11/17/17: Shut Out at the Gorge

I set an alarm today so we could get an earlier start since we had plans for some hike in the Gorge today. I got up at 7 and when going into the bathroom I found that I couldn’t get the lights to go on. I though there was another master switch that needed to be flipped but eventually I figured out that the power had gone out. Yay! We went down to check out the breakfast spread and it was all laid out and still somewhat warm so not a big deal. While we were eating the power went on so I took the opportunity to commandeer the waffle machine.

After breakfast we took off for the Gorge planning on hiking to Multnomah Falls as well as a few others. As we made our way West on the 84 we found that we had passed our exit. We got off, turned around and went back East and when we got to the right exit we found it was closed. I knew we could also get to the hike from another exit so we drove there only to find that closed as well. We got off anyways and saw people there working. A helicopter took off with a rope attached that looked to be carrying a generator somewhere. Once the helicopter was gone the worker hit the porta potti so when he exited I asked what was going on. He seemed to be clueless about that (as well as most other things in life it looked like) and at that time someone else got out of their car where they must have been working hard watching other people work and let me know the area was closed and that they were working on reforestation after fires that apparently went through the area around Labor Day. Looks like we had to make other plans. We had another option for a hike somewhat down the road but that exit was closed so not much was working for us.

Eventually we found an exit that looked promising and we soon found ourselves paying $2 to cross the Bridge of the Gods which was apparently featured in the movie “Wild” as that was where she finished her hike. The bridge is actually part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Once across we saw a sign for visitor info so we drove down and found the office and got some ideas for some hikes on the Washington side of the Columbia. We drove West a bit and hit Beacon Rock State Park where we hiked up to some pretty cool waterfalls. It was raining on and off so we had to wear some shells as well as cover our packs and we also got a bit of hail while we were out there. Once back down we ate a snack in the Jeep and then headed across the highway to hike up Beacon Rock which was so named by Lewis & Clark. It was a short climb up a million switchbacks on a trail that was on the rock as well as on man made surfaces. The views were pretty nice of the river but nothing worth going back for again.

In between bouts of rain.

Joyce near the falls.

Beacon Rock.

Joyce going up the man-made switchbacks.

Joyce points towards the way down.

Columbia River view from Beacon Rock.

Back at the Jeep we drove the 14 East back to town so that we could see that part of the road and it was a pretty nice drive. I prefer the 2 lane 14 over the 4 lane 84. We crossed over the Hood River Bridge where we paid the $1 fee and then went to eat a late lunch/early dinner at Grace Su’s China Gorge Restaurant. I got a Buoy IPA on tap that was pretty good and then we each got an appetizer and some hot & sour soup. Dinner was just ok. The General Tzo Chicken was odd but not bad and Joyce’s noodles were average. Not going back to Grace Su’s anytime soon. Once done with dinner we went back to the hotel. We’ll likely drive South towards Bend tomorrow morning since our hikes have been nixed. If the snow gets bad we’ll turn back but either way we’ll drive to Portland tomorrow night for some hipster fun.

Buoy IPA.



11/16/17: Following the Columbia

We both slept pretty hard last night and woke up a bit later than normal. The clocks in our room hadn’t been set back and it looked like 9:00 when we woke up so Joyce was panicked that we had missed the continental breakfast but we were fine. It was only 8:00. We headed down and they had a god spread. Waffle machine, eggs, sausage, potatoes… Good stuff. After breakfast we got packed up and left the hotel around 10:30. We followed 84 West out of Boise and into Oregon. Nothing real exciting along this route but there is a lot of open country with nice mountain views and “big sky” vistas similar to Montana. We did pass over some passes on this portion of the route.

A bit into Oregon the route heads towards the Columbia River where it the follows the river into the Columbia River Gorge. We took I8 north into Washington and then took 14W which basically took the same riverside route but was a smaller 2-lane road while 84 was 4 lanes wide. One problem with the 14 was that there seemed to be no services available. Just mile after mile of river view road. The Columbia is a pretty impressive river. It is very wide even this far from the ocean. We were lucky and had enough gas but that could have been an issue. A larger issue was Joyce’s acorn bladder and the lack of gas stations on this side of the river. Once we were near 1/4 tank of gas we took the next bridge over the Columbia and filled up.

