You'll find Hood River, Oregon (which I have dubbed "The Hood") tucked down along the river banks of the Columbia River Gorge just inside the border of Oregon. It is something of a mountain biking mecca for the Pacific Northwest making it a town of good vibes with a large crowd of loam seekers and foam drinkers. It was also the first stop on the road-trip that is taking my brother and myself from Tacoma, WA to Lawton, OK over the next fourteen days.
The focus of the trip is mountain biking destinations which is why Hood River made the cut for the first stop as we traveled south on I-5 and drove the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River. The town sits in a unique area for weather patterns. Just to the west of town lies the tail end of the Cascade Mountain Range that forms the foothills of Mt. Hood. For some known weather science reason, the storm fronts that roll in from the coast break on the mountain chain, leaving Hood River sitting in a valley of sunshine throughout most of the year. It's a pretty tangible phenomenon. As soon as we left town and headed up into the mountains for the trails, a slow drizzle started. We came back down in the afternoon and enjoyed beer and food under a sunny sky.
I am still becoming versed in the different types of mountain biking terrain and styles of riding. But from this amateur's perspective, and the casual observation of bikes and riders being everywhere, Hood River seems to have it all. Post Canyon -- the trail network we rode the first day -- had everything from steep, root filled riding, to technical rocky bits, to excavated dirt-jump tracks, to loose loam moto trails, to whatever other crazy schemes local trail builders can dream up. Across the river, we ventured to Syncline for day two and road a network of dry-dirt switchbacks through grassy slopes that gave a stunning view of the river gorge and offered Moab-esque riding on the way down (one trail is even named "Little Moab"). All of that and we saw a tiny sliver of what the area had to offer. So if you are in need of a top-notch new mountain biking destination, Hood River should definitely be on the list.
There isn't really much eastward of the town. Not much at all. Lots of fields. Lots of scrub brush. A whole lot of acreage of open land as far as you can see. Then, out of nowhere, you roll into the sprawling metropolis of Maupin and all 426 of its year-round inhabitants. On their official website, the establishment is listed as the "City of Maupin". It's a pretty liberal use of the word "city". One main street takes you by two fly shops and two rafting tour companies (the main tourism industry for the town), a couple bars and stores as well as the one school that's readily visible. That school, I think, accounts for "all of the schools for the South Wasco County School District ... located directly in town," that is described on their city website. As we were heading out of town I decided to read up on the history, because I was utterly bewildered as to how and why Maupin came to be -- there is absolutely NOTHING else near by. Reading through the historical information it said the town had a history of farming (Yep, that definitely makes sense, I thought) and as a logging center. The hell??? Endless miles of open lands and scrub brush flashed by as I looked out both truck windows. Guess they did a pretty damn good job with the logging. There's no trees out here. The town began as a ferry crossing in the late eighteen hundreds under the name Hunt's Ferry, with the ferry itself being owned and operated by a man named Howard Maupin. The surrounding land was bought up as railroad traffic brought more people westward, and the ferry was eventually renamed under Maupin. "Maupin Ferry" was apparently too long of a name for the US Postal Service, they shortened it to just "Maupin" and so the town came to be.
There ya go, you can now say you learned something today.
We are wandering along I-97 south towards Bend, OR with Crater Lake and Moab to come in the next few days. Stay tuned for more!!
*Information courtesy of the Maupin City Website: http://cityofmaupin.org/