Tyee Deathmarch

In Ride Report by Hawkens

Pulled from the archives by Erik A » Thu July 18, 2005


Blue Skies, Warm Temps and a New Trail to explore makes for a great Sunday Afternoon…. So I thought.

My original plan was to ride a Mad Lake Loop, since it was a new area that I have not ridden before. Soon after posting the ride I read about the review
on the Tyee Ridge loop on MTBR it sounded like a much better ride and from the elevation profile I built using TOPO the elevation gain wasn't any worse then other rides I had done this summer….

Sunday morning arrived and the ride went from a handful to a good sized group. I picked up my carpooler's and we headed up I-90, several others headed up US 2 or camped in the area the night before. Walt has started this thing where on every ride we have to stop by a new Bakery. Today we stopped a bakery in Cle Elum, good stuff.
After going through Leavenworth and arriving on the forest roads, we stopped near a camp site for a nature break and then continued on, missing a very important turn. When the road started to lose elevation, we figured were going the wrong way and then turned around. Lots of great views to be had on that other route though, I should have taken some photos.

Once back on the correct road we headed up a very narrow and windy road, on the way up it looked like it was a fairly tight fit for my truck. As we headed up I looked over to enjoy the view and then looked down and could not see the bottom and my voice went up a few octaves as I said Wooooh or something like that, either way it I didn't look down again. The left side offered a wall of a mountain with logs and rocks that caused you to move closer to the other side of the road. This is how I perceived the road on the way up, I am not looking forward to the ride down. Walt in the back took it upon himself to describe the drop and other commentary, increasing the fear factor for some.
Once at the top we could see the majority of the group was here and coming up the road behind us was Glenn and Tim.
After everyone had signed in and I finished handing out maps for the route, we found out that Tim's bike had a broken bolt for his rear shock. So he would be benched for this ride, instead he would go on a hike. So, only 12 of us would be riding today.

We then took off down the trail, which looked more like a road then a trail, but we did not have to go very far before it turned into the trail were where looking for. P62900024Lots of rolling elevation and then the climbing started. For some reason I was having no luck going up the cinder block covered hills, several others made it look easy, but my rear wheel would just slip on these cinder blocks. I am sure they have a great purpose in holding the trails together, but they were making the climbs difficult for me. I let out a little more air in the rear tire and that improved things a little.
The trail offered lots of rolling elevation with some good steep climbs and very few flat spots to let you catch your breath, but no real views yet. The trails are very dusty, I tried several times to find the sweet spot for following another rider and keep out of the dust. Riding in front is always the best place, but I was behind Ellen and she's a great climber and slowly pulled away on each climb. 5 miles and two creek crossing later we arrived at the Junction for Tyee Ridge and Mad Lake. At this stop is when I noticed all the biting flies, having aP62900034 skinned up knee from an unsuccessful creek crossing earlier it seem to draw them all to that area. I think their bite is worse then a Bee Sting, which I would get later in the ride.
Here is a quick Flower Shot, there were fields of wild flowers and I thought about taking more photos, but there was more climbing ahead.

After catching my breath I pushed on and ran across Pete and Gary. Pete had busted a pedal and was completing a field repair, Nando came back to offer some support, so I pushed on. Not long after that Nando and Pete rode past me. After a bit more riding it finally leveled off for awhile and went around this field.

Looking at the GPS I only had 500 more feet in elevation to gain to get to the highest point of the day. Sadly, I would lose much of that only to climb/hike/push to the top.

After some more climbing it is time for a little down hill.

This is the other side of that short down hill section, like the dust. Several
of us ate a quick lunch some talked about turning around at this point, but everyone pushed on .
We soon would be on the other side riding up the side of that Ridge. Can you
see the trail going up and up, but before we get there we had to go down a very rocky and technical trail then it was smooth for awhile before the climbing
started again.
Lots of great views and not too hot and every once in awhile the a breeze would kick in and keep the biting flies away.



Can you see Ellen waving at us way down here.



Looking back on a long lonely trail.....

After finally arriving at the highest elevation for the day, we regrouped ate a
few snacks and heard the stories about a very aggressive bird. I guess the week before it played around with the riders, but this week it was being much more aggressive.
The last several miles to this point felt like a death march, my legs feel
zapped, but the rest of me feels great and on top of it all as I pick up my pack
I get stung by a Bee. Biting flies and now a Bee Sting jee thanks can I have
another sir. As we roll off the top, we finally come to some sustained rocky technical down hill. I stopped to enjoy the views every so often and keep an eye on those behind me. In one of the stops I saw what looks like the Mountains ending and the plains starting. Wish I had a greater zoom feature on my camera.

More Great views.


