July TR-out w/ the fire and back w/ the monsoon
The family and I normally go on vacation on or around July 4th but this year was a bit different. The trails in Flagstaff in June were so dusty it was hard to get motivated to ride, and group rides were definitely out of the question. And then the sickening fire. And then 3 of our bikes were stolen the day before we left making it even easier to leave. A police report and picking up a replacement bike for myself were the last things I did before leaving. I didn't even test ride the new steed but many thanks to Absolute Bikes for easing the pain.
Anyone that knows me also has perhaps noticed that if I can get away with it with Mrs. Rockman I plan all vacations around bike rides. And so it was. Four states to encounter, mostly camping. Also along were the girls, ages 11 and 8 and a dog. First a stop in Ogden, Utah for the wife's usual July 4th family reunion and then the destinations in order of appearance: Stanley and Sun Valley, Idaho; Mt. St. Helens in Washington, Columbia River Gorge, Portland to visit w/ friends, Oceanside along the coast, Mckenzie River, Oakridge, Newberry Crater south of Bend and back to Flag where it was starting to rain the PW northwest.
I took this pic on my 2nd to last ride on my trusty Ventana El Ciclon. It seems a fitting place to start. Sort of pretty and sad at the same time, esp to think what all those folks that live on that side of the peaks are now having to endure with the flooding.
On with 3 weeks of mtn biking vacation. Everyone got to play on bikes but hiking and swimming and sight seeing were also involved. I didn't keep track of how many miles we drove or how much diesel I bought but I got in 159 miles of riding in 18 days. I'm a geek in that I've pretty much recorded every ride I've made since 1989 so here's the tally:
-159 miles on my new Intense Tracer
-19,070 feet of climbing
-27,540 feet of descending
After putting on chainstay protection and a cyclometer in Utah the break-in ride was the Glenwild/Flying Dog Loop near Park City. Then off to Idaho the next day. The bike was definitely different from my old steed but I was liking it on the buff PC singletrack. No pics but I'll post a few from some what I consider the best rides I was fortunate enough to do and maybe some other things we hit along the way.
Last edited by rockman; 08-07-2010 at 09:08 PM.
Stanley Idaho has some of the best riding anywhere. After a couple of days of riding and hiking in the Stanley area we drove down to the east fork of the Salmon River to do the Big Boulder to Little Boulder Creek/Frog Lake loop. It's a long ways from anywhere but part of the headwaters begin on the drier, east side of the White Cloud Mountains. Some of the riding in this area may become Wilderness and off limits to bikes so get there if you can.
We camped near the Big Boulder Creek trailhead which meant I didn't have to climb 4.5 miles and ~1000' of jeep road. I've been wanting to do this one for years and it didn't disappoint. Still lots of climbing though and the nice thing doing this one counterclockwise is most of the remaining 2300' of climbing is on consistent 450'/mile grade singletrack that is shady and then you reach the top with the most amazing views of the White Cloud Mountains. Yes, followed by 3370' of mostly fast, rock dodging technical downhill on much more primitive singletrack. Once you begin the downhill and approach Frog Lake the view of what I believe is Merriam Peak (10,920') are mind blowing. Some amazing geology which I don't quite understand but it looks really cool. Then you drop into the Little Boulder drainage with big views of Castle Peak (11,815') and then a downhill along the creek that skirts the creek and beaver ponds before exiting along sagebrush slopes to the east fork of the Salmon R.
more pictures and more stories, please
What a fantastic list of riding destinations. Any two or three would make it memorable. How many of these ended up on your all-time top ten list?
Stanley and Sun Valley, Idaho; Mt. St. Helens in Washington, Columbia River Gorge, Portland to visit w/ friends, Oceanside along the coast, Mckenzie River, Oakridge, Newberry Crater south of Bend and back to Flag where it was starting to rain the PW northwest.