The Columbia River off of the 14.

After filling up it was maybe 1/2 more until we were at our hotel. It was pretty much dark by the time we got there. The hotel seems like it’s going through a renovation so the halls are a bit banged up but our room looks to have been recently redone and is pretty nice. We got settled and, checking Yelp, I noticed that the Full Sail brewing Company is only a mile or so away so our dinner plans got decided on quickly. We drove down and found the place easily. It wasn’t busy so we got right in. The place is small but nice and I ordered myself a custom flight t get started. For dinner Joyce went sensible and got soup and a salad but I had to go with the spicy Thai burger but did pass on the fries and got salad instead as a side. The food was pretty good but Joyce didn’t get enough so she ordered some crab cakes for dessert. Once done with dinner it was back to the hotel. We planned to walk a bit but it was raining a bit so we passed. Tomorrow we will hit some of the more popular hikes in the area including Multnomah Falls.

The Full Sail Brewery beckons us.

Flight for me.

Exiting the brewery.


11/15/17: New Jeep Day

We were all packed last night and had the car loaded so this morning we woke up about 5:30, got dressed and left for the airport. We got there without issue, got checked in and then ate breakfast in the small restaurant there by gate 2. We had nearly the last boarding numbers so we thought we would have to sit separately but managed to find two seats together in the last row of the plane. The flight to Oakland was about an hour and then we sat on the plane while it reboarded for the flight to Boise. We moved to the front of the plane before the new people came on so we had great seta for the Boise leg. We left Oakland on time and as we did we got great views of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as Alcatraz and the East Bay Bridge. We landed early and got our luggage quickly and Kyle was there waiting for us outside the terminal.

Kyle was much younger than expected and very personable. Getting to the dealership took about 1/2 hour on the highway and once there I saw my Jeep as we pulled in. The Rhino color looked nice! We first took the car for a test drive and then went back to the dealership where went through all of the new car buying crap that has to be done. Kyle made it all tolerable. The finance part is always a pain since the try & upsell you warranties, etc. but it wasn’t too bad. The rate was high but I’ll refinance in 6 months so no big deal. I dropped down an additional $7K but the amount finance on the form seemed high. Turns out they collect CA sales tax here. I planned on doing that at the DMV but looks like that is taken care of. Looks like I’ll need to get it registered within 20 days or face some penalties. I re-set up my appointment date at the DMV to get it within this window.

New Jeep day.

Once all paperwork was done I got the keys, said goodbye to Kyle after thanking him and then drove off to check into our hotel which was a short drive away. We checked in and then checked Yelp for food recommendations. An empanada place was first and sounded great so that is where we went. They were excellent and also g=had a great person behind the counter that took the time to recommend the best items to try. I ended up with three empanadas and all were good. Once done with dinner it was back to the hotel where I got caught up on getting the White Rim Trail write-up done. Then it was time for bed. Tomorrow it’s on to Oregon.

Nature’s perfect food.


11/12/17: The Long, Long Drive Home

We got up around 7 and got the vehicles ready to go and then drove down to town to get a final breakfast before we each went our separate ways. We decided to try the Peace Tree Cafe which was a good call. I got some huevos rancheros which were great and the coffee was good as well. We each got a latte to go at the barista in the restaurant and then walked back to the cars and said goodbye. It was really good seeing Doug after so many years without getting together. I was so glad that he was able to come. I think I would have had a hard time doing the ride myself.

Once we were each on our way there wasn’t much to report. Traffic was fine until Vegas when things got much worse. Weekend Vegas traffic heading back to SoCal is always bad and this day there was bumper to bumper traffics from Vegas clear to the bottom of the Cajon Pass in Riverside. Crazy. I got lunch somewhere at an El Pollo Loco and then picked up a Chipotle burrito in Victorville to eat once I got home. Traffic was ok once the 15 and 215 split. I ended up getting home around 10:30 so it was 14.5 hours total travel time. It was nice to get home. Joyce had picked up pizza so I saved the burrito for another day. Once done with dinner I took a much needed shower and went to bed. It was nice to be home!

Nice bike rack.

