Friday, December 2, 2011

A reason for thanks....

Well not much of an adventure here, but the fact that Mary and were able to spend Thanksgiving together makes it more than memorable.  We don't typically spend Thanksgiving at home, the past 10 years or so we have spent it in Fort Bragg in our trailer, generally getting a pre-cooked turkey with all the trappings and cooking it over a campfire. This past months hand surgery meant not a whole lot of riding was going to happen either so a change of plans was in order
This year was a bit different as we did the whole deal here at home, just for us, no family or anyone to distract ourselves from each other. We agreed that if I did the shopping Mary would do the cooking, not a bad deal for either of us since I don't like to cook big meals and Mary hates shopping! We spent Thursday in a pretty lazy haze, cooking, drinking and just hanging out, it was a perfect day with my wife!
Perfect Turkey day feast!

What I'm very thankful for. (Not the gravy!)

The full spread!

We had decided that we would head up to the coast on Fri. and spend a few days in the Sinkyone Wilderness on the North Coast. It had been a few years since we had been in to the primitive camp at Usal but we were game for an adventure.
Actually we had no choice as our lack of planning limited us to non reserved campgrounds, and the incredibly steep and perilous 6 mile Usal road assured us that we would get a spot.
It took us most of the day on Fri. to get to Usal, about 260 miles away. We needed to do a bit of shopping for us and the trailer and it was comical how long everything took us, we would be driving Usal Rd. in the dark for sure.
We hit the bottom of Usal Rd at about 6pm and it was pretty uneventful, a couple of steep slippery spots had me in 4 low at times but we hit the beach in about an hour, a tortoise like 6 mile per hour average but given the 1500' drop to the ocean in many spots, it's best not to hurry on this road.

The view from the door of the trailer
We awoke to a beautiful morning and upon looking at our chosen spot which we had found in the dark, we decided to move over to a better and drier spot with a killer view. The river was flowing for the first time in memory and it added to the beauty of the area, especially as the tide would come and go.
There were a few other souls in the campground but the spots are pretty spread out and by Sun. morn we had the entire place to ourselves save for a few brave folks who would come in for the day.
The road leading into the campground with birch taking over, typical for a former mill site which this place was till 1950.

We had the huge beach pretty much to ourselves for the entire 5 days.
A group of four Roosevelt Elk were companions for our stay.
We spent most of our time relaxing, hiking a bit and riding a bit, nothing too strenuous, although we are at sea level and every road goes straight up around there so it's all relative.
We saw a bit of wildlife, we had some male elks in camp and at night we were serenaded by bugles and some playful rutting and mock fighting. We also found some fresh bear prints on the beach one morning, not sure why a bear would go down to the beach but apparently this one is a beachcomber!
Cool driftwood
The view up the canyon towards our camp.
Sasha enjoying a day at the beach, one of the few still moments.
A few winter flowers hanging on.
We had a couple of nice hikes, one up to a never before visited part of the park called the "Enchanted Forest". Some pretty amazing trees were found here, it's incredible what life will do to survive, or in the case of tress, find the sun!
We also took a ride up Hotel Gulch Rd. to the Sally Bell Grove, home of the last remaining old growth redwoods on the actual coast, it's mind blowing to think this entire area was covered with these beasts, right down to the beach in some cases.
Enchanted Forest Redwood!
Mary grinding up Hotel Gulch Rd, 1500' in 2.5 miles!

Nice waterfall on Hotel Gulch
Pretty good view from up here!
Mary with one of the Giants
We needed to be back to work on Wed. so we made an effort to get an early start out of Usal on Tues. morn. After a nice breakfast and a roaring morning fire we pulled up stakes and hit the road home. All in all a perfect Thanksgiving and one to remember.
A family portrait, well the best one can expect after 6 days of camping!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Overnighter on the South Yuba....

Well, just a bit of a change here. Wed. I finally had hand surgery on my left hand that will hopefully solve all the pain and related issues I've been having the past year and a half. This meant no bike riding for a bit, not like it was happening before the surgery, but hopefully this will solve that problem. No bike and a general lack of exercise meant I was itching to do something, so I dug out my decade old backpack, loaded up my bikepacking gear and the dog and I took off for an evening out.

I had a bit of work to do in the office so we got a bit of a late start on Sat. We didn't get on the trail till 2:30 and needed to get at least 5 miles in to the primitive camp for the first opportunity to set up camp. My goal was to get to Missouri Bar and camp on the beach there. We met a couple of guys I know out for the day on their bikes, looked to be a fun day and I longed to be back on my bike. We saw a total of 13 riders on Sat, pretty good for an out of the way, albeit absolutely stunning trail.

