Nason Ridge Attempt

This ride east of Steven’s Pass has been on my radar for a long time. I had played with various versions of doing this, but decided to just try it as an out&back from the Nason Ridge trailhead near Lake Wenatchee. It was a beautifully sunny day and on my way over Steven’s, I gave a PCT throughhiker a lift from town.

The trail starts off very pedestrian, but after 1500 ft. of climbing, it gets steeper and quite a few switchbacks make riding a game of balance and endurance. I probably overdid it a bit. Much of the trail is shaded for the first 7 miles and 3600 ft. of climbing.

Lower portion of Nason Ridge trail.

Lower portion of Nason Ridge trail.

Then, the views become more open, and the terrain changes to loose granite, sub-alpine riding. Wonderful riding, some techy sections, both up and down along the ridge towards the Alpine Lookout.

Looking south

Looking south

Looking north: Mt. Adams!

Looking north: Mt. Adams!

Looking westwards along Nason Ridge.

Looking westwards along Nason Ridge.

One section was really deeply trenched. I walked that uncomfortably on the way up.

One section was really deeply trenched. I walked that uncomfortably on the way up.

Again, northwards view of Mt. Adams from the ridge.

Again, northwards view of Mt. Adams from the ridge.

Before exploring the lookout, I continued west on Nason Ridge trail. The trail immediately looses a lot of elevation, followed by some descending through thicket and hike-a-bike.

Nason Ridge west of the lookout.

Nason Ridge west of the lookout.

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But, soon the thicket became too thick for me and felt as if I were stranded in the midst of of scratchy bushes.

The end of Nason Ridge trail, at least for me, came at only 2 miles from Lost Lake.

The end of Nason Ridge trail, at least for me, came at only 2 miles from Lost Lake.

Pretty views above.

Pretty views above.

Time to head back.

Time to head back.

Bugs!

Bugs!

I was disappointed that the trail had overgrown so badly, so turned around and went up to the lookout. The lookout had been shuttered-closed for the season.

Alpine Lookout at 6200 ft.

Alpine Lookout at 6200 ft.

Lake Wenatchee, below.

Lake Wenatchee, below.

Motorcycles are allowed almost to the lookout, but I only saw one track and overall the trail surface was pretty good. Techy & rocky higher up, but still packed and smooth in sections. It was certainly a nice out&back to the lookout, just a bit short.

21 miles, 5500 ft., GPX track

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Mt. Hood, OR

It’s been a while since the last update. At the beginning of September, a week’s worth of vacation was spent near Government Camp, OR. First, the Skibowl’s adventure park was explored, followed by a ride on the trails around Government Camp, then a backpack (not bike-pack!), around Mt. Hood in 4 days. The bike ride on the Crosstown and Timberline-to-Town trails was very nice – highly recommended.

Gnarly trails were ridden

Gnarly trails were ridden

Timberline-to-Town trail to the Timberline Lodge.

Timberline-to-Town trail was ridden out&back to the Timberline Lodge on a rented 27.5″ Giant hardtail.

Letting the dew dry off the camping gear.

Letting the dew dry off the camping gear on the first night of backpacking around Mt. Hood on the Timberline trail.

Mount Saint Helens, Rainier, and Adams in plain view. Plus, Mt. Hood was to our right!

Mount Saint Helens, Rainier, and Adams were in plain view, while Mt. Hood was to our left!

Ramona Falls in evening light.

Ramona Falls in evening light.

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Fatbike Boris X9

Last winter, I frequently drove to get out of the drizzle in Seattle, and then past the snow in the Cascades, to the drier area around Vantage and Ancient Lakes. This winter, I hope to ride in the snow instead, saving a lot on gas and time. A new bike wasn’t really in my budget, but the prices at bikesdirect.com are pretty darn good, and so an order was placed for a Boris X9 back in mid-April. The long-anticipated purchase finally arrived a couple days ago. First, the Christmas-like opening of the box:

Bike in box

Bike in box

Here it is out of the box. Looks like only the handlebar, pedals and seatpost need to be attached.

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After removing all the protective tape and putting the parts on, the Boris is shining blackly.

2015 Boris X9

2015 Boris X9

One point of curiosity for me was the tire clearance. After reading a bit more about it now on the Salsa website, it’s obvious that the rear hub and chain line is the limiting factor. Since this bike comes with 170 mm rear drop-out spacing, at most a 4″ tire can go in the rear. Shifting the chain to the lowest gears confirms that the VeeRubber Mission 26×4.0 is the biggest that will fit in the rear.

Chain line clearance in lowest gear is about 1/4".

Chain line clearance in lowest gear is about 1/4″.

The frame itself has about 1/2″ clearance around the 4″ tires.

Fork clearance with 4" tire installed.

Fork clearance with 4″ tire installed.

