WHOOPS! "I almost fell off a cliff and died there"
"it is completely fast, swoopy and fun"
Thanks for pointing out why bikes don't belong on trails! They aren't race tracks!
From: "Preston Peterson
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2014 23:04:21 -0700
Subject: Helen's ride report
cross posted on mtbr. Apologies for lack of paragraph breaks.
If this was still 2004 I might write a lovely story of our trials and
tribulations and victories, lengthy scenery descriptions, and a rich mix
of character narratives, backstories, and humorous incidents. But we're
so past that now. I'll just give you the trail descriptions and hope
that someday you too can experience this area.
BOundary trail #1 - its not like we don't know about this trail but it
still flies way under the radar. It is so long overall that maybe its
just hard to grasp.The section going east from Norway Pass back to the
main Windy Ridge road is very nice and contains a lake, but also some
fairly uneventful miles so we started at Bear Meadow. I would probably
recommend starting at the lower trailhead, but we started at the Bear
Meadow lookout which adds a mile of uphill (or downhill, depending on
your perspective). This trail was eminently rideable, and was very much
up and down with no crushing climbs. I used to scoff at dropper posts,
but I wore mine out with all the up and down. You know what that means,
its equal fun in both directions. It stays in the forest most of the way
with not a lot of dramatic views, but your first destination is Badger
Lake. A small little lake, but one section is deep enough for a solid
swim, and its surrounded by a nice grotto of grass and rocks, very
pleasant. If you push on a few more miles, the trail gets a bit rougher
and a bit moto as it opens up into dramatic rock formations until you
crest out with a view of Juniper Ridge, Adams, Hood, and Rainier. You'll
know when yhou get there, and it isn't worth going too much further
unless you plan on doing something grand. You can reach Craggy peak
which is very Craggy, but it would be a serious challenge to climb this
thing and you really can't get on top of it. I had travelled to Craggy
Peak from the opposite directions many times, so it was nice to tie it
all together. Depending on your ruote and commitment, you can see both
of these "destinations" by just riding from Elk Pass on road 99 between
windy ridge and Ape Canyon. this in fact, would be a pretty easy ride
for some pretty nice mountain riding. We spent about 6 hours riding it
out and back from Bear Meadow at a leisurely pace with a lot of swimming.
Goat Mt. - I have often rated the Goat mt. climb as one of the top 5 in
Washington despite it being pretty short (30-40 minutes). It starts by
pummelling you with some pumicey/sandy climbs to beat you down before it
firms up and heads into the woods, where while not very tech-y, it just
keeps throwing steep pitches at you with almost no recovery. But its
over quickly enough and puts you out on an amazing ridgeline with a
great crater view and the giant Green River valley beneath you. Then you
descend to Deadman's lake, very pleasant and warm. From there the normal
route is medium climb and zippy descent to Vanson Lake, also nice but
not quite as perfect.
Since its been a decade since the last time, I and an amazing crew of
the "Davis family Robinson", "Jordache" Jordan, and David Stewart
(nickname needed here) tackled the Tumwater Mt. Loop of Woe (tm). This
trail starts with some fairly gently foresty ridge riding/climbing
before the trail disappears into some OLD forest. STicks and deadfall
cover what remains of the trail, constant blowdowns that are mostly
rideable, and the general atmosphere make it feel really, really
backcountry, like no one has been back there in seasons. I saw no tracks
of any kind on most of this route. There was a lot of climbing back here
too, but not crushers for the most part, just steady eddy but with a lot
of uphill blowdown obstacles. It does top out at one point with some
nice mountain views, but the real prize is before the final descent when
it opens up into a meadow that is an old lake bed. Its a beautiful
grotto, but I probably over sold it before the ride and I mis-calculated
our breaks so we weren't ready to stop and grok very long by the time we
got there. Then its a wild descent into "the hole" through twisty smooth
track routed through green ground cover clover, creeks running down
giant glacier boulders and super fast unpopulated single track. And
now, the climb - following a raucous mountain creek through at least a
dozen water fall interpretations, verdant green dripping forest and
giant old growth trees combined with massive dead fall, this is a
beautiful yet struggling climb. And it goes on, and on, and on...and
on...and then when its finally over and you see the daylight above the
trees, it goes on some more. As Jordan came up the final pitch to Vanson
peak, I belted out customized lyrics from John Denver's Calypso, and he
said it was the sweetest song he had ever heard. That ought to tell you
Ay Jordan, the trails you've ridden, the hills that you've climbed and
the stories you'll tell -
Ay Jordan, I sing to your spirit, and to the old Kona that's served you
so long and so well !
then it was our turn for Peter "Slop" Sherrill and Gleen "the ceo"
Glover's favorite downhill ripping down from Vanson peak. Amazing !!
And then the miracle that is Green River trail - I avoided this trail
for years because I was told it was "pumicey horse chunder" but it turns
out that is only the last mile to camp. The other 5 miles is the most
amazing river trail ever - it is completely fast, swoopy and fun - on
the way UP the river !! I rode down it last year, and I also backtracked
on it this year to find some people, and it was stunning - its just as
fun up or down the river, and just as fast ! I could ride that trail all
day. We were out there about 10 hours but we swam in two lakes, ate
lunches, took breaks, no rush. I told the group that they survived, nay,
thrived, on the ride that even Ironman Igor said "I'm not sure I would
do that loop again".
Sunday - too beaten down to consider Juniper Ridge, instead we avoided
driving and went west on Boundary #1 from Norway pass. We headed back to
the lakes trail after finding tehre was no longer a "no bikes" sign.
This was an old gem of mine that I found many years ago um, hiking
around and stuff. Probably not the best choice for a tired crew, as it
has a lot of exposure and a crap ton of offs and pushes. In fact some
may remember I almost fell off a cliff and died there one year. But it
remains one of the most beautiful rides I've ever done, with amazing
Helen's regrowth textures of rock and brush, and 5 count them 5 lakes. I
do not recommend this ride to any people except the most adventurous and
hearty of souls. Its probably the only ride I've ever done where I was
wishing I had flats. You dont' have to go back to the lakes though, you
can also continue on to Coldwater lake from Bear pass which would also
be a nice ride. Or even just ride the 3 miles to bear Pass for an
AMAZING view of Spirit Lake and the crater. We didn't go as far as we
might have but still spent about 6 hours including 2 swims.
So if you get out to Helen's sometime, check it out.
also, some people tried Strawberry Ridge from the south and it was do
able but not recommended, very brushy and not maintained. I don't know
what its like after the middle drop down trail, but probably the same.
Weather was absolutely perfect, and we didn't spend more than 20 minutes
in a car all weekend, and swam in Badger, Vanson, Ghost, Meta, and
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