Mosier Mayhem v2: mill creek edition
UNPAVED / OMTM 2017 RIDE SERIES, EPISODE 5. Ridden 6.17.17
MTB-focused route: 66M // 8589FT // 70%G // 20% singletrack // 5% primitive road // 5% paved
radical recap of the mosier mayhem v2 via dustin Klein's Everything's Been Done video series:
Last year's Mosier Mayhem was such a blast we felt compelled to give it another go. Clearly a lot has happened within the last year. We've adjusted expectations, ridden lots of new roads and have currently developed quite the topographical crush on the Mill Creek Ridge area. We can't get enough of the rippling drainages, stark interplay between densely forested pine and wide open space, eerie flameravaged burns, dramatic microclimates...so naturally we couldn't pass up the opportunity to showcase the best of Mill Creek this time around!
This updated format will have two primary route options. One will be a gravel-centric loop, challenging enough in its own right. The other is a longer singletrack-intensive endeavor that can be configured on the fly depending on how much gas is in the tank. Both versions roll together for the first 30 miles but diverge at NF17. Those wanting to let loose on a ripe patch of singletrack can cut over for a romp along the Surveyors Ridge trail, rejoining the gravel route at mile 39. The second serving of trail comes at mile 49. Those wishing to wrap things up simply hang a right onto Wilson Road for a cushy descent back into Mosier. Those who are looking for a bit more action descend left to Old Dalles Road and Whoopdee Trail, returning to Mosier via Huskey Road. There is also the possibility of skipping the earlier Surveyors Ridge trail section but hitting Whoopdee singletrack. Configure as you please. Do the gravel, do Surveyors, do Whoopdee or do it all, it's up to you.
The First 30
As we mentioned the first half of both routing options will be the same. Flatbar and dropbar rolling out in bipartisan harmony, we climb out of Mosier to the southeast via Dry Creek, Osborn Cutoff and Vensel Roads through idyllic cherry orchards and rolling hills of white oak and pine gaining 2000 feet over the first 10 miles. Crossing the cattle guard onto Ketchum Road, the landscape opens considerably along grassy ridges over smooth Cadillac gravel and hardpack. The terrain intensifies with elevation, transitioning to rocky, rutted dirt and dense pockets of evergreen before reaching the juncture with Hedges Grade at mile 15.5.
Hedges Grade descends roughly 1000 feet over two miles of large loose rock averaging -15% to -18% gradient. It's been described as 'gnar', 'super gnar' and 'holy fuck'. So be warned. Take a good look at the photo to the upper right.
Would you ride this on 33's?
I didn't think so.
This is not a descent to be taken lightly. If you attempt to bomb this on 33's you are guaranteed to flat if not crash. So if at any point you do not feel comfortable w/ the conditions, please walk the rockier sections.
That said, be prepared for a spirited romp...a loose hardscrabble descent where line choice and handling skills will be absolutely critical. While this is undoubtedly the domain of the hardtail and plus-size rig, I've found it to be a good CX-accessible challenge and quite enjoyable on 40c.
Stay loose. Keep it light. Pick your way down carefully.
You'll most likely be fine.
Besides...those views. Mill Creek Road cuts a dramatic contour up the ridge to the south, snaking out of the valley through the rippled hillsides of Buck Hollow. Hedges Grade intersects Mill Creek Road at mile 17.1 and resumes climbing, traversing rugged symmetrical slopes before angling westward again. Mill Creek Lookout Road pitches up at mile 21.1 over rocky doubletrack Jeep trail en route to Mill Creek Ridge. At mile 23.5 be sure to follow the faint track off to the right to the remains of the old Mill Creek lookout fire tower. The sightlines to Mount Hood and the surrounding valleys are nothing short of epic.
From here it is a series of magical descents and punchy climbs along preternaturally panoramic ridgelines skirting the Dalles watershed boundary. At mile 25.4, continue descending west onto Mill Creek Ridge Road (right at the four-way intersection). There will be an ideal water refill point at mile 26.2 at the crossing of the north fork of Mill Creek. Mill Creek Ridge Road climbs steeply through the blackened pines of the Mosier/Rowena burn, intersecting John's Mill Road/NF1711 at mile 28. Continue westward past the green gate to our first point of divergence at mile 30.
Mountain bikes may opt to cut over to NF17 for a quick climb southward to one of two cut-in points to the Surveyors Ridge trail. At mile 31.2 there is a simple gravel connection to Surveyors Ridge. There is another water refill point slightly further south at Gibson Prairie Horse Camp w/ a short singletrack connector to the trail. Be aware this upper section of Surveyor's Ridge is quite a bit rockier than the lower gravel cut-in and will be considerably less dropbar/cross bike friendly but perfectly reasonable for hardtails. That said, heartier CX riders with advanced handling chops and 38c+ should find the lower section of Surveyors Ridge quite enjoyable but wouldn't recommend this bit on anything less than 38-40c. This particular offshoot option rejoins the gravel-specific route at mile 39.1 descending northward toward Huskey Road.
At mile 48.7 riders are presented with the second choose-your-own-adventure option. Those wishing for a creamy smooth gravel descent back to Mosier can simply bear right onto Wilson Road and call it a day. For those with some remaining piss and vinegar, hang a left and bomb down Huskey Road following Old Dalles to Whoodee Trail, a delightfully flowy, bermed singletrack romp through densely wooded greenery, grassy wildflower meadows and sundappled oak and alder groves.
