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

The Ride

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.

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And the journey begins!
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Just checking out the maps.

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There were definitely some hike-a-bike sections on Oak Ridge Trail.

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One of the numerous trees we had to navigate around during the ride.
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Mount Hood.

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Nothing like some good old morning sun to warm up those toes.
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I couldn’t resist.

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Surveyor’s Ridge Trail Take 1. There were beautiful views of Mount Hood all along this ridge.

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.

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We had the entire campsite to ourselves the entire time. I guess everyone else checked the forecast.
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Tree maze.
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We found patches of frost on our afternoon ride.

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.

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Frozen everything.

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Here we are loaded up for the return trip, wearing our entire backpacking wardrobe.
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Started on gravel.
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Which turned to frosty singletrack.
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Mount Hood was completely covered by clouds on our return trip.
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Andrew huffing it up a hill.
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And then it happened. Andrew’s derailleur hangar bent all the way into his tire.
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Which also messed up his brakes.
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But we were able to carry on, just at a bit slower pace.
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Surveyor’s Ridge Trail Take 2.  Not so pretty views of Mount Hood this time around.
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One of the rock gardens on the trail.
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Mount Hood did clear up by the end of our ride.
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The hike-a-bike up was so worth the blazing descent down.
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This was the section of trail that Andrew went head over handlebars on.

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And… time. Things are all packed up and ready for the 2 1/2 hour ride home.
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That’ll do Knards, that’ll do.

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.

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