The ride was definitely challenging but was worth it for the scenery. It was nice getting back in the tent and away from civilization for a bit. I learned a lot as well and will never make the same mistakes I made that almost ended the trip for us.

11/11/17: White Rim Trail Day 3

I was up first again so I wandered around the site a bit and once Doug was up we cooked and ate and then got ready to ride out on the final day of the ride. I was able to drain my water reservoir completely and only carry water in my hydration pack. This freed up space for me to use the seatbag the way it was meant to be used. We saw the kids leave early so they likely had a crappy nights sleep. We had a short ride right along the river before the trail left park property and the trail started heading towards the switchback climb out of the canyon. We passed a small group of cyclists coming in that looked too have some support since they were packed too light for anything longer than an overnight. The trail gave us a few last kicks in the nads as it gave us some good long stretches of deep sand to ride though before we hit the big climb.

Nice view to wake up to.

Nice to have all of that water weight gone!

Morning nip?

The seat pack is deployed.

Scene from the X-Files?

Once we hit the ascent it was low gear riding to the top. I added in stretches of walking the bike since it used different muscles and wasn’t much slower than riding anyways. Once at the top we rested an took some pictures and celebrated our domination of the trail. The Land Rover guy drove up and parked and then rode down the canyon again so he must be meeting others down there and then riding together back up. We took the opportunity to check out his vehicle which was pretty well thought out and right hand drive to boot. We had only ridden 8 miles or so at this point and still had about 20 to go to get back to the vehicles so off we went.

Doug dominating the switchbacks!

What do you mean this isn’t the top???

Adventure “rig”.

We thought the climbing was behind us but the fire road we had to ride to get back to 313 was a constant uphill grade. Mile after mile we thought the road would flatten but it kept going up. Not steeply just consistently. Each false summit was reached only to see other summits still ahead. It was about 13 soul sucking miles of this to 313 and we gained about 1,600 feet of elevation over that distance. Once on 313 we rode the pavement the final 8 miles or so to the cars. There were grades here as well but at least it had sections where you could coast a bit and rest the muscles and the rear end. On the way past the visitors center I popped in to see if anyone had turned in my Inreach but no luck there. I didn’t expect it but wanted to check just in case. Once at the cars we hike down a bit to the Schafer viewpoint and then it was back to the cars for the drive out. We decided to stop at the Horsethief campground to get a spot so that we were assured of a spot to sleep for the night. We found a nice one so we paid our fee and left my van at the site and drove Doug’s 4Runner down to town to get a much needed dinner. We first hit the Poison Spider bike shop s Doug could grab a shower at their pay stalls and then it was over to Miguel’s Baja Grill for some Mexican Food. We each got a giant burrito the size of a football and also grabbed a margarita. The food hit the spot and after dinner we returned to the campsite where we tried to have a beer each but were too full to finish. We instead just sat & talked until we were too tired and hit the hay. I took the top bunk again.

Looking back down the interminable climb.

Post-ride fueling.


11/10/17: White Rim Trail Day 2

I was up first and got out of my tent about 7:00. I walked around a bit and checked out the views along with backtracking a bit to get a daylight view of the hellacious Hogback climb. Tuns out that we camped in Murphy A and should have been in Murphy B. No big deal since whoever reserved A didn’t show. I then checked my rear wheel and found that the brake pads were almost locked against the brake rotor. The wheel would barely turn. It was no wonder that I had a hard day yesterday. Pushing up Murphy Hogback was especially hard and this explains why. Since the multi-tool I brought along did not allow me to loosen the brake bolts to adjust them away from the rotor I ended up backing out the pads all of the way making the rear brake virtually useless. I would need to do the remainder of the ride with only my front brake which isn’t really a safe thing to do. We ate breakfast which was made more interesting by the large group of fearless rodents that did their best to relieve us of our food. We then broke down camp and were ready to go around 9:00. I thought I would feel bad but I guess the 11 hours of sleep helped.

Our cocoons of recovery.

Looking back down the Murphy Hogback ascent. The trail we rode out on is in the distance.

No fear is their motto.

