Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 2: Cascade Huts hut-to-hut mtb. Single track and a lot 'o miles.

July 17, 2012. Day 2 of our Cascade Huts trip started out well.  We had all slept reasonably well given the strange environment and relatively hard beds.  We started coffee brewing in the little percolator.  To those of us used to loading up our automatic drip 12-cup coffee makers each night and pushing the little "delay brew" button so we can wake to the smell of fresh coffee, this process took an excruciatingly long time.  While we were waiting, Drew proceeded to fry up some Spam. Yes, that's right, Spam, as in pig parts ground up in a can. Trav and Meg claim to be foodies, and to be sure, when we've been to their house for supper, we have been treated to gourmet dinners, but believe you me, they were first in line to lap up the salty goodness of a crispy-fried slice o' Spam.  I had to admit, the pink stuff was kind of yummy the way my man fried up the perfectly rectangular portions. Poor Shelly, who agreed with me that Spam is just about the lowest food on the food totem pole, must have been in such a severe caloric deficit from her sour stomach the previous night that she even ate a small piece.  We complemented the breakfast of champions with Jim's silver dollar pancakes dipped in a bowl of syrup so that we only made a few dishes.  High-toned meals here on the Cascade Hut trip!

We packed up and set out at about 10:00 AM.  Not the earliest start for a day promising singletrack plus 4400 feet of vertical climbing over a distance of 36 miles. 

The fun began only a quarter mile from the hut on the Surveyors Ridge trail, riding the opposite direction from the loop we did the night prior.
Surveyors Ridge trail

Video: starting out on Surveyors Ridge Trail.  

Surveyors Ridge was AWESOME.  Buff, pristine, uncrowded, and mostly level or slightly downhill. We encountered only a few technical sections that we had to walk due our racks and packs.

There were spectacular views of Mount Hood all the way along this ~5 mile love trail.

Here is a little more video to give you an idea of forested part of the trail.  I could have been going about twice as fast and still loved it.

One amazing thing we began to encounter was an absolute explosion of wildflowers.  Almost everywhere I looked I could see some plant showing off. 


Gotta stop and smell, er, photograph, the wildflowers.

More Surveyors Ridge trail.

But alas, all fun trails must come to an end, and now we had to pay our dues.  We turned onto this:

  Road 4410 climb

Road 4410 climb: Five miles. 1700 feet of climbing. Very long.  Quite hot.  Got hungry. Ready to be at the hut, but only 15 miles into the day! 

We finally reached the top, which was also the highest elevation of the trip at 6000 feet above sea level. 

We had pb&j for lunch.  Dang that tasted good.

And then we started the first of several long, fast road descents.

The descents were interspersed with road climbs through some beetle-damaged? and fire-scarred areas.

But the bear grass seemed to be doing well.  I don't see much bear grass along the trails in Utah. My first memory of bear grass was on my first ever real mountain bike ride in Montana, so I have a soft spot for their fluffy plumes.

Bear grass.

This was the point where we may have been able to ride Gunsight Ridge singletrack, but due to snow, the Cascade Huts guys told us the trail was impassable.

Snow patches were hanging on in spots but didn't give us much trouble.
With our heads down, we hadn't realized how far we had come until we could see dry and high desert far to the east from this viewpoint.

It was about here that we all started to get tired, really tired.  My legs were tired from the climb, my back was aching, and worst of all, I felt like my saddle had its own heated seat mechanism like the fancy bucket seats in Jim's Audi.  It was time to roll to the hut, but we still had around 20 miles left to ride!  20 miles is a respectable mtb ride in and of itself, but now we had to do it after the 4410 road climb and the other dispersed climbs? Ugh, I wanted beer.   

Badger Lake, pretty, but with about 18 miles left to go and the time getting into late afternoon, we didn't stop long to enjoy. 

We screamed down some dirt and eventually paved Forest Service roads.  Drew clocked his maximum speed at 43.6 miles per hour!  43.6!  Reward!

I was not surprised to find no pictures on my camera for the last 20 miles except this one.

 The last descent of day 2

With about 6 miles left to the hut, Travis led Shelly and Meghan on a shortcut to the hut while Jim, Drew and I sliced our way down this really, really fun decent on a road that was becoming overgrown with brush.  Keeping up with Drew and Jim at the end of this day was not an easy task, but I'm glad I hung on by a spoke.

One wrong turn with less than a mile to go postponed our liquid reward, but by 5:30 PM we were home for the night at Barlow Hut!

There were two wonderful things about Barlow Hut. 1) a clear cool stream to bathe in (with biodegradable soap, of course)

and 2) bottled Deschutes Brewery beer!!!  Oh, and 3) because Shelly arrived before us, there was already the most delicious soup possible from canned goods simmering away on the stove.  Even though the food cabinet was devoid of any rice or pasta (they must have just run out, because the other nights we had plenty), the soup had lots to chew on.

Despite the long day, we had time to do some laundry, eat and drink, clean up, ...

Meghan doing dishes by headlamp.

and, finally, turn in for the night in my comfy cozy who-knows-what-smelly-mountain-biker-dude-had-used-before-me sleeping bag. My new light blue silk liner made the night safe.

 Day 2 in the books. 4100 feet of climbing, ~36 miles, 7.5 hours total time.

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