Monday, March 10, 2014

Bikepacking- Klickitat River, Washington

Six of us headed out for the first little bikepacking overnight of the season. From The Dalles, Oregon, we headed across the mighty Columbia River into Washington, where we would eventually hit the Klickitat River trail. It's basically a primitive rail trail, and the rough surface of ballast rock and washouts are best traveled on a mountain bike.

GPS Tracks Here

Day 1

 "You're stopping? Great, I'm thirsty"

One of the old railroad bridges on the Klickitat Trail

Notice the road sign? Despite it raining at the moment, we all chuckled and dismissed the warning, until two miles later, when my 29+ wheels barely moved in the mud. This stuff turned to slime, so we opted to make camp for the night.

We got a fire going under a huge old growth Douglas Fir before the rain really came down. The usual whiskey/fire/food/sleep cycle ensued.

Day 2

The rain finally stopped around 8:30 the next morning, and the sun was starting to pop out. 

 Lesson: Wool-blend gloves melt when you lay them next to the fire to dry them out. Ironically, the thumb side was still wet.

Yeah, slimy mud ruts

After a huge descent, we dropped into the shabby town of Klickitat, Washington. The huge lumber mill that closed in 1994 was a city block long. Left to rot, it now makes for some sketchy, fun off-bike exploring. 

Surly ECR- encounter creepy ruins

All the essentials are available in town

 So good

Back on the highway towards The Dalles finish.

This area has a ton of potential for further exploring. Had it not been raining, we were hoping to get to Rattlesnake Falls. Next time...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

The Christmas Valley Sand Dunes held the honor of best fatbiking in my life for exactly two weeks, until we hit the Oregon Dunes National Rec Area. There are 31,000 acres of coastal dunes that rise 500 feet above sea level. Scattered throughout the dunes are small micro-forests, which are home to coyote, skunk, raccoon, weasel and a host of other critters.

Half of the area is closed to motorized vehicles, so these areas of sand remain nice and packed down. In fact, it rained during the evenings, which packed things down even further. The fatbiking conditions were the snowboarding equivalent to a perfect powder day.

Day 1- Friday Evening

This was our first glimpse of the dunes- one, big, giant playground

 Donnie and I worked our way down to the beach for the sunset

We rode back through the dunes with our lights off. Highly recommended.

Day 2- Saturday

The goal for the day was simple- ride through the dunes, head north up the beach, find some food and beer, roll back down through the dunes in the dark again. Our pal and new fatbike owner, Dan Powell, joined us for the rest of the weekend.

We stayed at Tugman State park in a little yurt. For $39/night you get heat, electricity, an outdoor area to cook, three beds and a place to throw your beer cans. While the nearby showers were barely lukewarm, it was hard to complain when we were 1 mile from the dunes

This red skinned newt kept crawling under my tire. They were all over the trail


Floating seafood shack. Heat. Beer on tap. Really fresh chow. 

Negative low tides allow you to ride on weird shit, like this invisible sandbar

Day 3- Sunday

After 2 stellar days of riding, day 3 felt like a bonus day. We set out to explore the southern section of the dunes, which were bordered by a river. We found natural half pipes, massive berms and more high speed rollers to launch off.

This was, by far, the best fatbiking I've done since I first rode a fatbike in 2004. I'm almost embarrassed that it took me 4 years of living in Oregon to finally make the 4-hour drive from Portland. 

There is a much better write up on this trip entitled, Foreverscape by Dan Powell, in issue #4 of Bunyan Velo magazine. Turn to page 56

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fatbiking the Christmas Valley Dunes in Oregon

Forget the dreamy sounding name of Christmas Valley, this part of the world is what most people describe as high desert. Scrub sage, jackrabbits, hay farms and lava fields abound. It's located straight east of a little volcano named Mt Mazama (aka Crater Lake) that blew it's top 7,700 years ago. The vast sand dunes are remnants of the 12 cubic miles of ash and pumice debris that was launched from the explosion. These are the largest inland shifting sand dunes in the Pacific Northwest, and they are perfect for all-day fatbike rides.

Special thanks to Donnie for getting us there and for Moonlander, the coolest bike I've ever owned

GPS tracks here

Day 1- Full sun, full moon

Day 2- Sunrise, moonset over camp

Random vertebra

Old homesteader shack

Everybody likes kitties!

The moonrise was amazing

Day 3- Volcanoes and cracks in the ground