA; Dave & Roberta from Edmonds and their daughter Cathy from Everett; Doug & Kathy from Lynnwood; Gary from Olympia; Mark from Lyman, WA; Sid & Mary from Renton; Phil & Laurel from Newcastle, WA with passenger Lizanne; Tom & Robbin with Tina riding; Jon & Melody; Alan; Fred; and us, Jerry & Evelyn fromYakima. I apologize to anyone I missed. I know we had 29 people for lunch and that was a bunch.

Our trek started by driving a busy county road from the restaurant near the freeway in Everett to the Seattle Hill Road where we finally got away from the congestion. We meandered down a curvy hillside into the Snohomish River Valley and crossed farmland to the town of Snohomish where we watched a hot air balloon take off. We drove county roads north of Snohomish including the Machias Road, the OK Mill Road, and the Newburg Road, around Lake Bosworth and into the town of Granite Falls where we made our first rest stop.

ABOVE: Granite Falls where there is a fish ladder that enables the fish to move upriver past the falls

Just out of town we stopped again to check out the falls and fish ladder then began our jaunt up the Mountain Loop Highway, now known as the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway. The road was paved and smooth, the weather was sunny, the leaves were all shades of yellows and greens, the twisty Stillaguamish River was beautiful and our group was busy commenting about various subjects over the C.B. radio as we enjoyed the drive.

After passing the community of Silverton and then the entrance to the Big Four Ice Caves we started feeling like we were in the mountains. When we reached Barlow Pass the pavement ended and an improved gravel road took us close to a majestic section of the Sauk River where huge boulders had been arranged by roaring currents with giant tree trunks wedged into the rocks like toothpicks.

The river was only a trickle today, but we could imagine how powerful it must be certain times of the year.

ABOVE: We turned the road into a parking lot!

Our road was just wide enough to pass on coming traffic and with the exception of a few potholes it was in pretty good shape. We drove slowly along the river and stopped at a wide spot in the river called Monte Cristo Lake. It was more of a pond, but the setting was scenic and we enjoyed the stop. The road continued through a heavy forest of firs, hemlocks and hardwoods. Leaves had turned and the colors were beautiful. At one point the evergreens all but disappeared only to be replaced by deciduous trees with falling leaves sashaying back and forth on their way to the partially covered roadway. It was very pretty indeed.

ABOVE: Monte Cristo Lake on the Mountain Loop Highway

We made another stop at the Whitechuck Mountain Rest Area where we managed to find a place for all thirteen of our vehicles and take advantage of the primitive facilities. It was a little foggy at the higher elevations so we could not see the mountain, but it was still a nice place for a rest. Within a short distance of the rest area we hit pavement and followed it intothe mountain town of Darrington where we stopped for lunch. The restaurant had a room set up for us and we filled it, all twenty-nine of us! I don't know about the rest of them, but my burger was great.

After lunch we continued following the Sauk River on Hwy 530 until we turned off on the Concrete-Sauk Valley Road. We were still on pavement, but on the opposite side of the river. It was the same road, but the name changed to the South Skagit Highway soon after the confluence of the Sauk and Skagit Rivers. We followed the Skagit River until we reached civilization on the outskirts of Sedro Woolley.

We were only a few miles from Interstate 5 via Burlington or Mount Vernon where we gathered at a park-and-ride to say our goodbyes. Evelyn and I really enjoyed seeing everyone. We had a great day and we sincerely thank you for coming.

Jerry________________________________BACKROAD DRIVERS NORTHWEST