I'd like to hear more about Mt. St. Helens and Oakridge. Did you ride in Hood River? Where did you ride in or near Portland? Newberry Crater, that sounds odd. My sister lives in Bend, along with a riding buddy. There are countless five star trails nearby. I wouldn't have picked Newberry Crater. Did you make it to Tumalo Falls? I see Lakeside and Seaside on my Oregon map, but I don't see Oceanside. Did you shuttle McKenzie River Trail? Did you take the family to Crater Lake? If you return to Oregon, they would like Waldo Lake, near Oakridge, and you would love the 20 mile trail that circles the lake.
I'm thinking of hauling the camper up to Oregon in September, again, and have yet to explore Oakridge. Hope you have something good to report.
Gulf Shores by Palace Brothers
It's No Reason by The Church
I Want Candy by Bow Wow Wow
The next day Mrs. Rockman had her way w/ a Sun Valley staple: Greenhorn Gulch and Imperial Gulch. About the most fun you can have on a 10 mile ride anywhere. I did the town thing with the kids riding our bikes around Ketchum and hitting the art show. I had something bigger in mind for the next day-another ride I've been dying to do but either never had enough time or I didn't feel I was fit enough to pull it off. One of the biggest bangs for the buck in the Sun Valley area: Trail Creek to Pioneer Cabin. Down Johnstone Creek to Hyndman Creek and then back up Bear Gulch and down Parker Gulch and back to Sun Valley/Ketchum. A total loop of 24 miles with 5,100' of climbing.
This one has some steep climbing w/ 700 to 800'/mile type of stuff but still pretty buff trail so it wasn't too bad. And sometimes when it's that steep I'd rather hike anyway. Which was good because it took me 7 hours because I also had to wait out two thundershowers (the only rain of the entire trip!). The payoff for two tough climbs is two of the best dowhills in the SV area IMO. Or anywhere for that matter. And stupendous views of the Pioneer Mountains with the highest, Hyndman Peak, at 12,009' in elevation These mountains are so close to SV it isn't even funny but you can't see them from town unless your on top of Baldy (the ski area) or one of the rides south of town like the Greenhorn Gulch area.
Last edited by rockman; 08-01-2010 at 09:52 PM.
My top 10 list seems to change with mood and age but the first two I've described are definitely in there. Colorado has some great stuff in CB like 401, Deer Creek, and Doubletop. Or Durango and that's just scratching the surface but Idaho is just as worthy a destination. I did some pretty good rides in Montana last summer that would need consideration. I'll try to explain my rationale in future posts. I considered Waldo Lake, which had finally had the deadfall cut out, but the word on the street was we would be eaten alive by mosquitoes. Apparently it's better to wait on that one until Aug or Sept.
Originally Posted by The Prodigal Son
I confess I read your TR from your trip to Oregon and it was part of the background research for sure
Upcoming Road Trip Through Oregon - Is This A Good Itinerary?
Idaho is a geologist’s wonderland because there are mountains everywhere. Home of the River of No Return and the largest road less area in the lower 48. The mountains were also heavily glaciated with cirques containing mountain lakes, big u-shaped canyons, and glacial moraines. Most of the mountains owe their origin to plate tectonics, duh, but it’s a complex story. Far from my area of expertise but anyway, the short of it, is a spreading center (like the mid-Atlantic Ridge) opened up off of the west coast sometime during the Jurassic (150 million years ago), pushing oceanic crust beneath the western margin of the continent. The sinking oceaninc, basaltic-rich crust got hot and melted the crust above creating granitic rich magmas that pushed up the overlying rocks creating the incipient Rocky Mountains. Eventually, the magmas pushed up creating large areas of granite (like the Sierra Nevada batholiths) and the overlying rocks slid off to the east on thrust faults creating many aspects of the Rocky Mountains in eastern Idaho and Montana that you see today. Where the older, overlying Paleozoic rocks were eroded the granite reached the surface (ie., the Idaho Batholith) forming much of central Idaho. Then there was more faulting, some of it basin and range pull apart type stuff, more thrusting, and more volcanism and emplacement of more granites. It’s all very complicated and I don’t claim to understand most of it but it sure is a cool state to visit.
