Archive for the ‘mixed terrain’ Category


Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

I got back to the Adirondacks last weekend to do some more exploring in the Moose River Plains and Black River Wild Forest. The plan was simple – spend 3 days in the woods on my bike.

The Moose River Plains area has long fascinated me as a destination for exploring since I ventured down the road on my Pugsley in January 2011 and again on a through trip on the Fargo in August 2011. Black River Wild Forest also offers possibilities for riding and camping, and I checked out small portion of it on this trip.

From Wikipedia:

“The Moose River Plains Wild Forest is a 50,000-acre (200 km2) tract in the Adirondack Park in Hamilton and Herkimer counties in the state of New York in the United States of America; it is designated as Wild Forest by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. It is bounded on the north by the Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area, Raquette Lake and the Blue Ridge Wilderness Area, on the east and the south by the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area and the private lands of the Adirondack League Club, and on the west by the Fulton Chain Lakes and New York State Route 28.

It is the largest block of remote lands in the Adirondacks readily accessible by motor vehicle, and probably contains the most remote lands in the Adirondacks.”

I had several routes in mind – but the weather and logistics of leaving from Burlington (via car) shaped the route. I parked at Wakely Dam to cut off all of the pavement to the Moose River Plains (MRP) from Indian Lake, NY. Wakely Dam is the eastern gate to this wild road, offers a gravel and grass parking lot, several campsites, and water access.

The plan was to traverse the MRP to Inlet, NY then ride a bit of pavement to a trail into the Black River Wild Forest and ride single track to the Remsen Falls Shelter. The weather forecast prior to leaving had potential periods of rain, snow, and sub freezing temperatures. I packed for the weather and touched almost every piece of gear I carried.


I left the Wakely Dam gate at about 12:15pm after driving from Burlington. It was cool and dry, with a beautiful blue sky and the fall color just past peak. The initial miles away from Wakely are uphill (as is most everything in the ADKs) – so I warmed right up with a 3.5 mile climb to the highest point on my route. I stopped to adjust bags and gear, snap photos, and was passed by a truck towing a trailer. Over the first day, while in the MRP, I was only passed by two other trucks, and passed maybe a half dozen campers and tents setup at the sites visible from the road.








I arrived at Inlet ~24 miles later at about 3:45pm and made a quick stop into Pedals and Petals. I was worried that I had a crumbling brake pad, so I grabbed a set of BB7 pads and took off on pavement for Old Forge. The sun was still shining. The temperature moderate compared to what was coming, and I made reasonable time.

I skirted Inlet and Old Forge proper on South Shore Rd. – there is supposedly a trail that connects from the Limekiln Campground to South Shore road – but with a tight schedule I didn’t want to risk having a slow bushwhack or having to back track out to the main road. Next time through I plan on riding the Limekiln to Third Lake trail – I hope it connects and isn’t too wet.

From Old Forge where I saw my only large wildlife of the trip I found Bisby Rd. and the Remsen Falls Lean To trail, which connects near Nick’s Lake and Nick’s Lake Campground. I signed in and noted that the group that exited a few hours before me saw ‘grumpy bear growling at us on Humphrey Hill trail’. Great, I thought, as I began riding the trail at dusk… maybe I’ll see a bear. I rigged for night riding and discovered I brought the wrong mount for my Exposure Diablo that I run on my helmet. I MacGyver’d a solution with some zip ties and the case from my Leatherman and I was off.




The trail started off innocently enough – wide, snowmobile like track through the woods. It quickly degraded. The trail progressed from wide snomo track to wet and rock filled snomo track to single track. The single track was overgrown, littered with leaves covering baby head rocks, and often wet. I crossed 6-8 creeks and lifted the bike over countless logs. The going got slow, in the dark.



I started to wonder about that bear, and as the light fell I rang my bell every couple of minutes. Getting tired from all the scwacking and feeling quite alone in the dark, nearing the darkest reaches of Type 2 fun, I pulled my phone out and played some music through the speaker. Coming from my old iPhone with limited storage, most of my music lives in the cloud now, save the bedtime music I play for the girls, and maybe a dozen songs that have managed to stay on the local storage. I listened to a few Beastie Boys tracks on repeat, followed by a live U2 playlist. One can only wonder what anyone would have thought as I crashed through the woods with ‘Sabatoge’ playing from my bar bag…

At some point I ran out of water, topped back up at a crossing, and proceeded to slip or lose control of the bike on some boulders. My pedals did a number on my shin, and I bled most of the way to the shelter, where I cleaned up and bandaged the wound.

After 3h11m and an average speed of 2.2mph covering 6.9 miles I reached the shelter in the pitch black of night. I called out to make sure no one was sleeping or staying as I approached, and proceeded to stage my gear for the night. Dinner was started, sleeping bag and pad deployed, wounds dressed, layers changed, dry socks put on and food bear bagged into a tree. Off in the distance well across where I thought the river was I saw two headlights looking out towards me. I could barely hear some human chatter over the roar of the ‘falls’ (actually a series of rapids) – but I could not see a thing in the distance. I knew the river was out there… but I had little idea of my surroundings until I woke up.

