2-Day Bikepacking Trip in Hood River, OR: Oak Ridge Trail, Surveyor’s Ridge, and Beyond
The Map (with our intended route)
Want more detail? http://ridewithgps.com/routes/10230641
Incredible views, frozen feet, and downed trees would be a poor description of the incredible ride I went on with my friend Andrew Glick, but they were definitely three of the themes of our ride in Hood River this weekend. The idea for the ride materialized when two epiphanies hit me, simultaneously, leading into this weekend. Epiphany #1: I don’t have graduate school homework to do this weekend (my term just ended). Epiphany #2: This weekend isn’t supposed to be rainy. While some might struggle to see the correlation here, to the trained eye it’s obvious that these simultaneously occurring phenomena are no coincidence, and mean one thing and one thing only: weekend bikepacking trip. On a whim, I texted a new acquaintance of mine, Andrew Glick, an avid cyclist and Oregon neophyte, to see if he would be interested in a two day ride. He eagerly accepted and plans were put in place to ride Saturday and Sunday in Hood River.
So at 4:30am, I headed out towards Tigard to pick him up, and we made our way to Tollbridge Campsite, which neighbors Oak Ridge Trail, the starting point of our ride. The plan was to ride Oak Ridge Trail to Surveyor’s Ridge, then connect with Forest Road 1720, which would take us to Knebal Springs, our campsite for the night. We would unpack at Knebal Springs, eat lunch, and then do an afternoon loop that was a mixture of trails around Knebal Springs.
Let’s just say things didn’t work out perfectly. After some major directional mix-ups, we got to our campsite in the late afternoon and settled for a short out and back ride before nightfall. And speaking of nightfall, it got dark around 5pm, and with the sunset came freezing cold temperatures. Andrew and I are guessing that the weather dropped into the low 20s. I kept waking up because my feet were painfully cold, and although we were in the tent for about 13 hours, neither of us got much sleep.
The morning ride was gorgeous, if not a bit uncomfortably cold. Unfortunately, about five miles in Andrew had a stick get caught in his derailleur, which then proceeded to completely mash up his derailleur beyond repair. As a temporary fix, Andrew bent the back derailleur out of the way, shortened his chain, and rode the bike as a single speed the rest of the way down the mountain. It was an impressive feat considering our lack of resources and frozen fingers.
Overall, this ride was unabashedly brutal, but full of unforgettable experiences and blaring contrasts: Numerous hike-a-bike ascents and blazing fast descents, scenic ridge trails and technical rock gardens, frozen paths and downed trees, frozen toes and downed bikers (Andrew flipped over his handlebars at one particularly challenging switchback), not to mention lots of time to talk, laugh, and commiserate as we shared the ups and downs of the journey. I’d like to explore the area again when I have more time, but for now, this weekend adventure was a great introduction to the beauty of the Hood River Mountain Bike scene.