Wow, what a trip. I sometimes work as a freelance guide for a company called NW Discoveries. I got offered a position on a trip with another Mt. Bike tour company called Escape Adventures and our three companies came together for this amazing trip. We rode and camped around Mt. St. Helens and the Lewis River Trail. This is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and it takes a special permit to tour with groups of people here. Part of the reason is the high quality of the riding attracts so many Mt. Bikers that the region has to be protected and part of the reason is the healing landscape from the massive volcanic eruption of Mt. St. Helens here in 1986. We rode between 10 and 25 miles per day of pristine single track of various terrains. Huge learning took place and we had thermarafting sessions on the Lewis River every evening to wash the dirt off out bodies and soak our sore muscles before delicious camp dinners. There were two other guides and ten participants – a private group that goes on trips together every summer. I took my Schwinn Moab three hard tail and rocked it to the core. A few minor crashes, but nothing broken.
Day one – We piled in the van and drove from Portland 205 N to the Gifford Pinchot Middle Falls Camp. After setting up, we headed up the mountain to park at Wright Meadow trail intersection for an afternoon out and back trip. The trail started up hill with bumpy roots and soft pine needle sections before breaking out into sandy rollers with 1,000 ft elevation gain. A fun up and down ride for a couple hours. I came down early and drove the van back to camp while the participants continued riding a nice single track all the way down in to camp. An easy trail to follow and push the limits a little bit. We had steak and potatoes for our first night with rubarb pie for the night cap.
Day Two – A warm night and mellow awakening to coffee, fruit, and granola in the morning. We rode the rolling Lewis River Trail for a few miles past the cool waters and beautiful waterfalls. I drove the van to the end of the trail and rode North to meet the group. I rode about 4.5 miles up hill before meeting them and then we backtracked to a good lunch spot in the shade. We biked back past the van and across the service road to a nice swim hole and another waterfall view. Another 10 mile afternoon and thermarafting session.
Day Three – Drove to Mt. St. Helens for uphill ridge ride for 5 miles to the “Plains of Abraham” trail. This was fantastic terrain and a new challenge. Lots of volcanic pumice stones that are chalky and super light. It is hard to get traction when the stones move so easily. Nice high altitude views and fresh air on another sunny day. I had a minor crash on the way down and tore a chunk out of my knee. After the ride we made a visit to the Ape Caves and Ice Cream Store for a little chilling out.
Day Four – Another great trail day on the South Eastern side of Mt. St. Helens. We rode 17 + miles through grassy meadows and a little jeep trail. Trails a little more technical today with some off-camber riding and bumpy meadows. Some good wildlife sightings and trailside berries.
Day Five – 12-14 miles total today on the Ward Primitive Trail. Gradual rolling single track broke on to service road crossings before darting back in to the shadows. Part of the trail today was new and had very little use. I only had to walk my bike down a couple sections due to the technical difficulty. The last thing I want is to be helicoptered out of the woods as a guide because I tried to play superman.
Day Six – Today we rode the Boundary Trail near Council Lake. I took a group North up the climb for people who wanted a little extra challenge while the other half of the group took a shorter route. I had a nice swim in the lake before loading the bikes back on top of the van to ride back to Portland.
What a great group of participants. This trip went super smooth due to fantastic conditions and the professional style of Escape Adventures – a super easy company to work with.
Check out this video I took while on the trip: or search youtube for Oregon Bicycle Tours. http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hFM59fBRIO