As I settled in to sleep it started to rain, then came some freezing rain and sleet. At some point overnight it stopped and I was left with the roar of the falls.

I awoke to a lovely view of the South Branch of the Moose River, and could make out Remsen Falls in the distance. The shelter was a bit of a mess, with garbage left inside, a plastic tarp tucked underneath, and cooking gear strewn about. I tidied up what I could -but I wasn’t prepared to carry out anyone elses trash while navigating single track, so I had to make due with leaving the place no better than I found it.






Breakfast was Starbuck’s VIA and oatmeal, followed by a second cup of coffee and a cold Pop Tart as is started to snow. As I finished packing a hunter dressed head to toe in camo came around the corner and we startled each other. He had his muzzle loader strung on his back, and we chatted for a bit about connecting trails, blow down, and bear season.




My original plan was to follow a trail further west and loop up to Nelson Lake before connecting back to Bisby Rd. After the night of scwacking I decided to leave that trail for another day… I didn’t need 12 miles of rough single track to slow me down – I wanted to find a campsite in the MRP before dark.

I left the shelter just as it started to snow… and began my hike / ride out. Before leaving I pulled some of my gear off the bike and put it into my backpack to make lifting the bike a bit easier. This ended up working great – the bike handled better on the rough single track, and it was easier to maneuver over the creeks and logs with less weight on it.




I crossed the same number of creeks – but it was easier in the daylight. My boots soaked through with the snow / rain / wet brush, and by the time I got to the trailhead I was slogging in completely soaked socks.







I made the short trip to Old Forge, and charged my headlamp from my dynohub and USBwerk on the pavement section.

In town I made a stop at the department store and grabbed another pair of socks, band aids to replenish my first aid kit, alcohol wipes and a copy of the local paper. After asking for two plastic shopping bags I wandered around the corner and settled into a bar for lunch. Soaking wet, with backpack and helmet on, I sat down and waited to order, while I cleaned out my shin, re-bandaged, and tidied up my gear. A family from New Jersey eventually shared my table, and I hope they weren’t too put off by the stinky, wet, bleeding man that wolfed down his food in record time.

After lunch I moved gear from my pack to the bike, changed layers, and addressed my feet. I kept my new socks for camp, wrung out the socks on my feet, then tucked them into the plastic bags and then into the boots. My feet, while damp, stayed warm the rest of the day. I rode off, and made it about 1/4 mile before deciding I wanted warmer gloves. I pulled under a deck / patio at a bar and tweaked layers, and while I was packing up two guys came to the window and asked about my bike. They pointed to their cars parked across from me with fatbikes on the roof. They didn’t really know what to do with knowledge of my trip. They had been riding single track that morning at the local ski hill, and were now drinking beer as the snow came down. I was headed off into the woods to camp.


It seemed to take forever to get back to Inlet, where I made a quick stop into the general store for juice and chips, and then headed up and then down into the MRP.






The snow / rain kept coming. I was warm and dry, aside from my soggy feet. The temperature started to drop with the light. I planned to camp somewhere leaving me 12-16 miles to finish Sunday morning. My first choice was Mitchell Ponds, but as I started down the trail I encountered a large group having a meet up or annual gathering. They were camping in huge canvas tents with wood stoves inside. I didn’t want to be near a large group overnight – so I carried on and eventually settled in at Helldiver Pond.


I arrived at dusk, picked a site, and started to unpack and make dinner. While stringing my bear bag I noticed two relatively fresh piles of bear scat right in my site, so I picked up everything and moved a bit down the road.

While dinner was cooking I setup my Tarptent Moment, unpacked my gear, and staged everything for the cold night. I slept with my camera, cell phone, and spare battery, along with the fuel canister from my stove and my Sawyer Mini filter. I stuffed my boots with that newspaper from town and opened them up as far as I could. I settled into my tent and finally put on those dry socks.

Cold came overnight. Everything froze. Zippers, buckles, cord ties. Even my chain was frozen. Breakfast was quick. A second cup of coffee would have been welcome as I packed up but my hydro line froze within about 10 minutes of filling my pot for boiling. I’m pretty sure my Sawyer froze within about an hour of leaving the tent, so I planned to purify some water with Aqua Mira drops up the road if I needed any to finish the mileage.





After packing up and adjusting layers I rode the short trail to Helldiver Pond. The woods were incredible with a dusting a frozen snow.





I slowly made my way towards the Wakely Dam gate, with a stop for water at ‘Megan’s Hole’ (which I doubt is its proper name…), where Cellar Brook meets Silver Run. I pulled from the running stream to the south of the road, added some chems, and was off and upward back to the highest point on the route.






As I climbed the road got crunchier. I was really looking forward to ripping the 3.5 mile downhill to the car – but with ice / snow on the road I took it easy until the road surface improved.




I reached the gate at about 11:15am, for a sub 48 hour trip.

~95 miles total
~14 single track with over half schwacking
~28 miles pavement
the balance on the dirt road in the MRP
~8,400′ in climbing


For camp I brought extra dry clothes and socks, my 0dF sleeping bag, insulated pad, and Tarptent Moment. For riding I carried 2 different types of gloves, knickers, an Ibex baselayer, my Rapha jersey, wool cap, buff, Showers Pass Crossover jacket, rain pants (never used), and I decided to wear my 45Nrth Wolvhammer boots.

