When he’s not working as a professional boot fitter on the mountain in the winter, die-hard Crystal Mountain local Martin Rand is a gung-ho biker who hits the region’s trails rain or shine. At 59 and single, he’s lived near the Washington resort his entire life, confessing to skiing, climbing, cycling, surfing, kayaking, kiteboarding, and flyfishing as his favorite pastimes (let’s see, leave anything out?). He’s also an avid bike racer, competing in mountain biking, time trial, road, and cyclocross events, winning the Washington State Masters Hillclimb Championships in 2009 and taking second in 2012. “Most of the time growing up my parents had us on either skis or horses and having one great adventure after another,” he says. “Having traveled throughout Europe and North, Central, and South America, I always find the region around Mt. Rainier one of the most beautiful. There is everything I could want in my backyard.”
Here are a few of Rand’s favorite things about Crystal Mountain:
Place to mountain bike: All the areas around Crystal Mountain. My single favorite trail is the Northway Trail that starts at the base area and climbs to the ridge looking across to Mt. Rainier.
Place to road ride: The roads circling Mt. Rainier. My favorite road is the Sunrise Road that climbs 13 miles up to the Sunrise lodge on the side of Mt. Rainier
Place to ride with the family: That would be with Dash, my dog. I like the Corral Pass/Ranger Creek Loop that takes off right from my cabin.
Place to paddle (flatwater): For me the best flatwater paddle in the area is sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands. They’re absolutely beautiful and filled with marine life. Closer in, there are some flat sections of water on the Green River, which joins the White River in Greenwater. Also, Greenwater Lakes is a great spot for swimming, but it requires a short hike.
Place to paddle (whitewater): There is some fun paddling on the Cedar River about an hour away from Crystal.
Place to re-fuel: My cabin. It’s centered at the junction of our mountain bike rides and I can always count on good food. To go out, head to Naches Tavern in Greenwater; their burgers and milkshakes are outrageously good.
Place for a beer afterwards: The best beer is at the base of Crystal Mountain at the Snorting Elk. It always has a lot of good choice beers on tap and is the place to trade stories of the latest adventures.
Photo courtesy Rand/Crystal Mountain