Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Elbe - Bear Meadows - Elbe

Vincent & I rode the inaugural ride of the Elbe – Bear Meadows – Elbe permanent on Wednesday, July 15th . It was going to be a hot day … perhaps the low 90’s, so we decided to ride it counterclockwise, getting the big climb up Mt.St. Helens done in the morning before it got too hot. It was a good choice.

We started in Elbe at 7:30 and quickly made it to Morton with the little climb up 7 as a good warm-up for what was ahead. A short stop at Randle to get a receipt, a snack, and top off with water. There were no sure water stops until we got back down.

The climb up NF-26 is one of my favorite climbs. We only saw one car and one pair of motorcycles on the way up. Much of the ride on 26 is on a narrow, basically one lane road, with plenty of shade …. at least in the morning. Towards the top, in the blast zone, it is much different. No shade. I’m always amazed by the desolation & destruction still evident. The road up was open to cars this year, the washout repaired and “tank traps” (to keep motorcycles out) removed. It was awfully hot as we neared the top …climbing it a few hours later would have been painful.

What took almost three hours to climb was over less than an hour as we descended back to Randle and then up to Packwood before the last climb up. We took our time in Packwood. A good lunch at the Sub shop at the Shell station, rehydrated, and loaded up the water bottles with ice & water. Then up Skate Creek. A pleasant climb, virtually all in the shade from Packwood at about 1,000 feet to the crest at 2,500 feet.

We finished about 6:10, after 8,300 feet of climbing

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