Archive for September, 2005

Pallisades, a classic Washington day-ride

A group of us from the Seattle area did one of the classic Cascade range rides last Sunday. Commonly known as the Pallisades Ride, the route really encompasses the White River, Noble Knob, Dalles Ridge, Ranger Creek, and Pallisades trails . We started from the Skookum Flats area (site of the 2004 IMBA Epic Celebration event), at the base of Mt. Ranier.

It was a cloudy day, with temps in the mid-50’s, and a little mist in the air. A dozen of us headed out of Buck Creek campground, jumped onto the middle of the White River trail and headed east. This is a fun rolling trail following the White River valley floor through the middle of typical northwest rain forest. The trailbed is very rooty, rocky at times, and winds through a middle earth-like mossy forest for a couple of miles. Can you say “My preeecccciousssss”?

A picture of the trail, so you get an idea:

The single-track ends at the Corral Pass forest service road. We hung a left onto the road and climbed 4500′ relentless feet in 5 1/2 miles , to the Noble Knob trailhead.

Arriving at the trailhead we were met by a slight covering of snow from the storm the day before. Temps were in the lower 40’s, and we were in the clouds at about 6000′ elevation. But at least there wasn’t any wind. You could easily identify the relatively recent California transplant (me) in the crowd. He was the guy with blue lips, wearing shorts and a well-vented jersey (seemed appropriate for early September, I thought). Everyone else had on tights, Goretex shells, and neoprene gloves.

Some more pic’s at the end of the climb:

While waiting for everyone to regroup after the climb, those of us verging on hypothermic shock decided to begin the next part of the ride. We entered the Noble Knob trail, and were immediately met by soggy and snowy conditions. But after burning a few calories and warming up, the fun meter climbed into the red-zone again. Knoble Knob is an open single-track ridge trail, with a few side-hill sections, short climbs, and short descents to keep it interesting. The trail is usually accented by a continuous stunning view of Mt. Ranier on the left, but she was hidden in the clouds this time. Ah well, the views through the clouds were still wonderful.

Pic’s of Noble Knob trail, etc.:

After leaving Noble Knob, we followed the Dalles Ridge single/double track for a couple of miles, before it tossed us onto the Ranger Creek trail. The first mile or so is narrow side-hill descending trail with tight switchbacks, rock and root drops, and a few sketchy exposed places. After a short steep drop, which I technically “cleaned” (ok, so I flew off the bottom of the trail way too fast, blew through the last right turn, and had to negotiate some deep snow off the hill side, at least I didn’t fall), we were back in the forest for a few miles of high-speed slalom through the trees. This was the 2nd best part of the ride (the best was yet to come). The conditions were wet, but the trails hold-up well, never really muddy, just wet forest duff. However the roots and moss-covered rocks get a little slippery. Traction on the roots is something between warm grease on glass and jello on a vinyl floor.

After regrouping at the Ranger Creek “lodge” (a 3 wall cabin that you could overnight in, in a pinch, a very tight pinch), we started down Pallisades Trail. Ok, we started up Pallisades Trail, since the first part of the trail climbs for a mile or so onto the top of the Pallisades cliffs overlooking the White River and valley below. Once on top of the cliffs the trail ducks in and out of the forest a 1/2 dozen times. Each time it comes out is another opportunity to stop and admire the awe-inspiring view of the valley and the Mt. Rainier foothills on the opposite side. The low clouds flying by and up the valley made the views all the more interesting. You do have to be careful at the cliff viewpoints, since it is about a 3000′ vertical drop to the valley floor below. I hugged the right side of the trail at these junctures.

Pic’s of trail and views from the Pallisades cliffs:

Finally the trail ducked back into the woods for a few more miles. This was by far the sweeeetest trail section. Fast and twisty through the trees, with lots of root drops, narrow tree gaps, natural jumps and dips, but always down and down. I’m pretty sure this trail stimulates the same brain pleasure center as sex. Thank goodness for the wide pressure-groove in my WTB saddle (ok, that was probably way too much information for you all).

