Today, Robert Gatchel and I headed up to Stevens Pass to check out the action on BNSF's main line that runs from Seattle to Spokane, WA. (this
is former Great Northern territory) Wenatchee is the crew change point in-between these two cities with Stevens Pass to the west and Trinidad hill
to the east. Coming along was Roberts friend Ro who was railfanning for the first time. It was an overcast morning and we were hoping for some
sunshine. Starting near Seattle we arrived at Monroe, WA about 0730 and headed east towards Stevens Pass. At Sultan we caught up to a slow
moving Z-SSECHC2. Good timing. Just east of town the train quickly accelerated and the chase was on. Power for the eastbound Z- train was
BNSF C44-9W's 4768/714/1005.
We watched it pass by at the towns of Gold Bar and Skykomish where the 2.2% grade starts. At Scenic, a w/b freight and Amtraks #7 with Genisis
143 leading was met. Then our e/b Z pulled out of the siding at Scenic and entered the Cascade Tunnel at 0921. Up over the top of Stevens Pass
and down to Berne for us where we watched the tunnel door open for the train to exit at the east end. Instead of the door opening to the side as we
normally see done, it moved upwards this time. Didn't know it did that anymore. Moments later the train came roaring out of the tunnel and
cresting the grade started downhill reducing throttle and soon was in Dynamics.
The sun broke through at Coulter Creek just east of Merritt (where the 2.2% begins headed west) and got shots here as well as at Winton where the
train stopped to let a work crew ahead clear. Then it was off to Monitor just west of Wenatchee for a nice sweeping curve shot.
At Wenatchee we had some lunch before heading east past the Columbia River crossing to Voltage, WA where a westbound S-CHCTAC was
photographed with BNSF 4700/BN 8072/BNSF 3004 leading at 1250. The Rock Island Dam is located here, thus the name of Voltage.
About now we heard a w/b leaving Wenatchee for Seattle. A little too early for chasing him so we headed east to Quincy, WA at the top
of Trinidad Hill to wait for the w/b Z-CHCSSE1 which showed up at 1422. This would be the train we'd follow home. Not the normal 3 C44-9W's,
todays train had BNSF 4830/BNSF 8271/ATSF 600/BN 3154. As we headed west to Voltage to catch him there, we could hear an
eastbound heading out to Malaga siding just east of Wenatchee to meet our w/b Z. After a great shot of the BNSF 4830 West we waited on the
V-WENBRC which showed up at 1528 with BNSF 723/6833 at Voltage. (this was a vehicle Wenatchee-Belt Railway Chicago train)
Then it was back after the w/b Z-train again. It was already out of Wenatchee when we arrived there so we continued west finally catching up to
it near Winton. It was photographed exiting the Winton Tunnel and again up near the top of the grade at Berne. Here it clouded up again so we
decided to start heading for home. West of Stevens Pass at Skykomish we caught the westbound that had left Wenatchee while we were at
Voltage. It had BNSF 4777/4319/7339/7063/8287 for power and at Baring a sunbreak popped out so a quick grab shot of the train was taken there
at 1715. This was the S-BPATAC. After that things quieted down and no other trains were seen the rest of the way to Monroe. Yet, it had been a
pretty good day. I was satisfied with the shots I had taken (I really like the area around Voltage) and Ro had enjoyed getting out to see what
railfanning was all about. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday!