As always, click on any image to see it full-sized. CTRL-click will open the image in a separate browser tab. I refer you to a previous trip I called “Muddy Banks” for context on today’s ride. Today I traversed the same route in reverse.
“Unseasonably warm temperatures” says the weatherman. Aside from three cool mornings when I actually had to wear pants for a few hours, I’ve have yet to yield my summer costume of shorts and t-shirt. I have to leave later in the morning only because the time change has been artificially delayed in the US; by the time I get enough light to pick up the trash outside, I don’t get to roll out before 9:30 AM most days. But that we are in a short-term drought does have its blessings: The mud pits along the river were mostly dry. The drawback is that it was sandy, instead. And before Dolese closed their extraction operations out here, they cut away a chunk of a berm that made it hard to find the original trail. So this steep sandy climb (above left) replaced something that had been a lot easier the last time.
Atop this berm I faced back into the sun across the extraction pond (above right). I also had a good look toward the south where my son spends part of his days as the maintenance deputy for the county Sheriff’s Department (image left). Those buildings across the pond are part of their training facility: a gun range, pursuit driving course, and some other stuff. And way back on the far horizon is “Mount Trashmore.”
The ride was quiet, peaceful and occasionally bogged down in loose sand. That’s a lot better than muck up to my knees. At the point where the path ran close to the river, I took a couple of shots to indicate just how dry it is right now. I really owe a lot to the guys who come out and ride their off-road four-wheelers. They keep the path open and usable for guys like me. While I saw discarded objects to indicate markers used by clandestine campers, there was no sign of recent human presence, nor any other bicycles. There were deer prints, but no shoe prints, so I had the place to myself. At one point the ATV riders had cut a path down to this massive sandbar on the river. It was too steep and rough to ride down, but I simply parked my bike and walked.
I’m very happy with how these shots turned out. Approaching this ride, I really had no idea what to expect, so I didn’t want to risk bringing my good camera. These were all taken with my iPhone. It turned out to be very peaceful and dry. I came out of the woods and into the narrow open band alongside NE 36th street. It was tricky crossing under this bridge because a lot of illegal dumping had occurred since my last visit. Once past that mess, I turned back and took a shot of the bridge. There’s been quite a lot of work this summer around that bridge. At another point riding the trail, I was able to catch a better view of the massive rip-rap wall on the far bank. This project was just getting started when I was last out here, but now it covers several hundred meters along the bank. In the image it’s just visible in background, stretching around the bend.
I was impressed with the depth of the scalloping on the river bottom. It was pretty easy riding southwestward along the east bank of the North Canadian. It has been mowed in the last month but almost no evidence of other traffic for quite some while. It was almost like riding across a very short-grass prairie. However, I guess I’m still not quite there yet along the path of recovery and fitness conditioning, because at the next bridge down (NE 23rd Street) I was tired enough to feel like getting back up on the road. But not before I got this picture (right) showing how the rubble from the previous bridge was simply shattered and left on the river bed. You can almost pick your way across on the concrete chunks and the sandbars that formed around them. All the more so right now when the water is shallow.
Alongside each bridge on either bank is at least one wallowed out trail resulting from motor vehicles. It’s now technically illegal, but that doesn’t stop very many folks who’ve been doing it for years. So at this bridge the trail was fenced off, and I had to take a shortcut through the brush. You would expect a few sand burs, but this stuff has been mowed periodically, which makes the sand burs more fruitful. So what you see in this last image is just the front side of one shoe, covered in burs. The other shoe was just as bad, and the backside was only slightly less covered, but I picked off a couple up on the bare skin of my leg and even on my shorts. Oh, and both bike tires were loaded with them. Now, the purple ones are still very much alive and firm, so they are especially hard to pick off. Once they turn yellow, they are dessicated and it’s easier to fold up the spikes against the core with just your bare fingers. Once I got home, I removed my shoes at the door, then came back out with a pair of needle-nose pliers to pick out a mass of them from the deeply treaded soles.