Me and 10 other bikers went to Chelan this last Friday for the weekend. I was invited on this trip which was made up mostly of roadies who wanted to go over and do the Chelan Century Challenge (more info here). Me being the dirt head I am, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to check off a mountain bike ride that has been on my bucket list for a while. And yes, I do mingle with roadies and I do own a road bike as well...actually a really nice one.
We all settled into camp, along the Columbia River, Friday afternoon and rose early Saturday to tackle our own biking adventures. The roadies planned to do 2 of the 3 CCC loops Saturday and the last, and most strenuous on Sunday. I left camp before the roadies were even suited up on my way to the Devil's Backbone Trail and the anticipation was almost more than I could bear.
The Devil's Backbone (Trail #1448) is a high elevation, ridge-top ride that connects the Entiat and Chelan Ranger Districts. It is rocky, rugged and well, as the tourist pamphlet states, "This ride is not for the faint of heart." The view of the ridge resembles a dinosaur's back...slim, jagged and full contours. It is very open, both because not much grows that high but also because of a fire that ripped through that area some 15 years earlier. This ridge top ride is 11 miles from end to end with several options along the way. I choose to ride from the Handy Spring end out to the Pot Peak Trail and back down to 25 Mile Creek Campground.
|about to start solo, too much for Shadow|
Approximately 4 miles in, things started to get real interesting. The trail wound out onto a side cut in the mountain. The tread of the trail was no more than 18" with a shear rock wall on the up hill side and a drop off on the other, where I won't even venture to guess its depth. Let's just say that there was NO margin for error and wrecking was NOT an option. My downhill riding partners bombed down the trail with little regard. I kept it slow, stayed focused on the tread and yes, I did walk a bit too. The trail popped back onto the ridge and then out the other side for some more exposed and heart pumping goat like trail. When we got to the other side I was tense and exhausted. It felt like the last mile was more like ten!
|looking back this pic doesn't really do it justice|
Pot Peak is an amazing 10 mile descent! There are a couple of small climbs, but for the most part it is a 4,300 foot descent with banked turns and serpent like twisting single-track. Better yet, the trail descended back into the trees and I started to feel more at home. At least if I wrecked there would be something to catch me. As I weaved back and forth the ridge became a distant memory. Often technical and rocky, the trail was all ridable. Many of the switchbacks and wash-out prone areas featured cinder blocks to armour in the trail. They were a joy to ride on as they provided a steady surface to turn on and braking was responsive since there was no skidding.
|how'd they get those way up there?|
Saturday night we gathered around the fire, drank some brews and exchanged stories of our day. The roadies also had a good ride and felt a satisfied depletion. The bed was a welcome relief that night and I arose to sourdough pancakes and bacon compliments of Brad and Carol. It was good fuel. I packed up and went to ride Echo Ridge, the local ski resort. This recap will be short. It was lame. Most of the so called "trails" were really old roads. There are lots of them, but they lacked interest and challenge...especially after the previous days adventure. Not a destination ride, but a good filler.
|lots of biking signs, very progressive community|