Ride Report: Battle Ground Lake State Park bike camping overnight: Aug 4-5, 2012

The group ready to depart at Cascades MAX. Photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) by Will Vanlue.

The high temperature for Saturday, August 4th in Portland was 102F/39C, and for Sunday, August 5th was 94F/34C. The hottest day of the year so far. What a great day for a bike ride! (Sarcasm.)

But thankfully we didn’t have to go that far, only 25 miles. Still, 25 miles in high heat and not enough shade is tough. We took frequent breaks on the way, looking for shade wherever. The fourteen cyclists rolled on valiantly, and no one overheated too much. But there was a promise at the end of all the suffering, a cool promise. A lake. For swimming.

We reached Battle Ground Lake State Park around 3pm. The park was the busiest I’d had ever seen, as people from all over were driving anywhere there was water they could go in. Even though I didn’t see traffic near any of the other popular swimming spots (Sandy, Washougal, or Clackamas Rivers), I’m sure the roads were choked. The parking lot was at capacity, and park rangers were only allowing one car to come in for each car that leaves. Yep, all camping spots were full as well. Thankfully we reserved three spots which fit all of us comfortably.

The three spots were at the very end of the walk-in sites, about a half-mile down a winding trail from the parking lot. I really like the walk-in sites at Battle Ground Lake: inexpensive, wooded, quiet, and very divorced from the RVs. The sites near the end tend to have more separation from each other than the ones at the beginning. We all set up tents, and a few folks braved the crowds at the lake to get a quick dip. But myself and six others waited until after dark to hit the water. We were entertained by the bullfrogs calling for mates across the lake, and had a great view of the starry dome overhead.

The next day, several folks opted to leave early to beat the heat, while the main group rode to the Laurelwood Brewery in Battle Ground for lunch and beer. The ride home was easier than the ride to the lake: more downhill than up, and a high almost ten degrees cooler than the day before (but still very hot no matter what). We took several shade breaks on the way back, one at Hockinson Meadows Park where several members of the group took advantage of the sprinklers. And everyone got home safely.

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