Friday, April 27, 2007

New Trails

Warning: Do not ride with mouth open.

For some time now my regular riding partner Ben has been talking about the "Northwest Passage" trail. Since I am generally out of the loop on things like the correct name for a given route I assumed it was something I was familiar with by my own nomenclature. Today he introduced me to the course and I am bit smitten.
The ride follows the all too familiar bluff trails to Hatch road. I avoid the bluff because there are too many people walking with their dogs on a hillside trail that provides no room for passing. The bluff used to be riddled with head exploding climbs. It was the least singlespeed friendly hills in town. A dedicated trail builder has worked nonstop for a decade to provide universal access to all skill levels with trails that rarely angle more then 1 or 2 percent grade; further enhancing the over crowding problems.
With that said, the bluff trails were merely a way to get to the real riding. After Hatch the NW Passage meanders on the South side of Latah Valley through diverse conditions that made me think I was riding in another part of the state. Fir trees and Native Birches were a nice change from the dominant ponderosa pines. We followed the trail up and down valleys and along basalt cliff edges. The riding was so good I never thought to take a picture, I was just riding.
Riding this route reminded me of the old days in the late 80's and early 90's. I would explore the back ways to and from every place in town. I was constantly prowling the perimeter of neighborhoods looking for the long forgotten trails. As time went on, for the sake of efficiency, I began riding the same routes over and over. This practice eventually led me to burn out on mtn biking all together. All last year I stuck to the pavement in an attempt to regain my love of the dirt but now I realize that this was the wrong way to do it. Mtn biking is adventure, it is exploration it is being in the wilderness. I did not need to abstain I needed to find new terrain and just ride.
It was not a perfect ride. With just a mile to go I suggested to Ben that we could cut across some railroad tracks and follow some singletrack down to the Columbia Plateau trail. I used to run this route daily. The trail is actually an access route for transient who frequently live in this area. Unbelievably while riding Ben had human feces hit him and his bike. During the extended clean up session we tried to find where in the trail it was but there was nothing (I was riding in the front and never saw it). Based on where it hit his bike the only conclusion we could draw was that the poo had been flung from the short cliff we were riding below. The stuff smelled terrible and resulted in a long drawn out cleaning both on site and back at my house. That stuff was everywhere. Just when you thought it was all gone more would be spotted. Ben's day was ruined but I still could not be knocked off of my cloud.


John Speare said...

Bikely route please. And make a special marker of the poo target area.

John Speare said...

oh yeah -- and, the High Drive trails are great on the weekdays and mid-day. Also know this: every dog owner walking thier dog on the HD trails is the exception to the leash law.