But what about Oregon and Washington? In Jurassic time this area was ocean but in the last 30 or 40 million years, plate subduction created the Cascade Mountain range or the Cascade Volcanic Arc. The subduction zone created all kinds of volcanoes, lava domes, and cinder cones and with the exception of skiing Mt. Lassen in 1995, an area I had yet to explore. Among the nearly 20 stratovolcanoes is of course Mt. St. Helens, which as we all know erupted big time in May 1980. I was a graduating senior in high school that year and the eruption played a part in my becoming a geologist. So, off to Mt. St. Helens. A place I had never been but wished to see and I had heard high praise of the legendary Plains of Abraham ride across the blast zone.
After driving all day we camped near Cougar, Washington and the next day drove up to Windy Ridge. Well, it was as advertised. Both the volcanoe and the wind. I had hoped to ride to Ape Canyon and back (a ride that comes highly recommended no matter what source) with my older daughter but we were getting blasted with pumice and the head wind on the way back was going to be murder so we made it out part way and turned our tails and bravely fled. We gazed a bit on the enormity of it all and also made note of Smith Canyon (the first pic). A way to make a big loop which is reported to be an epic, all day ride. Since it was nearby, we then shuttled Mrs. Rockman to the top of Lewis River trail for a 1.5 hr ride while the girls and I set up camp down at the trail tail.
The next day the 15 mile "Falls Creek shuttle" just happened to be on the way to the Columbia River Gorge so it made sense to hit it while wifey and the kids hiked to the waterfall at the bottom near the end of the ride. This one comes highly recommended although it wouldn’t make my top 10 list. Despite being called a shuttle, the first 5 miles of up and down add up to nearly 1000' of climbing before the last 5 miles of fast and furious dowhill through what looks like old growth forest with lots of ferns. Total descending was 2510’ and there was still lots of time to drive the Gorge and tour the plethora of waterfalls. Then it was off to Portland for two days.
Last edited by rockman; 08-01-2010 at 11:53 PM.
gr8 writeup and gorgeous photography!
"If God is your co-pilot you're in the wrong seat!" S Barrington
very nice....very jealous
After two days of the big city it was off to the coast. We rented a house in sleepy Oceanside. It was a bit cold and windy which I guess is the norm for the Oregon coast but it sure is beautiful. The kids had a blast running around on the beach and checking out starfish and their briny kin in the tidepools. We did an 8 mile out and back on the Bayocean Penninsula to look for seals of which we saw one. I took a side jaunt to ride the Storey Burn about 45 min to the east in the Tillamook National Forest just off of hwy 6 between Tillamook and Portland. Great 8 mile loop in primeval rain forest with 1400' of climbing. Can't say I'm a big beach fan so I was eager to wrap things up with Oakridge.
Yessss, finally a week in the Oakridge area. An extra week to the trip that was probably going to get me in trouble at work but well worth it. We left the coast on Sunday the 18th and after dinner with some friends in Corvallis we made it to the Paradise Campground toward the lower end of the famous McKenzie River trail about 11pm. A 6.0L turbo diesel is the ticket for low impact, late arrivals to campgrounds but we were set up good for the next day and it was pretty deserted on a Sunday night. The next morning Mrs. Rockman did an out and back while I packed up and then we did a similar but shorter ride with the kids.
The McKenzie is normally done as a 27 mile one way shuttle that drops 1800' along the way. For the afternoon, I went for a shorter version which involved getting dropped off just above Clear Lake and they rented a canoe and paddled the lake a bit which is very pretty. But for those interested there’s a small hot spring called Bigelow right on the river about 17 miles downstream from Clear Lake and that was to be our meeting place. The trail is hardly a downhill with lots of small climbs and fun, techy twisting trail way across a couple of lava flows. With climbs and lava chunk it took me 3.5 hours with 800' of climbing and 2040' descending before joining the fam for a soak in the hot spring. As for the ride, Sahalie Falls is lovely and the Blue Pool where the river reemerges after flowing underground for a bit is beautiful. However, I think the McKenzie is a bit overrated and certainly isn’t the #1 trail in the nation (I think it was #1 in Bike Magazine’s top 10). http://rideoregonride.com/trails/mckenzie-river-trail/
Certainly worth doing but perhaps the Umpqua River trail next time.
