This is a two ride weekend, one ride today with Fiona and longer ride tomorrow with da boys up in Auburn. Fiona and I just got back from riding Hogan and it was quite an adventure. Just bummed I didn’t bring my camera.
We left Stockton and it was a moderate rain, quite frankly I wasn’t very excited about riding but figured the weather might change. Sure enough by the time we got up to Lake Hogan it wasn’t even raining. It was pretty windy though and there were clouds all over so we hustled to get ready and started rolling. It was warm enough and the rain looked distant enough I wore shorts and just a long sleeve jersey.
Usually, Fiona and I take totally different routes on the Hogan run, I go on the upper, much more challenging trail and she rides the lower trail and meets me where the two merge back together. Today because of the threatening rain I stayed with her a lot more than usual. We were pretty lucky though and when we got to our usual meeting place it still hadn’t rained on us at all so we decided to press on to the cattle gate which is about 5 miles out from the trailhead.
We got to the gate and kicked back for a bit, ate some munchies and started back. As soon as we got over the first hill we knew we were in for a race. I could see some seriously dark clouds brewing in the distance and blowing towards us. We were still dry but it looked like we weren’t going to stay that way for the whole day. To make things more interesting Fiona was nearly bonked and her legs were pretty sore.
The ride back was pretty interesting, we were fighting heavy winds and got sprinkled on a bit. Enough for me to be thankful I’d brought my wool jersey, but not enough to regret not bringing my rain gear… yet. When we were about a mile from the end of the trail the show started. The rain picked up where we were and we could see heavy rains out on the lake coming towards us. There was also a pretty cool lightning show across the lake, unfortunately each stike seemed to get closer. We hustled up and then when we were about 1/2 mile from the end of the trail (about a mile from the car) the heavy rain started… then the hail.
The hail was just starting and I stopped to ask Fiona “Make for the shelter (about 1/4 mile away) or try for the the car?” She was beat, “Shelter”. Right as we were getting to the end of the trail the sky just opened up and started pounding us with pea-sized hail blowing hard. My legs were stinging from the impacts. We sprinted to the group camp area where there was a covered area (no sides but a roof). Our car was in sight but the hail was coming down so hard we didn’t want to try and make the 1/2 mile run over to it.
The hail and lightning continued pounding the area for what seemed like a long time but was actually only about 15 minutes. I’ve never seen hail pile up like this, it covered the ground about 1/2″ deep and 4-5″ deep in small drifts against rocks. The mountain sides looked to be covered with snow. Finally, the hail slackened then turned into a heavy rain. We made a run for it. The campground road we took back to the car was white from piled up slush and my tires left a deep track in my wake.
We got back to the car then scrambled to get into dry clothes. What an adventure. I’m just glad the timing worked out the way it did. The idea of being stuck on that trail in that storm had zero appeal, there is no shelter and even the lower trail would have been downright scary in those conditions. As it was Fiona was about ready to kill me when the ride was over.