Northern Baby Loaf – Take 1

I had read about this neat route that goes from Hillsboro to Tillamook and back. It would require camping in the woods, riding fat tires, and eating tons of food. My type of ride.

Friday Afternoon. My co-worker left the office about an hour before me so that he could ride the full distance from the office to Stub Stewart State Park. The plan was for me to meet him there to stay the night, he would then spend Saturday riding to the coast to meet with family. I was to ride from the park to Tillamook via the Northern half of the Baby Loaf route by Velo Dirt.

Here was my intended route:

Friday evening went all accoring to plan. We met up at the hike-in camp at Stub Stewart State Park. There was literally nobody else in the entire camp loop so we moved to a spot by the lower firepit for an evening by the warmth of a fire.

Saturday morning was chilly as it rained ever so lightly through the night.

KPR took an early leave just as the sky was starting to ligthen.

I was on my own again.

During my ride into the park, I wanted to get some video shots of my progress as practice in videography.

Sure, it would add more time to my travels but I didn’t care. I was not in any rush to get to Tillamook.

There was one incident however where I had placed the camera in such a way that it bounced out of my possession and I didn’t realize it until I was over 2 miles away. Downhill. Back up the hill and through the trail I pedaled to find the camera and continue my project. Ooops.

Back on the road, the sun started to peak from the gray curtains in the sky.

As I crossed highway 26 to head due West, I knew I was going into unfamiliar territory. From this point on, I saw very few people. What few people I did see where those working on their land or driving past. No other cyclists, runners, or walkers.

I had to cut through some timber land, which at the time I did not realize I was trespassing. The signage was old and unreadable so I took a chance to follow through with my route, pushing my bike over the hill onto the other side. Over 800 feet of elevation gain, the first elevation spike of my day. The weather was warming up and sun peaking out from the clouds.

Just as I was finishing the ascent up Timber Road, I took another detour to explore and un-signed lumber road. I was wondering why it wasn’t part of my route or any route. I just had to see what was up.

As I started bushwacking an overgrown road, I thought I would be able to parallel my route and rejoin it further West. But as I hit the end of the road and was able to get a better cellular signal to check the maps, I learned that the rod really did end and would not reconnect even though my route was a mere 1/4 mile downhill from my position.

Baby Loaf Take 1

I snapped a picture to commemorate the scenery of lumber harvesting and set back to get back on route.

Riding through Timber, the town, I didn’t see a single person which wasn’t difficult of a feat considering the size of this “town”.

This is where the pavement ended and the dirt road began towards Reeher’s camp.

As I pressed further West and up to higher elevation, the road became closed to traffic yet again, but this time it was still open to bicycles. Yay!
It was extremely helpful in terms of navigation and mental assurance to see where I was on the climb by loading my route in the Ride with GPS mobile app. I could see my position on the climb represented by a blue dot.
Baby Loaf Take 1

However, another obstacle loomed ahead. I started to see snow:
Baby Loaf Take 1

Higher and higher I rode until the road was snowed over. I stopped for dinner on some tracks to ponder my evening.
Baby Loaf Take 1

I was feeling great, warm, dry, and well fed. Press on I would until I could go no further. The snow was too warm to ride on so I pushed for a mile.

A whole mile and 1 hour of pushing in ankle-deep slush, I did the math: It would take me another 12 hours to get through the snow. It was time to make the call and turn around.
Time to make a snowman

At this point, it was well passed 11pm, fog was rolling in, and a light rain would start to tease me. I put on my rain gear for what it was worth, turned around and followed my tire tracks back to the intersection where I could ride again. This walk of shame only last 15 minutes. One thing I did notice on my push-whacking through the snow was the distinct lack of any other tire tracks or tracks made by another human being. In fact, by 11pm, I had not seen another human being nor vehicle since 4pm. Sweet. Now my brain kicks into overdrive and imagination starts to run wild like the distinctly non-canine tracks that were now in the snow. They weren’t fresh, but I didn’t notice them before. They were wide and might have been bear or bobcat. I don’t know.

What I did know that that after a bit of frustration that I had to turn around, I started to grow a bit tired. I could wear my headlamp to see where I was going but mist in the air reflected so much light in my eyes I had to control my speed to keep from sliding off the road.

Although I love sleeping in a hammock after long day of riding and adventure, being isolated left me with heightened senses of the world around me. Rain drops or wildlife made all sorts of noise throughout the night that left me uneasy and nearly sleepless. Next time I’m bringing a friend or taking some sleep aid. Maybe even take some sleep aid. Whatever, I survived the night.

Waking up with some downpour on the tarp, I didn’t want to get out of the hammock.
Wakey Wakey

Audrey had texted me saying she was already at breakfast in Tillamook and was wondering when I would meet up with her. I had to inform her of my situation and that I could do with a pick-up on her way back home. I found a quick route through the forest that would take me back to Highway 6. The rain just got worse.

I raced down the logging road which dumped me right into Gales Creek campground. Although still closed for the season, there were vehicles parked in the day-use area
Soaked

I was so glad to get out of my wet clothes, find a bite to eat, and nap in a dry bed back home.

Baby Loaf, you win this time. I learned a bit from this experience and will be back to try again soon.

To see all my photos of this weekend, check out my Flickr set:
Baby Loaf Take 1

Check out the Baby Loaf route as planned by Velodirt:
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/7013958

Cheers!
-Tomas

Categories: Bicycling

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