Oregon Rivers and Ridges Bikepack

A fall bikepacking trip was on the schedule, but where to go? At first, the Pyramid Mountain in the Entiat north of Leavenworth seemed appropriate, but Chip advised that last year’s fire damage made a loop impossible. Then, the Sunshine Coast was carefully explored on a map and bus transportation found. However, as time got closer to the Labor Day weekend, the weather did not look that great anywhere north of Oregon. Well, then how about Scott’s Hot Sisters Hot Springs loop in Oregon?

  • Weather: check
  • Singletrack: check
  • Rideable singletrack: check again!
  • Low-traffic connector roads: check

The loop carries with it 42k ft. elevation gain according to Scott, but the GPX track shows up as 52k ft. in Garmin Basecamp. In either case, a shortcut is needed. The shortest drive was to Oakridge, so then it was either the northern or southern portion with the Bunchgrass (“Eugene to Crest”) trail in the middle. The southern half looked a bit more appealing and shorter, so I stayed Friday night at the Oakridge Motel and started after a hearty breakfast at 9 am. Here’s a quick slideshow of the three days:

 

Click the map for the GPX track on RideWithGPS.

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Scroll down if you want the narrative:20160903_091525.jpg

I decided to ride counter-clockwise by going past Hills Creek Lake. The road is indeed fairly low traffic as promised, only about 1 car/minute passed me. Beautiful cool weather made this an easy section.20160903_095835.jpg

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Soon, the far reaches of the Middle Fork Williamette singletrack adds some twisty turns, while paralleling the road.20160903_104141.jpg

Instead of following the Middle Fork Williamette to the end, the route goes up and over a gravel road towards the Steamboat Inn. It’s so good to be out on a bike ride without people yelling “on your left”, or ringing their bells at me. Noone here, except one crazed 4-wheeling idiot who almost runs me over, and the driver of a car who wouldn’t pull over. Wheew.

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Coming down onto the pavement, the riding along Steamboat Creek is easy. Consistently downhill and very light traffic. I steal a few glances into the low-running water.20160903_130740.jpg

Suddenly, a fancy Airstream trailer catches my eye. Odd. Then I realize, that Scott had left a waypoint here about a Fishwatcher. Must check it out. Note the Oregon State Police is part of the sponsorship.20160903_134833.jpg

A super cute dog greets me as I round the corner behind the trailer.20160903_132812.jpg

And fishes! 2 feet long salmon everywhere!20160903_13282320160903_134214

The reason for the Fishwatcher is that about ten years ago, someone dynamited the pool to catch all the fish. Which is crazy in and of itself, but also for the fact that salmon are waiting here before the rains come and make it possible for them to swim farther upstream for spawning.

I arrive at the Steamboat Inn a bit after lunch time, and treated myself to a milk shake and veggie burger. It feels like an odd mix of anniversary-celebrating, wine drinking couples, and me. But, they have food, so that’s a plus.

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It’s good to get out and back on the trail: the North Fork Umpqua. It starts out with a techy bit around some rocks, before undulating heavily up and down. Not an easy river trail, but I knew that from the elevation profile which only goes up 3000 ft over 40 miles, while gaining over 8000 ft. elevation in total.

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The ~5 mile sections had different character and were explained with trail signs. After the hardpacked section above, came loose granite. Wheew, tough climbing on a hardtail!20160903_16402720160903_164750

I was definitely pushing at this point:20160903_172348

I met a couple backpackers with huge backpacks who had only gone 4 miles and seemed lost. Not sure what was going on there. Otherwise, the trail was mine. I rode very cautiously the first day, as it seemed like there should be more people out on this beautiful trail- but there weren’t and wouldn’t be the rest of the trip, except for very near the Umpqua Hot Springs and Lemolo Falls.

