Well there was this one time

Most of the cycling bloggers I follow have one thing in common that is different from me. Most of them, not all, but most, have more than one bike.  They have road bikes, racing bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes and any number of other types.  I can totally understand why, as weather, and trips, can dictate which bike is better.

I, on the other hand, have just the one.  This is because, A, I am cheap and B, I only have so much space.  But, since my rides are only on roads, it works for me.

However, there was one time I did leave the road, and it was a memorable trip!

Carbon river

One of the things I love about Washington, is the mountains.  Most impressive of all, of course, is Mt Rainier.


It is 14,410 feet of beautiful wilderness, snow, rivers, glaciers and trees.  I have done a few posts about trips on the roads in this park.  There are 4 or 5 different entrances, each having its own unique features.  One, though, the Carbonado entrance, is only open to mountain bikes.

There used to be a dirt road inside the entrance, that allowed you to drive to a campground and a trailhead.  However, one VERY rainy winter, the Carbon River had plans of its own. It overflowed its banks and took out the road.

Well this was about the 3rd time this had happened, and this was the last time.  The park service decided the money to rebuild the road, just to have it gone in the next flood wasn’t worth the money.  However, the trail to the Carbon river glacier, the lowest glacier in the lower 48 states is at the end of this road, and its a popular hike.

To compromise, they repaired and rebuilt it enough to allow hikers and mountain bikes to access the trail.  Even though the bridges were a bit challenging.


It was about a 12 mile ride from the entrance to the trailhead, and for me, this is where the fun started.  I found a place to lock the bike, and headed down the trial.  I have done this route many times, and getting to the glacier was a 7 mile round trip.

This trail is part of the Wonderland Trail, one that circles the entire mountain.  Someday I’d love to do the whole thing, but on this day, there was only time for this short leg.

The trail follows along the river, and you could see the trees that had to be sawn after they had fallen across the trail.

Carbon River Mt Rainier
Carbon River Mt Rainier

One of the things I have always liked about this trail are the bridges they built to get across the rivers.  Since it a national park, they try to use material that blends in as much as possible.

Carbon river

Its only one log, but it works, but in other places they had to make a more substantial crossing.

carbon river As with cycling, traveling by foot allows you to see some things you’s never see if you traveled faster, such as this tree root splitting a rock.

Carbon riverBut the goal of my hike this day was the Glacier itself.

Carbon Glacier Mt Rainier right in front of the sign that says do NOT stand here.
Carbon Glacier Mt Rainier right in front of the sign that says do NOT stand here.

This is the Carbon River Glacier.  How many of you have ever been at the source of a river?  The exact place where it starts?  This is the source of the Carbon River, and I was RIGHT there.  In fact, I’d recommend that you NOT stand where I was, and as a matter of fact, so does the National Park Service.  I was standing right in front of this sign.

Carbon river


I could sit at a glacier for hours.  The cooling breeze, the falling ice, and the overall sheer awe about the power it has.  Glaciers carved out huge valleys in Washington state, and continue to grind away on the mountain.  Sometimes, you can even hear the grinding.

After a while, just with all hikes, it was time to head back.  I took my time, taking in the sights and listening to nature until I got to the bike.  The ride back, was all downhill, the perfect way to end the day.

The bike was the Mathmajor’s, he uses it in College right now.  This trip was 6 or 7 years ago, and every summer I think about doing it again, but other rides get in the way.  I tell everyone there is no place I’d rather live than here, and this is just one more reason that proves it.  Maybe someday I will have to get my OWN mountain bike.

Thanks for reading folks.

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