We started off with a nice downhill off of the Hogback which was a bit less fun for me due to having to take it easy since I had only one working brake. I also have a hard time enjoying the downhills knowing that I’ll Have to climb up again at some point. That’s the downside of looking ahead all of the time. After the downhill it was more riding along the trail with beautiful views all around and very light traffic. We did get passed by a few cyclists that were either riding the whole trail in a day or were supported by a vehicle somewhere. Likely the latter since one was on a singlespeed. At one point we had to climb a short steep hill and ended up pushing our bikes up the grade. At the top was a father and his two sons taking a break. They were riding unloaded and Dad was driving the sag wagon. They were down from Salt Lake City and were camping a couple of nights on the trail. They were actually in Murphy C so were near us. We thought we heard voices but were too beat to care.

Trail conditions were tough.

Doug near the Green River.

Power packed trail food

Though there was more rough trail conditions and more hills the day was easier by far than yesterday. At a certain point the trail turned and started following the Green River and we had many great views of that throughout the latter part of the day. The two sons passed us and said hi and Dad followed up in his truck soon after. After a while we came to a part of the trail where it leaves the river and heads inland to climb a super steep grade. We saw the two sons up there pushing their bikes so if they had to unloaded we knew we were screwed with the loads we were carrying. Dad was following in his truck and then a Land Rover we spotted yesterday came past and tackled the climb. He spun out in a couple of spots but made it up. Doug and I sucked it up and tackled the climb primarily by pushing our bikes. Once at the top we descended the other side back to the river side.

The Land Rover cranking up the climb.

On todays route we passed many of the campsites available since ours was the last on the route. Potato Bottom was the best of the bunch since it was right near the river and had some nice trees. I remember googling this campsite years ago and the top hits were all about proctologist stories about people getting potatoes stuck in their butts. Nice to actually see the real campsite. I had in my head that the route for the day was 37 miles but at mile 27 we found our camp. Makes sense when I do the math that day 2 would need to be 27 miles and not 37. We had Labyrinth B reserved and it was a great site. It sat right on a bluff above the river with great views both up and down the river. Labyrinth A was pretty useless as it sat on a patch of dirt with no views. We had neighbors there which were three kids who drove down in a Volkswagen sedan. This made us happy to see since if they made it down then the trail conditions couldn’t be too bad four our day 3 route. Turns out the kids didn’t bring a tent and just slept in their car. Hitting camp early was very welcome after the hard day we had yesterday. We hit camp about 3:30 so we got our camp set up and then just hung out until just before dark when we cooked our dinner and ate. Once it was dark we checked out the stars which were insane. There were great views of the Milky Way as well. Living in the city I forget just how many stars are actually up there. Soon after we crawled into our tents for another early night.

Potato Bottom campsite. Not a proctologist to be found.

Our campsite on the river.


11/9/17: White Rim Trail Day 1

First of all, today would have been my Dad’s 90th birthday so Happy Birthday Dad!

We got up and broke down camp (meaning we lowered the pop top on the van) and headed up the road towards the Park. Again the gate was unmanned so we headed to the visitor’s center. They were closed and would not open until 9. A guy stopped by and asked us about our ride. He planned to ride the entire route by getting dropped off at one end and picked up at the other. This would save him about 20 miles likely. Still a hard day at 80 miles of tough trail. He was doing it on a cross bike it looked like as well. It was only about 8 so, not knowing where they wanted us to leave our cars while we rode, we headed out to the Schafer Road trail to see if there was any trailhead parking there. We saw “no parking” signs at the top so we drove down a bit just to check it out and turned around before we found ourselves with no way to do that. The road narrows down as you drop into the canyon.

El Dueno on the Schafer Road.

Once back on top we went back to the visitor center and when they opened I got the info we needed. We needed to park at the Schafer Trail Lookout about a mile up the rode so we drove there, parked our vehicles and got our bikes ready to dominate the White Rim Trail. We prepped our cars to be left alone for a few days as well. About 10:00 we started riding and I started recording the route with my watch along with the Inreach Explorer. I sent Joyce a text with the Inreach that we were starting our trip. We got a later start than we wanted to especially with day 1 being the longest in terms of miles.

Doug’s tidy rig.

My frumpy rig.