I agree with your assessment of McKenzie River Trail. It is visually stunning but I felt I was in a National Park on a hiking trail. It just doesn't have the feel of a trail purposed for mountain biking. So beautiful, though.
You mentioned Mt. St. Helens. Did you ride up through Ape Canyon to the Plains of Abraham? There are sections the annual run-off keeps washing out, to the point it could be quite dangerous.
You driving a GM with a Duramax? Pulling a camper or loading gear in the bed? What were diesel prices along the way? Any good restaurants along the way worth mentioning? Pastry shops? I seem to spend just about as much time researching places to eat as I do rides.
Forgot about the mosquitos. We spent time in Bend years ago during mid-summer. Wow, we were unable to stop riding for even a few seconds. I know now why I travel to the northwest in September.
Must do a return trip to Crested Butte. Had a bad experience a dozen years ago and haven't been back to enjoy their fine trails.
Hope you have more pictures and stories. I can't imagine pulling off such an epic trip with the entire family, and everyone is happy and fullfilled.
Different Time by Leila
Pretty In Pink (acoustic) by Psychedelic Furs
What I meant To Say by Film School
Wow. Amazing trip. Perhaps my future when I have kids with the wifey. I like how you two trade rides and kids. Nice setup. I've yet to have a full-out MTB road trip, multiple stop, singletrack extravaganza across the west, but it is probably #1 on my bucket list. There is just too much good riding out in these parts! Thanks for the post. Excellent.
I love bike!
Wow!!! I like you're idea of a "family vacation"...very cool and thanks for sharing
As you mention, the McKenzie is indeed a beautiful ride through the forest but I was surprised in that it is actually never that close to the river. Maybe it is on the lower end and down by Paradise it was. I Iiked the trail along the M. Fork of the Willamette better. I also prefer a long climb (or shuttle) followed by a long downhill rather than countouring along next to a river. To each his own and for a big group ride it might even work better than a mountain trail. Who wants to stop in the middle of a great downhill to regroup?
In regards to Mt. St. Helens we started from Windy Ridge with the intent of riding TO Ape Canyon and turning around. But with the wind, I was concerned for my daughter's safety and cornea protection. Just riding the ridge up to the steps was pretty sketchy. It's good to know that there are other sections of potential danger because I was really disappointed to have to turn around. Another time I guess. I really want to loop it up with Smith Canyon. This is a great resource for trail conditions there: http://nw-trail.org/node/1222
Our rig is a 2005 Ford van. After a couple of years of trying to pull off similar trips with a Toyota Landcruiser and tent camping I pulled the trigger on a used Sportsmobile rather than pulling a camper. And with the kids older, there's the need for 4 bikes. And of course the dog. Actually I blame it all on apparent "need" to bring the dog. But really as I near 50 I'm tired of tent camping. Between backpacking, river trips, blah blah I've probably slept 1500 or more nights on the ground. My first diesel as well. No regrets there. Lots of power and not really that loud except at idle. Oddly enough, diesel was cheapest in Flagstaff but was $3-3.10 most other places. And with a 46 gal. tank you don't need to fill up much when you get 16-17 mpg. With a fridge and stuff easiy accessible you can do lunch on the move and not have to stop.
I have to admit keeping everyone happy on such a long trip was at times a challenge. Patience helps and while I planned the itinerary around bike rides there's always some sort of activity to involve the kids. Fishing, playing catch, or letting them watch a movie (not encouraged but at times life saving). The day after McKenzie though was pretty tough with two shuttles planned.
Last edited by rockman; 08-02-2010 at 03:13 PM.
That's a pretty sweet ride. I like your style.
rockman, can I travel with you?
Wow. What a great trip! Like PS said, just pulling off 2 or 3 of those rides on a family trip would be amazing.... but you have done well sir. Nice to have a family that cooperates with (and even participates in) your addiction.
