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Exploring California - Journey of a Noob

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by KennyBooBear, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    Index
    1. First Days of Exploring, The Sierra Buttes & Forestdale Divide
    2. Conquering the Buttes & Bowman Lake
    3. Henness Pass Road
    4. Lassen Volcanic National Park - Part 1
    5. Lassen Volcanic National Park - Part 2
    6. Lassen Volcanic National Park - Part 3
    7. Chasing Autumn - Bodie State Historic Site
    8. Chasing Autumn - Obsidian Dome & The June Lake Loop
    9. Chasing Autumn - Mono Lake & Little Bodie
    10. Pole Creek Road - Courtesy of PG&E Blackout
    11. Journey to Devil's Postpile of Sierra County
    12. Day Trip to Uncle Tom's Cabin
    13. Yankee Jims and Back
    14. Shirt Tail Canyon - How I Learned to Love Mud
    15. Putting the Himalayan to Sleep on a Mountainside
    16. A Day for Extinct Volcanoes and Sunsets
    17. Afternoon Ride at the Yuba Goldfields
    18. A Quick Ride to Anza-Borrego and Back
    Decided I'd begin to document all of my rides up here in Northern California firstly so that I can keep track of them all, but secondly so that I can share some of the incredibly varying terrain we have in our beautiful state.

    A bit about me first though. For many moons I've wanted to get into Motorcycling but never fully pulled the trigger. When I was younger I had a stint with a 2008 Triumph Street Triple but quickly realized that starting off on that sort of bike would have led to an untimely demise; In short, it got sold with less than 100 miles on the odometer.

    Fast forward a few years and the bug was really itching - it was one of those ideas I had played with repeatedly, but had never fully taken the plunge on account of wanting to save money etc.

    A year or so ago I had heard of CSC and their SG250 through a Revzilla article, and though I was a bit love-struck, I still put off buying. Finally, this past year I had done better than expected on a few stock buys and had a bit of extra money burning a hole in my pocket. As I'm a firm believer that any money I die with is money wasted, I decided to go all in. I had satisfied my savings and investment goals for the year, so why not treat myself?

    I brought this thing home (it was shipped to my doorstep) in early June.

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    Exploring past Downieville

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    French Corral

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    Moto-Camping


    In a month and a half, I would go from a level of riding experience one could only call "bugger all" to 1,800 miles of mountain roads, trails, patches of ice/snow, knowing what it's like to miserably ride further into an adventure only to come out on the other end feeling a profound sense of accomplishment.....

    As the bug often does, it bit hard enough too that within 2 weeks I would dump a few hundred dollars into the very inexpensive SG250. Bar end mirrors, different indicators, seat pads to ensure my spine doesn't bust through the top of my skull, all manner of farkles to make it my own.

    It was about a month into my ownership of it, and after roughly 1400 miles of riding that I realized as much as I enjoyed riding, my skill-set and my needs for adventure were all beyond the capability of the SG250. I needed a machine I could take anywhere and everywhere - and something that was easy for a beginner like me to hop onto and simply go where most never trudge.

    After finding a YouTube channel known as "ItchyBoots", I quickly fell in love with the adventuring this Dutch girl was embarking upon, and knew I needed to get a closer look at what she was riding around the world.

    On July 16th I began calling around to local Royal Enfield dealers (nearest is in Reno, 100 miles away, and the second nearest here in my home state is in Santa Rosa, 165 miles away) and after some haggling back and forth between them, I got what I felt to be a fair OTD price. Still, I wanted to go on-site and take one for a spin before I set anything in stone, so on the following day I bribed a friend to drive me out there for the cost of lunch and a tank of gas.

    It didn't take long for me to know I was leaving that afternoon on a Himalayan. After a bit of paper work and handing over a size-able check, I saddled up my new to me Himalayan and began the ride home.

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    Shortly after this was taken, I would go on to sell for SG250 for darn near what I paid, and despite it's poor build quality and overall sketchy behavior, I've got a fond place for it my in heart. After all, it's the motorcycle that taught me to ride.

    To be continued.
    #1
  2. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    After the 175 mile ride home from Santa Rosa (I may have taken a wrong turn adding a few miles, whoops!), I immediately began plotting various motorcycle adventures for my Himalayan. Admittedly it was at this point that the SG250 was parked and not ridden much again until I rode it 50 miles away to the new owner's home.

    I began honing my skills in the dirt on a daily basis, exploring every little trail/road/section of BLM I could find on my weekday afternoons after work. It was also about this time that my inability to simply leave things alone led to the first of many modifications - Denali's Soundbomb Mini so that people could actually hear me when I smash the "Look out, dumbass!" button.

