We arrived at 7:30am and were completely prepared for a day in the snow with our bikes. Lots of layered clothing, good boots with gaiters and something warm on our heads. Slow and steady was our plan to get to the top. We weren't in any race and there was no need to get over heated during the climb. As we left our cars to start the climb, another group or early morning riders pulled up ready to ride. during the first part of the climb we were met with about 4 inches of wet crunchy snow and a layer of slush beneath. This was not the sweet light fluffy stuff of last week, but it could have been much worse. Once at the flat section of the climb I was expecting to easily be able to pedal, but the snow was not cooperating and the pedal up was far more work than expected.
Once Rob and I were at Quick Hit we could see that one of the guys in the truck that arrived when we were starting the climb had caught up with us...but without a bike. He was a rider that injured himself last year and is still recovering from a broken neck so he hikes while his buddies ride. At his pace he was easily able to keep ahead of his friends on the climb and on the descent he is able to keep up to his buds in almost all situations. After a brief chat Rob and I depart up the hill. The further up we went, the more snow there was. From what we could tell there had not been any other riders up the hill at all, just hikers in the snow. A good way up the climb in the trees the hiker caught us again so we stopped to have a chat and his buddies on bikes then caught and past us on their way to Tsuga. We were standing there talking so long that we each began to get a little chilly and decided it would be wise to start moving again before we froze.
Onward and upwards it was for what seemed like forever. At Tsuga the snow was starting to get ridiculous with a bike. At the power lines we were seriously considering turning around and riding down the road, but we had come that far so we pushed on. With more than 2 feet of snow at the power lines it was impossible to push the bikes in the snow. It was now time to carry our bikes on our shoulders. So with our gear and helmets on our packs we slung our bikes over our shoulders and marched up the hill.
The picture above somewhat shows the depth of the snow on the climb. All kidding aside, we should have been using snow shoes.
As we neared the top of the climb at the power lines it was like mother nature knew exactly when to let the snow fly. The timing of the snow made the last bit of the climb seem like the climax of an epic arctic movie. We didn't pause long at the top and ducked into the trees to get on Krazy Karpenter right away. Once geared up we began the decent / walk on our bikes. The snow was deep, really deep and really heavy so on all but the steepest sections at the top of the trail we were obligated to get off our bikes and walk down a good portion of the trail. Once we made it to Upper Toadstool we were actually able to ride some of the trail and pedal. There was far less snow at this point on the hill, but there was still too much to really ride.
Once at Lower Toadstool we were really able to 'ride'. The trail was is great shape with only a few inches of snow on the line so riding it was wicked. On the bottom third of the trail we met up with Greg and Denise who were out building a new ladder section to enable people to ride over a wet area on the trail. We chatted for a bit and then made our way down to the road.
At the road we realised that Rob had a problem with his bike. His shock was blown and had no control through compression or rebound. He was riding a pogo stick. So to be safe and use our time wisely we rode down the road and down to Shotgun. At the trail head of Shotgun I ran into a guy (Marcus) and his buddy that had contacted me earlier in the week about trail conditions. We passed on the info about the trails (ride the lower ones only) and ducked into Shotgun.
Shogun was a blast all the way to the clear cut. In the clear-cut section the snow really sucked as it was wet and heavy and virtually impossible to 'flow'. However once we were back in the trees that trail was saweeeet! The gap over the log was a sketchy move on my part with the slick conditions, but I nailed it as smooth as silk. A little bit of pedalling and we were at our cars.
After changing clothes and warming up the cars I remembered that I had a little gift for Rob. 2 weeks ago he and I made a bet that I lost so I owed him a 6 pack. Out of my trunk I pulled out an ice cold 6 pack of Prince George's finest TNT beer so we cracked one each and toasted our adventure in the snow.