After going down over some nice technical sections and some causing the rear to come a bit too high, but no endo, we come to yet more climbing. I am really not enjoying this climbing stuff anymore, actually been hating it for a long time
now, more riding/hike/ride/hike/rest/hike/riding. The stronger riders in the
group are long gone by now. After probably a half mile of climbing we finally
come an intersection and the 8 miles of down hill.
Ok, I am happy now, very happy, but the trail is very dusty, until we get into
the tree's. The first part of the down hill reminds me of Devils Gulch on Steroids, narrow, loose with exposure. 🙂 Once in the tree's the trail gets a little wider, windy, some areas have lots of Moto use, but it just adds a bit
more interest. More climbs and then a nice long section again that dumps out to a road.

Cross the road and on to the trail on the other side a bit more climbing and then more down hill. There are a some good sized tree's on the trail that you have to climb over, but other then that most of the trail is open.
As we come out of the tree's and onto the switch backs they are very rocky, with lots of brush on the trail, no trail work has been done on this trail for some
time. Lots of areas you have to get off the bike as there is not enough room on the trail to get around the bushes and tree's. Lots and lots of good sized
rocks on the trail, if you miss the switch back its a long ways to the bottom. After a long rock descent you come you come through some thick brush and just before the creek crossing is a fallen tree about head height. Then there is a creek crossing and another 1/2 mile from that point you arrive at the Mad Lake trail.
At the Mad Lake Trail we are at Mile 20.7 and it is another 4 miles to the cars with 600ft of elevation gain. It sure doesn't seem like much, but after riding
for 5+hrs several of us are tired and so ready to be done with this ride.
I waited for those behind me to catch up and then we pushed on. At this point I've finished off 100oz of water, one water bottle, one bottle of Gatorade and
have one bottle of Gatorade left for the four miles left. Sure glad I packed plenty of liquids.
As I am riding along the trail I pass Bob and Gary and work on catching up to David and Pete who had a good 10 minute head start. I catch up to Pete, who is pedaling with just a shaft for a pedal on one side. He had broken it earlier in the day and finally had just remove everything just leaving a shaft.
This trail is very over grown and you either pedal hard to plow through the stuff or get off the bike and walk though it. Just as I am about the plow there
some tree's that are overgrown on the trail I head yelling and sound of pain.
I see a bike on the ground and Pete on the ground yelling as anyone would when they are in lots of pain. I get up to him and he had fallen and hit a sharp
rock that put a huge gash into his leg. Pete showed me the damage and I saw what looked like his bone and lots of blood down his leg. It was close to 10"
long.. I had nothing that would cover a wound that large, only thing I had was my head wrap. I know it's had my head sweating all day in it, but it's all I
had and would work as a temp fix. I'll be going to REI and picking up a larger First Aid kit.
We are two miles from the trail head now, I radio to the group behind me to see if they have anything and they do. I asked Pete if he can walk, he can't so I leave him with Bob and Gary and haul my tired butt as fast I could muster to the trail head calling on the radio often trying to reach any of the group that was up front.
Every once in a while I could hear static, but no voices.. After traveling 1.80 miles, that doesn't seem like much, but when your pushing through over grown trails and your tired it seems like 10 miles. At 1.80 miles I finally reach Glenn on the radio and he asks a bunch of questions to get an idea of how bad things are, I told him what I knew when I left Pete with the other guys.
I reached the trail head completely wasted, Glenn and Tim drive down to the trail head to meet me, I only see Glenn and Tim, I asked if anyone else was
coming, as I was expecting that we might have to carry him out. Tim had other plans he had talked to a family that just happened by and was
planning on camping and riding Motorcycles in the area. They offered to ride the trail to where Pete was and give him a lift back to the trail head. Then we
would haul him to the hospital.
Nando ran down the trail with an arm load of stuff, while we helped the family unload the bikes. About that time Gary called on the radio and said that they
were walking out. Once they arrived at the trail head Glenn and Tim gave Pete a ride back to the cars. Pete was in good spirits and kept a good pace on the
trail. Rather then going to Leavenworth, Pete decided he would just go to the Hospital back in Monroe. At this point we have been on the trails for 8hrs, way too long, but unavoidable.
The feedback I received today on Pete is that their was no other damage and it took Thirty stitches to close the wound.

This is the most difficult ride I've ever done, they can only get easier after this right? 🙂 On this ride I went through 170 onces of water and I am
expecting Smith Creek to be equally difficult. So, I am expecting that I need  to move Smith Creek to Sept when the temps are cooler or change the ride to
something else all together.
I consider the Tyee Ridge Loop to be much harder then Miller Peak, probably twice as hard, there is no real break from the climbing. If you haven't done
Miller Peak yet, then I'll use Tiger as my example since a large number of us have ridden Tiger by now. Ride up NWT and Preston the single track not the fire road 4 maybe 5 times in a row, yep that many times and that will give you an idea of what this ride is like. 4100+ ft in Elevation gain and 25 miles doesn't
seem like all that much, but it is lots of ups, down and then huge ups.
If neither of those sound all that tough then this is a great ride, fantastic views, challenging trail conditions, then after 12 miles of climbing you are rewarded with 8 miles of windy, rocky trails, lots and lots of cinder block covered switch backs towards the end of the ride. The trails towards the end of the down hill section are over grown, some areas are so bad that you have to walk to get around them or take a fall you may not walk away from. Then to top it off after riding 20 hard miles you have four more miles of riding/plowing through over grown trails. On top of all that you have to fend of deet loving mosquitoes, hundreds of biting flies and one aggressive bird.
Getting home way late last night I really hated this ride, but after a good night sleep and thinking about it. It was very difficult ride there were several areas I really enjoyed and others I hated. I've done it once, but I don't expect that I'll do it again. I think it is a great trail to ride once, but not a repeater.

