Riding Mount Muller

This is a continuation of last weekend's mountain biking trip to the Olympic Peninsula. When we last left our riders, they were enjoying some much-deserved beers around a campfire several miles from Lake Crescent on the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

Sunday, September 18

Everybody started stirring around 8:30 or so in the morning. Not because it was time to wake up, but becaue John set off his car alarm while miraculously unlocking the door to his truck with a coat hanger. My first thought was that it was my dogs honking the horn of my truck (which they did several times on Saturday) but it was silenced within seconds and, well, we all needed to start getting up anyway. Chef Floyd got the day off to a wonderful start by cooking up some fantastic breakfast quesadillas with chicken apple sausage, roasted peppers, cheese, and a wonderful fire-roasted salsa. I'm calling dibs on sharing a site with Eric at Okanagon next month! Oh, and did I mention that there wasn't a cloud for miles and the temp was in the low 60's? Perfect. Fall. Weather.

The scheduled ride time of 11am worked out wonderfully as everyone had plenty of time to break camp, eat, and get over to the trailhead at their leisure. Due to the frame of her bike failing, Jennifer would join the newly-formed "Lonely S.O's" club and go hiking with my wife Kristin and Eric's girlfriend Jeanette. Not to mention my two dogs. Their club was supposed to have 2 other members this weekend, but Steve and Justin both had to unfortunately drop from the ride so their significant others stayed home as well.

The first 3 miles of Mount Muller are an unrelenting slog up over 2,000 feet of elevation. It's twice the elevation gain of the Tiger Mtn road climb in the same amount of distance. It sucks. Fortunately, I spotted Brian doing a little a trail maintenance on the way up and was able to use helping him as a partial excuse as to why it took me nearly a half hour longer than John to finish the climb. Needless to say, we were pretty spread out once again. But it should also bear mentioning that, despite only starting the climb about 10 to 15 minutes before us, the "Lonely S.O's + Jennifer" reached the top within ten minutes of myself. You know it's a tough day when hikers can almost keep up with you.

Looking south into Olympic National Park

BBTC President, Brian Jones climbing through the meadow

My ride buddy Eric trying to pick out Mount Olympus.

The "rolling" hills along the ridge to the Mount Muller summit afforded just as many wonderful views as they did muffled expletives. The upper portion of the ridge is actually quite similar to the beginning of the prior day's ride at Dungeness in that there are brief periods of downhilll elation followed by very steep, but not terribly lengthy, uphills. We ditched our bikes at the spur trail and basked in the meadow atop Mount Muller with views of the Strait of Juan De Fuca to the north and the impressive expanse of Olympic National Park to the south. Even Mount Olympus was slightly visible, rising up through the clouds.

Brian beginning the descent with Lake Crescent in the background

As if the views and sun and relaxation atop Mount Muller wasn't enough of a payoff, then we had the descent. Swoopy, tight, occasionally technical at the upper parts, and FAST. It's quite possible to finish the final 6 miles of this ride in about 1/10 the amount of time it takes to cover the first 7 miles. And while it is over pretty fast, it's worth the climb. If not for the chance to coast for miles, then for the time spent in the wonderful forest on the valley floor. With moss dripping from the trees, and sunlight shining through to light your way... it's simply beautiful.

Back at the cars, it took little time before the camp chairs, beer, and a football appeared. I, having spent the day in one of my Seahawks jerseys was pleased to turn on the AM radio and listen to the final 4 minutes of Seattle's victory over Atlanta. I hated having to sell my tickets to the home opener, but looking back, I can't think of a better way to spend a September weekend.

Driving home back over the Hood Canal Bridge at dusk

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