The trail drops down steeply along tight switchbacks along the Schafer Trail. As we went down I thought about the semi driver that followed his GPS down this road recently. I still wonder how they got the trailer out. I immediately noticed that the trail would be more rugged than I expected. It would not be smooth double-track but it would be rougher terrain that would bounce your load around. A few miles in we stopped at an outhouse and I thought my rear tire could stand to have a bit more air so I got out my Lezyne pump and aired up a bit. When I unscrewed the pump head the valve core came out similar to the time it did on my Pugsley. Not good. The tire deflated but at least the core didn’t fly out into the brush. I reinstalled the valve core and tightened it down good with the tool I brought along and the pumped the tire up full again. This time I screwed the pump head on less than tight hoping it would not again unscrew the valve core when I removed it but it did it again. I was able to get a finger over the open valve this time so I saved a bunch of pumping. I got the valve core back in and finished up the tire with Doug’s smaller pump with a flip lock. No issues this time.

The Schafer switchbacks.

The trail we will follow…

With the tire now well inflated we were back on the trail. There was a mix of dirt and rock trail with varying degrees of roughness along this section. There was also some deep sand that was difficult to ride. With the late start as well as the delay with the tire we were a bit concerned about time so we didn’t really stop or take many pictures. We missed walking across Musselman Arch as well. As we rode I noticed that the uneven terrain caused my load to bounce around more than expected and the charger battery I was charging via the USB plug on my light and my Inreach were bouncing around like crazy. I didn’t like that but really didn’t like it a bit further down the trail when a large bump caused the battery to fly off where I had it stored and swing down towards my front tire where it proceeded to wrap around the front hub of my bike. Luckily It did not cause me to crash since it didn’t lock up the wheel. Turns out it didn’t lock up due to the fact that the USB cable was sliced in two by the front brake rotor. With the cable broken I had no way to charge the spare battery and would likely not have enough power to run the Inreach each day. I found the battery a bit back on the trail so I packed that into my front bag, stored the broken cables and resumed the ride.

The trail conditions were difficult to ride. Trails were rarely even but, instead, were either rocky, had deep sand or had a washboard surface. This made riding all the more difficult on a bike with a heavy load and most of the weight on the front. As we were riding along the rough trail must have jostled the straps loose that were holding my water reservoir on the rear rack because my bike suddenly came to a quick stop and I found that one strap had wrapped itself around the rear hub and ended up over tightening around the water reservoir causing a small leak (luckily not a ride ending failure of the bag) along with bending the saddlebag rack and causing the rear brake to go out of adjustment and contact the rear brake rotor. I got the strap untangled from the hub and got out my multi-tool only to find that the Allen wrench would not reach the bolts I needed to undo in order to center the brake again. I was stuck with a rubbing brake for now. At this time I also noticed that the Inreach Explorer I brought along for emergencies and ride tracking was missing despite being securely attached with a carabiner. The trail was rough enough to even cause that that to come loose. I decided to call it a loss rather than backtrack to try & find it. This day was full of preventable mishaps showing that some shakedown rides would have been useful. At one point in the days ride we crossed paths with the cyclist we talked to earlier in the day. He was looking a bit beat so hopefully he made it up Schafer ok.

Despite the issues I had the views on the ride were beautiful with views of red rock formations, canyons and the Colorado River throughout the day. I could really feel the resistance from the rear brake rubbing which made the ride more difficult than it needed to be. As night cam we were still a few miles from the Murphy Hogback campground which was at mile 46 for us. As darkness came our lights went on and the road pointed steeply uphill. Both Doug and I were off of our bikes pushing the heavy loaded things up the steep pitches in maybe 20 foot increments. We had mini breaks between each effort. I had heard that this campground was up a 400 foot hill and as we crested the hill and the trail flattened out we spotted something that gave us both joy. We caught sight of the outhouse and we rejoiced.

Doug on the flats.

Where did my Inreach go?

We set up camp in the dark and then cooked dinner and ate and then headed off immediately to bed. It had been a very difficult day. A costly one as well. Poor packing on my part led to near ride ending issues but we survived although I did lose the Inreach. Joyce will likely wonder why there will be no future contacts. Hopefully she doesn’t worry. This was likely the hardest day I’ve had yet on the bike. Doug said he heard me sleeping as soon as I laid down. I must have been done.

Home at last.