Thursday, July 21, 2011

Out of Bend & Gunsight Trail

We got the call just before ten o'clock that Subaru Guru in Bend had finished the head gasket replacement. Excited by the prospect of getting back on the road again, we made the big trek to the south of town & back, packed up & were pulling out of the driveway by eleven o'clock. We had ended up staying a week in Bend - not the ideal circumstances, but a great place to be stuck (even if the weather was a little unseasonal) & we were so fortunate to have Allen & Lisa's kind hospitality.  I was toying with the idea of a big drive & then the classic Lewis River ride near Mt St Helens, but in the end decided that was too optimistic.

But I had a back up plan - the Gunsight Trail near Government Camp that I had intended to ride the day the car problems started. Mt Hood was once again shrouded in cloud, but it was a lot warmer than last time we drove through the area. The GPS trail I had showed riding from the highway, but as I had Valerie to shuttle me I managed to skip a few kilometres of paved road in the forest. When it turned to gravel I got on the bike, but the doubletrack is so good I would have been confident taking the Outback up there quite a way. I could see the ridge that I had to get up to & it was a long way up. Mostly the doubletrack was steady climbing, but it got pretty steep at one stage - climbing 150m in 1km. I was sick of pushing that middle ring around halfway through that section.

Diving off through the trees to the left, I soon popped out on an old dirt road that went up more gradually to the start of the singletrack. As this road met another, the trail dived off into the trees. I was immediately concerned by the amount of blowdown that I had to climb over - it was going to be a long ride if there were many trees down. But trees weren't much of a problem after a few hundred metres as I continued climbing on the singletrack. I quickly became reacquainted with my old friend Mr Snow at about 1700m. So for most of the ridge I pushed over quite a bit of snow, rode on a little of it & climbed over the odd tree (breaking a spoke in the process). Pleasantly the cloud was retreating from Mt Hood & by the time I was on the top of the ridge at a burn-site I could get a decent view. There were also good views out to the east of the High Desert.
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After slowly making my way along that ridge between 1700 & 1800m for quite some time the trail finally turned down & the snow became scarcer & scarcer. Unfortunately, the screaming good downhill was often interrupted by fallen trees. Nonetheless, it was a great run down - a nice wide trail with just enough rocks to keep one from getting too complacent. Unlike the descent from Surveyor's Ridge last week, the switchbacks were so far apart I wasn't annoyed by them. It ended up a pretty short ride at about 17km/10 miles, but after all that climbing, snow & trees I didn't really mind as I dozed on the drive into Portland.

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