Lots of climbing, descending and techy riding brought me to a short interlude of dirt road near the small Soda Spring hydropower plant and the amazing basalt columns.20160903_19182320160903_192109

The section of trail afterwards was very scenic as it wound its way up along the Soda Springs reservoir. It was getting dark and late, and I was starting to look for water and a flat spot to camp. Nothing obvious came for a quite a while as the trail was climbing away from the water. A creek was eventually found, and afterwards in the dim light of my red taillight, I pushed my bike up for another hour looking for a good spot to camp. Around 9:30pm, or 2 hours after sunset I had enough, and just plopped down right in the middle of trail.

I only brought the tent-body as a sort-of-bivy sack. It worked quite well, though I had hoped to tie off the top on a branch for some more breathing room. After a some bagels for dinner, I was asleep within minutes.

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After a great night’s sleep, the trail didn’t look nearly as intimidating as it had the night before. Not many birds were tweeting at 6.30 am, so I got up without a concert. Some coffee and oats were had and a slow warm-up hike-a-bike brought me to a bit of fast & twisty downhill. Nothing like sweet singletrack riding at 7 am!

The riding really improved past Toketee Dam, as the grade become more consistently rideable. 20160904_083721.jpg

There was a bridge out and I had to wade through a cold creek. This would be one of two wet creek crossings the entire trip. Not bad!20160904_091352.jpg

The route became a lot wetter past Umpqua Hot Springs. There was a water fall coming out of the ground, and another waterfall disappearing into the ground. 20160904_09332620160904_093509

And quite a few wet spots.20160904_094025.jpg

Forward progress was made only slowly, and I kept recalculating how long this loop might take me. After stepping in a mud puddle and getting my shoe soaked, it felt like I needed to slow down and enjoy myself more. Time for a snack by the river.

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There were some punchy climbs, some boggy sections, and some sweet singletrack. All mixed together, until it finally went consistently up and away from the river. Some amazing amount of trailwork had just been completed near Warm Spring Creek by a large group of the Youth Conservation Corps volunteers whom I passed during their lunch break. Thanks guys and gals! Near Lemolo Falls, I met the first biker: all clad in downhill gear he announced that this was an amazingly scenic trail. I replied that it’s a pretty tough trail. Maybe riding uphill with camping gear is a bit different, though.

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Quite a few hikers passed me on the short section to the falls. I must be near the trailhead! And so it was. Exiting there, one runs across a really cool concrete canal with fast running water. Seems like one should jump in with a big inner tube (but there are signs saying that that is illegal😦 .

At the Lemolo Lake Resort, the little grocery store/hut, had cans of pasta with meatballs and ice cream. A bikepacker’s dreamfeast. A Mountain Dew Diet chased all this a few miles down the road. At this point, I did not get back on the North Umpqua trail, as it just looked like a lot of useless elevation and rocky stuff, and I wanted to make up some time. The paved road north of the Lemolo lake was quiet and fast, then a bit of red-dirt road brought me to the Windigo Pass trail. Singletrack?! Yes. But, it was thick moondust, beaten to power by hundred of hoofs and slowed me to a crawl. Yikes, so much for easy, fast progress on this trip.20160904_153850.jpg

In all, the Windigo Pass trail was a slogfest. Not that steep, but annoyingly bumpy and soft all at the same time. I was quite happy when I reached the top, running right into the Pacific Crest trail. Oops. Check the map… right, ride a bit of road and then take the Oldenburg trail. Which was amazing. Here, I met what looked to be a couple PCT through-hikers. There were quite a few trees down, but the trail was in primo A+ condition with no horse-destruction in sight. What joy! I was elated. Rideable singletrack as promised by Scott!20160904_17561820160904_181556

The sun was getting low, it was getting cooler, and the Oldenburg trail was mostly downhill and completely rideable. Unbelievable for a bikepacking trip.20160904_183525.jpg

Near Crescent Lake, the Metolius-Windigo trail was completely destroyed by horses and I couldn’t wait to get off and ride some asphalt. There was hardly any traffic in my direction along the lake, and I quickly made it to the SnoPark parking lot. The winter trail system appears to be quite extensive here!20160904_194425.jpg

