Frost Heave

Fall semester’s classes began yesterday, and I’ve made a few resolutions for myself this time around. No more BMW forums when there are cases to be read. No more Craigslist searching for XS650 parts, no more google mapping for my next 12 hour ride, etc., etc. More books, less bikes. Still, at some point during the Business Entities lecture, I could not help but think back to Saturday’s ride around the mountains.

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This was the last full day I’d get to spend on the S for awhile, so I left nice and early at about 5:15. I wanted to check out the Taylor Bridge fire outside of Cle Elum, which had consumed over fifty homes and forty square miles of forest land. I arrived in Cle Elum before the fire crews at around 6:30, and watched some big caravans of impressive looking 4X4 fire trucks filing in to battle the blaze. Most of the entrances into the burn area were blockaded, and the smoke was nasty from all the tires and cars and TV sets that have been consumed. These pics are from Highway 97:

I jumped onto Canyon road (821) out of Ellensburg, but the fun really begins in the Klickitat River Canyon, Highway 142 out of Goldendale. Stopped at this awesome little cafe in Klickitat called the Drift:

I asked some people inside about NF 25, the road that I had been wanting to ride since last weekend’s Windy Ridge adventure. The road was well known, but it seemed that no one used it much because it doesn’t go anywhere (except Randle, WA.) Perfect, I thought. On the map, NF 25 is over 60 miles of tight corners with almost no intersecting roads. It goes into a remote portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and is closed for about nine months out of the year. If the frost heave that I had encountered on my previous ride was common on other parts of the road, it was going to be an exciting day.

I didn’t know what to expect as I turned north out of Carson, but right away I knew I had come to the right place.

The first ten miles outside of Carson (Wind River Road) were a tightly winding ascent into the mountains. It was turn after turn of second-gear euphoria, and the pavement quality was pretty good here. There was almost no traffic, and I only saw two other riders at a Mt. St. Helens lookout spot.

The higher the elevation, the worse the pavement, and the more exciting this ride becomes. Getting closer to the Windy Ridge (NF 99) turnoff, the frost heave becomes phenomenal. Warning: A lot of concentration is required in here, be careful! Here is a photo from the “better” section of NF 25, showing a dip in the pavement. In the foreground, you can see the skid pattern of a car that launched out of the frost heave and off the road:

No one wants to be on board a 520 pound motorcycle that has become airborne over rough pavement, but that is exactly what happened when I tried to ride a little too fast through this section. It is not everyday that you can confront your darkest fears without even leaving second gear, but that is the beauty of NF 25.

The “really poor” section of the road was too fantastic for me to stop and take any photos. Signs advised “Rough road, 15 MPH”, and there is a fifty yard patch where the pavement is gone completely and the surface is loose gravel. Still, this road does not warrant a big dumb GS bike, just a little care and some throttle control.


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2 Responses to Frost Heave

  1. Those photos you have of some of those corners just got me itching to start the bike up ! Looks like a great place to ride!

  2. Those photos of the corners and turns are just waiting for a bike to come and ride them ! Looks like a really fun stretch !

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