This Space for Rent

It’s getting late in the season

Clackamas Lake rando bikes

I was planning on riding a 700 this weekend, but Kevin and I decided, after looking at the distinctly terrifying weather forecast (which, in the tradition of PNW weather forecasts, turned out to not be particularly accurate,) to put it off until next weekend (one advantage of permanents over bike camping is that it’s a lot easier to reschedule long loops when the weather looks like it’s going to hell) and to instead do a rainy-day run of the High Rock 300.

Well, it didn’t rain, and there were actually a few hours where we could see blue sky and got occasional sunshine. But we left when it was dark (5am; it got light south of Boring) and came back when it was dark (it got dark, thanks to flat repairs, about the time we climbed out of the Eagle Creek gorge after the Bonny Lure info control) even though we only took a little over 16 hours to do the loop (15h25 if you exclude flat repairs – my front tire ate a shard of glass, which stopped me on Faraday Road, then again at Bonny Lure park (because I couldn’t find the shard of glass when I changed the tire on Faraday Road), and then my back tire ate a staple in Oregon City.)

And lemme tell you it’s almost spookily quiet up around Timothy Lake this late in the year. There is still some traffic, but all of the campgrounds are closed (and the water is turned off at the Clackamas Lake ranger station) and there are only a few diehards still camping in the woods now. We’d taken three water bottles each, and were glad we did when we discovered that it was actually 65 alpine miles between water stops (Ripplebrook, going up, and Ripplebrook, coming down) on this trip – we’d actually both run out of water by the time we reached the 2400' descent down from the summit of NF 58 just east of High Rock.

The low points of this trip were that my alarm didn’t go off on Saturday morning, so I woke up at 4:20 instead of 4am, which meant that I didn’t get any tea into me before heading off to Timothy Lake. This, combined with the 13 (or 14? I’m not sure if I’ve gone up to Ripplebrook without getting RUSA credit this year or not) trips up to Ripplebrook that I’ve already done this year meant that it was a very familiar route section, to the point where I actually started to feel like I was falling asleep as I climbed the last 10 miles up to the plateau that Ripplebrook Ranger Guard Station sits on. And it didn’t help that I got to enjoy the fall debris season more than ever before; The two/three flats I had were really annoying, and have me wondering if I should, for the season, abandon the nirvana that are Resist Nomad 28s for some clunkier puncture-resistant tires (or if I should experiment with slime or some other type of liquid patch in the tubes.)

The high points on this trip included the descent from High Rock, which now that I’ve done it three times I’m a lot more confident of just pointing the bicycle downhill and letting it go without braking at all. I did use the brakes fairly liberally on the first (and steepest) half mile downhill from the High Rock hairpin, but then let myself go, at which point the mlcm accelerated as if I’d dropped it from an airplane. And we didn’t see anything of Mount Hood or Mount Jefferson today, thanks to the low-lying clouds (the cloud level was at about 4500 feet, so we were in the lowest layers of the clouds at the High Rock summit,) but High Rock itself was shrouded in clouds so it was visible, but spookily so.

The snow levels yesterday were at 8000+ feet, but they’re not going to stay up there for very long. It’s probable that this is the last loop of the High Rock 300 I’m going to be doing this year, and I don’t know if I’ll be riding my Hot Springs-Covered Bridges 400 (or Portland-Portland-Portland, for that matter) until next summer (I will, however, make at least one more trip up to Ripplebrook, particularly if the snowline comes down to 13-1400 feet, because it’s fun to ride up into the snow and back.)

(Oh, yes, and on the statistics front this brings me to 9008 RUSA km, and ~9600 miles ridden, this year.)