We started by dropping Douglas and Aurora off at the southern end, the Lost Lake Trail, which begins nearly in Seward. I'm not sure why we decided to do it south to north, but it ended up being a very good thing for Douglas, though not so good for Denver and I, as you will soon read about. Douglas was the one loaded up: food, water, extra clothes, gear for the bike. It seemed like an epic to make sure we had everything. The night before we'd each packed a ziplock bag with our food of choice: granola/energy bars, dried fruit, nuts, apples, fruit smoothie, summer sausage/cheese/crackers. The Camelback was filled with water with a couple water bottles to supplement it. The bike pump was attached. Everything was checked, double checked, and after a quick picture to commemorate the event, away they went.
Denver and I promptly hopped in the car and drove to their ending place, which was to be our starting spot. We were going to bike up the north end, or the Primrose Trail (for some reason the trail names change at the halfway point so it is the Lost Lake Trail on the southern 7.3 miles and the Primrose Trail for the northern 7.5 miles) and meet them.
When backpacking last summer on the section we were going to bike, I recalled the trail being smooth and easy, with only a few steep spots up near the top before breaking out of the trees. I must have only recalled the first 20 minutes of hiking, which was delightfully smooth. Soon enough, though, the trail got rocky with large roots protruding across the trail. It didn't take us long to let our egos take the back seat and we just hopped off our bikes when an intimidating hill loomed ahead of us: uphill, criss-crossed by roots and pocked by rocks.
|One of the sections of trail, nearing the top where we broke out of the trees.|
We've biked a little bit this summer, but not heavy duty backcountry trails. Plus we'd just gotten off a month of fairly sedentary vacation, so we were not in shape. Nor were we mentally prepared for the rough ride. We just kept getting off our bikes and walking up or around the unbikeable sections. We took frequent breaks, sometimes just standing by our bikes gasping, other times plopped down in the moss along the trail. At one point we stopped and checked out an old cabin along the trail. We skipped the trail turnoff to the waterfall, marked by a 3-rock cairn, not wanting to take a break quite that long.
|An old cabin along the Primrose Trail.|
|The first patch of snow we come across in the summer is always cause for a snowball or two!|
Even with controlling our speed it was a wild ride. I fell off my pedals a number of times while standing on them going over the big roots (very grateful I am a female--hitting that middle bar is not comfortable either way!). My 29" tires, which are great for going over things, are not as great at maneuvering around rocks and such, so it was a bit gnarly. We all made it down in one piece, though as we found out later, our bikes did sustain some damage. Our bike mechanic shook his head when he heard of our adventure and said, "That is one trail that is faster to run than bike!
So Douglas and Aurora did the whole thing in just over 4 hours including breaks, and Denver and I did about 11 miles (5 1/2 out, 5 1/2 back) in just under 4 hours. It was....an adventure! I don't have any inclination to do that again, but this blog entry will be my memory-jogger in case I ever do consider it!
I will say that when you're mountain biking a trail like this your complete attention is on the trail at all times so we had no time to look around and enjoy the scenery. It was fast, intense and engaging, but we gave up some of the appreciation of the area by doing it that way. I think that I would not want to do a trail like this only mountain biking. I would want to hike it too in order to actually feel it and see it as opposed to just traverse its length. And next time I hike a trail I'll notice the trail in terms of it's bikeability. I totally did not notice those roots and rocks when I backpacked this trail just one year ago. If I had, we might not have biked it!