Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ride report: Davis Lake loop, Colville Nat'l Forest

As promised, here's the story.

All the pictures in this post were taken by Patrick, of Scoop fame, with his fancy new camera.

Our goal was to get out into the Colville Nat'l Forest and explore on Friday day and then stay at my family's place on the Kettle River. The family place on the Kettle River is in the epicenter of tons of great riding within the Nat'l Forest and Nat'l Recreation areas -- so it's silly that I don't base camp more often there to explore the neighborhood.

After spending a bit of time attempting to map out routes in both the Couer d'Alene and Colville National Forests, we've figured some stuff out. I'm using the royal "we" here: loosely: Pat, Alex, me.

One pain in the arse about riding in National Forests is that generally you are following old logging roads, which were not optimized to provide connectivity in a predictable and gridlike fashion. Add to that the fact that there's just not a single good authoritative online map for most of these areas. The best I've found is the OpenStreetMap data set.

Anyway, here's the route we took. The OSM dataset had the "jeep trail" connection that we needed between two well-known Forest Service roads. Transferring the OSM route to a Garmin-happy gpx file is done with a funny and hack-feeling, but quick and painless process from OSM + = good stuff for this kind of riding/exploring.

Wow. That's some preamble. We've not even gotten to the ride yet. Get a cup of coffee or tankard of ale or whatever it takes. Here we go.

We left Spokane at about 9am. We got to the Kettle Family Property at about 11 am. We wasted no time in hopping on our bikes and being on our way.

A word on the bikes. All bikes were rigid. Patrick's is a sweet-ass mid-90's Scott mountain bike with Prestige tubing and Suntour XC Pro bits. Just a great bike. He runs an Epic frame pack to haul his water bladder and other stuff.

I was on the Rawland. I have a blog post brewing about how amazingly righteous the Quasi-moto tires are on that bike. I've been running the Neo's on there for a year or so and the Quasi's are just completely hands down faster better radder and totally transform the bike. I can totally live with the turdy tubing when running those tires.

Jon was on his Kogswell city bike: running full fenders, double-crank with 8 speed. Kickstand. Front rack. Cityfied hard slick tires. I told him the Kogs would be fine for this ride, since we were on logging roads -- I wish I would've not said that and let him fix the broken wheel on his mountain bike, which has a proper triple/low gear set up and a front shock. But whatever -- he underbiked with gusto and nary a word of complaint. Good egg that Jon.

We tooled down Highway 395 for about 5 miles then pulled off on some tiny overgrown old road that ruled. Instantly I was happy and satisfied, which meant that I didn't shut up about it and I just started hammering to see what would come next. Typical.

This was a minor climb, but it had some sand that made life a bit difficult for Jon. He held up and pushed through the hard bits.

We ended up popping out Boulder pass road -- and did another 3-4 miles of paved climbing. Easy and fun and I almost no traffic.

From there we hopped onto a proper Forest Service road that climbed gently for about 5-6 miles. It was an amazingly beautiful fall perfect piece of riding. I think the temp was about 70F, many of the leaves were turning, and conversation was easy as we trotted up the hill.

We then turned onto a minor road and started a bit more steeper climb. At this point, we passed the nicest camp I think I've ever seen. Clearly a hunter's camp that was left ready to roll for the next party: log recliner complete with bailing-twine webbing, a real out-house, cooking grill (with dry wood shavings, paper, and kindling covered and ready), and other accouterments of civil camping. I tagged that one on the old GPS.

Then came the climb. So here's a fun thing: at some point in the last few weeks I turned off the tracking function on my GPS. That sucks, because I was really looking forward to coming back and viewing the elevation profile of this part:

Nothing quanitfies and bloggifies the suffering that a climb can inflict like a good old-fashion-gps-generated elevation profile. Dang it all to heck! Let me tell you it was f'ing steep! Really.

It was silly. It was about 1200 feet in about a mile. We pushed our bikes up almost the whole way. While it sucks to push your bike, it does feel good to sweat like we did.

Once we got to about 4200 feet, we rode the "Thomson Ridge" to Davis Lake. At Davis Lake, we refilled water and looked at a couple frogs. At this point it was about 3:30. I was hoping to be back down on Highway 395 by 5pm or so.

Turns out, with the exception of about a 1/2 mile climb out of the lake to the main road, the rest of the way to 395 was downhill. It was a great descent, and would make a great climb. There are nice gentle grades, fierce switchy-backy rocky bits, long fast steep sections with roll outs and gentle arcs, and stretches of rocky-technical-minor-washout-shit-road. Great stuff.

Jon had to take it easy on the Kogswell, since it was running slicks, so he was not as enthusiastic about the descent as Patrick and I were.

After the climb, we humped it back 5 miles or so to the Barstow Shit Shop and Junk Food Store and loaded up on beer and junk food. All up, we did a 35 mile loop with about 6500 feet of climbing and were pretty tired.

We sat on the lawn looking over the Kettle River, ate crappy food, drank beers, started a fire, and carried on until about 9pm -- where we slept under the stars and listened to the coyotes.

Just lovely.


EvilElf said...

Sounds like a wonderful time. Thanks for the post. Very enjoyable!

Dan O said...

Cool write up and pics. Sounds like a great trip.

Pat S said...

Really nice report, John, and pics, Patrick (the one of the frog totally validates your choice of camera). Of course, I took the tankard of ale route but I think this would have been a great read even on caffeine, although a bit more tense.

I think what I'm most impressed with is that you were able to peel Jon away from the city for not only a day trip, but a whole overnighter.

Anonymous said...

Note to Jon: When John says "you can do this forest ride on your city commuter" think "snipe hunt."

Great pictures.

Rachel said...

Haha, I love these pics. You can totally tell you all had a BLAST.