I carried 3 days worth of food in case I didn’t feel like diverting into town. This included food to eat while riding, as well as 3 backpacker dinners, coffee, oatmeal for 2 breakfasts, and a camp snack for each night. Camp food was carried in my backpack – so it got lighter as the trip went on.

My camp kitchen is a Snow Peak Ti 750 pot, double wall mug, spork, and a Snow Peak Gigapower stove. I carried a single (new) fuel canister, fire starter, matches, and an old windscreen.

Water is carried in the frame pack in a Platypus bag, with a Sawyer Mini inline offering purification duties to a hose mounted to my bars. I have it attached with a zip cord so it returns hands free to the Jones Loop bars.

GPS is a Garmin eTrex 20. I carried a SPOT Gen3 tracker on top of my saddle bag.

With a birthday gift card from a local gear shop I added an Osprey Talon 33 pack to my quiver of backpacks. This was a huge asset on this trip, and I’m impressed with how the pack disappeared on my back, even on day 2 when I loaded it heavy with gear from the bike. It carried my food, ride clothes, bear spray, ZipShot tripod, and personal stuff (cell phone, keys, wallet, etc.). I really like how this bag carries!

I rode my Surly Krampus. The Rohloff drivetrain performed flawlessly in the schwacking and abusive hike a bike section, as well as making the frozen morning easy to get moving without breaking a derailler. I am running the Knard 3″ tires split tube tubeless on this setup on the Rabbit Hole rims.

The bike is equipped with a Shimano Alfine dynohub for powering an Exposure Revo headlight, as well as powering a USBwerk for charging devices. I built a custom 3d printed switch housing which rides on my steerer tube to switch from light to charge (or off).

Frame, seat, and front bags are from Revelate Designs.

The bags on my fork are from Porcelain Rocket and fit the HD Anything Cages.

Moosamaloo Overnight

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

I snuck out on the IF for an overnight last weekend. Burlington to Shelburne and Charlotte on Spear, then dropping down to Vergennes and off to Middlebury on the backside route, staying to pavement most of the way down to Middlebury then up to Moosamaloo. Return route included Steam Mill and Natural Turnpike and some new (to me) dirt roads near Monkton.

The ADKs from Vergennes

The ADKs from Vergennes

Crossing the tracks on the Trail Around Middlebury

Crossing the tracks on the Trail Around Middlebury

Crossing the tracks on the Trail Around Middlebury

Crossing the tracks on the Trail Around Middlebury

I had a late lunch in Middlebury and then connected the TAM to skip some busy roads, only to find a construction detour that put me right back on Rt. 7 south out of town. In East Middlebury I hunted for a decent beer at the gas station / convenience store but nothing sounded good – so I topped off on a snack or two and water and headed up up up VT 125. The climb up 125 took forever. I was pretty cooked from the ride, and I walked the first steep pitch just out of town, pushing the bike uphill until I reached a pull off where I collected myself, hydrated, and then pushed on for camp.

At FR32, Goshen Ripton Rd. I turned onto dirt. This was about ~52 miles into my ride, and I found myself off the bike and pushing for a stretch to give the quads and lungs a break. FR32 is one of my move favorite places to get to on a bike.

FR 32

FR 32

My plan was to arrive around dinner time, setup camp, then make dinner while shooting a time-lapse sunset from the Voter Brook Overlook. I pulled into the Moosamaloo Campground at about 6:30, found an open site, dropped some $$ into the deposit box, and setup my Tarptent Moment.

Tarptent Moment Setup from Mike Beganyi on Vimeo.

The Voter Brook Overlook is a 5 minute ride further down the access road. It was a bit underwhelming with regards to getting a good sunset time-lapse – but I tried out the GoPro and made dinner.

Setting up the GoPro

Setting up the GoPro

Voter Brook Overlook... last frame from an unimpressive time-lapse.

Voter Brook Overlook… last frame from an unimpressive time-lapse.

Dinner, Voter Brook Overlook

Dinner, Voter Brook Overlook

Voter Brook

Voter Brook

After dinner I rolled back to camp, did some bike and gear adjustments, bear bagged my food and kitchen, and planned to turn in for the night. After I played with the long exposure settings on my Canon G12.

Bike, Tent, Lights, Night

Bike, Tent, Lights, Night

Self Portrait, lit by Tent

Self Portrait, lit by Tent

Morning found me up early, with the other campers still sound asleep. I made breakfast and broke camp, and headed for Steam Mill and Natural turnpike, 2 of my other favorite places to be in VT on a bicycle. Both of these roads are up up up… so I started the day with a good deal of climbing.



Camp road, morning light.

Camp road, morning light.

I stopped at the Robert Frost trail to adjust some clothing, and take advantage of the restrooms at the trailhead, from there I found Steam Mill Rd.

Robert Frost trail sign

Robert Frost trail sign

Steam Mill Rd.

Steam Mill Rd.

