|Ripplebrook Ranger Station, 1,500 ft. elevation|
It has been a snowy winter in the Western states, and I’m not looking forward to the late melt-off on my favorite mountain roads. This past weekend proved my fears to be correct: there is a lot of snow remaining.
I rode my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650 up highway 224 to Ripplebrook Ranger Station and discovered just how bad the situation is. The ranger station is at approximately 1,500 feet above sea level, and there is still at least a foot of snow in the trees, and more in less sheltered areas.
At Ripplebrook, highway 224 ends and NF 46 begins, heading south toward Detroit. The highway department maintains the road for winter travel on highway 224 but not beyond that. This means we may have to wait until June before the snow finally melts and allows through-traffic to Detroit.
This is frustrating for people like me who enjoy NF 46. The highway department would need only a single truck to push through and plow 46 once there is no more chance of snowfall, say in April sometime. This would open the road. What often happens is a 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile section remains snowed over, with bare pavement on either side. Four-wheel drive trucks will sometimes push through, but they sometimes get stuck, and the ruts they create are too deep or narrow for motorcycles to get by.
A snowplow could come in and get rid of it in a matter of an hour. Done.