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Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by T O Double D, Dec 2, 2009.
I have a trip booked with sierra dual sports. It'll require a 2+ hr drive in the am but meet up time is 11 so I should be good. I'll post up a report post trip.
Thanks for all the suggestions and info.
Thanks for the tip Joel,
looks like I'm going with a buddy so I don't have to summit alone. Will explore Wyman Canyon, Dead Horse Meadow and Crooked Creek while we're up there. I find Silver Canyon a little dull, but it sounds like its gettin' better!
Hope I have what it takes to hike to 14,242'. Sure you start at 12,500', but there's some up and down so the total elevation gain is more like 3,500' over the 6 miles. But the real struggle is at that elevation there's only half the usual oxygen. Everyone who doesn't live at altitude will be huffing!
... still hoping to be up that
way over Labor Day ...
... been taking the stairs to my 7th floor
studio, but I'm sure I'll suffer on
White Mtn on Sunday ...
Anyone interested in riding the Idaho BDR next month? Would like to target 2nd or 3rd week but I am pretty flexible. Plan to do mostly hotels vs. camping but will carry camping gear as a backup. Good offroad rider looking for similar. Plan to follow GPS Kevin tracks.
Hi - new ADV rider, but not new mc rider, looking for beginning roads in the east bay (San Francisco; Tri-Valley) to get some dirt road experience. Suggestions?
Tried to send you a PM but got error message. You find time for a day ride in the Santa Cruz Mtns / Pacific Coast, send me a PM, maybe we can meet.
My new money pit....thought I would escape the 113 degree heat and cool off at the coast. Instead, I found 104 degree heat and half a million people. No beuno, but the view was spectacular :)
congrats craig. love that color scheme. i see you have thee manual model. awesome bike.
strange to see that even in SF and the nearby coast got warm. it was 105F here at my house and 20F less in Ventura....strange weather and probably what's the future will look like.
Im a native, been here my whole life. I don't think I have ever seen 113 on the thermometer at my house. Ever. No likey. And yes, manual on the AT. I just couldn't pull the trigger on the DCT. I want to be able to service the thing myself, and I like the distraction of shifting when riding. Having a bike that shifts for me is too scooter like, although people seem to swear by it in the rough stuff.
FWIW this is probably too late for WMRS open gate folks, but I drove (as in my truck) up Silver Canyon on Saturday, and it was MUCH rougher than my last time, which was ten years ago, or the previous two times which were in the '80's. I then went down Wyman Canyon out to Hwy 168, my first time there and it was pretty sketchy in spots. Several deep washouts which may be easier on two wheels than four, but also some rock gardens that didn't look like they'd be fun on anything bigger than a 450. By the way, on the way up Silver I encountered two guys coming down on Ural rigs ... inmates here? I was in the silver Tacoma, up near the top. Hats off to those guys ... not only did I have 4 wheels and low range, I had A/C and it was 103 at the bottom of the canyon.
Just rolled back in from a 3 day ride and camp on the Central Coast.
Link to album
It's slim pickings in the Bay Area. I highly recommend you invest some time and money into training. Off road on a 500 lbs + bike is a lot different from street riding. Plus it will give a chance to meet other riders. Check out Rawhyde, you won't be sorry. Jim Hyde runs a top notch operation. It's part vacation, part fine dining, and a lot of off road riding. http://www.rawhyde-offroad.com/intro2adv.html. I think some of the best riding is in the High Sierras. HU has an event this month in Mariposa http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/events/california-2017, Adventures Rally Series http://www.advrally.com/ is also this month at China Peak. Hollister Hills http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=1179 has a few trails that are OK for a new Adv rider, although the vast majority of the park is geared toward light dirt bikes. Hope this helps.
Attn: Owens Valley folks said the North Entrance to Death Valley is finally open:
Poker Flat Trail; a Cautionary Tale
The last 4 miles are very steep and extremely rough.
-USDA Forest Service, Plumas NF Backcountry Discovery Trail
Poker Flat Road is a little steep & loose down to Poker Flat.