FR 59 Sign and IF

FR 59 Sign and IF

Wetlands, Natural Turnpike

Wetlands, Natural Turnpike

End of the World

End of the World

From high up on the Natural Turnpike I dropped into Lincoln, then Bristol for an early lunch / second breakfast at the Bristol Cafe and Bakery. A large group of GMBC cyclists congregated while I was enjoying my food. They were on a Sunday ‘touring’ ride. I chatted with a few before they left, then rolled out myself for home.

Bristol Bakery and Cafe

Bristol Bakery and Cafe

I picked a few new roads on the run back from Bristol… and the route pretty much did me in. I struggled from Monkton to home, but the roads I did choose are sure to be additions to future routes… especially if I route them to be downhill. Piney Woods Rd. is a lovely lane and a half (at most) of dirt… and it is steep as it follows the creek. Plank Rd., North Rd., Parks-Hurburt Rd. and Old Stage Rd. are also nice alternative routes (dirt) for going north / south and connecting into Bristol from Chittenden County.

No problem. I was slow enough at this point...

No problem. I was slow enough at this point…

Creek on Piney Woods Rd.

Creek on Piney Woods Rd.

Piney Woods Rd.

Piney Woods Rd.

From Monkton I followed familiar roads back into town, struggling with the heat, and feeling a bit dehydrated. I returned home about 30 hours after I left.



Clement MSO 32s in their natural habitat

Clement MSO 32s in their natural habitat

Almost home - barn on Baldwin Rd.

Almost home – barn on Baldwin Rd.

Day 1
~62 miles
~5926′ climbing
Pavement with a bit of dirt and trail

Day 2
~57 miles
~6220′ climbing
Dirt with pavement

Winter S24O to Little River

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Quick, solo, sub 24 hour (S24O) bikepacking trip to Little River State Park. Dirt roads, a bit of pavement, and the park access road on day 1, then the access road and pavement on day 2.


Dinner, small fire, and a night in the woods.
Rain, muddy roads, soaking wet, cold, muddy.
Smiling from ear to ear.





~42 miles – ~6 were pushing the bike up and down the access road.

Silver Lake Day Trip

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Started out on a dirt road ride (frozen, snow and ice covered) and decided to check out the access road to Silver Lake, from FR 32 in GMNF. The road in had recent truck tracks on it, and when I got to the gate the snowmobile groomer had been out – so I wandered down to the dam.


I brought the wrong bike for winter trail riding – the Nicotines with 2.35″ tires just don’t float well on semi-packed snow. I washed out the front once on the way down to the lake, and had to walk the last 1/4 mile to the dam due to the churned up snomo trail.


I enjoyed some coffee and the rest of my breakfast bagel, then started back out (and up!).





It was too much work keeping the bike on track and upright on the way out of the lake – so I pushed until I got to the turn in the access road. There is a VAST trail (snowmobile) that connects back to FR 32… so I decided to follow it. I was able to ride downhill to the bridge over Dutton Brook, but the trail was far too steep for riding climbing back out. Atop the ravine – just where the trail flattened out and I thought I could ride again – I had some sleds pass me (politely). The sleds churned up the trail, so I ended up walking about 3 miles to the road intersection, pushing the bike.




Beautiful, but tiring. When we get more snow the fat tired Pugsley will make the trip… lots to explore in Moosamaloo, even in winter…

Dawn Patrol

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Fall is here, and with it a change in daylight. I’ve been riding early – in the dark. The Krampus has been getting a thorough workout – bike path, road, single and double track. I have an 8-12 mile loop I can ride, 3 good (short but steep) climbs, can mix in rocky technical riding, and can get a good workout before the kids get up. Today included some trail work – I’ve been climbing over a 4″ tree all week – today I remembered the saw and trimmed it out of the trail.






Silver Lake Early Fall

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Wil, Greg and I did a S36O to Silver Lake. Road, dirt road, trail, and single track to Lake Dunmore, then we found the Minnie Baker trail and connected to Chandler Ridge. We rode the ridge as the sun was getting low in the sky, and made it to camp at dusk.



Our plan was to camp and then ride out exploring some VAST and MTB trails that connect up to Brooks Road and then ride the high dirt roads to Lincoln and Bristol. That plan changed when I realized I lost my brand new Showers Pass Crossover Jacket somewhere on the ridge trail. We checked my camera to verify I didn’t leave it in the truck, and found a spot where we thought it might have ejected. I opted to leave it, not wanting to alter the trip, and I wasn’t confident we would find it. The boys voted to not let my jacket remain lost in the woods.


The change of plans had us riding more single track out – the Leicester Hollow trail. Wil move on ahead and ditched his camping kit and blitzed the south end of the ridge trail, back to where I thought I lost it. He found it far far away from where I thought it would be – but returned with it tucked into his jersey.


We then opted to roll into Middlebury for breakfast / lunch and not try to regain the high ground and ride our original route.


Even with the changes we had a great time. Covered ~74 miles with plenty of climbing, roots, rocks, dirt and a beautiful sunset.

Frosty Fall Fatbike – Photodump

Saturday, January 4th, 2014


I set out with a friend and a couple of online acquaintances in early November to do a bit of late fall bikepacking. I need to write up a full trip report – but here is a photo dump from the ride. We covered 56+ miles, much of it on trail and class 4 road. Machines were all Pugsleys – a single speed, an IGH Necro, and my white 2×9 all with bikepacking bags. We also had a first generation along (the first one sold in VT) with racks and panniers.


