Fort Ebey Ride & Camp

The weather was calling for off an on showers throughout the weekend, but the truck was packed with the camping gear, and we had a serious case of spring fever so we headed out to Whidbey Island anyway. While on the ferry Kristin and I discussed various "Plan B" options in case nobody else showed up. It wasn't necessary. Besides, who would possibly back out for fear of getting rained on? Well, not that I want to mention any names, but let’s just say that one of the Mighty Thrilla Warriors decided to not come on account of the rain, but that recent Boot Camp grad, Joanna Freese, showed up smiling. That’s right, a total newbie came ready to ride rain or shine, but one of those oh-so-tough single-speeders we’re always hearing about had to stay home. I think he had a blanket to knit or something. I kid, but I only wish I was joking. LOL!

Anyway, the rain didn’t let up but it never actually fell that hard either. I was joined by Joanna, Lee, and Randy for a 10 mile tour of my favorite trails at Fort Ebey State Park. Lee was obviously in the mood for some picture taking, as he had his digital SLR strapped to his chest. And with Joanna still pretty new to this whole wacky sport, the ride became a pretty social and casual affair. I led the way, giving trail descriptions and encouragement when needed, and everyone finished the ride with huge smiles. The ride took on a wind-sprint feel for me, as I would go hard between trail intersections and then sit and wait for everyone to catch up. I didn't mind though, as it was great to show some first-timers around this great trail system. Lee got to take some great shots along the Bluff Trail and near a wonderful grove of Madrona trees on the High Traverse trail, Joanna got to work on her skills (and her bike pushing – Ebey is hillier than it gets credit for), and Randy and I got to toss back a couple cold ones and toast his birthday after the ride! Not sure how old he is, but he mentioned how he celebrated his 50th one year by riding the RAMROD course. Either way, I only hope I'm as active as he is when I'm that age.

We started at the Gun Battery (Fort Ebey sits on the bluff above the Strait of Juan de Fuca and used to house huge 6" guns during WWII that could fire a armor-piercing shell 15 miles into the Pacific Ocean) and rode the following: Hokey-Ka-Dodo, Kettles Trail, Bluff Trail, P.N.T., Kyle’s Kettles, Raider Creek, Shepherd’s Crook, Braveheart, Hootin, Campground Trail, Main Line, The Tunnel, Chutes, Ladder, High Traverse, Escape, and back on Kettles one more time. We also carefully cruised through the pitch-blackness of the historic gun battery. We were out for nearly 3 hours but covered only 10 miles and about 1100 feet of elevation. I told you this was a pretty social ride.

The rain stopped just as we ended our ride and within minutes the sky was blue. It was time to test out our new tent! Kristin and I and our dogs enjoyed a relaxing spring-forward evening sitting around the campfire and reading, and sharing a couple beers and some good eats. We grilled up some fish with a bunch of veggies (Mr. Floyd has inspired me to move beyond Ramen when camping) and had a great, dry, star-filled night. Woke up in the morning around 7:30, cooked up some breakfast burritos (no more instant oatmeal for this camper!), and headed out onto the trails.

Sunset along the Bluff Trail.

This one's for Eric. Not gourmet, but it sure beats ramen.

Kristin took some shots of me on Hokey-Ka-Dodo (by far my favorite trail at Ebey) and then continued to hike with the dogs. I went and explored the Kettles Park area and rode virtually every trail on the map. Lots of fun singletrack over in that section that I hadn’t seen before. Confusion, Madrona Hill, and Roy Evans were especially fun, as was Whipper Snapper. I finished the day with another blast down the Bluff Trail and a trip down Water Tower Trail to Hootin, where I ran into Kristin and the dogs making their way back to camp.

Me getting some air on the Hokey-Ka-Dodo Trail.

The trails were all wonderfully signed (don’t remember that from last summer) and the only blowdowns we saw were on Grandpa Tree and Ladder. Saturday was a little mucky from all the rain in the morning and Bluff Trail’s switchbacks were incredibly slick. Also, climbing Braveheart, while always a challenge, was downright impossible due to the mud. By Sunday morning, however, the trails were all very nice and dry and totally free of standing water. I ended up putting in just another 1:25 on the trails in the morning, hitting another 10 miles of trail, and 1190 feet of elevation gain.

Kristin, Kimo, and Annana near the beautiful madrona trees on the High Traverse trail.

Fort Ebey has definitely become my favorite spot to ride alone. The map is great, the trails are fun and hilly with a few minor bits of tech to keep it interesting, and you don’t have nearly the wildlife concerns as some of the more remote spots. I’ll be heading back throughout the summer. Look for my posted rides on and come join me.

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