One thing to take into consideration is that recent logging in the area has disrupted the trail in a couple of spots. At mile 50.3, beyond the gate, there is a newish logging road to the immediate left, follow that for 1/8th of a mile picking up Whoopdee to the right. Exceedingly CX-friendly, Whoopdee dips, ducks and dodges through three miles of downward pastoral bliss before starting a gentle switchback climb up to the trailhead at Old Dalles Road. Elder/Old Dalles roll down to Huskey Road for a beeline back to the swimming hole in Mosier and some generously donated brews from 10 Barrel Brewing.
Gravel-centric route option
ROUTE FORMAT: LOOP
SURFACE: 90% GRAVEL, 5% primitive road, 5% paved
TIRES: 2" preferred, 40c works
BIKE: plus-sized GRAVEL/RIGID 29ER/MTB
WATER/SERVICES: NO SERVICES. WATER FILTER REQUIRED.
Singletrack-centric route option
ROUTE FORMAT: LOOP
SURFACE: 70% GRAVEL, 20% Singletrack, 5% primitive road, 5% paved
TIRES: 2" preferred, 40c works
BIKE: Plus-size GRAVEL/RIGID 29ER/hardtail MTB
WATER/SERVICES: NO SERVICES. WATER FILTER REQUIRED.
** We recognize not everyone rolls deep w/ a quiver of hardtail, rigid 29er and 650b+ adventure rig for any possible set of conditions. As such we present the ' HOLY SHIT all I've got is a CX bike w/ 33c but I still want to ride' contingency plan. We've got you covered. Essentially the same as the gravel-centric Mayhem option with a slightly different front end that rolls east on 30 through Rowena Crest skirting the Dalles before rejoining the route along Mill Creek. If you must roll 33-35c this is the route option you want to take.
Be aware this version comes w/ an additional 14 miles of pavement and a rollout of atonement.
POst-ride camaraderisms & camping
Be sure to hit the Mosier Falls Swimming Hole upon completion. For the exact location of the swimmin' hole, refer to the ending of either route, which finishes right in the sweet spot. 10 Barrel Brewing has graciously pitched in ten cases of Belgian bellywarmer for après shred. So be sure to finish thirsty.
As with last year's event we will be camping, grilling and making the merriment at Memaloose State Park after the ride. We have campsites A29 + A31 reserved. Come hang out, reserve a site and join the party! One thing to note is that due to the park's location off of westbound 84, there is unfortunately not a way to ride from Mosier to Memaloose, but hey, you had to get out to Mosier somehow right? It's only a handful of miles from Mosier east to the Rowena exit. Return to 84 westbound and Memaloose is below the rest stop.
Only the best!
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
Both route options are shown here overlaying one another. The red is the gravel course. The blue is the singletrack intensive. The easternmost red-blue overlay will be the first thirty miles together.
\\\\ PLEASURE HUNT ////
In keeping with tradition we've planted a few easter eggs along the Mosier Mayhem route this year. We've filled three flasks with Buffalo Trace. This will steel your resolve and add a good 10c or .5" worth of tire volume to your ridefeel. Depending on your discipline of choice, we've also hidden three homegrown pre-rolls along the way just to keep things chooglin.
1. You've reached a turning point in the climb and where we're going, it's not getting any less steep. You're at a crossroads. Do you see any rock cairns? Cairns are often erected as landmarks, a use they have had since ancient times. However, since prehistory, they have also been built and used as burial monuments; for defense and hunting; for ceremonial purposes, sometimes relating to astronomy; to locate buried items, such as caches of food or objects; and to mark trails, among other purposes.
2. Good Lord, that Vensel climb was relentless. Though it was steep, it was at least smooth right? We can't make any promises that it will remain that way going forward. Who knows what kind of secrets lay beyond the cattle guard. Or INSIDE the cattle guard for that matter. Even the rails themselves contain many secrets. They are hollow. Have a look inside.
3. Wow. You've reached a critical juncture of the route. The first significant descent. And quite a doozy it is. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Hedges Grade. You're going to want to loosen up...stay light...keep on your toes...find the Jedi line. There is perhaps a hollow log on an island. Contained therein may be found a serum whose properties are purported to embolden a rider with such character as to weather the descent unscathed. Or maybe sort of scathed...not making any promises.
4. Holy Smokies!!! Again with the full-frontal from Wy'east. Just like last year. A good Hood sighting is cause for celebration. You have reached Mill Creek Ridge, the site of the former 20' pole L-4 fire tower and cabin, which was built in the 1930s and removed in 1956. The foundation is all that remains. Do you see a cairn among the rubble? Take a minute, enjoy the view. You've earned it.
5/6. The last two gems are stashed together in a shady grove doubling as the first of several water filter top off points. This cool, shady zone is the north fork of Mill Creek. This water is delicious, ice cold and fresh from the snowcapped high country...if you have a filter of course. Even these bucolic settings cannot escape the detritus of disposable automotive culture. Best not to dwell on it too much, just feel around inside. See what you find. Hopefully it helps.
Stay safe and enjoy.