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    Having gotten to a point where I felt as though my skills were honed enough, (a weeks worth of experience here and there, which suffice it to say was not enough) I decided to take my first of many weekend day trips into the Sierras.

    After grabbing my morning coffee and donut at Grass Valley's weekend Car's and Coffee event, I began my trip up Highway 49. After crossing through a number of past-their-prime mining towns along the Motherlode including Downieville (had a mean ass burger for lunch!), Bassetts and North San Juan, I reached Gold Lake Highway. On the way there I took a brief detour to ride through the Oregon Creek Covered Bridge. As the explorer in me was dying to find somewhere secluded, I quickly found myself on a road less traveled and enjoying my first real (albeit short lived) solo-adventure.

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    After accomplishing my first creek crossing (and realizing quickly that waterproof boots suck when the water goes above them) and a subsequent mile of baby heads up a steep, narrow and unguarded road, I quickly realized this trail was more than my ability could handle. I stopped to catch my breath and make a decision as to whether or not I'd continue on, or come back another day. Ultimately I decided the latter was smarter, but not before some opportune photos were taken.

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    A few weeks later I would end up back on this same trail with a greater skillset and find that it led to an incredible lake (Volcano Lake) where I would get to sit and enjoy the aforementioned morning coffee. That'll be discussed later on

    After tucking my tail, I continued on down 49 to Highway 89 and ultimately to Olympic Valley/Squaw Valley for the night. I'd stop a few more times to take in the scenery.

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    The next day's plan would have me continuing on 89 alongside Lake Tahoe after first having breakfast in Truckee with my better half, all the way to Highway 88. I was intent on riding up the Forestdale Divide and then after some exploring, heading home via. Mormon Emigrant Trail. The Forestdale Divide is without question one of my favorite places in this part of the Sierras.

    The area is not well known and makes for a great place to explore, dispersed camp, and generally enjoy the Sierra Nevada Wilderness without the need to backpack 40 miles in. It's also where I would end up dropping my bike for the first time on a trail. Luckily this was done at a steep angle with the wheels pointed uphill, making righting it next to impossible for my lanky arms.

    I'd end up dragging it around to re-position before being able to get the bike rubber side down. I had expected my first drop to be a moment of gut wrenching horror, one where I'd be devastated over having added scratches to my bike - but I was delighted to find that I could instead do nothing but laugh and brush it off. This was also likely due to the fact that I had just added crash bars, but I digress.

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    Coming up next - Episode 2 of my efforts to make my way up the Sierra Buttes.
    #2
  3. WRC51

    WRC51 Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,527
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, Calif.
    Awesome stuff, I have been looking at the Royal Enfield lineup for some time now. I did not know there was a dealer in Santa Rosa, your bike really looks like the dirt bikes we rode in the early 80s except they are street legal. Good stuff going to follow your adventures.
    #3
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  4. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    Thanks. I can't say with any confidence that I know what I'm talking about, but damnit I love this machine. It's underpowered but I didn't buy it to ride at 100mph. It'll do 65 on the highway all day without much fuss (bit of fuss up steep grades at altitude). The Himalayan really shines offroad though. Having ridden a few different bikes, I find it most comparable to a KLR650. If you imagine a KLR being a dirt bike for the road, the Himalayan is a road bike for the dirt, but they're both quite similar in their behavior IMO.

    And yes, BMW of Santa Rosa/Euro Cycle Sonoma (same dealer) is also an RE dealer!




    3 weeks into my Himalayan ownership, I vowed to try the path up the side of the Sierra Buttes again. After the usual Saturday morning routine of Donuts and Coffee, I set off with my things crammed into a backpack as well a pair of minimalist shoes. The idea for the latter was that I'd swap them on briefly for the water-crossing so as to not water-log my boots. I raced up highway 49 and took a moment to enjoy the scenery on the side of Gold Lake Highway.

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    The cloud cover was thick and looked a bit forbidding, but I chose to forge on anyways. Upon reaching the crossing, I switched out my shoes and blasted across. I was lucky to find a group at the creek bathing their feet in the water, and they generously offered to film the crossing. Lucky for me, I made it across without issue.

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    I quickly surpassed where I had previously turned around, making my way to the top of the hellacious 2 1/2 - 3 mile long trail of baby head and larger rocks.

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    For someone with my limited skillset, it was very much a challenge and I took the opportunity to reward myself by setting up my chair and enjoy what nature had to offer as I sipped my morning brew and finished off the rest of my bear claw.

