Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
huck

Mt St Helens Ride

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

A little over thirty years ago Mt St Helens blew its top in an epic steam explosion. For those of us living in the Pacific North west, it was a life changing event... to say the least. Everyone I know has a story to tell, all a little different, but all sharing in that amazing and terrifying event. For those of us living among, skiing on and climbing the volcanos of the PNW, this awesome and catastrophic event was something that will never be forgotten, and for some of us, still being experienced though visiting the mountain.

I try to ride up to Windy Ridge interpretive site, where the road now ends near the bottom of the vast crater, and near the slowly regenerating Spirit Lake. I have missed a few years, because of late snow, white outs, and sometimes because of work obligations, but in other years I have been up there more than once. The first time I made the ride I was overwhelmed by the devastation, but in every year since, the regeneration and regrowth has been wonderful and exciting to see. The roads up there, Forest Roads 25 and 99, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, are... sometimes problematic. They are not plowed during the winter and the snow can be seriously deep, and road repair funds are scarce. The good parts are seriously great riding, the tough parts are seriously crappy and bumpy, and in some cases can be challenging and even dangerous. But the riding, the scenery, and the the opportunity to see this historic event, on a motorcycle still unfolding, not in a closed in cage,  is not to be missed.

A few friends and I will be riding up there, we bring bag lunches and water as nothing is available, on Friday, the 21st. We would love to see you there. For those that don't know the route, it starts at the town of Carson (Gas up there), just off WA 14, Columbia River Hwy, just east of Stevenson, directions here: 

The weather Gurus claim it will be a good day and baring road washouts, whiteouts, and Big Foot attacks it should be fun and as always, interesting. I hope to see you there.

Edited by huck
spelling
  • Thumbsup 3
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I too remember the eruption. I was on the Idaho side and woke up May 19th to Ash that felt like a snowstorm.

I've only been up to the interpretive site once, about 20 years ago in a minivan full of toddlers. I vowed to return on my motorcycle, but I have yet to keep my vows.

One of these days...


’70 Yamaha 125 Enduro; ’75 Honda CB360T; ’81 Yamaha XS650SH; ’82 Honda GL650 Silver Wing Interstate; ’82 Suzuki GS650L; ’87 Yamaha Virago 535; ’87 Yamaha FJ1200; ’96 Honda ST1100; ’99 Yamaha V-Star Classic; ’00 Suzuki SV650; ’07 BMW K1200GT; ’12 Suzuki DR200; ’15 Yamaha FJ-09.  Bold = current

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, huck said:

A little over thirty years ago Mt St Helens blew its top in an epic steam explosion.

The roads up there, Forest Roads 25 and 99, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, are... sometimes problematic. They are not plowed during the winter and the snow can be seriously deep, and road repair funds are scarce. The good parts are seriously great riding, the tough parts are seriously crappy and bumpy, and in some cases can be challenging and even dangerous.

 

@huck - You missed a decade, it happened just over 40 years ago... oh, how time flies.  I was 13 when it erupted and remember it vividly, even from Olympia we could see the ash plume shooting upward, being that young I couldn't fully process the devastation that was happening.

You aren't joking about the road condition, I used to ride Randle to Carson quite a bit but the road has deteriorated so much that the potential danger took all of the fun out of it and I haven't been back there on a bike.  I think the worst section of road is between the 99 turn off and Randle.  I drove up there about a month ago in my car and even anticipating the hidden dangers, there were still a few dark shadow sections where I hit frost heaves or sunken sections that caught me by surprise and the jolt was violent enough that I thought for sure I had bent a rim or damaged the suspension.  I really wish there was some repaving planned, the location and scenery is amazing.  The South end, Curley Creek Rd and Wind River Rd are OUTSTANDING. 

  • Thumbsup 2

***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yikes, and damn! I am clearly aging ungraciously, clearly my mind is going... Maybe I did actually miss that whole decade... 

Likely it was because my mind was rattled by hitting those frost heave bumps? 

 

OK, here goes again--- Slightly over 40 years ago when I was misplacing entire decades...

 

  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent some time flying helicopter tours around Mt St Helens 25 years ago. Nice spot, and amazing to see the vegetation return.

  • Thumbsup 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I rode up to Windy Ridge three years ago and it was the worst road I've ever ridden on. I feel it is dangerous and won't ride it again until it is repaired. There are massive frost heaves, huge potholes, and the gravel sections are very deep. I almost crashed twice when I was forced into deep gravel by oncoming traffic; my FJ sunk into the gravel a few inches and I still don't know how I stayed upright.

It's a shame because 15+ years ago this was an epic ride.

  • Thumbsup 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yikes, that sounds ominous.

I did not ride up there three years ago, and last year I was turned back by a white out, not too far above the snow gates. Damn, I really want to do that ride and also to see the progress of the regrowth, but your recent experience does not sound like much fun. I hate deep gravel.

Thanks Kithu, time to reconsider. And yes, that was once an epic ride. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, keithu said:

I rode up to Windy Ridge three years ago and it was the worst road I've ever ridden on. I feel it is dangerous and won't ride it again until it is repaired. There are massive frost heaves, huge potholes, and the gravel sections are very deep. I almost crashed twice when I was forced into deep gravel by oncoming traffic; my FJ sunk into the gravel a few inches and I still don't know how I stayed upright.

It's a shame because 15+ years ago this was an epic ride.

Sounds like an awesome supermoto road! 


