Monday, June 20, 2011

Somebody told me to jump off a bridge

While sitting in the grass, soaking up the sun, installing some beers and reminiscing after the Rapture Ride a few weeks ago, my friend Kristin planted an idea in my head about going bungee jumping off a 191-foot bridge up in Washington state. She assured me it was really fun and I had already been looking for an excuse to check out the dirt roads from Portland up in between Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams in Washington.

This nice bike route out of town went through Vancouver, Washington. Those mountains in the distance would be my home for the 1st night.

Home for the 1st night.

I had some cell phone coverage, so I called my lady to assure her I was doing great. While on the call, a herd of nearby coyotes began to howl. Awesome.

Slugs come in all shapes and sizes

Day 2 started off with more climbing and some cool clouds. I was nearly out of water from the first night and the only natural water I saw for the first hour of riding was a grimy green pool surrounded by shotgun shells, broken clay pigeons and empty cans of Keystone Light.

The road to hell is paved with shotgun shells

Arriving at the top of Larch mountain came with a bit of a surprise. Snow and a rocky trail.

This 3-mile path was my only link to the rest of the roads I'd planned on traveling. So I figured since I was at the top, this was going to be the worst of the snow pack.

The snow was so packed from melting that I could walk my bike across it easily without sinking in. Overall, it was a 1/2 mile hike through the white stuff.

700 x 32 suicide. Why 29" x 2.1" is my tire size of choice for off-road touring

This was such a sweet little piece of singletrack. There was also the scent of skunk cabbage in the air, which meant water was nearby. While a few bites of snow helped quench my thirst, I'd been out of water for 1/2 an hour.

Finally, a pinch flat after cleaning all of the rocky stuff

I love the no shooting signs posted everywhere. This was a rare one that didn't have buckshot plastered all over it.

No elks sightings on this trip, but plenty of deer

Shining star for you to see, what your life can truly be

Coyote ugly

Pretty flowers were just a few feet away from that furry white turd

So good!

Notice some of the burned out tree stumps. It's hard to imagine these were leftover from the Yacolt Burn of 1902, the largest forest fire in Washington state history.

Out of curiosity, I followed a route that went around a mountain called Green Knob, as seen in the distance. If you saw something called Green Knob on a map, wouldn't you want to see what it looked like?

This loop around Green Knob turned out to be the most prime piece of gravel I've ridden in the last year. I was flat and open. No climbing gear or heavy braking, just a nice 12 MPH pace for several miles

Rounding a bend, I realized just how close I'd ridden to Mount St. Helens

Wherever there is snow melt, there is good drinking water. Just bring water purification tablets

Both my map and my GPS said there was a bridge here across Canyon Creek. Oh well, turn around and find another route

My disc brakes were already on fire and there was plenty more DH to go. Mount St. Helens again in the background

It had been a long 24+ hours in the woods and the occasional face washings in the creeks weren't doing it for me. Since I hadn't seen another person for at least 5 hours, this was going to be my shower for the weekend. It was cold, but SO worth it.

Rolling into the town of Chelatchie, Washington past the happy cows

After stocking up at the general store in Chelatchie with more jerky, alcohol fuel, trail mix, s'more Pop Tarts and a 24oz can of Coors, I made my way back along the gravel road I came in on and set up camp. I didn't look at a watch all day, but I'm guessing I'd been on my bike for around 12 hours

This turned out to be the best night of sleep I've ever had in a tent, 10 1/2 hours, only to be woken up by the bright sun high in the sky and a weird dream about Morgan Freeman pouring me awesome drinks at the bar

Slug + shell = snail

Creepy centipede or millipede


By far the ugliest slug I've ever seen in four+ years of living in the Pacific Northwest. WTF is that hole in the side?

Along the banks of Yale lake, part of a series of huge damned lakes along the Lewis River around Mount St. Helens

I opted for digging a hole in the ground and burying it

One-lane bridges, like this one over a section of Yale Lake, were built specifically for logging trucks

This wonderful weekend journey ended in Chelatchie, where I finally heeded my friend's advice to jump off a bridge. It was so fun, I did it twice.

Bungee jump statistics:
- At 191 feet, this is the tallest bungee jump bridge in North America
- You drop at 68 MPH, but spring back up faster at 71 MPH
- Roughly 3 Gs of force when you bottom out
- I wasn't scared until I was mid-air on the first jump
- I'd totally do it again

My GPS got a bit screwed up, but most of the ride profile is here to see:
Ride Profile