May 07, 2015

A Gamble With Threatening Skies

The forecast called for a 20% chance of a stray afternoon thunderstorm. We rolled the dice and pedaled away from the car as sinister looking clouds congregated over the Fall Creek Basin. Our intended ride would take us through a network of ATV trails and single track southeast of Fall Creek in the Caribou Mountains. The highlight would be ending with the mega-long downhill of Deadhorse Ridge back to the car.

On the Rash Canyon Saddle looking toward Deadhorse Ridge.
Occasional rain and hail accompanied us up Rash Canyon. These short-lived bouts barely dampened the soil and seemed to end before really getting started. Once at the saddle it was evident that a recent localized storm had just dumped large amounts of rain and hail into the South Fork of Fall Creek drainage. Lightening and black clouds quickly circled around and began to race up Rash Canyon toward us. 

Nature-made race slicks. Wet shorts. Mud butt. And a brief moment of sunshine!
It became pretty obvious that plans to continue along 4th of July Ridge and around to Deadhorse Ridge were not in the cards for this ride. We played the escape card and headed down into the South Fork of Fall Creek as the next wave of showers pushed their way up the canyon we had just ascended.

Mud. Mud. Mud. Heather clearing clay mud from her drivetrain and rear triangle.
At first, the trail into the South Fork was only slightly damp, but soon enough we crossed into where the previous storm had poured down rain and hail. The mud was slimy slick and clay-like. On a strait-away and with some speed, Heather slid out in the mud,  sending her crashing head first into a stand of trees. Excitement quickly turned to white-knuckle riding and frustration caused by mud-filled rear triangles and dropped chains.

Our escape route down the South Fork of Fall Creek.
Despite stopping often to clear mud and re-attach our chains to the chainring, we managed to stay ahead of the next storm. The lower end of the S Fork trail was only damp and managed to salvage some enjoyment by riding fast and playing on small trail features and rocks to pop off of and jump over. 

We rode out of that storm! It followed us down Fall Creek. 
Once down and onto the Fall Creek road, we sped toward the car as the next wave of rain and hail gave chase. The sky was spectacular and full of springtime glory. We reached the parking lot just as the storm engulfed us. Safe and sheltered from rain and hail!

Shelter from the storm. Those puddles weren't there when we started our ride.
There are many out-and-back and loop options in the Fall Creek area. Most will offer great mountain biking i'm sure. Despite the adverse trail conditions and poor weather, we still had a great time on our ride. I am even more excited now to go back and complete the loop we had intended to ride!