Thursday, January 24, 2013


On wednesday I decided to try to ride a trail that's been on my to-ride list for quite a while. The trail is up highway 101, in the South fork Skokomish watershed. It's called the lower south fork Skokomish river trail, and is inside the Olympic National Forest. I figured that there wouldn't be any snow since its been dry. I also decided that since its been dry, it would be dry again on the day I decided to ride. This is all happening in my head in January in Olympia.  I must be stupid.

It was really snowy. Like, 18 inches on the ground snowy. Once my van started scraping undercarriage on the road, I knew I couldn't drive any further. I parked the van and started riding. I've been to the trail a few times before, so I though I knew that the trailhead was just up the road. It wasn't.Of course, the wheel ruts on the road turned into snow troughs, which turned into very soft snow troughs. I couldn't ride at all after the first 200 feet, so I started walking. I think I trudged through the snow, pushing my bike, for three miles. Also it was raining. I was dressed to ride, in shorts and tights and my raincoat.  Definitely not hiking rain gear. At a certain point, I knew I had to ditch the bike. I set it on the side of the road and ran down the next hill to look around the next corner. Another 500 foot straightaway was what lay ahead of me. So much for the hope that somehow, I could casually walk up to the trail and have it be magically clear for me to ride my bike around on and then walk back, satisfied with a day well spent. Nope. I turned around and hiked back.

The hope of riding ahead and the feeling of adventure sustained me on the way out. The way back was not so exciting. All I could think about was how much I wished I had touring skis, or a snowmobile, or anything that could have prevented this debacle of an adventure. Even just a single logical thought that could have spared me the expense of the trip by speaking up in my brain and saying "hey Finn, you know it's January, right?" The walk back to the car was miserable. It hurt. I went from angry to scared to frustrated to feeling just plain stupid. Finally, I made it back to the car and drove home and made scones. Those scones tasted like sweet redemption.

As I gobbled my way through half a batch of scones, I thought about trying to learn something from my mistake. Here's what I came up with: Five tens are awful hiking shoes. After slogging in them for a few hours, the stiff and very flat aspects of the sole that are so loved for biking became very apparent. Also, I don't recommend wearing a chamois for wet weather hiking underwear. I've had worse chafe. One time, I chafed really badly from a long day of work, then took a huge dump in a fresh port-a-john which splashed and gave me complete smurf butt which stung like hell. Lesson:  mitigate the splashing hazard of fresh honey buckets with a raft of TP. Also one time I almost took a shit on a scorpion, but that's whole other story.  Plenty of good defecation tales in my line of work.  Anyways, my final point is don't go biking in the mountains in January.  Hopefully everyone else is smarter than me and doesn't try this.  Please don't. 


  1. Misery does love company! Sounds adventurous. Those would not have been so sweet if they hadn't followed an adventure like that. Loved the story.

  2. Been there under those same circumstances Finn. Tough to predict that area this time of year. Nice trail when clear, usually few hikers.