Rear stay clearance with 4" tire installed.

Rear stay clearance with 4″ tire installed.

The bike comes with a pretty decent drivetrain and tires.

Drivetrain is SRAM X9, X7, X5 for rear&front derailleur, and crankset

Drivetrain is SRAM X9, X7, X5 for rear&front derailleur, and crankset

VeeRubber Mission 26x4.0  - 120 tpi tubeless ready. I weighted the rear tire at 1432 g.

VeeRubber Mission 26×4.0 – 120 tpi tubeless ready. I weighted the rear tire at 1432 g.

80 mm wide Weinman rims. The rear wheel including 10-speed cassette and 180 mm rotor weighs 2.280 kg.

80 mm wide Weinman rims. The rear wheel with 10-speed cassette and 180 mm rotor weighs 2.280 kg.

A quick first ride around the neighborhood and .. frown on my face. The steering is weird! After increasing the tire pressure from 6 psi to 11 psi, it rides more like a bike should. But, it’s still tough to hold a straight line on uneven terrain. Also, going around a corner requires counter-steering, it’s a really odd sensation.

How does it fit? I am about 5’10” or 5’11” and bikesdirect recommends the 17″ frame up to 6′. The bike’s a bit on the small side, but not by much. A longer seat post is needed and I will tweak the geometry with different stems.

Next, I tried myself at setting up the rear tubeless. I first tried to follow these instructions, but in the end the sidewall was not well supported by the rim and it was too easy to let air out by merely pressing on the sidewall. That was at around 2 to 4 psi. Maybe it would be fine at higher pressure, but that doesn’t seem like a solid solution for winter riding. I may try the ghetto-tubeless next, where you split a tube down the center and lay it over the rim surface. For now though, the 4″ tubes (390 g, each) are filled with 4 oz of Stans and I am hoping that I won’t have to fix flats on the trail.

I took the Boris over to the Roslyn RatPac trails for a couple hours today. Dropped the rear’s air pressure to around 10 psi and rode up everything. The sensation of big tires without suspension was odd. At slow speeds, it’s almost like a 1″ full suspension bike. Even 2″ rocks are barely noticeable. But at high speed, fast bumps make it shutter badly and it feels more like a rigid bike than a full-suspension bike.

The Boris looking over the Teanaway - perhaps some winter riding will be had there.

The Boris looking over the Teanaway – where hopefully some winter riding will be had.

The Teanaway gets snow, so I am thinking that this will be a good place to ride in winter. Even big loops should be possible there by combining dirt roads and trails. I am not sure how much snowmobile use the area gets – I’ll see soon enough.

The verdict: It’s not going to be my new favorite single-track bike. But, I am looking forward to putting this thing on snow. I suspect it will need more serious tires for that.

Good: Great bike for the money ($800 delivered). Nice drivetrain and saddle (WTB V). Stand-over clearance is huge.

Neutral: Handling is taking some getting-used to, for sure. The weight of around 34 lbs doesn’t really bother me.

Bad: Avid BB7 brakes are not easy to adjust. Rear wheel was not tensioned correctly. Rims cannot easily be converted to tubeless.

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Bikepacking on the Olympic Peninsula

Over the last year, I had only noticed 2 main mountain bike trails on the Olympic peninsula: the Dungeness/Gold Creek loop and Mt. Muller. Both seemed nice, but kind of short (20 miles, 5000 ft. and 10 miles, 3000 ft. el. gain) and are 50 miles apart. Add in the 3 hour drive from Seattle, and its a pretty poor ride-to-drive ratio. So, these trails have been on my backburner for a while.

Having long weekends this summer gives me some opportunity for bikepacking trips. So, the idea was to tie the 2 trails together with the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT). Their website is great and includes links to the GPX tracks on RideWithGPS. While the ODT is a paved trail, there is a parallel section west of Port Angeles called the Adventure Route of the ODT which is dirt. In the end, I didn’t make it to Mount Muller, but had a lot of fun on the 3 day mountain&road biking trip.

Google Earth view southwards over the Olympics.

175 miles, 18,000 ft. el. gain, 3 days.

My ride started on Friday evening from Sequim, heading east on the ODT. Perfect weather, smooth trail, just cruising along. The trail is usually far enough from the road that it’s pretty quiet.

Along the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Along the Olympic Discovery Trail.

From Sequim Bay state park, I headed up to Dungeness creek, but via a sort-of-maintained trail on an abandoned forest road (NF 2880) that goes past the supposed East Crossing campground. The trail was pretty easy to follow and nice in principle, but tons of spiders had put up residence and made it mucho myserable. I was so glad to be done with it. However, the elevation profile of this trail makes it a much better choice than taking the NF-2870.

Heading towards Dungeness Creek.

Heading towards Dungeness Creek.