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    The ride back down was considerably easier as I didn't have gravity trying to expose all of my faults, but an entirely different fault was exposed at the water crossing. You see, my genius idea to prevent my boots from getting water-logged came back to bite me.

    The cloud cover was thickening and at this point a few drops of rain were falling. Hurriedly, I made my way back across the water but as I pushed through the deluge, my front tire was jostled to the left by a rock. This forced the bike to change path which would have otherwise been a non-issue (I learned early on that when you're in rocks, you don't tell the bike where to go in rocks but instead you sort of guide it along and let it choose the path of least resistance) were it not for the fact that my left foot managed to catch a large granite rock. Somehow, the exposed side of my left foot went unscathed, but my big toe took the full brunt of the impact. I finished the crossing, rode to the top and stopped just before the service road to switch my shoes out. Wincing in pain from what certainly felt like a broken toe, I slipped my sock on over a painfully numb foot and just managed to get my boots on as the rain began to dump.

    At this point I was hurt and frustrated, but I chose the "screw it" mentality, with the thought of "I'll worry about it when I reach my destination." Unfortunately, my destination was 50+ miles of cold, rainy riding over Yuba Pass and to Truckee. At first the rain was light and remained that way and even subsided completed around Sattley and Sierraville. Shortly after the latter though, the skies opened up. It marked my first time riding in any inclement weather, and it would be done in weather hovering around 47 degrees, in minimal gear, with a knackered toe. Saying I was miserable by the time I had reached Truckee would be a massive understatement.

    Still, I chalked it up to part of the adventure and after waiting out the rain at a petrol station in Truckee, I continued on to our spot in Squaw Valley. That night, the pain of the toe slowly set in. By 9pm I was certain I had broken it although I'll never truly know as I never went to a physician about it. I stayed up that way a couple of days to let the toe get back to some semblance of normalcy (in other words to a state where I could competently shift and walk) and finally rode home.



    The very next weekend, I would take off again but this time I was determined to ride past Bowman Lake and connect with the famed Henness Pass Road. As is usually the case, I set out around 8am and with my bag packed full of goodies, made my way up highway 20.

    The Bowman Lake Recreation area is a placed filled with lakes and reservoirs of varying size. There's also a massive amount of forest roads and places to explore, so the area generally provides new avenues to get from A. to B. on each visit I make. On this trip, I intended to ride the main path up to Jackson Meadows Reservoir, where the road becomes paved and continue on until I could switch back down to Henness Pass Road. The latter ended up not occurring as for one reason or another I missed the turn and decided to just continue on to my weekend hovel.

    The bridge at the creek Bowman Lake empties from was washed out a year ago. What stands in it's place is a steep down, steep up trail through the dry creek bed. I tried this same thing on my SG250 (probably stupidly) and buried it in the silt at the bottom. I then spent a good 30 minutes getting it turned around and slowly back up the less steep side.

    Because of this, I was slightly concerned about my abilities. To my surprise, the Himalayan went down and right back up uneventfully. After doing so I quickly concluded it was probably for the best that I failed the same thing on the little CSC bike, as this section of the road quickly became covered in medium sized rocks surrounded by loose gravel and shale. I powered on ahead though and after a slightly challenging ride, took in the sights alongside Bowman Lake.

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    I would continue on, stopping again at Jackson Meadows Reservoir and after a few sight seeing stops along the way, finally packing it in for the day at around 4pm.

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    This is one of many trips into the Sierras that I would close out by simply riding back via. Donner Pass Road or I-80 and ultimately home, although this trip I decided to turn off at the Chalk Bluff staging area and take some back roads home.

    I had noticed previously on the map a section of forest road that ran between Chalk Bluff and Cascade Shores (small community on Scotts Flat Reservoir, very near to my home), and as I was growing weary of riding Highway 20, I opted to take this path instead. On this detour I would quickly learn that I hate sand. And although I managed to not biff it on the 9 miles of deep, dry, silty red sand covered journey home, it became quite clear that I needed more experience in the sand so as to prevent myself from white knuckling my way through.

    Still, I made it to the other side, boots filled with sand and all, unscathed and euphoric. I felt accomplished to the extent that I took the opportunity to setup my tripod and take one of the very few photos I have of myself with the bike.

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    Another weekend trip awaits, although it may require that I get over this flu before I type out another diatribe. Cheers and thanks for reading.

