Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dog River Trail Mountain Biking

Today Emily and I headed out to Hood River for some Mountain biking with both vehicles so we could shuttle the trails.  As usual lately though, we slept in too long and got a late start at 11am.  By the time we reached our first trailhead on the East Fork Hood River far up Hwy 35 it was 1pm.  The trailhead wasn’t that clear and the campground that was on the map wasn’t apparent.   There was also 3-4 inches of snow on the ground.  We should have taken all these as signs because when we found our way through the woods and onto the trail we realized that the trail had been abandoned due destruction from a flood in the area.  We tried to make our way over and under the downed trees for about 15 minutes before calling it a day and returning to the car.  

Emily had forgotten to check her gas level when we left Hood River and was pretty much on Empty.  We risked heading back to my truck which we had parked at the bottom trailhead of the unrideable East Fork Hood River Trail.  We moved the Prius to the bottom of the Dog River Trail, quickly through the bikes and tires in the back of the truck and headed back up the mountain to FR 44 and the upper trailhead for the trail.  When I started unloading our bikes at the trailhead I almost lost my mind when I realized I had forgotten my front thru-axle in the back of Emily’s car…. so, back down the snowy mountain road again to the Prius 8 miles down the road.  Between leaving the East Fork Hood River Trail and making two trips between cars for gear we didn’t hit the Dog River Trail until nearly an hour and a half later… and we only had 2 hours of light left in the day.

Thankfully, the Dog River Trail turned out to be amazing.  I was worried about the steepness of it dropping 2,500 feet in about 6 miles and the snow on the ground at the top making it dangerously slippery on our bikes, but our tires gripped well and we were fine.  It was actually really cool to whip down the trail over a fresh coating of snow on everything around us.  I saw fresh deer tracks ahead on the trail and shortly caught up with a huge buck that ran down the trail ahead of me for a short ways before ducking into the woods out of site.  

The trail was super well maintained by a local mountain bike association and was pretty much downhill the entire way.  There was one short steep rocky section that required walking but otherwise the trail was smooth single track with lightly built banked turns and a few tight switch backs in the steeper sections.  There was a couple nice viewpoints that I’m sure would have had a great view of Hood on the way down had it not been snowing and raining.  I also stopped to check out the biggest mushroom I’ve seen in the Northwest.  It was about 1.5 feet in diameter!  At the bottom of the trail I also saw what was either a large fox or a small coyote on the trail sniffing around.   When we got down we cleaned ourselves up and put warm clothes on as heat painfully returned to our toes.  No cotton socks next time in weather like that!  We then had to make a quick run into Parkdale for some gas before heading back up the mountain to get the truck at the upper trailhead just as it was getting dark.  Although Dog River Trail was amazing I’m not sure it was quite worth the $60 in gas I blew for the day driving all around.  Next time we shuttle cars for biking we are getting a 7-8am start in the morning, especially with the shorter days of winter upon us now.

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