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Showing posts with label Lewis River. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lewis River. Show all posts

Friday, April 19, 2013

Camping Report: Cycle Wild Sunset Falls, 13-14 April 2013

The group at Lucia Falls.
How was the camping trip last weekend to Sunset Falls, you may ask? I'll boil it down into one word:


A camping trip during April in Cascadia is always a crapshoot. Yes, there are plenty of nice days, but when you schedule a camping trip months in advance, like we do with Cycle Wild, you don't know what the weather is going to be like on that given weekend. Looking at the forecast on Saturday morning, it called for showers the whole weekend, but I was hopeful that the rain would hold out, mostly. And it did, mostly...until the end.

It was dry for the first 25 miles of the 40 mile ride out to the campground, but the rain started about 25 miles in when we got to the Heisson Store. We luckily had shelter for this first squall, and then the rain relented for a bit. But at the 32 mile mark,  the beginning of the final climb into the campground, the rain returned in force, and as we slogged up the hill, I could feel my body getting s-o-a-k-e-d. The rain slowed down a bit, but that was enough. And because of the lateness of the day (6 pm), coldness, and lack of sun meant that nothing would dry and we'd be in for a cold, damp night. At least we got the tent up before it hailed on us.*
This scene doesn't really convey the wetness.

But enough about the wetness! Let's move on to more positive aspects of the trip. (I won't bore you with details on the ride to Sunset, so read the entry from our much drier trip in April 2012.)
  • We had fifteen folks total on this trip, a few of them Cycle Wild "virgins" like Stasia who wrote up her own report on the trip here.
  • Despite no firewood for sale at the campsite, we managed to build one with scrounged firewood from other campsites. Thanks to Laura for actually getting the campfire started!
  • And bad weather or good weather, the ride up to Sunset Falls is pretty, especially the 15 mile section from Heisson to the campground. The East Fork Lewis River is a secret gem in the Portland metro area, with lots of rapids and falls for maximum scenery.
  • Nothing bad happened, except for Kirk's bike self destructing somewhere in Clark County. (Don't worry, he got rescued.)
Overall, once I got beyond the wet factor, it was a fun outing. But it is definitely making me look forward to drier camping expeditions in the future!
On Old Heisson Bridge.

More photos of the trip can be found over here.

*The irony of that is I turned on the weather radio right before it happened, warning about the chance of hail.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hood-Adams-Helens Tour, Day 5: Sat 14 July, the unexpected century

Oh Mount St. Helens, please do not blow up on me.
And a fine Bastille Day it was! When I planned this tour, I knew the fifth and last day would be a long one. I just didn't realize how long it would be.

I left Paradise Creek Campground a little after 10 am. (The other cyclists had already left by the time I woke up at 7:45am, which I figured since they had already retired by 7:30pm.) The first five miles of the day were the toughest, a 6-8% climb up to Oldman Pass with an elevation gain of around 1,500 feet. The morning was peaceful (if a little damp) and quiet, as there wasn't much traffic on Wind River Road. The scenery was fine if not spectacular, basically a climb through the woods.

An hour later I finally got Oldman Pass (3,000 feet), though there was no great view from the top. The "view" would come in a few more miles on the descent down Curly Creek Road. And the reason why view is in quotations is because low cloud cover obscured Mount St. Helens at McClellan viewpoint, so it wasn't as good as it could have been. Of course, the cloud cover waited to burn off right as I left. But then I got to see St. Helens on the screaming and beautiful (and screamingly beautiful) descent down. It was one of those descents that didn't feel as fast as others...until I looked down at my speedometer and noticed I topped out at 42 miles and hour (68 km/hr). Yikes! That's possibly the fastest I've ever gone on a bike!
McClellan viewpoint

Once I got to the bottom of the descent it was about 20 miles of riding on the north shore of Swift Reservoir, an impoundment of the Lewis River. The road was windy and up and down, but thankfully no big grades and little traffic. Still, this section was the least thrilling part of the ride, as there wasn't much of a view for most of it, and when there was, it was a man-made lake. (I can't get that excited about man-made lakes.) After almost 40 miles, I was in the "blink and you'll miss it" town of Cougar, on the edge of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. I stopped to have some lunch and ponder what to do next.

I had lined up a Warmshowers host in Brush Prairie, a "town" outside Battle Ground. It would still be another 30 miles to get there. As I said earlier, I had already planned on a long day for today. The only camping options (besides Battle Ground Lake, which would be near Brush Prairie) would be some Pacific Power campsites along the many lakes on the Lewis River. April and I had been to them before, and found them crowded, expensive, and lacking in charm. So that's why I had planned on a long day.

But why just go to Brush Prairie? From there, it would be about 20 miles to the Red Line MAX. I could get home tonight. Yeah, it would mean a ninety mile day, but so what? At least I would get home. And not have to interact with strangers. Not that I have anything wrong with Warmshowers, it's just that after a long day of riding sometimes I don't feel like interacting with people I don't know. So I decided to push on, all the way home.
Yale Bridge, Lewis River
The rest of the ride was through charted territory, as April and I had ridden out this way in 2010 during our St. Helens mini-tour. I just pushed on. The scenery improved as I reached the rural eastern reaches of Clark County and I made it to the Glenn Jackson (I-205) Bridge just after nightfall. The plan was to hop on the MAX at Cascades Station (by the IKEA) as it was 10pm and I was tired. Despite all that, I got a wild hair up my ass and pondered riding the whole way home, as it would put me near 100 miles for the day. But why? I was tired, and have already pulled a century a few times. What am I trying to prove? Just get on the MAX.

Of course, a minute away from the MAX station I saw the train depart. Knowing that at this time of night it may be at least a half-hour until the next train, I decided to just ride. And ride I did. A few blocks away from home, the tripometer on my cycle computer passed the hundred mile mark. And then I was home. Exhausted, I wolfed down my food and snuggled April. The tour was over.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

And yet another small bike tour!

Lolo Pass and Mt. Hood
As you read this post, I am on the road.

You probably have figured out from this post that I took off on Tuesday July 10th to camp at Dodge Park. But hey! I don't have anything scheduled this week, why turn around so soon?

So from Dodge Park I'm heading east towards Mount Hood and summitting Lolo Pass. Then down into Hood River on the Columbia River Gorge. From there, I have two options: if I'm not feeling that up to it, I head west through the Gorge back home. If I am feeling up to it, I'll cross the Columbia at Cascade Locks, head north along the Wind River Road over Oldman Pass and then come down the Lewis River Valley and then through Battle Ground and back towards home. I'll be in the shadow of three mountains (Hood, Adams, St. Helens) for most of the time.

The weather is going to be great, sunny and around 80F/27C the whole time. While I'm never going to be more than 75 miles as the crow flies from Portland, I'll still be exploring new areas. (Can you tell I love this area?)

I doubt I'm going to be posting that much during this trip, as I'll be going through a whole lot of nothing as civilization goes. I may write a post when I get into Hood River. I won't be able to post photos until I get home.

Adventure awaits!