For some reason I missed the Lake Crescent Lodge waypoint from Scott, and instead focused on reaching the Lake Odell Lodge. Though their kitchen was already closed at 8 pm, they sold me some snacks and sodas, and I hung out in the dining room while the super friendly staff cleaned up. It was so warm inside, and my feet were finally warming up. I asked about the cost of a room, but I was not ready to give up $80 when I had brought all my camping gear. In any case, the riding ahead along the railroad tracks looked like it might be boring, so I figured it best to get it out of the way. It was actually quite pleasant in the still of the night, but soon I was getting tired and threw my tent on the ground in the middle of a dirt road.

It got quite cold in the night, the forecast was for 33 F. As an extra layer to my summer-weight down quilt, I had brought a SOL emergency bivy. While that increased the warmth, it also kept a lot of condensation near me. But, for the last night out, it didn’t matter if my bag got a bit damp.

The next morning, I awoke to find blueberries all around me. Breakfast!

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I cracked open chemical toewarmers, only to find that they didn’t work. I didn’t have feeling in my toes and had to stop a couple times to try to warm up. It was a chilly morning.20160905_075254.jpg

The Fuji Mountain trail was a grandios climb as the sun was warming my back. Couldn’t have asked for a better route on a cold morning. 20160905_07565820160905_081108

A lot of climbing brought me to a few small lakes where I should have filled up with water. But, I didn’t, as I had been near creeks the last 2 days and thought there would be more and better water sources coming soon.20160905_090815.jpg

Near the top, I realized that the other side was down on a gravel road. Oh no! All that work for nothing. Should have ridden the loop in the clockwise direction. But, it was a very pleasant and fast way to go, and I felt better about being able to finish the planned route today.20160905_101708.jpg

The beginning of the “Eugene to Crest” or Bunchgrass trail was amazing. Everything logged out: sweet riding. Looking off to the side, there were some views to the Sisters.20160905_10301920160905_104818

Then, it became more obvious that I was going to ride up on this ridge for the rest of the route, and that there wouldn’t be any water anymore. Not wanting to face the obvious of riding down to the road and calling it quits, I kept on going. I mean, I could always quit later, right?

As luck would have it, I met a group of hikers who were coming back from searching for a mountain biker who got lost up here the night before – but apparently had been rescued by a different team in the early morning hours. I bummed some water off of them (Thanks!!), and was on my merry way. The trail had a few steepys, but overall was quite rideable through the undergrowth. Slow, technical riding, but riding nevertheless. I was taking a few chances on technical section and won by not having to get off and push my bike through thick vegetation.

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Various bushes and grasses covered the trail, but usually something could be ridden for the first 3 miles of this section. And then the views opened up – finally!20160905_11462920160905_115524

Though this trail was getting harder by the minute, it was also getting more and more scenic. I actually quite enjoyed the push up Bunchgrass Ridge.

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Yes, there’s a trail through the grasses in the picture above! Near the top, the Pepsi came out, still chilled from the night before.20160905_12102620160905_121746

After this, the Bunchgrass trail was really living up to its name. The grasses were hard and thick and I pushed most of the way to the top. Pretty, though.20160905_12301620160905_124522

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Right at the top of the ridge, I smelled a campfire and found the remains of a couple Mountain House dinners. This must have been from the lost mountain biker just this morning. Oh boy, it must have been a chilly outing. I wonder what persuaded the biker not to turn around?  I was about to find out.20160905_130211.jpg

This picture shows the ridge line that I would be traversing next.20160905_130449.jpg

The initial downhill was too steep to ride, and after a bit of rideable track, it soon became terribly overgrown.20160905_13211620160905_132705

