We found swamp!
The Tuesday Night MTB Rides have been getting easier as Dave and I have gotten older and softer. We start them at 6pm instead of 7 so we can get to bed earlier. They are generally shorter than they used to be. And we hardly do any swamp rides anymore. Does anyone remember the Death Ride course? Among other glorious things, it had lots of swamp! Not sissy damp moss stuff. Pure muckaholic joy.
Well, we didn’t quite get into that much last night, but we got into some good stuff. We could have avoided it. I’ll give Mark credit. He goaded me. He’s been coming only a couple of years. He said he’d been hearing these swamp stories, but hadn’t seen anything to live up to it. So, we went down, down, down. (Note: these trails are getting worked on this summer. See the message at the bottom of this post.)
We started the Rosie Creek ride at the site of the soon-to-be official trailhead. (You can easily find it and the trails on Trail Forks.) We headed down, ‘cause that’s the only choice at first.
Things got awesome real quick. Tony knows this area and led us to some trail/roads that had been newly brushed out. (Viereck’s Hook, Viereck’s Loop, and the bottom part of Flodin Road.) Super fun!
That led us to the creek crossing on Flodin Road. Tony had warned me earlier that part of the road had blown out recently, but he said he had gotten around it earlier with dry shoes. He was right! We did some pushing, but didn’t need to get wet. Fun, but my swamp craving was not sated!
Then we did a fun loop going up Otter Slide and coming down Lookout. Highly recommended! Feels like you get a lot more downhill for the uphill you paid with on that one.
Decision time. I wanted to take Harrington’s Long Shot all the way around, but Nikki doubted my judgment. She said we would drop into Beaver Slide and into a morass of winter trails we wouldn’t soon get out of. Tempting, true, but I swore that we wouldn’t do that. Still, these are her backyard trails. So, who do you follow? Eric, of course! We followed the HLS past Beaver Slide, staying high and dry, and got to the next decision point.
At Alden’s Pine Road would we go back up…or down. Nikki, Tony, and I talked. Going down we could go by the Quist Farm, onto Rosie Creek Road, and then get back on the trails at the Beaver Pond crossing. Or, Nikki lobbied, we could take the winter trail north around Quist Farm. Winter trail? Yes! OK, maybe Nikki didn’t lobby for it, more like pointing out a stupid option.
“Either way,” says Tony, “we’re going to get wet feet.”
We went down APR and took the Rosie Creek Winter Trail north around Quist Farm. I mean, how can you resist a trail that has “winter” in its name during the summer? We got into some pretty good swamp when we hit its low point. Nikki even entertained us by stepping into some good glop that everyone else managed to step over.
The swamp continued for a while, though some of it was rideable. Though Jim proved that some of it was definitely not rideable, even on a fatty. Unfortunately, he didn’t do a full swamp face plant. I even had my camera out. Ah well. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
We turned north at Christmas Tree Trail and climbed out of the lowlands. Ah, well, the swamp was nice while it lasted. We hit Pagh Road and started climbing some more. We even had a couple of downhills before the real climbing started.
It’s a long grunt back up to the cars. But it was made more enjoyable by some recent blading work on the Pagh Road combined with the “humidity” we had throughout the ride. Nothing like riding through peanut butter! Others seemed to handle it pretty well, but Dave and I both had to stop a few times to scrape enough mud off our tires so that they would rotate. Good times!
At one point Ken disappeared, going down the wrong trail. Should we go after him? He’s chasing a Strava segment, someone said. Ken, Ken, Ken. Now what do the rest of us do? The Ken appears. King of the Hill! Animal!
We finally got onto better road and climbed back to the cars. Dave was being Slow-Ass Dave x 2 on this climb. He bonked big time. He said he hadn’t eaten much in the past couple of days. Dude, ya gotta eat if you want to go swamping and climbing!
Jim went back and accompanied him on the last part, while I rode ahead to make sure everyone got the snacks and drinks. The humidity had stopped by then, so we talked for a bit and swatted mosquitoes while Dave recovered. I told Mark we had gone through some good swamp, but not epic swamp. Bring it on, Mark challenged! I promise to look at the ride schedule and see what fun surprises a little tweaking might bring!
Here’s our Strava track:
Jon Underwood of Happy Trails posted this on the Fairbanks Trail Users Facebook page:
Hi everyone, Happy Trails, Inc. has begun work on the trails in Rosie Creek State Forest. In June we will re-grade the forest roads and mow brush. Please watch out for our machines and be sure our operators see you before approaching or passing! The attached map depicts the forest roads affected.