'15 FJ09

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed, it used to be an awesome sport ride, but maybe it is has succumbed to fashion and moved on the ADV!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been on those roads more recently. I did not experience all the ominous conditions stated previously (like deep gravel), but I agree that it is not a sport ride.

I rode to Windy Ridge from Randle last summer on NFD25 and NF99. Two years ago I rode from Randle to Carson. I took NFD25 and the Wind River Rd and Curly Creek Rd. I could not resist also taking the side-trip to Windy Ridge on NF99. 

I recall that the worst part of road was the 11 miles immediately north of the junction of NFD25 and NF99. It has been two years since I was south of that junction. I recall that it was not as bad as the northern part, but still not a sport ride. I recall that all other roads were much better than NFD25. Specifically, the Curly Creek Rd was in good condition and a lot of fun. NF99 is gradually deteriorating, but it is still better than NFD25. 

I found that it was best to keep my speed down to 35 mph on NFD25. Then I had time to dodge potholes and frost heaves, or drop my speed to 15 mph within a second or so. That makes it more of an ADV ride. I rode faster on NF99 where my speed was more limited by the corners and the scenery than the road conditions, but the occasional hole or heave is there too. Look ahead and be ready to brake.

If your FJ-09 can't go slow then you may consider another destination. But if you go ADV speeds on NFD25 and cruiser speeds (not too fast) on NF99 then it is still possible to enjoy a ride to Windy Ridge. Don't miss McClellan Overlook on Curly Creek Rd. You may be having so much fun that you don't want to stop, but there is a good viewpoint there.

 


2015 red FJ-09: Cal Sci screen, Sargent seat, ECU flash, slider combo, cruise, Rizoma bars, Matts forks, JRi shock, slipper clutch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, estell said:

I have been on those roads more recently. I did not experience all the ominous conditions stated previously (like deep gravel), but I agree that it is not a sport ride.

Unless they very recently repaved NF99, as of about 4 weeks ago it was in terrible condition.  Actually the lane going up is fine but the lane coming back down is very bad with many sections that are 60-80 ft long and full lane width of deep soft gravel and a drop of 4-6" into those sections.  If there is no oncoming traffic you can go around them but if its busy then you are either going to wait for a clearing or drop into and ride through them.

It wouldn't be that bad on an adventure bike but the road back down from Windy Ridge is the outside lane with the drop offs and no guard rail, if you lose control in that deep gravel it could get messy.

  • Thumbsup 1

***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been up to Windy Ridge several times...but I won't any more.  keithu put it very well, though many others did too.

ACtC-3caZah2nr6Wtz2e3bDeKvvMMajRteDlT2X8ZLbh5CWYyoiia1K3lsEEuEEzsI1plLbTp7jaYSZL_o6OpXdSyhKLK1TKB8FiyyX2j8PqQpkmw0XW_ckI4NH2UMQRgskhR1y13sXoQzXk5-mahNP6_xIQ=w1364-h909-no?authuser=0

ACtC-3eP_sEGSRFcFpqWWrr8v4Wdc0sEuIhwUuy5GvzgjXsYzN1WNFGvzFaBYH6MNqExrTs5_mdrRg0kBRZHgy1r8F_zZKB-e3MXEr3kezRILetj0qB-wU0IrfB5JAwAkkT6ktMYS-LgP7pl-QDI5TLPFw_Z=w640-h427-no?authuser=0

The frost heaves and pot holes are tough to see in the sun-dappled lighting.

I'd much rather go over to the west entrance and see it from there...and keep my bike in one piece.  There are so many roads and places to see, that I see no reason to subject myself to NF-25.

Chris

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the updates. those roads, 25 and 99, have been deteriorating for years, and the "Repairs" which are now simply a dump of gravel into a sink hole are no fun at all. I do love it up there and don't mind going slow if necessary, but freely admit I loved riding those roads fast in the past... and sincerely hope there are funds available to fix those roads someday. It is unfortunate how much deferred maintenance is happening in our forests and parks. I really love the National Parks, and Monuments and happily carry a life time pass. Those places are one of the most wonderful things in our country, and I never fail to be happy when I visit one. A couple of years ago I went to visit my sister who lives in the Coachella Valley. My ride took me through Crater Lake and Joshua Tree. The visit before that it was Yosemite, and Manzanar (That was a truly disturbing visit),  and Death Valley. I was planning another visit later in the fall when the weather cools a bit, but that may not be possible under the current conditions, and also, she is a geriatric nurse and does not want me or any other family members near her for the time being. So, interesting places close to home are what's up. I am thinking  of riding out to central OR, and visiting the John Day Fossel beds area instead of the now designated roads 25 and 99 ADV route. Oh well, the Weather Guru's are trying to conjure up rain for Friday anyway, so maybe that is a sign.

And thanks daboo, the west entrance ride is still a possible, but I agree there are many other rides available.

Edited by huck
  • Thumbsup 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, daboo said:

I've been up to Windy Ridge several times...but I won't any more. 

The frost heaves and pot holes are tough to see in the sun-dappled lighting.

There are so many roads and places to see, that I see no reason to subject myself to NF-25.

Unfortunately, I made the same decision myself.  NF25 used to be one of my favorites, spectacular scenery and remote twisty road but myself and others I ride with, all gave up on it a few years ago after some scary moments.


***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, huck said:

So, interesting places close to home are what's up. I am thinking  of riding out to central OR, and visiting the John Day Fosses beds area instead of the now designated roads 25 and 99 ADV route.

It would be a 2-day trip, but if you have never been up to North Cascades Highway, it is simply Spectacular and well worth the time and effort.


***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  


×