After not being able to see this myself during the 2015 Bicycle Quarterly Un-meeting, I suggested to Jill that we check the area out. I didn't expect the roads to be this rugged, and we weren't able to truly follow the route due to the high river that day, but I managed to underbike more of the route than I'd expected. Jill was in her element the whole time thanks to her mountain biking background, while I had to walk or "scooter-kick" my bike across many parts.
More after the break…
Friday: To Teanaway Community Forest
On Friday afternoon, I met up with Jill, my riding partner and host for this trip, to load up my gear and provide some assistance with getting our bikes onto the back of her camping van. It wasn't easy figuring out how to make everything fit, and she had to turn her bars because my bike's saddle was in their way.
Throughout the trip, folks would ask about her van, as it sat in good middle point between a basic pop-top van and a larger RV: it has all the amenities, but is the size of a delivery van.
We drove out to Cle Elum, then the Teanaway Campground a ways out of town, where we set up camp.
It wasn't easy finding a spot, as many of them were already taken by other campers, and a number of the best ones were closed for maintenance.
After a delicious dinner and some time around the campfire, we headed to bed.
The next morning, we ate breakfast then headed out. I was afraid of how cold it'd be during the day due to the cold earlier in the morning, but my fears were completely unfounded.
We left camp at about 09:00 and headed out along Middle Fork Teanaway Road, past many farms.
After seeing so familiar much scenery, I recognized where I had to turn back due to knee pain last time, and was glad to be able to press on this time. Last time, I hadn't even gotten to where the pavement turned into rocky hardpack!
This section of the road was pretty bumpy, but I was still having an easy enough time. This was the sort of thing I was hoping for on this trip, after all.
After crossing the Middle Fork Teanaway River one last time, we rounded a bend and started up a long, somewhat steep climb. I was still having an easy enough time until some mud nearly caused my front wheel to wash out and my rear wheel to lose traction. Jill would remain ahead of me for most of the ride out here since this is the kind of riding she enjoys.
At the top, I mentioned my issues and Jill gave advice about moving more weight back, but I didn't want to relive the shimmy problems from earlier. I did reduce the rear tire's pressure as she suggested, though.
As we continued, I still had to periodically walk over certain hazards. She remained ahead of me, stopping as she got to junctions to get the next turn.
After a winding descent, we got to the West Fork Teanaway River, but missed our intended turn initially, and had to backtrack a bit.
When we got to the river crossing according to our route, we saw that the water level was too high to cross.
Since we couldn't continue on our intended route, we had to seek alternate routes out. The low road we just had to backtrack on apparently ended shortly after where we did so (I'd later discover that it's the continuation of West Fork Teanaway Road, on the wrong side of a decommissioned segment), so we decided to climb back up the hill a bit, then hang a right to head towards a road.
This is where the track began to degrade, first becoming muddy and rutty, then turning to grass.
While I did my best to continue, I did generally enjoy the route, but definitely not as much as Jill was!
One section had much deeper ruts and downed trees across it.
But all that cleared out as we approached the road.
The road was more like Middle Fork Teanaway Road, but with more ruts in it. It was definitely easier for me than the tracks we'd been riding for a while by that point.
We eventually got to a gate signalling that we were getting close to the road we came in on.
The descent down the grade was about as easy as the one before, due again to the mud.
While heading back, we found the Indian Camp Campground and liked it so much that we decided to move camp later that afternoon.
I took my road touring bike on stuff suitable for a cross-country mountain bike today. It was slow, and I walked some, but no injuries.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) May 6, 2017
Nothing technical for a mountain biker, but it was outside of my comfort zone.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) May 6, 2017
Back at the campground, we chilled for a while.
Later that day, we headed into town to top off on propane, get some groceries, and stopped by Mule & Elk for some beer, including a mini-growler to get back to camp. The IPA was quite good! At the bar, we learned that mountain biking is very popular in the area, with numerous trails in the hills.
I'm at Mule & Elk Brewing in Cle Elum, WA https://t.co/1Izybpf57z— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) May 6, 2017
And then headed out to the Indian Camp Campground, ate dinner, and hung around another campfire.
Sunday: Return Home
The next morning, we started by eating breakfast and taking in the scenery.
We packed up and left at around 10:00, then headed back to Seattle.
Heading home.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) May 7, 2017
That trip was pretty good. Nature is good for the soul.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) May 7, 2017
@awlxalan That trip was the first time I've had a serious discussion with a mountain biker (the person I went with). She was on a mtn touring bike.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) May 7, 2017
@awlxalan She was in her element, while I was underbiking.— 竹下憲二 (@takeshita_kenji) May 7, 2017
On this trip, I realized a few important things:
- I should've brought a different bike and loaded it up less, with some portion on the rear rack instead. While the bike I was riding was definitely easier to work with that some of my others in these conditions, the Crust Romanceür would've been right at home.
- I need lounge pants for nights away from home, as shorts are too cold at night.
- Sleeping bag liners are awesome! Jill suggested that when I told her how much I hated the synthetic linings of most sleeping bags, and let me use one of hers during the trip.