Fall on the South Yuba

South Yuba goodness

 We wandered along the trail in some pretty amazing light, the moss was really vibrant as it hadn't yet frozen and the leaves were pretty amazing as well.

Great moss colors today
Beautiful trees and a lovely ribbon of trail

 We briefly stopped at the Humbug Creek trail and I thought about hiking up towards Malakoff Diggings as this creek is really gorgeous. A couple of trees down across the trail and a portage through some old growth poison oak convinced me this was a bad idea. The history of this area is amazing, there was so much hydraulic mining going on in the hills above the South Yuba that the river bed rose sixty feet higher than it's original bed. This amazing destruction of the rivers was the initiative to ban hydraulic mining in California.
A little history

Humbug Creek today as it should be, imagine 60' of gravel covering this area!

 We made pretty good time to primitive camp, the mandatory stops for pulling stickers out of Sasha's "Made for Alaska" fur coat slowed us down a bit though. I decided to try and make it to Missouri Bar but only got a mile or so in when it became apparent that the stickers were getting worse and I didn't want to be pulling them off Sasha in the dark. We turned around and headed back for the primitive camp.

There were a couple of other souls in the primitive camp so we wandered off to the edge of the river and set up camp in a lovely yet damp spot. Sasha made it down to the river and in an unusual turn of events, waded all the way into the river. Lovely, a wet, sticker and likely tick covered white dog in the tent with me! Good thing she's cute.....It was really wet at the rivers edge, somehow I got a fire going, my fire making skills amaze me sometimes, Bear Grylls can kiss my ass!

Our camp site for the night
Night fell pretty quick and we were off to bed in the new Shires Tarp Tent, plenty of room for me and the white dog! A little reading, a little chocolate, a hit of Rum and I was off to sleep. It was likely pretty cold at the bottom of the canyon, I was pretty warm most of the night but by sunrise I was ready to get up and moving. My Big Agnes Air Core seems to have sprung a leak as well, 4 times during the night I had to get up to blow it up a bit, pissed the dog off as she had to move for me to do this......

Morning, and another miracle fire!

All packed up with a patiently awaiting Sasha!
We headed off about 8 or so for the 5 mile journey back to the car. This backpacking thing was kicking my ass, mostly my shoulders were hurting a bit as the pack I have was bought for me when I was 30 pounds heavier, I'm too skinny for this stuff!

Cool fungi on a downer tree!

The temps were really nice, I was in a long sleeve shirt and jeans and I was just perfect. We met up with a couple on their way out just as we were coming back to the car, they had a medium sized poodle which was scared to death of the white dog, I don't blame it! She's a bit of a spaz and only wants to run and play, but she can look a bit intimidating I guess.

Always looking for something to torment!
A great day and we were home by noon!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A week away from it all.....

This week felt like it would never come. It had been planned and rethought multiple times but finally I awoke in the great state of Utah on Sunday. Our good friend Skip and I had been throwing around the idea of making the trip to New Harmony to visit our friend Steve for a week of riding and eating. Making it happen was a little like herding cats....

We made the 650 mile trip from home to Steve's on Sat with a unique trip out through the southern Sierras that turned out to be a great idea on Skip's part as the fall colors were pretty amazing. Lots of people on the side of the road taking pictures throughout the trip down 395 to Mono lake.

395 outside of Mono Lake

The fall colors going over Monitor Pass( through the windshield:)
Hope Valley

It took us a solid 11 hours to make the trip, but overall it was pretty uneventful which is what you want from any driving adventure.
Sunday we awoke to beautiful day in Utah, the forecast was for somewhere around 80 degrees in St George which is where we decided to ride today. Sunday was our easy day, 30 miles on the Bear Claw Poppy, Barrel Roll, Sidewinder and Rim Runner trails. We had a great day riding these local trails that were new to Skip and I.

Skip on Barrel Roll

Steve on Sidewinder?
Monday brought another blue sky day in southern Utah. The loop for today was to be the Racecourse and Zen trails which were located not far from what we had ridden the previous day, in fact the Bear Claw Poppy trail was in sight for most of the day. These were great trails with a little bit of climbing and some killer descents, especially the Zen Trail, definitely one of my favorites to date. We took a bunch of video on these trails, but my dumb ass couldn't seem to get it to work correctly so we ended up with a lot of video of the ground and us sitting around talking.