    Up next - Henness Pass Road.
    #4
  5. Mike Ryder

    Mike Ryder Kriegerkuh Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,574
    Location:
    Peachland B.C. Canada
    I enjoyed that. Thanks
    #5
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  6. 1wicked55

    1wicked55 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    433
    Lots of great places to ride around here.
    The gold lake area is my back yard
    #6
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  7. Justice Bikes

    Justice Bikes Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2019
    Oddometer:
    28
    Location:
    Redmond, Oregon
    Nice... Very Nice!
    #7
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  8. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,939
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    I loved Santa Rosa and Petaluma. San Rafael not so much.
    #8
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  9. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    Sorry for the delay in writing. Work, getting over the flu, and a slew of interviews have kept me busy the last couple weeks. Without any further delays though, the story continues.


    Having lived in California since 2012, there are a few old mountain mining/logging routes I've wanted to journey along for some time (the desire to travel these roads actually precedes my living here.) The top 3 are the Rubicon, Henness Pass Road, and the Dusy Ershim Trail.

    I've been lucky enough to have run the Rubicon a number of times in my Jeep, but up until this Summer, I hadn't been able to check the Ershim or Henness Pass off the list. That finally changed the first weekend of September.

    Henness Pass Road is an old Emigrant trail over the Sierras that was used heavily in the mid 1800s as fortune seekers headed over the mountains, hoping to find riches in California's Motherlode. Once the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1868 though, it quickly fell by the wayside and today is used primarily as a recreational way to cross the Sierras. Depending on where you start the road, it runs anywhere between about 90 and 110 miles (between Verdi, Nevada and Camptonville, California.)

    I set off early Saturday morning, riding through Nevada City and up toward Camptonville, reaching the latter at around 9:30am. Camptonville is hardly worth mentioning these days, though in the 1850s it was an important gold mining town. Nowadays, it's little more than a few houses, a small community general store and not much else. Once in Camptonville the main road quickly transitions into an un-maintained gravel road, and slowly becomes more primitive.

    You quickly ascend from 2800ft to a good bit above 5000ft and the famed road soon reveals why 4wd enthusiasts frequent this route for a weekend getaway. The numerous vantage points are breathtaking. My first stop was to take in the beauty of the Sierra Buttes from an entirely new-to-me angle.

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    As I continued, the road became more and more challenging - and at times hardly a road at all as it was covered in large rocks separated by deep ruts with plenty of deep, loose gravel in between. What I didn't realize at this point was that I had a bit of an issue, one that would prove both inconvenient as well as costly.

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    After a brief stretch where the road changed from un-maintained to oddly paved, it quickly went back to the more familiar, hardly single lane rocky mess. In other words, it again became a blast to ride. Continuing along, I couldn't help but notice that bears frequented this route as they often left markings in the form of debarked trees and copious amounts of poop on the path. I reached Jackson Meadows Reservoir by 11, but not before riding through clouds of dust stirred up by a few UTVs going the other way. Still, I was able to sneak in a photo of this serene and beautiful meadow lake just below Jackson Meadows.

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    At Jackson Meadows I encountered a couple of guys on ADV bikes as well. One was on a DRZ 650, the other a KLR 650. We shot the breeze for a few and decided to head out together as they were riding Henness Pass from that point forward.

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    We stopped briefly at the recently open to the public Weber Lake to have a look at the oldest remaining stagecoach stop along Henness Pass. Unfortunately it was closed as they're heavily renovating it.

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    The path at this point was a hard packed gravel, something you find frequently in the Great Basin Desert. This allowed us to maintain a pace of around 40-50mph making the occasional piece of granite sticking out of the ground a fun ramp to vault the bike off of. The road however quickly changed to a field of babyheads that I even surprised myself with the pace I kept over them. At the end, the road turned to single track and we quickly realized why; the bridge to cross the Little Truckee was non-existent.

    After assessing the banks and determining that we had no realistic way down and back up through the creek, we turned back to take the alternate route. At this point, I also realized that the spring tab on my side-stand had sheared off (likely on one of the babyheads that kicked up and smashed the underside of the bike) and my sidestand was just dangling down. I fashioned a way to keep it held up and we continued on. The gents I had run into and I parted ways as they were headed to Verdi, and I was heading to Tahoe. The remaining stretch to Verdi would have simply been out of my way. It was Labor Day weekend and I was set on camping on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

    I rode through Truckee and after stopping to stock up on snacks and water, I realized I had lost something along the way; my sleeping bag. After scrolling through the photos I had taken, it became clear it must've slipped out of the straps very early into my journey (somewhere on Highway 49.) As there was no chance to go back and find it, I stopped at Mountain Hardware and $220 later I had a sufficient replacement.

    I continued along Highway 89, stopping to take in the sights along the lake and finally made it to D.L. Bliss State Park. I had no reservation but figured I'd gamble on getting a first-come, first-serve site. What I found out delighted me, as they apparently will keep a few sites open during the Summer for folks that ride in on motorcycles. I was one of the lucky bastards that got one.