The start was in Pittsfield, VT. We crossed the Green Mountains near Chittenden Reservoir and made our way north to Silver Lake to camp, taking the Leicester Hollow trail in from the south. Fire, chatting, eating, and then sleeping as snow started coming down.



At 2am everything was white – but by 6am when I got up to start a fire everything was just wet. We left the park on the Leicester Hollow trail, which was the only dirt on the second day.


We stuck to pavement back to start, as the weather turned as we climbed Brandon Gap – we had rain and freezing rain and sleet coming down the east side.




The last 10 miles were truly a death march – I was a little sad we eliminated all the dirt and trail – but thankful to eventually be warm and dry.

Sunday Dirt

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Photo Jan 13, 9 06 32 AM

Been a long time since I have written those words. Dirty ride with Greg in Middlesex, VT. Mountain bikes, with studs. Dirt roads, some trail. Ice, mud, snow, hike a bike, slop on the way down when the temps warmed up. Just under 18 miles, with a claimed climbing of ~2750′ according to the online maps. Will have to run it through TopoFusion later. Pretty amazing scenery, and a convenient place for the two of us to meet at the Red Hen Bakery.

Photo Jan 13, 8 03 25 AM

Photo Jan 13, 9 10 17 AM

Photo Jan 13, 9 11 40 AM

Some thoughts from the ride: I started keeping my kit ‘ready to go’ – so I’d always have the same things at the ready. While this has been working – I looked at the sky, at the road, and the temps as we were suiting up in the parking lot and decided to leave the camera in the car. I also figured we’d get up the first few climbs and decide to bomb back down – so I left extra calories with my kit bag. The first rule of bike club is: always take the larger camera. The second rule of bike club is: always take some extra food. The third rule of bike club is: always take the same kit, repeat and modify as needed.

I did the entire ride on some licorice and my coffee and bagel from an hour before. Yes, we did less than 18 miles, but I was feeling it at the end.

Texas Gap Bikepacking

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Got out this Friday – Saturday with Greg for a sub 36 hour overnight. I left BTV at about 8:30 am for a meet up in Waterbury. Traffic was a bit crazy getting out of town, and I ended up getting stuck in 3 different construction lines. I rolled on familiar roads to Richmond – taking in Governor Chittenden’s lovely dirt descent past the horse farms with views of Camel’s Hump. From Richmond I followed Cochran’s, Duxbury, and River Rd. to Waterbury, where we met up on the green. A quick snack from the food vendor in the park and we were rolling again on River Rd. towards Middlesex. We took a dirt detour up Lover’s Lane and used the abandoned bridge over the river / gorge in Moretown. Lovely view, and the rock formations were very clear with low, end of summer water levels.

We started to feel the warmth of the day on our way to Moretown, and made a stop in the general store for water and an ice cream sandwich. We pressed on south, taking the wonderful Pony Farm Rd. to avoid traffic on Rt. 100 in the valley. Pony Farm rolls along to the east of 100, is quiet, and offers some nice views to Lincoln Peak, Mt. Ellen, and a backwards glance towards Camel’s Hump. We stopped to check out the North St. bridge when the road changes its name, and then wandered into Waitsfield on pavement and a very busy Rt. 100. Seems rush hour in the valley is between 3 and 4 pm.

South of town we had enough of the traffic and stopped for a break at a gas station. Sour gummies and ice cold water hit the spot, along with a long sit in the shade. Temps hit 82 or more, and the pavement riding due south wasn’t much fun between the garbage truck that we leapfrogged about 10 times along with all the folks in a hurry. We finally had a respite as we started climbing through Granville Gulf, and the temps started to drop as we neared the ponds at the top. We found a burst of energy down the back side and made good time to Hancock where we sat for dinner at the Hancock Hotel / Restaurant. A quick stop in the general store across the street for some camp snacks and to camel up with some water (I wanted to avoid treating if we could), and we started climbing up Middlebury Gap on 125.

On our ascent we picked up some discarded paper and cardboard on the road and stashed it to help start a fire. We climbed to the Texas Falls entrance road, made a quick stop by the overlook, then rode further into the woods along the brook on a quiet, but sometimes steep forest road. We walked a bit of the loose rough stuff – Greg was on his Pacer with 28s and was having traction issues that he didn’t want to muscle through late in the day. A few campsites appeared close to the road, and after about ~44 miles from our meet up we found a nice meadow camp site, high up in the hills.

Setup went smoothly, except for the rocky ground that I had to stake down my Tarptent into. Greg hung in his Hennessy Hammock in the trees – so only had to deal with crossing a stinky / slimy ditch and clambering over downed trees. We built a fire, snacked, and gathered downed wood while watching the stars and chatting until sometime after 10, when the wind whipped up and changed direction, now blowing directly into my tent front door. I didn’t have the mental energy to re-pitch the tent, so I battened down the lines and snuggled in. I slept fitfully – feeling like the tent was trying to fly away with me on several occasions, and then listened as the rain came down for a few hours.

