|Author overcome by Usain-mania, high on Burnout Road.|
Friday night, Brian Ecker's e-mail arrived announcing his open invitation for a "mini-epic" from Winthrop to Conconully and back via the remote forest service roads of the Okanogan. (Seems hilarious that to Brian, an 80-plus miler w/ 9,600 feet of elevation gain rates only a "mini-epic.") This is a route I've been lusting over for a while and thus, Titaniuma Cancellara and I are going to go for it. (That is, if I can come up w/ an appropriate bike to ride. My geared mountain bike is in a state of disrepair right now and I'm not sure if my CX bike is up to it.)
To get us in the right frame of mind, on Saturday TC and I rode what I guess might be considered a mini-mini epic through the Chuckanuts (though to me it was pretty epic): Burnout Road, a bushwack down into the Land of the Lost, followed by Sick Joke--a steep, nasty bastard of a climb that ascends to the Pine and Cedar Lakes end of the world.
Accessed from already steep Fragrance Lake Road, Burnout Road climbs 1,200 feet in less than three miles with four especially steep sections that I'll call the Four Hillingen of the Apocalypse. Above, Scott Young ascends the last one which pitches upwards at 20-plus percent. (The others are similar ranging from about 18 to 22 percent.) Plus it's gravel. I was pedaling my 'cross bike whose lowest gear is a 38-26; ideally, I need a couple lower for epics (or mini-mini epics) like this.
At the top, the recent logging, while a bit of an eyesore from down below, offers up some amazing island and water views. (See top pic.)
With the Overlander Trail no more, we hike-a-biked about 20 minutes until we found the Rockyard--basically an overgrown, rocky gully--which eventually hooks up with the south terminus of the Lost Lake Trail. From there, it's those remote Land of the Lost roads which lead to, among other places, Mud Lake, Blanchard Mountain, Lake Samish and elsehwhere. We made for Sick Joke which is every bit as evil as Burnout, if not more so given its slippery rocky surface. Admittedly, I had to stop at one spot; something I've not had to do the two recent times I've ridden Burnout.
Once at the top, it was the fun, winding Hemlock Trail down to Arroyo Park, most of which I quite enjoyed on the 'cross bike. In all, it was about 30 miles of rugged riding with 3,600 feet of elevation gain. Not quite Winthrop to Conconully and back, but probably my most rugged day yet on my 'cross bike.
Here's our route: