Angel’s Staircase

This is one of my favorite times of year.  There’s a ton of cyclocross to be had, which is great fun, but even better (sorry) is the amazing mountain biking!  The small window of time when the high country is clear of snow, often only a couple months.  I’ve had this particular ride on my short list for a few years now.  So Friday evening when I saw the opportunity to con my friends into it (after a couple beers) I jumped on it.  Sunday morning we all piled in a rig and hit the road!

It was an awesome day!  We hit the trail at 10 am, it was sunny and warm, probably 75.  Fall colors were in full effect.  The trail begins climbing in the trees, but not too bad –yet.  Eventually we get to Cooney Lake approx 8 miles in.  Beautiful, but staring us in the face was the rock wall we were about to scale.  This was no surprise, I knew there was a significant hike a bike to get us up to the top.  Switchback after switchback we clawed our way up, probably 30 minutes worth.  But it was so worth it to get to the top!  Absolutely amazing views!  The photos don’t even come close to doing it justice.  As we began the descent it soon became apparent that our hike a bike was not over.  Steep and rocky with super tight switchbacks, part were rideable and other parts not so much, at least not by me.  Soon we got to some better trail, back in the trees, with some flow, and were feeling good.  Foolishly we were thinking it could even be like this for the rest of the way.  That was until we rolled up to Boiling Lake and saw the corner we were backed into.  Nowhere to go but up.  And up we went.  Probably another 30 minutes or so of more rocky, switchbacked hike a bike.  By the time we reached the top we were all pretty beat.  It was a technical descent with, you guessed it, lots of rocks and steep switchbacks.  Eventually things smoothed out and began to flow again.  It was such a long downhill you could get into a zone.  Going from high rugged alpine, into trees and root and tech, into swoopy flow…  As exhausted as we all were it just seemed to get better and better all the way to the car.

This was one of those day that just blow your mtb mind.  Everything was perfect; weather, fall colors, epic trails, and good friends.  Definitely going to be tough to top that one.

Angel's Staircase
Early in the climb.
Angel's Staircase
Starting to climb our way above the trees.
Angel's Staircase
Fall colors and blue skies
Angel's Staircase
Enjoying the fall colors.

 

Angel's Staircase
Cooney Lake!
Angel's Staircase
Switchbacks on top of switchbacks
Angel's Staircase
… still climbing
Angel's Staircase
Mountain biking – on a mountain – 8000′ above sea level.
Angel's Staircase
On top of Angels Staircase. Nothing but jagged North Cascade gnar as far as the eye can see.
Angel's Staircase
Nice flow near Boiling Lake. (Yes, I am a sucker for the pano).
Angel's Staircase
Boiling Lake overshadowed by our next climb.
Angel's Staircase
After the final hike a bike, it really is all downhill from here.
Angel's Staircase
Awesome day!

 

 

7 thoughts on “Angel’s Staircase

  1. Jake if you would empty your email Inbox so all my mails to you don’t get bounced you would have received my invitation to do this very ride 2 weekends ago. Couldn’t round up a single hard man to join me so did the ride by myself the day after the Winthrop duathlon. So as far as anyone else knows I cleaned the entire Staircase descent! Glad I did it but I think a better ride would be to start at the Foggy Dew campground and go up to the Crater Lake Trailhead, up the trail to Cooney Lake and then down the Foggy Dew Trail to the trailhead and then down the gravel road to the FD campground. It would be an epic loop but with little to no hike-a-bike.

    Now empty your Inbox for Crissake so you can receive email!

  2. Any ride without that much hike-bike is welcome! Just a tip, be sure to take your CX spikes off your shoes before trying this ride!

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