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Zorro Ridge... er... Granite Lakes
posted by John : September 15, 2010

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Satan's bicycle

Each day (when it's not raining (roughly 60 days out of the year)) when I drive home I look up at the mountains. Big surprise. Mt. Si on the left. Cedar Butte and Mt. Washington dead ahead. Rattlesnake Ridge on the right. Mailbox guarding the entrance to the Middle Fork. And just behind Mailbox is Zorro Ridge.

Zorro Ridge was the site of disastrous logging practices last century (yeah, that sounds weird to me, too) resulting in decommissioned logging roads zig zagging up the slopes. The peak is one of those dreaded summits with more than 400 feet of prominence so it's on my list. No value other than that and a view down to the Gifford Lakes below.

It's a five mile road walk to the Granite Lakes. Blech. But if we rode bikes it wouldn't be that bad, right? Right... So we decided to ride. Only Eric was foolish enough to join me. It wasn't quite raining when we left the trailhead. Last time I rode a bike was in Juneau a year ago. Needless to say, riding five miles with 2,200 feet of gain was less than pleasant. In fact, the only thing that warmed my heart while pushing the beast of burden that was more of a burden than I would have expected was the idea that I'd be casually coasting down on the way back.

We thought it'd take less than an hour to get to the lake, but in reality it took close to an hour and a half. It was dark when we threw the bikes in the bushes in disgust. No locks. If I got lucky someone would steal it and melt it down for scrap.

We started up the road in search of the beginning of the road toward Zorro Ridge, but it wasn't where we thought it would be. We continued up and found little of interest. I was nearly at the saddle when I turned back. Eric figured it out and I think we actually found where the road used to be. However, it wasn't close to being a clear cut turn like we thought it would be. The trees had grown thick and the rain was falling and it was dark and we were dreading the ride back. Well, I was. So we gave up.

Back at the bikes I turned on all my lights and realized I was going to die. For sure. No doubt about it. Might as well get on with it. The ride went like this: Oh crap oh crap oh crap ugh ugh hey this isn't so bad oh crap oh crap... Happily, it only took 30 minutes to get back to the trailhead.

Total distance was about 11 miles and 3,100 feet of gain. I'd say never again, but we all know I'll be back. Maybe next time I'll be smarter and cut up the hill earlier instead of trying to follow roads that don't actually exist or attempting a bike ride that's way beyond my skills.

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