Over the last three years or so of adventuring in the wilds of the Northwest, India and I have developed a persistent habit of getting ourselves in over our heads when we head for the woods on two wheels. Through a combination of overconfidence, under-planning, audacity and plain ignorance we have set out on and somehow survived some truly absurd but occasionally revelatory bike rides.
This April, we set out to ride the East Fork Hood River Trail. We were itching for a mountain bike ride and the trail looked to be at a low enough elevation that it wouldn't be covered by snow. Foolishly, we did no further research. As we quickly discovered, the trail had been completely washed off the riverside by a massive flood that came through several years ago and dragged an entire campground away with the trail attached.
We portaged our bikes upstream over under and through scattered trees in the flood zone hoping to find a clear section of singletrack on the other side of the disaster area. We passed by the remains of trail bridges, campground picnic tables and other chunks of man's feeble infrastructure that the swollen river had tossed aside like so many Lego bricks.
Eventually, the fact that the trail truly did not exist anymore became clear. By the time we stubbornly conceded this reality we had gone too far to warrant turning back, so we looked at the map and decided to make for a gravel road that paralleled the trail on the eastern side. After a cross-country hike-a-bike through the trackless woods, we found the road that appeared to offer an easy exit. Not half a mile up the road, we hit snow. Then it got deeper.
We postholed and pushed our bikes through the crusty slush and the boggy roadside ditches for at least four miles until we emerged to the highway.
We have plenty of other tales of ill-concieved death marches that I won't bore you with today, but I relate this one little story to illustrate the fact that anybody who blindly follows India and I on a bike ride is a damn fool and had better have a taste for prolonged periods of suffering and discomfort. Most of the poor souls who have had the misfortune to ride with us can attest to the fact that rides we strike out on tend to be longer, harder and more painful than anticipated, advertised or necessary. Despite repeated adventures of similar style, we haven't learned to plan more carefully or do extra research but have adapted by carrying more food and water and increasing our threshold for misery. It's a fact of our lives that we've grown to accept and have learned to compensate for.
Unfortunately, Chris and Laura - our old friends from down south - haven't ridden with us in recent times and were at least mostly unaware of the terror they would soon face when they packed bikes and boarded flights to Oregon for several days of mountain bike rides this August. India and I were left to plan the itinerary, placing our poor friends at the mercy of the cruel-hearted trail gods who drag our fingers in Ouija board fashion across dotted lines on maps. What will soon follow is the story of those four days: Cascade Shred Camp 2012. Don't forget your compass and space blanket, we might to be out a while.