In the morning we made breakfast as we broke camp, packed gear and then headed north further along the forest road. We found several much nicer camp sites that we’ll keep in mind for another visit – and several areas large enough for group camping. At some point we came to the end of our road, realized we should have made a turn into the woods, and back tracked. We followed a VAST trail (marked as a 4×4 trail on USGS maps) for about 2.2 miles and crossed Texas Gap, topping out at 2200 feet in elevation. This was one of the more memorable moments – we were riding in the woods on a sometimes single track (Greg on his pacer with fenders and 28s!), far away from anywhere with the smell of fall in the air – although the leaves have only started to change – and we came upon a moose. It bolted before we could get cameras out – but it was 50-75 feet off trail from us.

We eventually connected to a dirt road, which we hoped to follow to the valley. This of course meant climbing a bit – but it was easily graded, until we came to a missing bridge. We heard a generator running – but with no one working on a Saturday morning we clambered around and down through the construction and started our descent on West Hill Road. We had a ripping ride to the Clark Brook trailhead where we stopped to note some more campsites and Greg paused to clean the mud from his fenders. This stretch from our camp back up through the Gap and down to the valley is one of the most memorable parts of this trip. Lovely dirt roads, some trail, wildlife, and a feeling of isolation from the world.

After we reached the valley and VT 100 we made a quick stop at the Granville General store, which was celebrating its one year anniversary – so we enjoyed free coffee and donut holes. Warmed and fueled with second breakfast we started a climb back over Granville Gulf. For the rest of the ride we’d get showered on a bit – not enough to want to put on rain gear – but enough to keep the camera stowed and the arm warmers and vest on. Our return north followed most of our journey south the day before – a stop for third breakfast in Warren, then a soup stop at Red Hen for lunch as we parted ways. Greg took off for points east and home, and I arranged to meet the family in Richmond so we could get dinner and run a few errands outside of our usual haunts in Burlington proper.

~139 miles
~10,000′ in climbing
Pave, dirt, gravel, forest road, single track
camp fire, exploring, spending time with a good friend.
An excellent way to spend less than two days.

Bikepacking – Silver Lake and GMNF

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

I had the chance last weekend to make an S48O trip down into the Green Mountain National Forest. I have been intrigued with the Moosamaloo area for awhile – eyeing the trail and the dirt roads that I peeked when Jen did her first triathlon at Lake Dunmore. The area has legal MTB trails in the National Forest, as well as primitive forest camping and designated camp grounds. I decided to explore the Silver Lake area, and used the campground as a base.

I fussed with gear and the bike Friday night, and managed to get a GPS track loaded onto my Garmin. Getting to sleep way too late, I made a groggy start out of Burlington through the Intervale and up to Spear St. with Wil as a wingman. I decided to avoid my typical flat route out of town along the the bike path as the USA Triathlon championships were Saturday – and the run portion closed off most of the path.

Little did I know that I’d still be crossing paths with the tri gals and geeks. Once on Spear St. I had a closed road to Shelburne, and we tucked into the group of cyclists heading out on the ride leg. Lots of cheering, lots of odd faces as I rolled by fully loaded. We dropped right into the middle of the women’s pack, and did our best to stay to the side and encourage folks. I think we pulled 18 mph out of town – fast enough so the ladies didn’t pass us like we were standing still, but still a sustainable pace this early in the morning. Those disc wheels? They are loud. At one point I thought a lady had a 2 stroke in her downtube as she revved up to climb to Irish Hill. Must be those golf ball dimples…

Wil turned off somewhere as we crossed into Shelburne, and I was solo for the remainder of the trip. I rode out Spear, and crossed the Lewis Creek covered bridge, then followed Covered Bridge Road into Charlotte and Monkton. I planned to ride as much dirt as I could – some familiar, some new. A left on Hollow Rd. (paved, but I never really new how pretty the scenery was) and I crossed over to Boro Hill Rd. Anything with ‘Hill’ or ‘Mountain’ in it should give pause. Especially if it is dirt and loose gravel. Boro did not disappoint – GPS and TopoFusion show 10-14-17% grade for the first half mile, then a tapering, rolling top about 1.5 miles long that still went up, followed by a ripping descent with a decent view of the mountains to the south. I climbed that first half mile at about 2.8 mph, until a dog came out of nowhere and I sprinted for the KOM jersey.

From there it was Hardscrabble, East, and Munger, where the chirping from my rear brake finally drove me to stop and investigate. I dreaded pulling the wheel – but upon inspection it seems that somehow the return spring (Avid BB7) had dropped into the pads. I threw my Leatherman with pliers into my kit at the last moment and I was glad I did… wriggling the plier tips in to just grab the spring, and pop it back into place.

A few twists of the adjustment knobs and I was rolling again, on to 116 into East Milddlebury, where I had lunch from the convenience store. Coke, Fritos, and a cold turkey sandwich hit the spot. When I was headed in to re-up my water, a roadie doing a double gap and I started chatting in line and he ended up buying a gallon of water that we split. Topped off, I took the back (and upper) way to Lake Dunmore – up 125 a short ways, then Lower River Rd., Beaver Pond Rd., and Upper Plains Rd. I made a quick stop at the Kampersville and loaded up on water and grabbed some food for the night. Silver Lake was listed as having no water available – so I carried an extra 3 liters up to camp. (I had Aqua Mira with me, but wanted to minimize any screwing around with lake water).

My original plan was to ride to the south end of Lake Dunmore, and then either ride up the Minnie Baker Trail, or come up the Brandon Gap Rd. and explore Silver Lake from the south, riding on the Leicester Hollow Trail. Due to it being a nice weekend and there being an ultra trail run in the area – I wanted to be sure to either get a campsite – or know that I needed to find one as I explored. I decided to head up the Falls of Lana Trail, drop my tent and sleep stuff if I could get a site, and then explore further south after a rest.

From Kampersville (watch out for the creepy squirrel) I took off south and started looking for the Falls of Lana Trail. I found the parking area, and then headed uphill, immediately turning into a hike-a-bike under the pipe. Surely this wasn’t the forest road I was looking for – so after listening to the water falls for a bit I clambered down with my bike, and took off further south on the road.

I eventually found FR 27, and a woman walking her dog pointed me back up the road 50 ft. where I missed the gated entry. I walked the first pitch from the road, and then found quite the climb ahead of me. Switchbacks, loose rock, sand. Double digit grades in parts, and about 700′ in 1.5 miles up to the lake, where a wonderful USFS steward greeted me and offered me a seat at his table, and wondered why I was so out of breath. We chatted for a bit, and he suggested a few quiet spots. I rolled out down the east side of the lake and took #4, a short walk to the water, a picnic table, fire ring, and a nice flat spot for my tent. As I explored for my site I was surprised that there were pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. Not exactly what I was looking for – but I didn’t complain. Free camping, first come first serve, in a clean park. After 54.5 miles I took a pause, setup camp, snacked, and rested a bit.

After sorting a bit of gear I took off on the Chandler Ridge / Leicester Hollow Loop – 8.6 miles of single track. I did this counter clockwise, and Chandler Ridge had to be one of the hardest efforts to date on a bike. Lots of hike a bike – interspersed with some pretty sweet riding single track. Which would come to a halt as the roots and the rocks took over, and I would dismount and hike again. I can see the amount of work that went into this trail – long bench cut sections, armoring, switchbacks – but its appeal was lost on me – likely as I was near fried with my efforts earlier in the day – as well as being on a rigid, drop bar bike. Someday I’ll have to go back with the Pugsley and see if I like it better… or bring the Fargo with a fresh mind and set of legs.

As the sun started moving lower in the sky, and I started moving ever slower on the trail – I worried that I’d be in the Hollow after dark, especially if the return trail was as technical as Chandler Ridge. I did a quick sweep of my bags and couldn’t find my headlamp. I was also running low on water – I set out with maybe 1.5 liters on my back… and it was dry as I came down to Minnie Baker.

Which was when I stumbled into some very nice, very friendly volunteers for the Moosamaloo Ultra Trail Run. They were packing up their aid station and offered me water and food. I snagged a Pepsi for camp, topped off water, and had a banana. I then rolled in on the hollow trail – a mix of armored rock re-routes and smooth single track following the brook. I rode most of the trail, dismounting for the steep re-route sections over fist sized rocks. The last few miles on the south end of Silver Lake were fast and fairly flat. I cruised into camp with plenty of daylight left, and immediately setup my stove and cook kit for dinner.

I cooked up some dehydrated vegetarian black bean soup that was passable as a meal, then downed the balance of the snacks I had from earlier in the day, including that Pepsi I snagged from my trail angels. Relaxed, I snapped some photos sitting aside the lake as the sun crept behind Chandler Ridge.

I put up my food in a hang, and sent my Wingnut up with it, along with my bottles, bladder, and any other miscellaneous food. I would normally leave the backpack down – but my neighbors returned from a hike to find one of their backpacks chewed through by chipmunks or squirrels. I turned in early, being pretty tired from my journey thus far, and from lack of sleep the night before (something I never seem to avoid before a big ride…) Sleep came in fits – lots of noise from other campers down the lake, the sounds of powerboats coming up from Lake Dunmore, and the loudest chipmunks I’ve every experienced – chirping away at each other. I figured they got into my pack – but morning proved my provisions were safe and sound. Perhaps they were stymied by the slick Dyneema I used? Or they were just out to wreck the peace…

Sometime around 2am I got out to empty my bladder. The stars were incredible overhead – no moon, and the Milky Way clearly visible. I navigated by iPhone – as that headlamp I wanted to find up on the ridge was sitting on my bench at home, with the rest of my lighting kit. I had thought about taking some star images, even had the camera setup on the tripod ready to go inside the Contrail with me… but with lack of light and being pretty beat I crawled back into my sack and slept until first light.

Morning of day 2 I made use of one of the relatively clean self contained outhouses. Dressed into riding gear, and put the stove on. While water for oatmeal and coffee boiled I broke camp, getting everything packed up and ready to go. Starbucks VIA, oatmeal, and a left over pop tart were to fuel my morning. I stopped at the spring that the ranger told me about and topped up my bottles – dropping in some Aqua Mira just to be sure, although it was likely fairly safe, this high up the ridge.

