Mt. Hood Loop

On August 4th, 2012, four Germans converged upon the small town of Hood River, OR. Their monomaniac goal: to ride around Mt. Hood in 4 days.

My trip to Hood River involved busses with stops in Seattle and Portland.The Greyhound bus to Hood River was well narrated by the driver and accompanied by excellent views of the Columbia river.

Chinatown in Seattle

Looks like a good place to me! (Portland, OR)

Portland, OR.

The lodging, food and route were provided by Cascade Huts. Overall, we were impressed by the huts and organization. We rented 26″ and 29″ mountain bikes from Discover Bikes. We each had our own ideas of how to attach gear, so 2 bikes had racks, the other 2 without racks. Olaf and myself rented bikes first, while Jörn and Stephan were still driving to Hood River. They did show up half an hour before store closing, so the owner, Kurt, stayed late and got the bikes ready, gave a couple bikes a very good tune-up, and then sent us off to a nearby Mexian diner for some tasty burritos and other non-german fare. Ironically, a german rap song was playing.

Picking up rental bikes at Discover Bicycles in Hood River, OR.

We then piled our bikes and gear into our 2-bed room at the Comfort Suites, set up our bikes, and got ready for sleeping. Olaf hadn’t slept in 40-some hours, so he was out early. We 3 then had a fold-out couch, a nice bed, and a pile of pillows from the couch to fight over. I opted for the pillows and slept surprisingly well.

Day 1

After a good (and free) breakfast, we started our journey at 8:40 am.

Good to go! Mt. Adams in the background for added scenic value.

Initially, we rode a paved multi-use trail along the Columbia to Mosier.

Along the Columbia River.

Almost looks like Germany, only missing are the castles, and the dimensions are way too big of everything.

In Mosier we had a quick rest, food, coffee and were off to climb the day’s total of 5000 ft over 20 miles.

Popular place with bikers. Wonder why..

We soon were able to see a snow-peaked mountain in the distance, and though the direction we were looking at was not quite south (it was NW), we just assumed that it must be the fabled Mt. Hood, as we could not fathom that we’d be able to see other snow peaked mountains on this trip. But, Mt. Hood was supposed to be south of us. This confusion kept going for another hour, until we finally spotted a snow-peaked mountain to the south-west and realized that we’d been taking pictures with the wrong mountain in the background :). The temperature was still rising and would be a near record-high for the area: 94 F at Hood River, with high 80’s at 3000-4000 ft. elevation.

Long dirt road ride up to Surveyor’s Ridge.

Nice view of Mt. Adams along the gravel road.

Look carefully at the road and you’ll see a mountain biker.

Still climbing up to Surveyor’s Ridge.

Water-transfer time: from camel to bottle.

Stephan is making the endless uphill section look like a breeze.

Then, finally: A snow-peaked mountain to the south-west!

First view of Mt. Hood.

Arrived at hut at 2:40 pm and had a look around.

Entering the first hut I was unprepared for the practical joke the previous guests had positioned so well.

Time to enjoy the fruits of our labor from the view point nearby Surveyor’s hut.

Then headed out for another 1:10 hours on the loop going north on Surveyor’s ridge trail and then back up on the paved road.

After having been deprived of single track all day, we were rock’n this one.

Olaf cooked a delicious pasta dinner, and we got to eat just like at home. Cool-ish beer was also appreciated. The icing on the cake were the sunset views we enjoyed afterwards:

Sunset time view of Mt. Hood from Surveyor’s ridge.

Day’s total: 35 miles, +6125 ft, -2320 ft., 7:10 hours

Day 2

I slept really well and snuck out the hut to see the sunrise.

Sunrise time while the Moon is over Mt. Hood.

Getting up early to watch the sunrise on Mt. Hood. Yes!

Then enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast of spam sandwiches. I just can’t eat sweet stuff in the morning, or most anytime, but my compadres were digging in the marmalade, oat meal, hot chocolate, the whole sweet enchilada.

Well rested, fed, and watered, it’s time for our daily group picture.

We started at 8:40 am with the Surveyor’s Ridge trail. Clearing a few steep and technical sections with luggage made it feel like a real mountain bike adeventure, finally.

The second day started off with a nicely climbing single track right out the door!

Ahm, there was a root, then the bike stopped, and then I couldn’t get out of the old-style toe-clips.

Smooth flowy single track for the most part along Surveyor’s ridge.

And always Mt. Hood to our right.

Surveyor’s ridge.

Time to fill up some water bottles at a creek. This was the first creek that looked decent, i.e. only required Aquamira drops.

Perfect recreation along Surveyor’s ridge.

And then climbing up Lookout Mountain road. Temperature cool-ish (75F ?), but we were steaming under the helmets.

Decent place to rest for a few minutes, eh?

Filling up on water by the side of Bennett Pass.

Barreling down Bennett Pass road. Look close and you’ll see a mountain biker 🙂

Downhill on Bennett Pass road.

And up again on Gunsight Ridge trail.

Gunsight ridge was a fantastic trail, here covered in wild flowers for our enjoyment.


Coming down Bonney Meadows Rd. Too bad the single track couldn’t last all day.

I can hear the discussion in the office that day “Oh, let’s see, we need a bigger sign for this type of closure.”