More info on the Sportsmobile please. Is there a bathroom or shower? Does the top pop up for added head/walking around room? Great set up. We're wanting to get something like that for traveling around. Don't want a big motorhome..... but it has to have a shower/bathroom (as per Mrs. KRob). We were thinking of some of the Dodge/Mercedes Sprinter Van based campers but this SportsMobile could certainly get you into more remote camps and (more importantly) shuttle drop off locations.
Last edited by KRob; 08-02-2010 at 06:29 PM.
But first one more ride in the Mckenzie area, King Castle. Since we camped nearby we shuttled my lame ass up the dusty, gravel road. I then climbed the 1 mile 700' of tight switchbacks to the top of Castle Rock for the view and then back down before really opening up the speed on one of the better downhills I've ever done. The vertical drop was 2500' in 6 miles. If you’re in the area you’ve got to do this one.
That obviously didn’t take long and then we hit the Aufderheide Rd which is a twisty 2 hour drive up the south fork of the McKenzie River, over the pass, and down the north fork middle Willamette River to the little town of Westfir near Oakridge. The covered bridge in Westfir just happens to be the end of the famous Alpine trail. At this point, the kids were having a boring day but the prudent thing to do was shuttle Alpine so we drove up another hot, dusty rd and dropped Mrs. Rockman off.
Now I've really got a mutiny on my hands with two van-locked kranky kids. Luckily Eugene at the local shop http://www.mtnmercantile.com/shop/
had the most important beta of the trip. It just happens there are a couple of lovely swimming holes just upstream from the covered bridge. Thus, the day was saved while wifey dropped the 8 miles of nearly continuous 3000’ of downhill. I didn’t get to do this one but I hear it’s good.
Eugene is a transplant from AZ that I met while working at Absolute Bikes or maybe he worked there but he seems to have taken root in Oakridge. Be sure to give him a buzz when you're in the area. The dude abides.
Last edited by rockman; 08-02-2010 at 06:47 PM.
Thanks for the complement. We think it was important to let the biking and skiing come to them so we didn't push it too hard. The youngest didn't learn to bike until she was 6 and even then she's been tentative but a real breakthrough occurred on this trip. And always good to chase the older sister. I met wifey on a bike ride so that comes natural although it would have been nice to have ridden more together.
Originally Posted by KRob
I didn't want a motorhome either and wanted the ability to get out there (canyonlands and the maze come to mind) like I could with my Landcrusher. For most of the stuff we've done so far the 4wd and winch are overkill (and comes with higher maintenance costs) but it's nice to have when you need it. And for winter driving.
The Sportsmobile is a great way to go but it still doesn't make camping hassle free. To sleep 4 the bags basically have to come out so there's loading and unloading every day. The top does pop up and that's where the kids sleep but you can't have a lot of weight on it. Maybe 100 pounds but most of the stuff like the lawn chairs were coming off for camping anyway. With a small step ladder the bikes are the easiest. It has a propane heater so you can heat water pretty quick for a shower which is really nice after a ride and you don't want to mess with a sun shower. Or the sun shower didn't get hot anyway. The shower is basically a pull-out spray nozzle with hot and cold adjustment so it's pretty handy. The downside is you burn through the water pretty quick. The rig only has a 10 gallon tank so we bring another 7 gallon jug. You can rig a privacy curtain but because of the hitch mounted bike rack I didn't bother. We're not too modest unless we're in a campground. If you get the extended bed you can put an indoor shower in it but that takes up a lot of room. And the EB is harder to turn around or park. All in all it's a great way to go, especially for two people that travel alot.
somebody needs a blog.
and probably a vacation from vacationing.
as always, you are my hero, rockman! when i grow up, i wanna live like you.
Great trip report and photos. I can only dream of pulling off the type of trip you did. Even with a full family in tow! You sir, are Da Kine!
There is a big difference between ripping and skidding.
Nah, I don't want to blog or do the tweet tweet thing I just wanted to share a good biking trip after such a rough start to summer, for both my home town and personally.
