After the Storm

Nestled in the shadow of Mount Hood, the community of Hood River is one that is increasingly bonded by mountain biking and trailbuilding. SONY, 1/2500, F/2.8, ISO 800

After the Storm From Adversity to Unity in Hood River

When an historic winter storm wreaked havoc on the Hood River Valley in January 2012, the mountain bike community watched in frustrated horror as destruction to surrounding forests mounted.

For days, wrist-sized branches coated in thick layers of ice sagged and eventually snapped, the noise echoing like gunshots across the frozen town.

Dispatchers worked day and night fielding calls about downed electrical lines and splintered power poles. The moment the icy roads became remotely navigable, a handful of anxious trailbuilders, mountain bikers and county forest managers made a beeline to the trails to see what was left.

“I went straight to Grape Smuggler,” trailbuilder Gary Paasch recalls. “I was crushed. Huge trees were thrown across the trail. If you didn’t know what you were looking at, it was hard to even tell where the trail was. I knew I would never rebuild Grape Smuggler back to what it was. The county was going to log it, and my heart wasn’t in it to re-create the trail that I worked on for the better part of 10 years. But deep down I knew there was something bigger that was coming. I just couldn’t see it yet.”

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