A little bit was rideable, but mostly it was pushing for next 2 hours? It seemed like a long time. I also came across a backpack that must have been left behind by the rescue team, as it contained only a knife, a GPS, and some batteries. I didn’t know if I should take it or leave it. In retrospect, since it was more ‘equipment’ rather than personal belongings, I think I should have brought it with me to Oakridge. But, by the time I thought about that, I was long past the backpack.20160905_134353.jpg

Finally, the trail opened up and tended downhill. And we still have views. This is getting better all the time.20160905_14202520160905_14204020160905_143009

Here, I met the second mountain biker, out for a bikepacking trip to Bend, Sisters, and back. Seemed like he was riding the Northern portion of Scott’s route? No, he said he cooked it up himself and didn’t know Scott. Have a good trip!20160905_145530.jpg

The way down from the ridge was on some übersteep and sketchy trail. I walked – which also seemed sketchy. Nothing ever looks steep in pictures.20160905_151117.jpg

I thought about following the Bunchgrass trail afterwards, but the trail was tough. More like a really fun hiking trail. I went down to the gravel road and took a short cut, instead. 20160905_152806_001.jpg

Luckily, there was a turn-on from the road back onto the trail right where I needed it. And oddly, the other direction of the Bunchgrass trail was ‘closed off’ with a wooden sign across the trail. Maybe I did the right thing by riding the road to this point.20160905_165538.jpg

After a bit of pushing, the trail descends steeply off Heckletooth Mountain. Oh boy, time for a bit more walking! 20160905_170639.jpg

Soon, the trail mellowed and it was sublime downhill riding for this cross-country bikepacker!20160905_171747.jpg

A bit of downfall had to be navigated20160905_172923.jpg

And then it was down, down, down. My brakes overheated a few times, but it was still manageable. 20160905_17345220160905_17485420160905_175637

In the picture above, a heard of elk were crossing the trail but it was hard to capture them with the camera. There is one standing in the distance in the middle of the trail if you look closely. After those 5 miles of downhill, a few more miles down on the road back into Oakridge right after 6:10 pm. Just enough time left to get some food and drive back home.

 

 

 

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Crystal, Palisades, Sun Top

This year hasn’t lead to many mountain biking trips. Not sure if it’s the continual exhaustion from commuting, or if there isn’t much new in terms of trails left for me to discover nearby. There is a bit in the far-off reaches of Washington that I’d like to ride, but those are probably better combined in a bikepacking trip. The real epics this year have been my winter fatbiking excursions. New territory. New mode of transportation. New vistas. And new gear. It was exciting. I am looking forward to winter, again.

Nevertheless, quite a good little ride is the Cascade Triple Crown. This year, 2 serious contenders joined me at the 8 am starting line. It was frigidly cold, so I put on my wind breaker for the first 20 minutes. It was fun riding up the familiar roads and getting to know one of my comrades on this trip. He was riding strong, but for some reason seemed to want to hang back with me. At some point, he passed me, then I passed him, and then didn’t see him again until half-ways up the Northway trail on Crystal Mountain.

Riding up Northways, I was soon alerted by a voice that I was a slow poke: “Coming up on your left” was my warning to get over. A trail runner was light-footed passing me at twice my speed. Earlier, I had seen a bunch of cars and runners just below the trailhead. There must have been some kind of running event.

The tricky sections along the single-track climb are pretty fun if you can get them without maxing out the heart rate. Some are just really rocky, some switchbacks are steep and tight, some step-ups are just rideable.   And sometimes, you just walk. It feels good to walk.

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After a while, some views open up to the north: Sun Top is visible and a reminder that we are still to go there, today. In the meantime, we climb up this ridge.