Steve on Zen Trail.
Steve and Skip on Zen Trail

Tuesdays weather brought a chance of rain later in the day so we scrapped the idea of riding Thunder Mountain and Cassidy/Losee Canyon. We decided to stay local again and head up to a new trail called Gander off of Gooseberry Mesa. Steve's friend Holly joined us for the day so we had to be on our best behavior, and our game, as Holly is a really good rider even though she is relatively new to mountain biking. Gander started off with some switchbacks down and then rolled out along the rim of Gooseberry Mesa for 10 miles or so. We rolled along to the North Rim of Gooseberry and decided to head back, Steve and I had gotten just a few hours of sleep over the past couple of days and it was beginning to take it's toll. The views were amazing along this trails, I never get tired of  seeing the big country that is the great state of Utah.

Looking at Zion from Gander Trail
Holley on Gander

Trying to get artsy, next time I'll cut that tree down :)
Steve on Gander
Steve scared this guy right into my path!
Holly bringing it home

Wed saw us awaking to snow on the ground, a bit of a surprise given the sun and warm temps of the previous day. It turned out to be a bit of a lazy day. It was 2pm before we finally decided the sub 40 degree temps and 40 mph north wind was a good  reason to take the 2 mile drive over to the Kolobs for a hike along the Kolob Arch Trail.  It was a beautiful day and the wind was much tamer in the valley along the creek. We got about 6 miles in a couple of hours with much picture taking.  

The mighty Kolobs.

Fall in the Kolobs

Last remnants of last nights snowfall

Fall with a touch of spring

Water in the desert, always beautiful!

Thursday brought blue skies again and we decided to head off for Gooseberry Mesa as it would be a bit warmer than some of the surrounding areas, warmer being subjective, it was 37 when we started! Skip had wanted to try my Anthem out as he is looking for a replacement for his Moots so I was on the Flash, the first time since my crash and concussion in May. We had a great day, Steve took the GoPro on his Stumpjumper so it was nice for me to not have to worry about being responsible for today's footage, plus unlike my bikes we could mount it under his bars, a nice feature on a technical trail like Gooseberry where one wrong move could wipe it off the top of of your bars. We did all the trails around the mesa, it's only about 16 miles but it's a tough little ride with lots of short, steep slickrock climbs and drops, a real playground. 

Skip on the North Rim

Hey, a picture of me for once!

Out along the South Rim

Skip on Hidden Trail

Fri. we were off to do Little Creek Mesa out of Hurricane. This is a great set of trails, but judging from the lost souls out there you need to have a local, which lucky for us we did. This trail has been left natural with no paint to mark the way. Although the trail is more worn in then the last time I was here, it was still a bit rough for me to follow at times so Steve led the way for us. Skip was having a great day on the Anthem, I'm thinking Giant will be selling a bike when we get home.

The view from Little Creek Mesa

Skip at the mesa's edge.
The backside of Zion National Park, always in view.
Smiley face lichen!

One of the literally hundreds of ledges you ride at Little Creek

Although it's a bit of a journey, we all decided that making the haul to Thunder Mountain on the last day would be the ticket. The route we decided on was up the Cassidy Trail out past Lossee and Casto Canyons and up the Freemont Trail over to Thunder Mountain. We arrived a bit before 9 and it was coldddd, 34 degrees as we suited up, brrr! 

Pretty nice view for a bike path!

More bike trail porn

The previous weeks storm had dropped a bit of snow and we were a little worried that our drive might be for naught. We cruised up the paved trail to the Cassidy Trail and headed off. The boys were feeling the weight of the week and I was finally starting to feel better from not having ridden much the past couple of months so I took off at my own pace with their blessing.  The trail was pretty beat up from the horse traffic, much rougher than the last time I was here but overall in pretty good shape. The horsies are certainly widening the trail which is frustrating, apparently one trench isn't enough, they have to start another one right next to the first one.I forget the history of this trail and area, I believe that Butch Cassidy used this area to hide out after robberies.

Cassidy trail
Steve on the Cassidy trail

We met up at the bottom of Casto Canyon and rode up the frozen wash to the Freemont Trail, an OHV route that travels a good portion of Utah and Arizona I believe. The views from the Freemont were pretty good and it was a rippin gravel road decent to the Hwy.

Freemont Trail

Looking towards Bryce Canyon on the Freemont Trail
Skip decided he had enough for the day and headed back down to the car via the bike path for a nap I suppose, Steve and I continued up to the Thunder Mountain trailhead. We arrived at the trailhead and Steve told me to ride my own pace again, so off I went on what amounts to a roller coaster ride through some of the most scenic country the state has to offer. I was all alone and feeling pretty good so the trail flew by pretty quickly, I did stop to take some pictures and got a bunch of video for later editing.
All in all a spectacular day and a an amazing way to end the week.
Thunder Mountain
Thunder Mountain

Slumming it at Steve's house, not a bad view!
Skip and I got our crap together on Sat night and were out the door at 6:45 Utah time. We burned out Hwy 50 and made it home by 4pm, great trips with good people always rate high on my list.