First things first. I don’t have a Twitter account, but if I did I would be using LOTS OF CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!!! in my tweets (how many characters do I get?) Because, for all you rad riders who’ve been surfing the end-0f-summer moondust on our local Hood River trails, the tide has turned! Our rain dances have paid off. There’s some tackiness on them thar trails. So get out and ride my people!
Yes, fall, sweet fall, has finally arrived. Our trails renewed, our souls rejoice. A truly magical time of year in our Pacific Wonderland. But, as with all things, there is a downside. With fall comes the eventual snow, which means the end of riding high-elevation trails. So, keep an eye on the blog for some trip reports in hopes that you’re able to escape to the epic highlands before winter descends.
TRIP REPORT: Siouxon/Huffman Peak Loop
Just as I was re-discovering my love of Falls Creek Falls, I was goaded into heading even further afield to ride the Siouxon/Huffman Peak Loop up in SW Washington. I went to sleep assuming I’d be heading up to FCF the next day, and awoke to a text from my riding buddy informing me she was on her way and the plans were set for Siouxon.
“No rush!” She said. “And, no choice”.
Followed by, “I have cookies.”
Peer pressure + cookies. She knows me well. So off we went to Siouxon. Before long, we were winding our way on gravel backroads into the hills of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This felt epic! Out in the middle of nowhere! Huge, axle-sucking potholes to navigate! Not another soul in sight! Team Intrepid, bada bing bada boom!
And then, just as quickly as it had come, our Spirit of Adventure began to fizzle. Around the bend we go, and there’s a cute family camping. A few more turns, more campers. Then a group of 6 cars. Then more cars coming and going. And finally, oh finally, the Siouxon Trailhead. Totally packed with cars. Where the hell had all these people come from? It is so deflating when you are sure you are Living on the Edge, only to find out that so are grandmas with walking sticks, a handful of small children, and a bunch of perky families and their dogs…geesh.
Okay. Okay. Time to regroup. We would not let this get us down. We’d driven too far. We’d somehow found a parking spot. So we loaded our bags with plenty of snacks and
water. And hit the trail.
It. Was. Beautiful. Flowing single-ish track (a bit wider perhaps). The occasional fun root section, not much up, not much down. Waterfalls. Big trees. And a whole-lotta people. We passed only one other biker – he was on his way out and said to us, a bit too loudly, “It’s not worth it. There’s just too many people.” Determined, we carried on and soon came to a bridge, followed by a creek, and then a waterfall. Hmmmm…things were getting good. With icy water up to mid-calves, we crossed the creek and headed up to a trail junction. (Be sure and bring your maps and directions, folks. We left ours safely in the car and had to snap a photo of one courtesy of a friendly hiker.) Just a handful of miles into the ride, and the crowds had entirely disappeared. Now, this is what we’re talking about.
You may have noticed that in the name of this ride there are 2 words, Sioux and Huffman, followed by the word, peak. As you might imagine, anytime you have the word peak preceded by multiple names, you are gonna do a helluvalotofclimbing. In this case, almost 6000 feet of climbing. We knew this was coming and now, just as the crowds had dissapated, the incline had appeared.
Still fresh, we started to ride up the hill, but it wasn’t long before we had to dismount and walk. This might be a good time to let you know the definition of hike-a-bike. Hike-a-bike is when you go on a hike and bring your bike along. It’s kind of like bringing a dog on your hike; it keeps you company and you don’t have to worry about picking up poo. It’s also what you do when the trail is so darn steep, or you’re so whooped, that you just have to walk along pushing your bike. For those venturing to S/H Peak, plan on a lot of this. Even you super fit folks will find plenty of opportunity for head-down bike-pushing.
So right now, as you sit back in your chair, wondering why anyone would bump their way to a far-off trail, packed with people, to walk their bike up a 6000′ of incline, I want you to consider something – this is exactly what makes mountain biking so friggin’ incredible.
Regardless your skill level, your fitness, your age, whatever, mountain biking will get you out exploring places you might never go to otherwise. And with your 2-wheeled stallion, you’ll be able to go further, faster, even if you have to hike some.
After enjoying the view from the top of Siouxon Peak (well hello there Cascade Mountains) you will soon begin your descent. And, as you may have guessed, if you come up 6000 feet, you will also get to go down 6000 feet. Swooping turns, massive trees whizzing by as you rip-roar through a gorgeous forest on flowy singletrack. Any doubts you had about the ride will disappear. With one final stream crossing you’ll do a bit of up-and-down over drainages as you make your way to your car (note: the Siouxon/Huffman link above suggests parking at a different location that’s before the official trailhead. We, however, preferred the route we got by parking at trailhead, in which you’d take a left instead of a right at the junction following the final creek crossing. Either way, you ride it all, it’s just a matter of when you’ll ride the section that goes up and over multiple little drainages – at the start or the end, as we did, of the ride.)
By the time we were done, we wondered if Siouxon/Huffman Peak trail might be a bit like labor; you do it and then you say “boy, I never wanna do that again.”
And then, before you know it, you find yourself thinking..hmmm…that wasn’t really so bad. In fact, that was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever done…I think I might just do it again.
(*Thanks Kristen. And a very belated happy birthday. Next time we’ll hike…errrr…ride this together.)
(**No Mom, the final sentence about labor and babies is not me telling you that I’m pregnant. nor planning to be pregnant again.)