Words by Ambassador Delia Massey. Photos by Kinsey Smith.
Summertime in the pacific northwest means go time, all the time. You have to soak in every last second of sun and warmth while it lasts because the winters are dark and soul-crushing. The solstice is the best day to pack in as many activities as possible since we get about 16 hours of daylight up here in Seattle. This year I maximized my fun by heading out to the new trail system under construction in Darrington, WA to help build trails and (of course) do some epic shuttle laps to test them out.
I started my day with sun streaming into my tent at 5am, with the tip of Glacier Peak poking out to greet me above the North Cascades. I wanted to stay fueled, so I had an ambitious plan to make pancakes from scratch. This included a jar with dry ingredients, a jar with buttermilk and egg yolks, a jar with egg whites, and butter in a metal cup to melt over the stove. I had never tested the recipe, and while it claimed you could mix the wet and dry ingredients in one large Mason jar and shake to mix it, I found that I had a bit too much volume and ended up dumping the lumpy mess I had created into a plastic bowl. While my fiancé cooked up potatoes and bacon, I forged ahead with my pancake mission, hoping they would at least be edible. In the interest of time, I just made four massive pancakes that each filled the bottom of our 8-inch cast iron skillet. The first one looked terrible…but tasted great! The next three both looked and tasted amazing. Two hours after we started cooking, our bellies were finally full, and we were ready for some manual labor. Part 1 of the day, brunch, was a success!
We took a quick rip down the steep, raw, loamy, techy “Peak-to-Park” trail that runs from the builder’s campsite to the bottom segment of the trail, which had a few sections that needed some serious work before they would be fun to ride. With the help of a large crew of volunteers and the expertise of the Evergreen MTB professional builders, we dug down to the “good” mineral dirt, filled in holes with rocks, cleared roots and stumps, and built some flow to fix those awkward segments. I strongly believe that anyone who rides trails should get out and throw some dirt, even if it’s just one day a year. Once you see how much thought and effort goes into trail building, you’ll realize just how much work it takes to keep all of your favorite trail systems running and new ones coming. I love riding down a trail and knowing that I helped build that berm, or moved a rock to make that high line possible. It’s a very rewarding experience. Part 2 of the day, building, was a success!
My body was sore from digging, but it wasn’t going to stop me from testing out the goods. We got another lap on the top-to-bottom trail we had been working on, which is an absolute blast. It’s one of the longest runs I know of in Western Washington, and it will keep you on your toes, especially when those roots are greasy! Our crew headed up to the shuttle zone for some faster laps and got a run down one of the black diamond trails that had rock rolls and rowdy technical sections that made me incredibly thankful that I had my Process 153 29er to roll over anything the trail threw my way. We connected with a blue square flow trail and went screaming around berms and over jumps, with epic views of the jagged mountains around us. One more top-to-bottom lap and I was spent. Time to cook up some dinner, fall asleep under the Milky Way, and do it all over again. Part 3, biking, was a success!
If you live in the PNW and want to get out to Darrington to help build and ride, check out the Evergreen MTB website for upcoming trail days. There is a work party this weekend, go here to sign up: https://www.evergreenmtb.org/calendar/eventdetail/6159/darrington-north-mountain-camp-dig-shred