Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Success on the North Plains - Banks Vernonia Trail Perm Pop

The last time I had a successful through ride on the trail was the Verboort Populaire in November.  Since then we've had snow, ice, biblical quantities of rain, and so on.  We've tried to ride the trail twice, and been turned back both times.

Surely the trail would be open.  I recruited Ray by promising no thunderstorms (hey, it's his perm pop!), and we set out at 8am-ish this morning.

Epic Ride Weather's take on the day:

It wasn't raining when we started out.  No rain jackets.  I had a wool base layer, jersey, and neon wind vest.  Skipped the waterproof socks; living dangerously. We passed through Banks (ugh, school traffic; Banks has one street.  Maybe it has more, but only one major one.) and onto the trail.

There was a picture pause at Wingham Farms (home of Romulus and Remus, the herding dogs), because they'd moved the chickens into the cow pasture, and had the cows in the chicken space.  They also have cute baby goats.

Onward.  The sun came and went.  Upward (railroad grade).  We got to the Stub Stewart Park road crossing, and... there was a sign - "Trail Closed 1 Mile Ahead".

As we say, there's closed and there's closed.  Nothing at a mile.  We kept going.  There might have been a landslide, but nothing on the trail.  Eventually we starting seeing staggering numbers of alder trees broken off and on the ground, although the trail was clear.  Closer to the summit, we came across some trail workers.  After a conversation, where they said the trail was usable at least as far as the summit, we went on.

Lots of alders down, although the trail was clear, except for some silt from the rain.  The pictures don't really do it justice.

Past Tophill, there was a lot more small litter on the trail.  We found one branch to move off, some short areas of deep silt and gravel, and, closer in to Vernonia, one downed tree with branches across the trail - easily managed.  By now we had a fairly persistent light drizzle, not enough to dig out our jackets.

Beaver Creek and the Nehalem River were running fast and high, but not flooding.  Heading out the the lake, we finally had to concede that it was, in fact, raining, and quickly donned our jackets.  We looped around the lake and decided we did have enough time for some coffee.

Off to Black Bear Coffee.  We walked in the door and... "where's your case of pastries?"  They'd moved the coffee/pastry operation to the far north end of the building!  They now also have a punch card - we are both there often enough to make it worth our while, so, yes, we each snagged one.  Mine will stay in my rando wallet, so as to always be at the ready.  The one cinnamon bun left was so very large that Ray and I elected to split it.

We were fairly expedient and headed back out, still wearing our jackets.  Not very far along, we pulled them off, and I went on, figuring Ray would catch up soon.  He found me before Tophill.

Down, and up.  Tophill is the only steep section of the trail.  I stress about the climb on the return, but found myself almost all the way up before realizing that I was past the steepest switchback and hadn't been thinking about it at all.  Nice.

We then enjoyed the descent (as always!), realized we had over an hour and only 8 miles to go in Banks, and finished up.

Fancy pic from the bike computer:

6:14 elapsed.

Gotta mend these! (I was wearing these when I was left-hooked; all the abrasions showed up as ever-growing holes a few months later)

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