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I took a ride to the North Cascades Highway, Hwy 20, yesterday. The weather seemed a little dicey. Another small front was moving through and while it meant rain showers in the lowlands, a good portion of the trip was showing snow on the Weather Underground's Trip Planner. The snow level was forecasted for 6000 feet and I'd be up at 5500 in places. Close enough to be thinking about while planning the ride.

As it turned out, the weather held up for us pretty well till we were back below 500 feet. I say "us" because I have a friend at church, Doug, who is always game for a good ride.

We headed out after Men's Discipleship group meeting, which put us later than I had originally planned...but since I'd mowed the lawn Friday evening when it was dry, the afternoon wasn't "booked" by the yard care. ;) The route we took was up I-5 till we hit Arlington and Hwy 530. Hwy 530 runs through some delightful farmland, nestled amongst the Cascade foothills. It goes from flat valleys that were probably scraped out by glaciers to steep hillsides.



If you look above the farmhouse, you can see a "tiny" waterfall...which is really quite large if you were to get closer to it.


At Rockport, we turned east onto Hwy 2. When you go up this way, be sure to notice Newhalem. It's unique as one of the few "company" towns you'll ever see and is owned by Seattle City Light.

Just a few miles further along some road that twists as it conforms to the river below and the rock cliffs it was carved out of, is Gorge Creek. The pictures below don't really do it justice.

If you look in this shot, you'll not only see a wonderful picture of a NT700V :) but the beginning of the waterfall from the peak above it in the background. It is up there in the cleft of the rocks near the snow field. The spots on the picture are from rain drops that hit the lens. Yes, we did encounter the occasional shower.


It's hard to imagine the force of the water falling down that cliff face. But if you zoom in with your camera, you can see a "calm" place that I'll bet no one has been in before.


But if you zoom in with your camera, you can see a "calm" place that I'll bet no one has been in before.


We stopped a bit further down the road. One of the things that continually changes, is the water flow from the dams on the Skagit River. Today, this section was shut off.


Notice the sign...


It's interesting to see what it looks like with and without the torrents of water than can pour down through here.


Once you get in the vicinity of Diablo Lake, you'll come across the campground at Colonial Creek. Here's a picture looking towards the main body of water. The bridge is Hwy 20, which immediate ascends several hundred feet on the hillside to the right.


When you get to the top of the hill (cliff), this is the view you get.




There were lots of waterfalls along the side of the road. This one is one of the smaller ones.


We rode to the turnaround point, NF-500. The road was closed, so we parked the bikes along the side of the road. One guy started to pull in with a 5th wheel and I shock my head vigorously to make sure he knew there was no where to turn around.


As you can tell, there was a bit of snow here. ;)



We had to walk in to the trailhead, since the road was closed. There's a scenic overlook there with a great view of Early Winters Spires and Liberty Bell mountain.


It's hard to get perspective here. Did you spot the plow they had parked along the side of the road for snow removal? It's right in the middle of the picture in plain view. :) If not, here it is, then try to see it in the picture above again.



We spent about an hour here eating lunch and just soaking in the scenery. Then it was time to head home. We didn't stop much, just once for gas for Doug's Burgman 400. Even with as good of gas mileage it gets, it didn't have the range of the NT700V. I made it from Marblemount to the turnaround point and back home without needing to fill up. The high for the gas mileage was 65 mpg with an average of 57 mpg. Pretty good for this large of a bike, I would think! :) We hit some hard rain on the way back, and believe it or not, that was one of those times on the trip that I just felt focused on the ride. (Of course, there was no scenery to divert my attention.) The rain was hitting the visor, running down on the inside since I had it cracked open to get rid of the fogging, and I hit one turn after another with no thoughts other than the bike and the road.

Riding impressions... I'm sold on this NT700V. I've ridden this road many times on my own Burgman 400, and loved it. The NT700V is one of the best kept secrets in the motorcycle world. Protection from the elements was great. Wind management was really impressive. There was no turbulence or back pressure. This road can tax a suspension with the turns at high speed and road irregularities of pavement that has shifted probably six inches or more in the middle of the turn. I did hit a pucker moment when I was leaned over in a turn...and a gust of wind moved me over several inches. I still need to work on this, but my "chicken strips" are a bit less now than before.


Chris
 

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Once again Daboo, beautiful photos. These shots make me want to move out of the city and move to a small cabin by the lake in the forest :)
 

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Thanks for sharing your adventure Daboo. I wished we had that kind of scenery near by. I would have to be riding for over 14hrs to see something like that.
 
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