Animal Sightings:

One Aggressive Bird
Two Black Bears: I missed them since I was riding to go get help, the others saw them and told me about it later.
5 Rabbits
1 Thousand Mosquitoes
1 Thousand Biting Flies

Summary of what was broken:

Pete fell on a sharp rock about 2 miles from the end of the ride and put a 4" long gash all the way to the bone. It took Thirty stitches to close the wound,
I am told he is a little sore but doing well. Pete had also broke a pedal 6 miles into the ride.

Brian a former Bob H, graduate came on this ride and did very well. You can't call him a Turtle no more. He did have a bad fall and skinned up his fore
arm pretty bad and was pretty sore today as well.

David, fell at a creek crossing and has a nice big Chain Ring Tattoo duplicated all the way down his leg, it sure looked bloody.

Ellen bent her Derailleur hanger.

I snapped a front Derailleur cable and bent rear Derailleur - oh joy.
Watch out for the rocks there are lots of them that are trained to go after Derailleur.

It was a great ride, thanks to all that came out. The group dynamics as always were great. Now that I've said my part, lets see what everyone else thought of Sundays ride. 🙂 Per the Heart Monitor, the expended calorie count for this ride equaled 41 Twinkies. For those keeping track at home a single Twinkie contains 160 calories.
Photos supplied by Myself, Walt. and Brian

I think I need to take a weekend off, so I don't have to write any more ride reports for awhile. 🙂

We have classes on how to fix your bike on the trail, maybe a First Aid on the trail class.

Comments from others:


Here are some comments from someone who got tricked into going on this ride by the pretty pictures on MTBR!!! : ) : ) I'm glad E told us to bring our adventure hats, and I'm really glad I went, but WHEW!!
I was signed up for Sun Top and I thought I was getting out of a big climb when I switched to this. DOH!
I had a great time, but it was probably one of the most exhausting rides I've done too. Good ride for the stronger riders, but a bit
tough for me, but I'm still glad I did it.
The view I remember the most on this ride is of my feet as I was hunched over pushing the bike up the hills.
Big big pat on the back to Bob V for having the first aid kit… it saved the day. But… (and I hate to have to say this) it wasn't a 10"
gash… more like 4" but it was at least ½ an inch deep and I'm pretty sure I saw bone at the bottom, still a very very nasty wound! Pete was nervous yet proud to hold it open for us to see. Mmmm. To keep him distracted from his injury as we bandaged him, I asked Pete what other parts of his body he had told his wife were 10". Pete's a tough guy, he walked out just like the rest of us pushing and carrying his bike, but what pissed me off was when he got on his bike and was still able to ride faster than me!!!
Thanks to E for a memorable day.


My additional comments to E's very thorough ride report.
First -- notice how few pictures were taken during the last half (12 miles) of the ride! Yes, that's how tired we all were. There were more places I'd like to have stopped to take photos, but I was frankly worried about getting out of the trail before it got really dark.
Yes, there truly were black bears. Walt and I saw the pair of them relaxing across the river. They were close enough to determine that they were, indeed, black bears (my first-ever bear sighting..and they are very very black). But, they were far enough to not be able to take a good photo. Well, it was also about 7:30 PM and kinda dark in the woods by that point.
I think I also may have fractured a rib on my lower right side. I don't know if I did that, actually. But, as of last night when I laugh or cough (still coughin' up all that dust I breathed in), it hurts pretty bad in my lower right side near the bottom of what I'm assuming is my ribcage. Wow -- what great stories I can now tell friends/family.
Finally, what a trooper Pete is. By the time Walt and I caught up with Pete and his caretakers, he was walking out of the trail carrying his bike on his shoulders. I dismounted and walked along with them.
But, after 5 or 10 minutes, they blew us away. Even with a 10" gash on his leg, he was still outwalking some of us! Way to go!
Thanks Erik for leading this ride. I'm more proud of my abilities now. I never thought I'd be biking on this type of trail when I started mountain biking last year.
Before Kachess, I need to take this week off and relax in the Seattle sun!

It has been years since I’ve read this RR and related comments. I am kind of excited about tackling this trail again. David, Brian and Walt after reading this again are you still game?