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Higher up, the wildflowers are popping. Just gorgeous. Later on in the day, not many more wildflowers were seen, as the remaining peaks are lower in altitude then Crystal Mountain. I knew this terrific switchback section was coming up and vaguely intending on staying ahead to take some nice pictures. But, one guy passed me and so I still got one of us riding this sweet section:

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I had forgotten to bring my DeLorme InReach, and as I was riding up, I knew my only chance of sending ‘alive’ messages from my phone would be at the top of the mountains. Sure enough, full signal strength on Crystal to send a photo back home:

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My two compadres / competitors were soon ahead as I fiddled with my phone, air in the rear tire, and food for a while. They were both riding pretty nice bikes, and must have been looking forward to the descent.

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Somehow, I passed both at the top and one of them caught up with me was I was taking pictures and chatting with hikers. The cool thing on this ride is that you can see where you’re going next, or where you came from. Here’s Sun Top and Palisades behind me:

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Sun Top is about 1/3 over from the left, and Palisades are straight ahead.

Mt. Rainier was looking splendid, as per usual – time to ride the singletrack down! But first, a bit of gravel road.

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Chatted briefly with a gal from Arizona – who was hiking in 60 F temperature through this scenery.

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Afterwards, it’s a lot of fun and techy singletrack down, then some fast dirt roads and a looong grind back up on Corral Pass Rd. I filled up with water at the bottom and carried about 3 liters with me, in addition to a yummy Diet Coke. About half-ways up as I was pushing steadily and slowly, a couple mountain bikers were gaining on me. Who were they? Very slowly, the couple reached me and we rode up semi-together for a while. However, I was not about to burn any matches on Corral Pass Rd., so we started to drift apart at 0.1 mph. Funny.

Higher up, I passed the No. 1 guy, who seemed to not have a very good time. I tried to be as cheerful as possible in wishing him well, and rode up. My legs were still ok, but after a bit of coasting on the Noble Knob single-track, they felt like lead. Luckily, not much pedaling is required, safe for a steep hike-a-bike section a bit later on.

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I came across an older guy on a yellow 26″ Specialized hardtail, he looked a bit confused and inquired about the routes. A bit later on, I ran into a hiker who asked me if I’d seen an older mountain biker. When I said that I pointed him to the Corral Pass Rd. for the descent, the hiker seemed ok with that and turned around! Apparently, the bike dude had just crashed right in front of him.

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After rounding the above Noble Knob, I stopped for some coffee. Half expecting to see one of my compadres fly by any second, I wasn’t totally relaxed as I wanted to have my camera at the ready. However, no one came by. I sent another text messages that I was still alive.

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The next part is the rooty-annoying Palisades, at least on my hardtail it is a fairly serious torture. Luckily, there are these incredible views every now-and-then to pull me out of the tech-funk.

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The start of this ride was at the little Ranger Creek airport strip.

This year, I was really looking forward to the stairs at the end. I had a plan: to not ride any of them. That plan worked out pretty well, as mounting and dismounting takes a lot of time and effort on the 20+ switchbacks. But, first, we need to go down a ladder – which was difficult as always.

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Sturdy log, but unsteady feet with bicycle held at an awkward angle over the abyss.

Reaching the bottom, which is White River trail, I filled up with water and actually had a pretty good time on the root-filled route. Skookum came afterwards, and it didn’t seem nearly as fun as White River, today. Not sure what’s wrong with me.  One pretty big washout took a bit of trail down with it, but a rope had been strung to help the trail users along. Thanks, guys!

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I noticed the sunlight getting a tad low through the trees here and there. Not too bad, I thought. The next climb is up Sun Top Rd., and I always have a really hard time on that one. This time was not that much different. After an early break, I thought I’d be able to ride up, but instead bonked hard. I told myself to just keep on pushing, eating and drinking – which helped eventually.

A few dim-witted people on ATVs and motorcycle were racing up – and then down within 30 minutes. Lots of dust and tire tracks were left behind. In the distance, someone was unloading their guns for the entire 2 hours it took me to ride up. Just what is wrong with people?

A Jeep passed, people were waving. Friendly people. Not everyone has gone mad in the world. The sun was starting to set and I had reached the top.