I can’t say that the warnings weren’t there, but you never know what you’ll find until you’re staring the trail in the eyes.
I’d spent some time planning a 4 day riding trip for me and my son. We’d be taking our KLR’s, the rides always involve dirt but the first question—where to go? Somehow Buck’s Lake Wilderness came up and then on the Plumas NF website I found an intriguing route called the Plumas Backcountry Discovery Trail. Nice. A little more research and I communicated with some other riders that knew the area (we’d never ridden there before) and I got the idea to make a loop from La Porte, down to Poker Flat across Canyon Creek, up Saddleback Mountain and then down to Downieville. From there we could head through the Lakes Basin and catch up with the BDT. I even heard there was pie in Chester!
Got a late start Thursday afternoon but still decided to take the long way, as usual. North to Suisun, Wooden Valley, then up past Lake Berryessa, Knoxville-Berryessa Road. I’d been tempted to cut across Reiff Road to 16, but figured with our late start it would probably be faster to stay on Morgan Valley to 20, all the way to Yuba City.
We made our camp at Strawberry on La Porte Road just before dark. Pitched the tents, shared a can of Avery Brewing’s Liliko'i Kepolo that I’d saved from a sailing race in Alameda (thanks @WoodsChick) and cooked dinner—some lentil soup mixed with couscous and canned chicken, nothing beats a camp meal made from let’s-see-what-we’ve-got-in-the-saddlebags.
The campground was nearly deserted, one site occupied on the other side, but the site next to ours looked like a garbage dump. My son still had a lots of energy and before I knew it he’d started picking up the garbage. I joined in; there was a dumpster within 20 feet of these slob’s site. Food, half empty bag of raw potatoes, diapers, the works. Had to be at least a cubic yard of crap just dumped on the ground.
It felt a lot better when we’d cleaned up the empty site.
We were tired. Went to bed before 10 pm, and nobody stirred until 8 am the next morning!
Made breakfast: avocado on fried bread, then homemade dewberry jam on more fried bread and coffee. We were living like kings.
We hit the first Forest Service dirt road barely a half mile up from our camp—Scales Road—by 10 am and were feeling great. Day was clear and sunny, temps. should be in the upper 70’s/low 80’s. We came to our first road closure about 45 minutes in. Bridge across Slate Creek was being rebuilt, a dozen men, a Cat D7, big excavator.
Tried to ride around but just dead-ended at a unique little dam.
Headed back to the bridge, a worker walked over and said “Give us a few minutes, we’ll get you across.” About 10 minutes later the D7 rumbles to life, heads towards us across the bridge and off we go.
There was a big washout in the road on the other side…nope, KLR is not going to jump this. I stop put my foot down in 12” of soft excavated soil and—first tip-over of the trip. The excavator grabs a bucket full, dumps it in front of me, packs it down with the bucket and over we go! Embarrassed about the tip-over, but it wouldn’t be a trip without me having at least one 0 mph dab...
Onward! We transition on to Port Wine Ridge Road and find the St. Louis Cemetery. Fascinating place.
We’re just about to Poker Flat trail, the southeastern alternate portion that begins the Backcountry Discovery Trail. The plan is to do this portion, climb back out to Downieville for lunch and from there figure out where to head, but somewhere in the Lakes Basin area for a camp spot.
We intersected the Poker Flat Trail just past Howland Flat and head up to the east. Woo-hoo! The first mile was enjoyable, no different than what we’d run already. But as the trail intersected Johnsville-McCrea Rd. there was a signpost warning "4x4 Vehicles Only" beyond this point.
There’s a similar sign at the top of Lippincott Pass in Death Valley. I’ve been down Lippincott numerous times, KLR included. It’s a bit challenging at times but a fun ride and nothing that makes me pause. I ride Lippincott downhill every time I’m in DV.
I was prepared for a Lippincott-like run down to Poker Flat so without even a second thought we rounded the corner and dropped down. Within a quarter mile we were both on our sides, struggling to right the bikes in the middle of a 20% grade rock garden. We righted ourselves and laughed, figured we would get through this section and no problem. Onward.
