Alder Flat Sub-24 Overnighter
It had been a few years since my last ride up the Clackamas River and a few months since my failed bike tour of the Steens. It was time to get outside, on the bike, and sleeping in the forest.
The weather decided it was going to be unseasonably warm but overcast the entire time. We had some fog here and there but once in a while the blue sky peaked out or the sun was able to break through to grace our faces.
Relaxed morning start from Jazzy Bagels in Gresham. I highly recommend the chocolate chip bagel with sun dried tomato spread.
The cool air and lack of winds allowed us to make some good times on the road. I’m sure my stats are above average for me, but I’m not as stat-obsessed as some of my riding buddies. But, it was nice to get to Estacada quickly and minimize time on the busy highway known as 224.
We stocked up at the Thriftway in Estacada, popped onto 224 for a short bit, then cruised Faraday Road for a couple of miles. The neat thing about Faraday road is that it is completely closed to vehicular traffic. Bikes and peds only! Neat!
Years of riding this corridor flooded my mind with memories. All the different trips, bikes, friends, and over-nighters in the area made for some great times and welcome flashbacks. It was also really cool to share it all with AJ and his re-found enthusiasm for bike touring. He seemed to be really enjoying himself and all the green glory of the forest.
All the campgrounds and water supplies were closed for the season, but much to our surprise the Ripplebrook Store was open! We got there at 3:52pm and were able to score a couple of bundles of firewood for our camp. They literally locked the door the second we paid and stepped out. Yesss…
Alder Flat trailhead is only about a quarter-mile from the store so we strapped the wood to our racks and headed downhill on the singletrack to camp. Not another soul to be found! Everything was green, the insects were still in winter mode and nary found.
We set up camp, started dinner, and got a fire going just as it was getting dark. The constant hush of the Clackamas river blanketed us in a sort of peace that is getting harder to find in the city.
Chatting for a couple of hours, enjoying the solitude of our campfire, we had some great conversations before heading to bed.
I was trying out some new base-layers and a new sleeping bag liner. I thought I might sleep a little chilled but the temperature didn’t dip as much as anticipated so I slept quite warm and maybe even a little on the sweaty side.
This was a very nice night. The river hushed me to sleep quite soundly but I left my phone outside so I never knew what time it was every time I woke through the night. Regardless of my constant waking, the quality of sleep was refreshing.
I got up around 7:30 to find AJ already up and filtering water for our respective breakfasts and coffees.
After snapping some photos along the river and of camp, we were packed up and headed out by 9am which is pretty average for an over-nighter.
The weather held up really well, again with chunks of blue sky and beams of sunshine cutting through to make our faces a little red.
I made sure to drop a waypoint on my GPS for “The Narrows” where some sediment rocks were formed and make for an interesting bit of rapids. We also stopped a couple more times for some scenic photos along the way.
We pulled into Estacada around 1pm hungry. Lunch at Fearless Brewing. The beer and food are OK, but after 26 miles of riding the food and beer are GREAT.
The rest of the ride back into Gresham was rather uneventful and we split ways at the Gresham Transit center.
Overall it was a GREAT ride, great company, and excellent weather for this time of year. Honestly can’t think of how it could have been any better.