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The caretaker at the lookout on SunTop was super friendly. We chatted for a while and I paid a visit to the brand-new outhouse. All was well, again.

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Knowing that there are 1000′ of climbing on the SunTop descent left, I bid farewell after half an hour from the caretaker, and headed down the rocky trail from the lookout. Not feeling too spent was quite helpful in getting up the next section and then down, as was plenty of daylight. Farther down, Palisades was all lit-up by the sunset.

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Back at the car, I saw that one person had come late and was gone already, one person quit and one guy was still out riding. Someone had left a bag of sliced oranges on my car, too. What a nice gesture? Should I be eating those? Kinda weird – no note.

A small airplane was taking off the Ranger Creek airport. I watched as it made about 3 circles after take-off to gain enough height to leave the valley.

I waited for about an hour, and then pulled out of the parking lot. But just then, a bike headlight shone brightly through the trees and I pulled back in. Yay, another person finished! We hang out for a little while and chatted about the day’s ride. Excellent.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jolly Esmeralda, No. 4

The fourth year in a row to ride this loop, but it’s different every time. First year, I rode it alone and the downhill trails from Jolly Mountain and Esmeralda Peaks were mere goat paths. Second year, rode it with a guy from Seattle who knew all about rocks – and found a most impressive rock with a fossil imprint at the top(!) of Jolly Mountain. Back then, the trail was full with downed trees coming up the Middle Fork. Then, third year, I rode with a guy from Bellingham who knew a lot about remodeling houses. And now, this fourth time, I rode with 3 people from Seattle and the Tri-Cities, and the trails were in better shape for some parts (like the downhill sections from Jolly and Esmeralda), but a lot more downed trees and rocks were in other parts. The views were fantastic this time, though it almost seemed like it might stay cloudy early on when I didn’t see Mt. Rainier peak out above the clouds on the way up. But, then there it was!

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My riding companion for the climb was in seemingly the same condition as I. As I hadn’t been mountain biking much this year at all – I was close to surprised by the speed with which we rode while chatting. It turns out that we both ride about 40 miles on the Burke-Gilman each day – but in opposite directions.

The picture above shows Mt. Rainier just a bit to the left of center. Certainly pretty up here. And here is the area where we would be heading to in a while:

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The bikes were sunning themselves:

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No ride is complete without hike-a-bike, and there are a few steep sections on the trail that helped warm up my cold feet. It was only around 60 F, which was perfect for riding.

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We put first tracks on the last bit to the top (as evidenced by a short section of virgin snow) before enjoying the views and snacks. The utter lack of biting flies was greatly appreciated, which I had come to expect from my prior visits to the top.

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness is stretching out before us to the west, while the Stuart Range expands to the North:

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Right behind me is the valley that we’ll go down into. Big views for forested Washington:

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A couple motos came up as we were getting ready to leave – but they didn’t make it to the top for some reason. They had just come up from Salmon La Sac. A little further down, we ran into Grant, one of our group of four, and he looked to be in good spirits despite the schlepping of bikes.

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And just a bit behind him was Mike, who looked to be fresh as a daisy. Rode up strong right past us.

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Meanwhile, Kate and I were about to get down to business: the Jolly Creek trail descent. After warning her by saying ‘I’ll was this section’, Kate rolled on and rode the whole bit. Apparently, it’s all rideable. Who knew! This isn’t a picture of the super steep stuff, but you get the idea:

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It’s always impressive to see the grandeur from below.

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After making it through all the tough sections, Kate had a little spill and landed in a bush of blueberries. Blueberries? Hmm, let’s savor the moment🙂

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Each bush of berries tasted slightly different. Some where a bit tart, others sweet, seedy, but all went down easily. After riding a bit more, the trail was very overgrown – with … wait for it: more blueberries. This time, we stuffed ourselves until I had actually had enough.

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Just then, Grant caught up with us, and we rode together up the Middle Fork Teanaway. Water crossings come every half-hour or so past this point, so it was easy to refresh or fill up with H20.

