There we sat in Hits the Spot cafe, trying to pick a perm pop which was maybe achievable, given the staggering amount of rain and flooding we'd had the past week. (For the record, every Oregon perm I own is probably still flooded out.) North Plains Carlton would take us down Fern Hill Rd, which reliably floods every single heavy rain, as well as floodable stretches on Spring Hill Rd.
North Plains Banks Vernonia runs right along a couple of creeks. Vernonia was flooded, and all approaches to the town were also flooded. Roads washed away. The trail status was "closed from Manning to Vernonia", with no specifics. More than one of us really wanted to know how the trail was doing, so off we went.
The leg from North Plains to Banks was fine, although we could see where the creeks had flooded and run over the road in several places.
The trail from Banks to Manning had some litter, and, again, we could see where the trail had been flooded. There were still some underwater bits, but they were neither long nor deep.
Then the fun began. There was some litter on the trail, but nothing worth stopping and pitching to the side. Then, a bit before the Buxton Trestle...
It was thought that maybe we could go around on the right, but, poking the sludge with stick revealed that it had the consistency of quicksand. Ok, Let's give up and over on the left a try. Between the three of us, we were able to relay the bikes around the top of the tree.
"Only one portage". Ok, good to know we have limits.
It was raining heavily on and off. Feet were still good. Hands were still good.
Proceeding on, we passed a few other runners and cyclists. Every so often we'd stop and pitch a big branch off to the side. There was another fallen tree, which was also successfully maneuvered off the trail.
The Nowakowski Rd crossing was clear, but the road up hill was flooded. Tophill was uneventful, and the trail was pretty clear heading down towards Vernonia, but at the McDonald Rd crossing, the Trail Closed signage stepped up a notch. Perhaps we should head back. One rider: "I didn't think we'd get this far!"
Headed back up. The descent was less fun than usual, because we were all wet, and it was cold and raining.
Portaged back over the fallen tree, and then stopped to feed someone, who was running low on zip.
Quote: "If I wasn't having so much fun, I'd be cold and miserable!".
We thought about stopping for coffee in Banks, but by then we'd stopped descending, added another layer or two, and were warmed up, so we headed all the way back to North Plains.
The guys loaded up and went right on home; I went back into the cafe with my towel and dry shoes (what, you don't carry a towel in your car?), and drank several cups of coffee!