The last 1/2 mile of the Pallisades trail is very narrow, with dozens of steep and exposed ( totally unridable for me) switchbacks, as it traverses down granite cliffs. In the middle of the traverse is a 20 step steep rickety wooden staircase that drops down a sheer vertical face. At least it has a handrail, which I embedded my right thumb and index prints into on the way down. More tight rocky switchbacks, and we were back at the beginning of the White River Trail. The best rider in our group cleared 2 of the many switchbacks.

4 miles or so of the White River Trail’s hobbit forest, and we were back at the campground parking. Approximately 25 miles, with about 6000′ of climbing.

There are 4 or 5 other similar rides from this same camping area. In fact, there was a recent “Cascade Triple Crown” ride that encompassed 3 of them in one day (12 hours in the saddle for most of the participants). But Pallisades is definitely the jewel of the crown. If you’re looking for a great riding destination where you can camp in a beautiful forest, next to a beautiful river, and ride a different challenging trail for 3 or 4 days right from your campsite, this may be the ticket for you.

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09/12/05 Warrior’s Society News

In this issue:

1. Club member Monique Sawicki of “Team Mata” places 2nd at the 24-Hour World Championships

2. 2006 Event Calendar – NEW EVENTS

3. Switchback 6-Hours of Orange County update


Despite many mechanicals Monique pulled out the stops for a 2nd place finish and top American at the 24-Hour World Championships against the best women in the world.

For the full story go to:

A big thanks to all who sent in donations or attended the auction to raise funds for her to attend the 24-Hour World Championships; you all made it possible.


Below is our tentative Calendar of Events for 2006. New this year is the Spring and Fall Cross Country events and the 24-Hours of Orange County. All three of these events will be held at the Flying B Ranch.

In 2006 West Coast Adventure Racing will also be hosting the 12-Hours of Orange County on April 8th and a Spring Adventure Race on May 6th and a Fall Adventure Race on November 3rd at the Flying B.

The Boy Scouts may also be hosting an adventure race in July at the Flying B.

We will be in discussions with our promotional partners, West Coast Adventure Racing, on coordinating point tallies for all our events to crown (at the last event of 2006) a male and female Orange County MTB/Adventure Champion (along with a cash prize).

Here is our schedule for 2006:

Vision Quest – March 4th – Backup Dates March 11th and March 18th.

Spring Cross Country Event – April 22nd – back up April 29th

Toad Festival – May 13th with a back up date of May 20th.

24-Hours of Orange County – June 3rd

6-Hours of Orange County – Oct 21st back up date Oct 28th

Fall Cross Country Event – Nov. 18th


Next week we will be completing the Switchback 6-Hours of Orange County course in time for the private grand opening party on September 17th. The “Lare-Dog Trail” builders and special guests will take a few laps on the course to break it in. We’ll cover this Grand Opening in next week’s news.

Josh Jacquot, the single speed champion from our Sunset Sprint Series, has been testing the new “Lare-Dog” single track allowing us to fine tuning it. Eron Boyer and Jady Enomoto have also been assisting in riding the trail on geared bikes and recommending improvements.

Starting in October we will be scheduling two free classes to those registered for the Switchback 6-Hours of Orange County. We will be using the 6-hour course to teach technical riding skills such as fast fire road and technical single track descents as well as efficient climbing.

Within two weeks we’ll have the final stats on the course’s total distance and elevation gain.

During the winter we hope to get started on two new trails. The first, “They killed Kenny,” will start at the ridge above Lare-Dog. “They Killed Kenny” will be named after Trail Designer Ken Rands – who we worked to death on the Lare-Dog Trail.

Below it we hope to build a stunt filled trail called “You Bastard.” This trail will be primarily used for technical competitions. Riders will start high on the ridge on “They Killed Kenny” then transverse down “You Bastard.”

“They Killed Kenny” will also be used in our other MTB events when the course is run backward and instead of going down “You Bastard” you will descend down “Lare-Dog.”