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One of my favorite parts is the climb through the meadow up to Koppen Mnt. trail intersection on the Deroux Spur trail. The surface is much more stable than it looks and the flowers on the meadow are almost breathtaking.

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The descent on the backside was fast and fun as always. The North Fork Teanaway Rd. has a few wash-outs and cars now need to park before the Iron Peak trail. How fun it is to ride without cars dusting me. The good life.

On the other hand, the Esmeralda Basin trail also looked a bit more eroded than usual and had us pushing early on.

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However, higher up the techy parts were rideable – great fun. And even better was to _not_ implode for the first time at this point of the ride.

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The weather was just perfect, and we took a good break at the pass with wind blowing strong and cold. Brrr. Time to get going!

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As per usual, my compadres were down and gone before too long, and left me to enjoy the rocky, steep downhill all alone. I walked more than the year before, probably not doing much mountain biking has left me feeling a bit sheepish. Afterwards, the Fortune Creek Rd. was waiting hot and steep as always.A 4×4 pickup loaded with people came bouncing down. Oooh, what a push back up to Gallagher Head lake!

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The last bit of singletrack is the Boulder de Roux trail, which apparently means reddish-brown boulder trail. Hmm, there is a mountain with that color at the top of the trail – so maybe that’s where it got it’s name from.

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The Boulder de Roux trail took me quite a while on this 1/4 mile obnoxiously steep section strewn full with boulder and roots. Time to walk-back-down. The last bit through the scree-slope was much less exciting than in prior years, when it was merely a goat path on a slippery slope. This time, we found a wide bench-cut through the slope.

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Nice, nice ride. After a bit chilling at the parking lot, Mike rolled in and we chatted until dusk.

 

 

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A Grand Canyon ride

Not through, but along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, that is. While the lodge and housing on the north rim feel like a tourist ant-colony, the surrounding roads are not used much and offer a great way to get some solid miles (and views) in.

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So, on a Sunday morning I set out to find my bikepacking friends who were on their tour of the Kaibab210 route. Not sure which way they were riding the loop from Jacob Lake, I figured that I would be riding it clockwise to get the most single track miles while I were still fresh. To intercept them, I headed north from the lodge. My route started/ended at the lodge, but without a GPS to record my route, I stitched it together by hand from the Kaibab210 route:

 

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The rented Specialized Camber rode well, even if the size M was on the small size. The AZT from the North Rim isn’t especially terrific: it’s in the trees, not that well maintained and goes uphill a lot. After a while, I got on the dirt road right next to it; all was well again. However, there was no sign of the bikepackers I was trying to meet. If they were riding the loop in 3 days, they’d better be through here by now! Figuring that they must be riding the other way, I turned around and hoped that I’d catch them somewhere on the Rainbow Rim trail.

Going the other direction  quickly lead to a dirt road which was much more scenic. There were steep, loose and rocky parts, sometimes all at once. The full suspension bike made climbing and descending a much more stable experience than my usual hardtail bike would have.

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After a while, the first viewpoint was reached near where Jörn and I had taken pictures not 18 years before. How time flies. 20160605_124839.jpg

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After talking with a Jeep’er, it didn’t seem likely that the crew had reached Point Sublime, yet. And, with only 1 mile left to go and no tire tracks in sight, I turned around hoping to catch them near the Rainbow Rim trail, instead.

A short while after I turned around, a text message came in that said that they were near the North Rim lodge and going to take a rest. I estimated that I could knock out the roughly 15 miles in 2 hours, and at least say ‘Hello’.  And I did!20160605_171140.jpg

It was nice to catch up for a few hours with Pascal, Lee, Scott and Ez, and meet new bikepackers Kurt and Caitlin. Good company until the late hours of the evening.

The next morning, we went on a short hike at Imperial Point – well worth it!

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Time to sign off:

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