Originally Posted by rockychrysler
At Eugeneís recommendation we camped at Camperís Flat about 20 miles s-se of Oakridge on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. And we had the little campground all to ourselves. The next day we did a 4 mile length of the M. Willamette River trail with the kids, before looping back on the paved FR 21 road to Camperís Flat. Thereís potential here for nearly 30 miles of river trail from the headwaters at Timpanogas Lake to the Sand Praire campground above Hills Creek Reservoir. Next time. Since the fish werenít biting for a late afternoon ride the girls shuttled me 9 miles up another super dusty FR Rd to about 1 mile from the Moon Point-Young's Rock TH which still left me 500í of climbing before finding the TH. The trail is up and down for a bit with a sidebar to the Moon Point Overlook but then itís a 5 mile sustained downhill with a 3300' drop. Wow, this one is top 10 for sure. The top part is more of the super buff Cascade rain forest type tread screaming through huge Cedar and Douglas Fir trees. The bottom part of the trail has more of a southern exposure and is more open and dominated by the biggest Ponderosa Pines Iíve ever seen. The trail becomes steeper and more technical with more variety and even some jumps to keep things interesting. Fancy that, it dumps out right at Camperís Flat.
Last edited by rockman; 08-02-2010 at 11:29 PM.
All Sportsmobiles (SMB) are custom ordered. Check out their website. Lots of options and floor plan configurations. SMB are a little pricey if you buy them new, even the used ones fetch a high price and hold their value well, especially if they are four-wheel drive. If your are patient, used ones pop up on EBay for a good price when they are traded in and wholesaled to a used car lot and then put on Ebay. That's how I found mine for a really great deal, about half what the are going for on the SMB site. Took me three years of looking on Ebay to find the right one for the right price. As with you, the hot water shower was a must for the GF
Originally Posted by KRob
Nice rig! I bought mine off the SMB website but was able to talk the guy down quite a bit. Then I had to fly out to get it. Still pretty pricey but I like to think you get what you pay for. I was surprised at how small the water tank is. W/ a family of 4 I have to fill up everyday unless I bring an extra jug or two. I'd be interested in hearing more about your rear swing away. Mine just has a spare tire swing away and the Yak holdup rack is a PIA to dance around. I even sprained me knee a bit moving sideways to get around it and my foot caught. I presume it's attached to the frame?
Originally Posted by Epicrider
itís always complicated, so enjoy the ride
The last ride of the trip is worth mentioning. We had wanted to hit Crater Lake but it was just too far south since we were returning to northern Utah on I84. So, we did the next best thing and checked out Newberry Crater, a large shield volcano 20 miles se of Bend. Not as impressive as Crater Lake but it’s got a huge caldera in which resides Paulina and East Lakes and a really cool Obsidian lava flow which was the most recent eruptive event, about 1500 yrs ago. The caldera itself may be as old as half a million yrs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newberry_Volcano
The trail mainly countours the crater rim with awesome views of the central Oregon desert to the east and the Cascades to the west. The tread is mainly on soft pumice but isn't too energy sucking to ride. There's a trail that drops down the obsidian flow on the south side that is a possible bailout. This is a classic xc ride of ~20 miles and 2500' elevation gain/loss. The last 4 miles is a ripping descent to the lake that drops 1200'.
Last edited by rockman; 08-07-2010 at 09:17 PM.
I put together a few PICS of my bumper build project that I built last year. The swing away arm is attached to a steel tube bumpers using a big spindle with bearings. Having the whole rear rack swing away is really nice to have unrestricted access to the back. It wasn't that hard to build. I think I have around $500 in materials and several weekends playing with powers tools.
Originally Posted by rockman
Awesome write up Rockman and the pics are inspirational! Can't wait till my 14month old gets a little older for this type of trip. WooHoo.
Nice. Powertools as well as a arc welder I presume? A similar aluminum bumper with the box and tire carrier from Aluminess is ~$3000. I like the idea of aluminum for the weight savings but I suppose it doens't really matter on a vehicle that weighs 10,000 pounds
Originally Posted by Epicrider
Last edited by rockman; 08-10-2010 at 10:57 PM.