It was a problem. The trail was basically 2 miles of softball to watermelon sized rocks, narrowly cut into the side of a canyon, no soil to speak of. We're riding for survival here, no time for photos. I found this photo from a 4x4 site that's shows what we were up against. Most of the trail is much narrower than this appears:
Far more difficult than I was prepared for or had the skill to negotiate. Much too quickly, I realized we had no choice but to continue on. Going back up would have been far more difficult. My son is very skilled but he struggled as well. We had to spot each other, one at a time for much of the trail and by the time we reached the bottom at Canyon Creek I was beat, physically and mentally.
I struggled mightily crossing the creek, got stuck, son had to ride it out. I took the bike back and within a half mile of our climb up Saddleback Road had lost control and smashed my foot between the sidehill and the KLR. My son had already smashed his ankle earlier on the descent.
I realized I couldn’t ride well enough to climb up—it was a difficult section, but something I normally can do just fine. I was just too exhausted to control the bike properly. At this point it was about 4:30 pm; the skies were threatening thunderstorms; we still had at least 15 miles to get to Downieville; we were both limping; we’d been sweating like mad and our water supply was low; and as I hit the starter it slowly whined and then came the solenoid CLIKCLIKCLIK of battery death. I turned off the key.
Time for an OODA loop.
We had the ability to spend the night where we were—food, camping equipment.
We had water filtration systems, so we could replenish if necessary.
We had a Spot, so could call for extraction if it became necessary.
I was exhausted and if continued to ride the risk of injury was high.
We had maps, knew where we were and where we needed to get.
We decided that I’d stop at any point I wasn’t confident and my son would ride through the section, walk back for my bike while I hiked up the trail for as long as we could.
If I can get my bike started.
I thumbed the starter, it slowly turned and finally caught. Son hopped on and took off up the steep and loose climb. It was slow going, but it worked. About a mile or so of doing this and we reached a point where I’d recovered enough (and was mad at myself enough). I climbed on, told my son that’s it, I’m riding this out. And I did. (I think the starter issue was a result of my stalled creek crossing, water got somewhere it shouldn’t have been and within 10 minutes or so was running and starting normally.)
We got to Downieville about 6:30 pm, tired, hungry and sore. Parked in front of Two Rivers Cafe, where we limped in, took a look at the beers on tap and thought we’d died and gone to heaven. Had burgers and Sculpins, then finished it off with a Founders session ale. Rode to The Lure, paid for a camping cabin, and felt glad to have survived.
Took stock of the damage:
(son's smashed ankle on left, my smashed foot on right )
That was enough. The next morning we headed home and both made trips to the hospital. X-rays negative for both, but I’ll be limping around home a bit longer than my son.
What to learn from this? I thought I was smarter than to ever get myself into a situation like Poker Flat. I thought I knew not to go down a new trail that I’m not confident I can get back up. Apparently not, but I’m not too old (yet) to learn.
I do think that the trail, like virtually every road and trail in northern California, has been worsened from the record rains of this winter. I also think that its popularity as a 4 wheel drive route is making it less and less usable for 1 wheel drive machines. I’ve seen this happening in Moab, where year after year of 4 wheel use is destroying the historic motorcycle trails—ledges get steeper, rocks get stripped loose and deposited in the trail, etc.
But I don’t think I’m going to ride Poker Flat Trail again any time soon: been there; done that; survived, barely.
The more important lesson....get new boots. Ask me how I know.
You mean I should've worn my Sidi Crossfires instead of the Combat Touring boots?
I just shouldn't have gone down that trail.
and "I just shouldn't have gone down that trail" isnt in any of our vocabularies.....
Oh crap Charles. Sorry to hear about your start to the Plumas BDT. Yesterday I had remembered your previous request for info and had found my GPS tracks and waypoints. I would have cautioned you about the Poker Flat section as I did that section last year. At least you went the "Easy" way. Can't imagine trying to ride up it. I can tell you that you won't encounter anything close to that level of difficulty on the rest of the Plumas BDT.
And +1 on "you should have been wearing your Crossfires".