Monday, February 20, 2012

29/29 - TWENTY: McCulloch Peak - The rest of the Story

Patterson Road
We start at Oak Creek and climb about 5 miles to McCulloch Peak. My information is that it's a somewhat strenuous climb. But hey, it's on forest service roads, how hard can it be? It's a pleasant ride for the most part, but there is this one section...more on that later.
At the 680 intersection we chat with another rider about the route ahead, and that's when we get the first clue. He describes the route as being similar to what we've been doing, that is up until where we'll come to "the wall". The wall?? None of the trail guides mentioned a wall on this route.
A sidenote: There are many trails in McDonald Forest, both official and unofficial. Most have names. Names like Plunge, Chute, and Endo. Do you see a theme? Service roads don't really have names. Well a few do, but most just have a number. Service roads are generally unremarkable. When a road gets a name, especially a name like "the wall", There is probably a good reason for it, and it's probably going to involve suffering.

So far the ride is pretty good. Then we came to a steeper section of road."Do you think this is it, the wall?" "We rode up it didn't we? - it's not the wall." We would be walking if it was the wall. The road levels and comes to a nice viewpoint. I put the bench to good use.
We start riding again, round a corner and find...another climb. "Do ya suppose this is the wall?" It looks like it could be. We ride as far as we can, but soon enough we're walking. That's okay, there are more views to enjoy as we stroll along pushing the bikes up the cliff face.
Looking down from where we came
More walking until the road flattens a little. Remount. Ride a little more and come to an even steeper section than before! Ride til we can't then walk some more.
The view from the side of the cliff
Walking the wall or walking the nasty climb before the wall. We never could decide which.
Bonking is a funny thing. I've only done it once before. It hits without warning. I'm riding then, I'm out of breath...and yawning... and nauseous. Then, because I'm not moving, I'm getting chilled. Lovely! Sick, breathing funny and freezing. Fun stuff this!
Am I having fun yet? Oddly, it looks like I'm going down hill. Trust me, I'm not!
I have my first Hammer gel ever. For those who haven't had one, gels are little packets of nutrition-filled goo designed to zap you back to life. I have a personal philosophy against consuming calories in the form of goo. I think calories should come from quality donuts or cookies. I thought the gel would be gag-me horrible, but it's actually quite tasty. We are nearly done with the wall, and the rest of the riding is, in comparison, easy.

The view is spectacular (it damn well better be!!). We have sunshine for 5 minutes - a tiny amount of warmth while we sit and feast on trail mix and shoot a few pics. The sun hides behind the clouds again and we began to gear up for the cold descent to come.
At the top of McCulloch Peak
The descent will be easy and cold. Death-grip on the brake levers with icy cold fingers. We met a runner coming up the wall. REALLY? He's older than us, and he's running. Okay he's jogging very slowly, but He's JOGGING UP THE WALL! he must have the best set of lungs and heart in the Willamette Valley.

Not many pics on the way down. It was too cold to stop, and too much fun rolling along. We explore a few spur roads and trails, but basically we're just heading back to the car.

We never really figured out which section was the wall. The last climb was the worst, but the two before it were nasty too. So is the whole thing the wall, or just the top portion. Whichever it is, if you go just be prepared...around the corner there is another climb and it will be more painful.

11.26 miles
1:59 hrs
5.64 av
22.08 mx


  1. You two are hardcore. I know, you will sayyou aren't, but to me you are!

    Great views. You deserve the views after the climb.

    I didn't know about bonking prior to your post. Up until now I only knew of fish bonking.

    1. Well you have one on me, unless fish bonking is bonking the fish in the head after you catch it? :)

  2. Wow, you guys rock. What an endurance. I didn't know about the term 'bonking' but from your lively description I must have had that a couple of times in the beginning of my hiking career, when I was doing long steep sections.

    1. I believe it applies to hiking as well as biking or any of those other crazy things we humans attempt from time to time.

  3. Bluekat - you are inspiring! You are making me feel tired and I haven't even ride. Beautiful views!

  4. Thanks Dar, sorry about making you feel tired ;)