Arrived at the lovely hut at 5:20 pm, enough time for showering/bathing with water from the nearby creek and laundry! The fresh clean laundry smell the next morning made it a delight to put on the biking outfit!

We were so glad to have arrived at the hut! This was longer than we thought.

A nearby creek provided ample water for showing and washing clothes. Good, clean smelling clothes.

Some nighttime rave lighting while cleaning dishes 🙂

Day’s total: 37 miles, +4810 ft, -5663 ft., 8:40 hours

Day 3

We did a lot of fiddling around, eating a leisurely breakfast, laundry-drying in the sun, all the while knowing that we have a lot of miles to cover today. But, with 2 lights to share between 4 people, only 2 of us were anxious to get going.

Spam, spam, spam, and bread for breakfast.

Finally got going for a super late start of 11 am.

Ready for Day 3!

First technical problem on the trip: Olaf’s chain snapped. Fixed it with a spare link and then his shifting problems went away, too. Go figure.

Who wants to ride first and clean the trail with their body?

Mt. Hood from Barlow Rd.

Trillium lake was warm and beautiful, but we were too short on time to jump in.

Quick wheelie for the picture. Thank you.

Riding around Trillium Lake.

Climbing up from Trillium Lake.

And then taking the trail to Government Camp, OR.

Glorious Mt. Hood! It’s a great day to be on a bike with friends, and heading straight towards the best single track.

Some fun stuff (Crosstown trail near Governent Camp, OR).

Enjoying the Crosstown trail with our hardtails.

For the main event: The Pioneer Bridle trail. It had us going full speed with our loaded bikes and then cranking the short uphills just because.

Ripping down the upper portion of the Pioneer Bridle trail.

And even a pile of logs just for me!

Then, the lower portion of the Pioneer Bridle trail, which was fun, but a bit of a letdown after what we had just done.

Lower portion of Pioneer Bridle trail. The water bar jumps were fun, but also a bit repetitive after a couple of miles.

Going fast on the Pioneer Bridle trail.

Time to climb again. This time the lovely (paved) Lolo Pass Rd.

Random (?) cairns?

Forest service road towards Lolo Pass.

What a beautiful evening it was turning out to be. Good time to be out late.

Almost at the hut.

The hut at Lolo Pass. What a fantastic setting!

Arrived at 7:30 pm. We had great views of Mt. Adams in Washington and Mt. Jefferson further south in Oregon. Both peaks, along with Mt. Hood, are considered ultras due to their geographic prominence above their surroundings of at least 5000 ft.

Close-up of western flanks of Mt. Hood.

View out of the kitchen window, while cooking pasta. I didn’t mind it at all.

Sunset time on Lolo Pass.

Day’s total: 45 miles, +5370 ft, -5140 ft, 8:20 hours.

Day 4

The route for today wasn’t quite clear. If we wanted to ride the single track sections (and we did), we had to get going by 8 am so that we could return our bikes in Hood River by 4 pm. In theory, this would leave us with a 2 hour safety margin before the shop closes at 6 pm and we’d have to figure out what to do for the night. The other option was to basically take a paved road all the way downhill into Hood River for 20-some miles. Ok, so there really was only 1 option for us, we had to get up early!

I was woken up by the sun shining through the windows, and I decided to rouse everyone gently, but with great enthusiasm. The day started off cloudy, and Olaf’s protesting against the lack of view was soon remedied by waning of the fog.

Fog lifted and views abounded.

Mt. Adams in the distance.

Everyone’s favorite breakfast items and tea/coffee were consumed and after packing, cleaning and loading, we were ready for our mandatory group photo at 8:45 am. Not quite the imagined 8 am start, but I figured we still had a good chance of being at the bike shop to return our bikes before 5 pm.

Day 4, let the good times roll!

I was wearing my leg warmers and jacket for the first 5 miles on the fast downhill dirt road.

Brisk and fresh morning wind on McGee Creek Rd.

Flat tire #1.

Long climb up to Whatum Lake.

A very long climb, as you can tell by the pictures looking quite repetitive.

After the long climb, we got on the single/double-track Rainy Whatum trail and all was golden again.

Rainy Whatum trail, OR.

Can’t seem to get enough of that Rainy Whatum trail. It was a really good downhill / XC ride.

I think I went _around_ that big rock :/

And now for some flowy stuff on Kingsley Whatum trail. Whee!

Flat #2 (different bike). It was getting late and we were anxious to get going again.

And then a disc-brake cable tore itself apart due to really bad bending at the entrance point. The front was done for, and the rear pads had faded badly on the long downhill section.

Cruising through orchards that seem to make up the majority of the landscape south of Hood River.

It was all downhill, unfortunately with only a sketchy looking (and feeling) rear brake.

In town, some confusion arose as to what the best route would be back to the bike shop, and how we’d get the rental car there. While Jörn and Stephan rode to get the car, Olaf and I forged ahead to the bike shop. We arrived at 5 pm at Discover Bike and were feeling glad to have done it, but also glad to do something else, next. Like, go to a wedding!

The 4 compadres back after their 4 day journey around Mt. Hood.

Day’s total: 53 miles, +4760 ft, -8140 ft, 8:10 hours.

Trip total: 170 miles, 21100 ft, 33 hours with bike.

Mt. Hood with Mt. Adams to the north and Mt. Jefferson to the south.

Our 4 day journey around Mt. Hood.

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