Trail along NF-2880

Trail along NF-2880

And big spiders everywhere!

And big spiders everywhere!

The Lower Dungeness trail, however, was in perfect condition. Many sections were rideable up with full bikepacking gear. Very fun! I didn’t meet anyone, and with it getting late, I got some water from a creek, found a level spot away from the trail, and set up camp in the dark.

Lower Dungeness trail.

Lower Dungeness trail.

Morning came and after munching on an energy bar, I went right back to sleep. Finally, at 9 am I decide to pack up and actually ride by 10 am. No bugs, mild air, birds singing, no rush to anywhere. Just enjoying the journey.

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And today’s journey was still to be decided. First, I rode up to the upper trailhead parking lot – and saw a huge parking lot overflowing with cars. Odd, noone was on my trail. They must all be headed into the Olympic Wilderness, kind of ironic that there are way more people hiking in the official Wilderness than on the adjacent trails. I guess the title Wilderness really draws in the crowds.

Along the Lower Dungeness trail.

Along the Lower Dungeness trail.

River Campground, as it's called on my topomap.

River Campground, as it’s called on my topomap.

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After riding up a FS dirt road, I start down on the Gold Creek trail. What a beauty – trail and scenery are magnificent.

Gold Creek trail.

Gold Creek trail.

Gold Creek trail.

Gold Creek trail.

Probably Tyler Peak.

Probably Tyler Peak.

At the junction with Sleepy Hollow trail, I decided that I’d rather go adventuring towards Mt. Zion than finish this loop in another 20 minutes. So, off I go on the former forest road – now trail. Someone had done a pretty nice job clearing the Alder trees from the trail – though 4″ high sticks had been left that looked like lances for my tires! My tires made it unharmed, though.

Sleepy Hollow trail

Sleepy Hollow trail

For some reason, this trail really wore me down and soon I was wishing it’d be over. And when there’s nothing wrong with the trail, it means that I was pooped out. Just past Gold Creek, I took a half hour+ break, mainly consisting of coffee and gummy bears.

Gold Creek crossing.

Gold Creek crossing.

Feeling somewhat refreshed, I kept going up to the Mt. Zion trailhead. There I met a couple friendly hikers, and after some chatting, they filled up my ziplock feedback with trailmix. Yay – good chow, and I was now definitely set with enough food to make it through the night. The trail up Mt. Zion is incredibly nice. With lots of hikers letting me pass, I felt obliged to ride up some steep parts and steps. It’s hard not to show off when everyone’s watching – even if they are elderly hikers :). 45 minutes later, I was at the top and enjoying the view. Hazy – but beautiful in its own way.
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View from Mount Zion.

View from Mount Zion.

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… I did it my way …

The bike made short work of the downhill towards Dungeness Forks campground. I had laid out a route via forest roads towards Port Angeles, but after a while that got tiresome as the number of crazy drivers increased, who were out to shoot their big guns. Time to leave this madhouse and return to civilization: the ODT. I can’t say enough good things about the ODT. It’s paved: yes, it’s flat: yes, but sometimes that feels really good after mountain biking for a day.

Along the ODT near Port Angeles.

Along the ODT near Port Angeles.

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The next destination was the adventure route of the ODT. I didn’t expect more than one of those new-age 12 feet wide multi-use gravel trails. Boy was I wrong! The adventure route is first class single track. Almost 24 miles of it (3 miles towards the end are gravel FS road). Make that an out&back, and we’ve got 40 miles of single track, with only 6000 ft. el. gain on volunteer-maintained single track. All switchbacks were rideable, no overgrown trail, lots of flow. Truly a gem that I hadn’t expected. The motorized-vehicle barriers along the way were of a design I hadn’t seen before and found to be quite challenging to go through. (I forgot to take a picture of these things.)

Adventure route of the ODT.

Adventure route of the ODT.

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Interesting part about the "emergencies" one might have along the way...  Has anyone read all those paragraphs?

Interesting part about the “emergencies” one might have along the way… Has anyone read all those paragraphs?

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Devil's Point

Devil’s Point

Devil's point

See that guy up high? He's about to jump into the water below. 30 feet, easily.

See that guy up high? He’s about to jump into the water below. 30 feet, easily.

I had to turn around at this point and didn’t make it to Mount Muller. Maybe next time.

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Begin/end of the Adventure Route of the Olympic Discovery Trail near Port Angeles.

Stopped for some food at a gas station in Port Angeles and then munched on said food while enjoying the sunset at the ferry landing for a few minutes. The next 20 miles were mostly in the dark and had me back in Sequim in a couple of hours.

Sunset at Port Angeles.

Sunset at Port Angeles.

Fancy benches at the ferry landing. I guess it's windy here, often?

Fancy benches at the ferry landing. I guess it’s windy here, often?

 

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