By some miracle I managed to get a weekend where husby & kidlet were gone AND my parents could take care of the dogs. However, being a holiday weekend, I really wanted to keep things on the down-low if I was going to be heading out solo... which made the newly-state-purchased purchased Teanaway basin an ideal destination. Nobody but locals and Borneo even know how to find their way in and out of vast swaths of the west fork/middle fork, much less make the effort to go there, so I figured solitude was more likely there than most places. The plan was to drop over the ridge from work on Friday night and just get as far as I could, then continue on to explore the official Forest Circus West Fork trail for a few miles and camp again, then turn and burn for home more or less the way I came in.
My prediction was spot-on... after Friday night, the first human discussion I had was when I ran into warmonkey & crew while hoisting back over the ridge Sunday.
Every adventure starts with a pile of gear.
The pile lashed up to the bike at my office. Sleeping bag + cook set + a few bits of clothing in the Revelate seat pack, hammock/tarp + sleeping pad + some more odds and sods in the front dry bag lashed on w/ a Bedrock Pags Molle panel, food + water + tools + water shoes in the Octane 14+ "camelbak of doom". There's a mountain feed bag w/ phone and snacks on the right hand side of the stem also.
First night's camp just behind lunch rocks. Got here late, set up while it was still light, ended up cooking/eating after dark. BLEH. Slope was as bad or worse as it appears in pic- hardest part was keeping gear from rolling down the hill. !!! Slept fine though, sheltered from nuclear wind.
My morning view from the hammock... sunrise on this hoodoo.
Making breakfast at lunch rocks. OH stove working a hecka lot better when it isn't gusting 40+ (even with me trying to shield it). Coffee = everything's gonna be all right....
MAD FLOW on the West Fork Teanaway trail... holy crap, borneo and happy trails TOTALLY failed to inform me about the gnar on this one! Blow downs only sawed out just past this creek crossing, which itself was knee deep and strewn with large, slick, round rocks waiting to break an ankle and current definitely pushing the bike firmly sideways where it got a hold of the tires. The river shoes I brought as my one and only 'luxury' really earned their keep on this trip!
More gnar. In places this trail appears to have been literally blasted into a basalt cliff face, leaving the 'tread' a pile of shale conveniently slanted downhill. Once or twice it necked down to maybe 6" wide tops, and the rear tire of my loaded bike I was fighting with for room was kicking rocks at least 50' down into the river. And dudes take MOTOS through this- !!!!! SERIOUSLY questioning my sanity at this point, lunch rocks was the last place I could get even a bar or two on the cell phone so if I screw the pooch in here either I'm going to self-rescue or hope that warmonkey at some point gets curious and starts looking for the circling vultures.
Kids, you're not at Duthie any more...
Aw crapsnacks... really?!? Second creek crossing, at least as dodgy as the first. I figured this rocky slot canyon might widen out a bit where a tributary came in ~2 miles up so I had a goal just beyond this, otherwise I'd be camping right on a moto trail. Although given the blow-downs I was having to herf the bike over, I figured I'd probably have the place to myself anyway... which I did, but of course I only know this now... in any case, I was getting fed up and a little freaked out at the thought of pressing my luck much farther. Just had to find a fekking camp site SOON and call 'er good.
ALL TEH STUPIDZ FINALLY PAID OFF BIG MON-NEH! When I spied this campsite well off the trail, I pinched myself. A table, a pole to hang stuff from, clear ground, all tucked into a grove of giant cedars right next to the river (note the tiny bit of 10' tree straps left after getting around the trunks for the hammock). HEAVEN!
My camp from up above on the trail. The route down was hairball enough that I just left the bike parked off to the side and hauled gear in.
Never did see anyone... had the whole place to myself all day. Played in the river, ate, napped... management even said river was clothing optional... life is good...
Life's great ironies: one co-worker was SO worried about what I'd do if I encountered a bear or a cougar.
"Where's your bear spray?"
