Sunday, August 31, 2008
Portal to Porcupine
Last Sunday I went with 3 buddies, Ben , Dan, and Jeff, and did a shuttle ride up Portal Creek trail in the Gallatin Range, across Eagle Head Mtn, and down Porcupine Creek Trail. It was a 4 hour adventure which included some of the most epic single track and views this area has to offer.
We drove all the way to Big Sky and dropped a car at the Porcupine Creek trailhead and then headed back up the canyon to Portal. After bumping up the dirt road for a good 20 minutes we got out, geared up, and hit the trail. After a deceptive downhill and flat part, the trail goes up, steeply and covered in roots and rocks. I did a lot of pushing of the bike through the forested hillside. After about two miles you emerge from the woods and the steepness onto the Gallatin Crest Trail, which runs all the way down the range. This is near Windy Pass.
On top of the ridge it is open meadows, flowers, and huge mountain vistas in all directions. On the left you can see over to the Absarokas, and on the right the Spanish Peaks. It was a perfect day.
Stopping for a break before the final uphill section we surveyed our surroundings, and almost everyone commented, between labored breaths, about how awesome it is to live here and have easy access to such superlative riding. Shortly after our stopping spot is the final ascent to Eagle Head Mtn. It is totally unrideable and you have to push or carry your bike up what seems like a near vertical trail. It's kind of like hiking the ridge at Bridger Bowl, except with a bike instead of a board or skis. I managed about two minute intervals of pushing and then stopping to breath. Its about 9000 ft of elevation here. My legs were killing me, not used to all this hiking! A lot of people don't do this ride because of all the hike-a-bike, but it is totally worth it.
Once on top we again admired views, talked shit, ate clif bars and gu, and finally dropped in for our reward: 10+ miles of Grade A downhill technical singletrack! Woohoo! This downhill is unreal. The trail is so good for so long, and as you get toward the bottom it gets smoother and smoother as it enters sagebrush meadows. This is good because after two thirds of the trail, you are pretty tired. We stopped for some horse folks who had 3 corgis in tow, and claimed they were good trail dogs!! Their legs were like 4 inches long! It was pretty funny. Saw a guy on a XR400 too, who stopped right in the trail at the runout from a really good DH section. Doh! Didn't have any wildlife sightings even though it was prime griz country(did see a bear print in the trail). I ran out of water about halfway down and an hour from the end.
Near the end we hit a Y in the trail and I thought it was right. After going UPHILL a bunch more I realized I went the wrong way, and boy was I pissed! We met another biker who said if we kept going up another half mile, we had a really good downhill section all the way back to the car. We toughed it out and grunted up it, and were rewarded with a good flowy smooth section through the sagebrush all the way down.
Amazingly we made it to the bottom with no mechanicals. Bails are listed here:
Me: running off trail into a tree due to excessive corner entry speed
Jeff: High speed Faceplant to sagebrush-slide. Also mid-creek tipover due to too tight cleats!?!?
Dan: over the bars runout. nice save. also a too fast for corner bail.
Ben: no crash! he must not be going fast enough.....
After loading up the bikes we hit the Half-Moon Saloon for recovery drinks: $1 happy hour PBRs! and many cups of water. Satisfied, we headed back up to Portal Creek to get the other car, and then drove home.
Mission accomplished. Another day in beautiful Southwest Montana. Cheers!
at 2:44 PM