Saturday, December 12, 2015


When I was a kid, I loved riding my BMX bike to explore new places. I remember how great it was to ride way up to my buddy's house on my own. It was only about 2 miles away, but getting there by riding through parks and taking the alleys was a major feature of the trip. My father lived up north in Steven's county. Riding a BMX bike around the dirt roads of backwoods Steven's county felt like an adventure. I still didn't go that far, but I have this vague memory of how simple and rad the idea of a knobby wheel riding over dirt was. I was about in 7th grade when I saw my first mountain bike and it seemed crazy to me: like a giant kid's bike with gears. I "got" it on the one hand: this thing could roll over ANYTHING with those huge wheels. But I didn't understand why the middle-aged man down the block would want such a obviously-childish thing. I ended up getting a paper route in 8th grade specifically to buy my first road bike: a used Nishiki from the same guy. Four years later, with a bunch of money I'd saved, I bought my first mountain bike: a Giant ATX 760. It was so sweet. One of the first rides I took was the river trail: out of People's Park, through the backyard of what is now the Mega Church Super Cul de Sac, and then up the old trail to SFCC. Anyway, the mountain bike for me was really about extending my reach and my ability to go find new stuff. If you look at mountain bike ads and books from the 80's, it was all about riding out onto mountains and fire roads and of course, moustaches. I had a "how to mountain bike" book by some joker whose author photo was a picture of him and his mustache drinking beers and smoking a cigarette. Fucking 80's man. So great. So lame.

I think exploring is still my favorite thing to do on a bike. And mountain bikes especially are great for real exploring. And the Pugsley is even greater.

Maddie and I have been in a funk so I forced a bike ride today. I should've done it along time ago. The bike always fixes everything. 

There's an old cut-off road that runs over Sherman Creek at the confluence where it meets the Columbia. The road cuts off right as it crosses an amazingly cool old bridge. Last summer, I parked there a couple times, climbed down to the creek below and fly-fished it for about a mile upstream. It was fantastic. I plan on going there many times next summer.

Anyway, this bridge figures into my past when I used to ride up to the river frequently. I had studied the map for the approach from the south but never figured it out. When approaching from Spokane, that bridge is about at mile 110 or so and I never had the will to drop down and see what the deal was because I didn't want to climb back out if I got jammed up.

So today, Maddie and I took the fatbikes and trucked out over the bridge. As soon as we got to the otehr side and interesting little trail (with boy scout signage) emerged. Maddie was all over that. The trail wound around a giant canyon and dropped us down about 200 feet over the course of a 1/2 mile or so. Maddie was unfazed by the the descent, which wasn't really that technical by any real mountain biking standards, but it wasn't nothing either. The kid has some skilz.


Anyway, the trail popped us out at a set of picnic tables overlooking the Columbia. It would be an amazingly great spot to set up camp. It's only accessible by trail -- no motor vehicles -- and it's within the FDR National Recreation Area, which means unless posted, camping is kosher.

The trail continued from there to an old ferry landing, which made for an excellent summer camping spot -- on the water for swimming. 

The trail then worked back up to the road -- on a nice, long, mellow grade: another excellent camping spot, this one with a crazy view north.
Big washout.  See next pic for other side of this gap.

Continuing on, we found a National Forest pit toilet. The trail hooked into an old road, which had crumbling asphalt poking through the forest floor. 

End of road. This is the other side.
This whole area is only about 15 miles from our river place. Maddie and I wondered what it might be like in the spring -- when the Columbia is drawn down and river sand/rocks are exposed for 50 feet or so on both sides. We pondered an over nighter from the river cabin -- by road, trail, and river's edge on the fat bikes to this spot.