Another New Year, Another Retreat to the Cabins

Where I last left you in this whole New Year’s trip narrative April and I were riding to Forest Grove to spend the night at the McMenamins Grand Lodge. We got there around 4pm, and spent the evening lazing around, drinking beer, reading, and using the complimentary soaking pool. (McMenamins likes ’em for some reason.)

After a hearty breakfast Sunday morning, December 30th, we hit the high road for Stub Stewart. The morning was great: on the cold side, but bright sun and no clouds. The route from Forest Grove to Banks used some lovely, lightly traveled roads through farm country.

As per custom, Banks was the big supply stop, as there would be no more grocery stores before we hit the park. Two other riders, Paul and Chris were also at the store. April and I loaded up on as much food and booze as we could.

The remaining twelve miles to the park were on the Banks-Vernonia Trail, a path I have ridden many times (and written about many times). As always, the first four miles or so was ho-hum as the path paralleled busy Routes 47 and 26, but once the path turned away from the highways and started its climb into the Coast Range things improved. As per custom, we paused on the Buxton Trestle.

After a mile of climbing the 8-10% grade to the top, we were at the cabins, April and my temporary home for the next three days. And surprisingly enough, we were the first folks there, even though it was 3pm. After awhile more people started to filter in, and the social aspect of the trip emerged. Card games and liquor came out. I ended up doing my own thing, reading for most of the night.

Monday December 31st started off cloudy and then something nice happened: rather than rain, we got snow! I was hoping to see some snow on this trip, so that wish became fulfilled. As the temperature hovered around freezing the whole day, the snow accumulated and by the time it ended we had about two inches. Yeah, that ain’t a lot in comparison to many other places, but we take what we can get here in the rainy side of the Cascades.* After breakfast and hanging out, April and I took our usual stroll through the woods.

Day turned into night and snow and fog turned into another clear yet cold night. Some people hovered around a fire, whereas April and I plus others chose to hang out inside the nice warm cabin, because, hey, we paid for it right? And 2012 turned into 2013.

Tuesday January 1st: Most of the folks had to return to town, which just left four people (myself, April, Ed, and Nate) to occupy the last remaining cabin. (There were three other cabins booked.) The day was spent pretty much the same as Monday. The snow still lingered. I got another hike in.

And Wednesday rolled around, meaning we’d have to return to “civilisation”. The snow still remained around the cabins, and the way down saw various stages of melting/melted snow, and icy roads. It made the descent a bit harrowing, as we all either got off and walked or rode in the snow on the side of the road in spots. The Banks-Vernonia Trail was better off, but there were still snowy and icy spots to negotiate around until we got the Manning Trailhead.

The four of us had lunch at the Chinese place in Banks, and then went our separate ways home. April and I arrived at the Hillsboro MAX (Hatfield) station just at sundown. Another adventure over, another year dawning.

More photos over yonder on flickr.

*This also keeps up with my streak of a snowy New Years on odd years since New Years 2007.

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