Welcome to hell — here's your accordion

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Road washout below
Road washout below

You see the strangest things mountain biking. We were taking a breather at the Crossroads, where the Devils Gulch and Mission Ridge trails intersect near the top, when a young couple pushing K-Mart specials came striding down the DG side.

He was in front, she behind. Both were pushing their bikes … down the trail. Neither had helmets. They said nothing. They looked mutually glum.

“The best part of the trail, and they’re not even riding,” Jim observed.

“That’s the end of that relationship,” I said.

Mud, sweat and gears
Mud, sweat and gears

For their opening weekend of the season, the trails were busy with mountain bikers. There were signs of fresh snow melt — big puddles and some stretches of running creek on the trail, as well as swollen crossings. And the access road is washed completely out (a jersey barrier is installed) just past the infamous ever-expanding junkyard. You can park outside the barrier as long as you don’t block an adjacent driveway. You can also turn right at the junkyard for the Red Hill lot.

“I can never pass here without strains of the Deliverance theme song resonating in my ears,” Jim observed.

The good part about the trail conditions is that the motos are still in abeyance. The only evidence of their handiwork at all is on lower Mission Ridge, where they seem to be taking their frustrations out on the switchbacks. The Forest Service needs to get up there and issue a few tickets for intentional trail damage.

You could ride it — fully submerged!
You could ride it — fully submerged!

As for the rest, I’ve never ridden the trails in such good condition. Tacky, loamy in sections, not pitted out with rubble as usual down below and sand mixed with powder above. We did the standard figure 8, climbing DG and descending in a blast down MR. It wasn’t even hot — the day was mostly overcast and cool.

View from Mission Ridge
View from Mission Ridge

In town we’d been told that Tronsen Ridge above was under snow, and looking out from MR it appeared that might still be the case. But with continued dry and sunny weather, Tronsen may well be open by this weekend. There’s a ride posted on the EMBA board; perhaps Igor & crew can report back.

The title line is from a Gary Larson cartoon, where Beelzebub is welcoming a new initiate at the gates of Purgatory. Back in Leavenworth we marveled at a Fauxvarian (Jim’s term) oompah band regaling morbidly obese tourists on the downtown greenway. The band was in dire need of a tuba but incorporated the requisite accordions playing the same twelve bars over and over.

Out of sheer perversity, Jim and I usually eat at the leading Mexican restaurant in Leavenworth, where everyone is greeted in pidgin Spanish and the menu features German beers. Cultural diversity — you just don’t expect it on Highway 2 in eastern Washington. But with a high entertainment factor and some very good ice cream shops and microbrews, Leavenworth in the summertime beats eternal damnation — as long as it isn’t too hot out.

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