"Uh... don't have any, never needed it. Could use a little air horn, but kinda late for that now."
"So what are you going to do if you see a bear or a cougar?!?"
"Um.... go like this?" *I raise my hands above my head and make a loud ROWR!* "So far that's worked...."
Honestly I was more worried about breaking a leg in a river crossing or getting flooded out by some ugly looking thunderheads that built that afternoon. And as it turned out, the trail conditions were the worst of it. Even the bugs weren't bad.
The only wildlife that got me was this stupid caterpiller/inchworm thing that fanged the crap out of my ankle, spawning brilliant ideas about a new children's book series: "The Violent Little Caterpillar".
Dawn on the West Fork Teanaway, thankful the thunderheads never built to anything. Whole trip was dry. I was up at 4:30 getting breakfast (coffee, hot chocolate, clif bar) and rolled out a few hours later, trying to cross while the river was hopefully down a bit and to beat the afternoon heat on the climb back out to Roslyn.
Where do you want to go today? Ibis Mojo performed exceedingly well, especially after I added 30+ lbs of pressure to the rear shock and screwed down compression on the fork. The only noticeable handling difference was trying to hold back downhill, otherwise she was actually still a mean trail-eatin-machine.
First light on some basalt ramparts above WF. Fortunately all my creek crossings, trail sketch, and blow-down haul-arounds worked well.
OK, so West Fork Teanaway has to take the prize as "The Most Spectacularly Unsigned Official Forest Service Trailhead Evar".
The road comes in behind me and curves to the left, and the trail is right in front.
This is it. Seriously.
I considered going back on what turns into the main Middle Fork road, then turning up WF to the bridge and up by BST... but kept hearing borneo in my mind: "YOU TOOK THE ROAD?!?" So instead I scooted back more or less the way I'd come in, cutting across the WF drainage and crossing the upper bridge, going over lunch rocks again, and working my way back up The Big Sandy. SO... total tally of pavement for the weekend is only what I needed to get in/out of Roslyn.
Grunting back I finally got a pic of this sign off the back side of lunch rocks... this is obviously a joke, even a rally car couldn't hit 45 on this old logging road without asploding. Certainly zero concerns for my own speed!
- Stuff sacks suck. Got so sick of looking at a lumpy front roll the first day. Saturday morning I chucked the sacks for the the sleeping pad and SOL bivy (modded into a blanket to shove between the hammock layers for some side protection/potential ground sheet if I have to biv) into the bottom of the roll and did the 'just shove it in' method instead, which actually cut down on the size of the roll substantially not to mention improving the shape.
- SteriPen is brilliant when it works, but finked out on me again late Saturday. Fortunately I'd already treated enough water, and I later discovered I had more replacement batteries so I could have kept going. Jury's still out on that one.
- HAMMOCK FTW. Make camping in marginal areas like my first night a snap, not to mention ridiculously comfortable. Between a luxurious nap and going to bed early on Saturday I actually returned more rested in some ways than how I left. OK.. sort of... lol.
- If you're interested in bikepacking, just take the bike you have and GO FOR IT. I see so many folks on-line saying they have to get a new bike with this-and-that... the Mojo isn't ideal in that I can't get a frame bag on, but it performed so well I'm having a hard time faulting it anyway. Having a minimal kit + decent bags + lightweight bike made those dodgy creek crossings manageable in one go on the way out, which for a gal lugging all that stuff is saying something.
- If you're interesting in bikepacking and you're a woman and/or you can't find anyone to go with you, just build some skills over some daytime 'dry runs' and GO FOR IT. It's a toss-up if those creek crossings were any more dangerous than driving heavy Seattle rush hour IMO which is about the worst case scenario. In any case, going alone requires some careful thinking but it definitely has it's own rewards. If nothing else I'll certainly have more chops for future outings with husby, having done everything myself.
- Bikepacking is just so totally awesome.... Can't wait to do it again.
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