Monday, April 02, 2007

3/23/2007 to 3/25/2007 -- Bagby Hotsprings, 140 miles

Winter here in the Portland area has recently shown signs of passing, and between that and being cooped up finishing term projects for the end of the quarter, I had a deep and abiding need to get out of town when my spring break began. Fortunately, as my first free weekend approached, the forecast kept getting revised towards the mild end, and my sweet and indulgent sweetie Jen agreed to join me on a bicycle adventure up the Clackamas River.

As I may have said before, the Clackamas River is a first-rate destination for beginning cyclotouristes. It's beautiful, camping is plentiful, and it's easy to get to. So on Friday morning, Jen and I loaded up our bikes and pedaled out the Springwater Corridor to it's end, took Telford to Boring, then Richey, Amisigger, and 224 to Estacada. We got refreshments at the Thriftway, ate lunch in front of the library, were on our way.

One particularly inviting aspect of touring the Clackamas has been the prospect of using the old Highway 224 to cover the first 6 miles past Estacada. A dozen years ago or so, the mainline 224 was routed over the hill, where it could be wider and straighter. But the old twisty and narrow 224 was still in place as an access road for the dams down on the river, and bicycles and pedestrians are allowed to use it, too. So by taking the old road, you get to take a level, quiet, and scenic route out of town, and rejoin 224 after the traffic has dispersed somewhat.

We did just that, and enjoyed beautiful scenery and lush vegetation of the vernal Clackamas. We arrived at our campsite in the mid-afternoon, set up camp, and had a relaxing evening exploring and reading.

The next day, I spent a great deal of time trying to cook pancakes evenly over a tiny camp stove. Eventually, we managed to embark on our excursion: we left our camp, and continued on our unladen bikes up the Clackamas River to Ripplebrook and beyond to forest road 63, where we started following the Collowash river upstream, on a ledge under moss-covered cliffs. Immediately upon emerging from the canyon, we turned onto forest road 70, which we followed further up the Collowash to Bagby Hotsprings. Jen and I wheeled our bikes along the mile and a half hiking trail into the springs, ate lunch, and enjoyed a good long refreshing soak there.

We wheeled our bikes back to the road, and started back to camp in worsening weather. Fortunately, though the rain was insistent, it never got denser than mist. And even more fortunately, Jen and I discovered quickly that we hadn't been fatigued on the outbound trip; rather, we had been pedaling uphill at river grade for 25 or so miles. That made the trip back to camp very fast and a great deal of fun to boot. We made it back to camp with plenty of daylight and feasted on Tasty Bites.

We both slept fitfully, as our luck with the weather had just about played out. It rained torrentially that night. It slackened somewhat with dawn, and we ate a quick breakfast and managed to strike the tent in relative comfort. But upon pulling out of camp, the rain picked up again. Then, finally, a few miles down the road, the weather finally broke, and I began looking forward to the rest of the ride home. We proceeded past Promontory Park and onto Faraday Road, and I was just contemplating what a wonderful resource that quiet route was, when we came around the corner, and what should we find?

Yep, a landslide. The hillside must have given way during the hard rains of the previous night, and created a slide twenty feet tall and 150 feet long. I wanted to portage it, but Jen talked me out of that insanity. But unfortunately, the alternative was to go back to mainline 224, and over the hill. Two miles up at 7% grade, and 3 miles down at 7% grade. Jen was amazingly sweet during the whole thing. Alas, future expeditions up the Clackamas will require pedaling up and over the hill, at least for the time being. That makes exploring the Clackamas a little less inviting to beginners, unfortunately.

Click on the maps to take you to the gmaps pedometer for more detail.
You can see more pictures from the trip here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

good account, Michael - that IS an impressive slide, probably wise not to try & climb over.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

I'm not very good with patience so i would have climbed over. probably smart not to, theres a reason i always get hurt...

11:59 AM  
Blogger star said...

Michael, I'm particularly keen on your tour as I'm 76 and drive a recumbent. Your route appears managable as I have no idea what it will be like with the added weight--tent, panniers, etc. I live in Ashland and spend these days researching possible rides as I intend to take my first tour this spring. Your route has appeal and I wonder if you'd vary it,were you to do it again.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous bikejunkie said...

Hey Michael;
It was great to briefly see you heading up 'the big hill' out in the Mt Hood forest. Were you doing the Bagby ride on Sunday?
We rode 78 miles on the same route Friday to camp in the forest about 20 miles beyond Austin Hot Springs for the weekend. You can look on my flickr page to see the pictures. I'd love to hear more about your trip.

11:46 PM  

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