We plan a great season of events in 2006.

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09/05/05 Warrior’s Society News

In this issue:

1. Fundraiser for Monique “Pua” Sawicki a big success!

2. A “Smash Face” Trail victim from the past

3. The Chuska Challenge


We had a great ride and a great “auction” party afterward. For the full story go to our web site at:

Next week we’ll have an update on how Monique did at the World Championships


In my write up last week on our club members who got “lost” on the Smash Face Trail:

I forgot to mention one of the early victims of the trail. His name is Bob Snyder and he made the mistake of showing up for that original Smash Face Trail ride late; it nearly killed him:


If you will recall, the Smash Face Trail would be the same trail that begat my Warrior’s name “Who Needs Water.” Their recount of the route they took was eerily familiar. If you can’t remember, let me refresh your memory:

Showing up late for that ride three years ago (as is my cursed custom), I sped on my way to catch up with the group 30 min ahead. Later passing another group of riders who had seen the Warriors only ten minutes before; I was confident in my ability to catch up.

After descending Smash Face, exactly as the riders this week did, I too was unable find the trail on the other side of the creek. I followed the creek through the valley for awhile, thinking that the trail would eventually make itself apparent. It never did. Crawling up the side of the valley to get a better view didn’t work either, as Ned and friends found out; it just scratched me up and drained my energy.

Having the disadvantage of not knowing the Black Star area at all, but having the advantage of plenty of daylight and strapping youth, my logical decision was to go back out the way I came in. I’m sure you remember how this turned out.

The insane difficulty of climbing up the near-vertical Smash Face, along with 90-something temperatures, traipsing around for far longer than I had expected, and my ensuing mental anguish, all caused me to suck my Camelback dry.

Once at the top and desperately trying to get back to civilization and water, in my delirium I took the wrong fire road, and instead of Black Star I ended up in RIVERSIDE!

After hitching a ride to the nearest grocery store (as I was far too destroyed by this time to continue to ride) an ambulance was called and I was transported to the ER.

Two bags of Saline and a couple of glasses of orange juice later I was able to call my roommate to come pick me up and take me home to San Clemente.

I’m glad Ned and the boys had a much better ending to their excursion than I did. I remember BGR guys telling me I would have been much better off if I had just followed Ladd Canyon out. I didn’t know how right they were til now!

Have a great one,
“What About” Bob
“Who Needs Water”


From Mark Flint of MTBAccess:

Hey Chris–

I want to call your attention to an event, the Chuska Challenge, which is a great ride for a great cause. I’m doing it, got SDMB to donate $200.

It’s a weekend mountain bike tour, held on the Navajo reservation in Northeast Arizona Oct. 7-10, offering a trip into remote mountains with spectacular scenery. This is the event’s eleventh year.

Your $100 entry fee gets you food for the weekend, transportation for your camping gear and access to this rarely visited corner of the state. More important, it provides funding for Y.E.S., a program that encourages Navajo youth to get involved in healthful outdoor activities.

Additional pledges to support the program are encouraged.

Tom Riggenbach, Y.E.S. director, describes the route, while at high altitude, as user-friendly, with only around 1,500 feet of elevation gain each day. The primary route – roughly 30 miles each day, is old Jeep roads, with options for riders wanting more distance and challenging terrain.

In addition to enjoying the ride and scenery, participants will interact with youth in the program and get to experience a taste of life on the reservation. On Friday before the ride, participants are invited to attend an arts and crafts fair, some optional rides, a “taste of the rez” food expo and camping at Dine’ College in Tsaile.

If you’re not in a hurry to get home, spend Sunday night in the hogan, and head for home Monday after breakfast.

For more information go online to:

– or Google “Chuska Challenge.”

I’m really looking forward to it; if you can direct and WS folks out there it would be great. My guess is that its days as a small event (80 people last year) are just about over.

I’ve been talking to the director about doing some trail development with MTBAccess as an economic development program; will explore that further if he has time when I’m there.

Hasta pronto, amigo,


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