I bid the NF Ranger goodbye on the way out, snapped a few pics of the lake from the north end, and took off out the campground road. The first quarter mile was pretty steep and loose – so I warmed up by pushing the bike, then had a pleasant forest road that climbed and climbed out to Goshen-Ripton Rd.

I turned north, passed the Blueberry Hill Inn where ultra runners were staging their suitcases and car rides, and was nearly hit head on by a speeding red Honda coming over a blind hill / turn. Scared the crap out of me, and its likely they never even saw me – not even a hint of slowing as they crested the hill. As the adrenaline rush wore off I found my turn to the Sugar Hill Reservoir on Goshen Dam Rd., and followed it to the single track that would connect me high up on Brooks Rd. The trail was double track at first, then petered out to single track. It was wet in places, with lots of small water bars coming across. Splashy in some spots, slimy in others. I managed to ride most of the trail save a few turns that were a bit too steep to keep traction to the rear wheel.

I eventually found the eastern terminus, where the Sucker Brook Trail heads uphill to the Long Trail and a shelter. I turned north, across a tight footbridge, and then bombed down Brooks Rd. I popped out near the Breadloaf campus on 125, adjusted some gear and layers, and found Steam Mill Rd.

Steam Mill Rd. took me up up and up again, gaining back all the elevation I had lost coming down Brooks Rd. I passed numerous xc ski trails, snow mobile trails, and a few hiking pull offs. At this point I stripped my knickers and added some Lantiseptic to my bottom, switched into shorts, ditched my vest, and had a snack. As I was sitting on the hillside along the road came two cyclists on hybrids, baskets on the front, gray hair flowing from under their helmets. I mumbled a hello with Clif bar stuffed in my mouth, then packed up to follow them. By the time I was rolling I could barely see them 1/4 mile away over the next rise, and only caught up to them at the intersection of the Natural Turnpike. We exchanged waves and I turned north, and up, towards South Lincoln.

Along this fairly remote stretch I was passed by one car, heading to opposite direction, and saw another truck off in the ditch, with the owners spotting something off in the field with binoculars. I heard multiple gun blasts as I rode along. Not sure if people were practice shooting… or what.

At about 19 miles into my day I topped out at 2100′ and began a descent into South Lincoln. The gravel / dirt was in great shape save for a few chunky parts where I got caught out on the wrong side of the road with a mound of gravel between me and the right side. I descended quickly but cautiously and found my way to the relatively flat expanse of farms along side the New Haven River, which I would follow down nearly to Bristol.

Once hitting pavement my descent was not as fast as I’d hoped – a strong headwind wanted to push me back up into the mountains – so I worked to maintain 16-17 mph when I should have been moving along effortlessly at 22-25. I was aiming for the Bristol Bakery and Cafe (a control on our spring 200k) for lunch, and would arrive at about 12:30, just before a crowd walked in. I snagged a coffee, homemade pound cake, a breakfast sandwich, and a berry smoothie. I sat outside and watched as clueless patrons let their dog (tied to their table) block just about all of the sidewalk. People on the street were not amused, some stepping over, some around, and some setting foot into the street, all while casting glances at the couple sitting over their laptops, blissfully unaware.

Bristol appears to be a motorcycle magnet – and today there were more ‘bikers’ out front on the street than perfectly matched Quebecois cycling couples. More swearing than French today, and a pack of Harley’s ‘loud pipes save lives’ ripped up Main St. and sent the dog cowering for cover under the table. Access problem now solved for the next batch of pedestrians.

It was getting hot in the sun, so I sun screened up, adjusted bottles and fluids, and took off for home. I was about halfway done for the day, and technically, it is all downhill to Burlington… I just had to go over some speed bumps along the way. I had a flatter route than day one mapped on my GPS, but decided that baking in the sun wouldn’t be fun – so I followed my route in reverse to keep to quiet roads (most of them dirt) and the shade. Boro Hill Rd. wasn’t as steep in reverse – but it is still intimidating to see a swath of gravel what looks to be vertical rise up in front of you. I ground my way over the top, then pave and dirt to the Lewis Creek Covered Bridge and Spear St. for the ‘ride of shame’ back into town. Thankfully I was only passed by a single roadie on this popular out and back for local Burlington cyclists… everyone else was heading south, and for the first time ever on this road I think I had 90% of them waving, nodding, or acknowledging my presence. Bizarre.

I found my way through town, and picked up the lakefront path to finish my ride. Dog walkers and roller bladers seemed to be on their best behavior, and I only had to raise my eyebrows at one couple tucked into their aerobars going far too fast weaving in and out of kids on scooters and parents with pooches. Safely home I dropped gear in the basement, unpacked my tent and bag for an air out, and threw some food on the stove.

~128 miles
~13770′ in climbing
Pave, dirt road, gravel, forest road,
single track, double track, hike-a-bike
Camping, exploring

GPX Files:
Day 1
Chandler Ridge, Leicester Hollow Loop
Day 2

A lovely way to spend <48 hours. [gallery link="file" columns="2" orderby="post_date"]