Got up this morning around 0630 and checked ATCS. Something lined up between Easton and Ellensburg so figured it’s already by Kanaskat or Lester. Back to bed. Woke up about 08:30 and looked at computer which I’d left on ATCS. That eastbound was arriving at Ellensburg but the route was lined up out of Kanaskat to Lester! I quickly started getting ready to head out the door but wondered how long before I got up that the train had been lined out of Auburn. Checked the Auburn Highway 18 DOT camera, nothing there. Finished getting ready and checked again at 08:51. Grain cars shown in the 08:47 shot. Here we go!
Now where to shoot it? Decided against east of Easton as it’d be after 11 when he got there so bad sun angle. Why not go for the Tunnel 4 snowshed again? I wasn’t sure how the sun angle there would be either but at least now had a plan. Crossed Snoqualmie Summit and soon got off I-90 and headed towards Stampede Pass. Potholes are gone but still a bit of wash-boarding headed up towards the summit. Much better than the last time up here. And unlike my last visit, no clouds floating by threatening to ruin the shot. Sunny and hot which I will take if it means no worries about clouds shadows nailing the head end of a train. Just a beautiful day up here too. Mt Rainier looked just great.
And a photo to show the area I would be photographing. The tracks can be seen in the lower left corner.
Got to the access road and not a sound from below. Good, no train yet. As I headed down to the tracks I picked up the sound of the eastbound. Getting down to the Stampede sign the eastbound was across the valley making a lot of noise as it neared the loop. I got to my location of choice as the train appeared down below, two H2 GE’s. I could see the rear of the train across the valley and then the last car passed the opening. No DPU.
I listened to the squealing wheels as the rear of the train came around the loop and out of sight. Last time here the train took 3-4 minutes to get to Tunnel 4 but in just a few moments I could hear the GE’s chugging and enter the tunnel. Wow, glad I was ready! Train exited the tunnel and I got the shot, with lots of horn tooting and waving from the cab of lead unit BNSF 5631.
I have to say BNSF crews out here are really friendly. Train had the BNSF 5631/5703 up front and a whole train of fairly new cars. Nearly all had build dates of 1-12 but some had dates of 2-12 and the last car of the train 3-12.
The train exited Tunnel 4 at 10:54 making the run from Auburn to here in just a bit over 2 hours. Cut it a bit closer than I would have liked but did get the shot I wanted. Then I turned around and started back to the car and on home. Probably the quickest trip in and out for a shot I’d ever done!
I’ll probably go for this shot again in the fall but do have other locations in mind for later this summer. So glad BNSF isn’t shy about running trains over Stampede Pass