    I unpacked my homebrew panniers, setup camp and after bonding with the family next to me, sat down for a burger and fries with them.

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    Since the sun sets quickly in the mountains, I got my site prepared for the evening, hung out by the fire until about 10pm and then finally turned in after taking advantage of the stunning skies the new moon had offered up. Camping under the visible Milky Way on the shores of Lake Tahoe is something truly magical.

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    After a bear caused some commotion at 4am, I got up and rode down to South Lake Tahoe. What I didn't expect was that the temperature would quickly go from 51f to 36f. In my minimal riding gear, this meant that for the first time in my life I knew what frostbite felt like on one's finger tips.

    I stopped for a bit at a 7-11 to warm my hands with a cup of coffee, and just before heading further into Tahoe for breakfast I encountered a bear of my own.

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    He had a look at the bike, and started toward the dumpster. I did my best to scare him off into the woods and eventually after a bit of a staring contest, he darted off into the forest.

    I swung into South Lake, had breakfast at the Red Hut and then stopped in at Ace Hardware to make some adjustments to my side-case brackets as well as see if I could find a suitable spring for the sidestand. I ended up simply removing it instead, and making the permanent fix later. Gotta love having a center stand!

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    Shortly there after, I doubled back to pack up camp, swung back through Squaw Valley to see the lady and then rode home. The sun was slowly setting just as I made my way back down Highway 20 giving me one last glimpse of the Sierra Buttes.

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    I reached town at about 6 in the afternoon, stopped for a bite at the local Italian joint, and then headed home. By the end of it, I rode close to 300 miles over 2 days, 90 of which were entirely off road. I was exhausted but felt very accomplished.

    After all these years, I finally ticked Henness Pass off the list.

    Next up, little known Lassen National Park.
    #9
  10. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    Also is it just me, or are thumbnails appearing as full-size photos and thus appearing large and highly distorted? To be clear, all of the photos are thumbnails and if you click them, a higher res version should display.
    #10
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  11. CrazyCooter

    CrazyCooter --Crazy MoFo-- Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2004
    Oddometer:
    425
    Location:
    Redding, CA
    Yes, I thought it was strange that the photos were blurry till you clicked them.

    BTW....Tony from FB stalking you over here too.
    #11
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  12. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    haha all good. Good to find you both here and there. We'll have to keep in touch for when I end up heading further North on a given weekend. I'm sure you know some good routes in/around Trinity National Forest and others.
    #12
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  13. 2WheelTony

    2WheelTony n00b

    Joined:
    May 22, 2019
    Oddometer:
    6
    Location:
    Rancho Cordova, Ca
    Images are fuzzy here as well but great nonetheless, been drooling over a Himalayan for a while now but cant convince myself to go down to San Jose or Santa Rosa to pick one up hah....
    #13
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  14. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    Euro Cycle Reno has a better showroom than either and their service is pretty spiffy too. Might be worth looking into!

    And yea, I reached out to the powers that be @ ADVRider to see if they can't assist with correcting the weird issue with my thumbnails appearing full-size. For what it's worth, if you simply click the "blurry" thumbnail, the actual photo should display which IS full size, and is not blurry.

    Cheers.

    EDIT: The fuzzy thumbnail thing seems to be a glitch within Chrome. After some playing around I realized that if you zoom in and out on the page (hold the Ctrl key and scroll your mouse in and out) the thumbnails fix themselves, though you have to do it a few times to get them all to display properly. Unsure as to whether it's a bug on the ADVRider forum side or the Chrome side, but I'm leaning more Chrome since I can open the page in Edge or Firefox without issue. Doh!

    EDIT 2: I reached out to XenForo support who indicated the thumbnail thing is a known issue - For now I've reattached all of the photos as embedded full images. Apologies for the file size/weightiness in advance, but I like to think most of you prefer the pictures to my lackluster story-telling.
    #14
  15. 2WheelTony

    2WheelTony n00b

    Joined:
    May 22, 2019
    Oddometer:
    6
    Location:
    Rancho Cordova, Ca
    Ive thought about Reno, im not that familiar with how registration and all that will work bringing it back here to Sacramento though..although i have a wedding to attend in San Jose in April so it might work out if i can wait that long....:lol2
    #15
    KennyBooBear likes this.
  16. CrazyCooter

    CrazyCooter --Crazy MoFo-- Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2004
    Oddometer:
    425
    Location:
    Redding, CA
    I got some loops! Let me know....probably when it warms up a bit. I love your area too. Grew up in the Citrus Heights area and visited the mountains to the east a lot.
    #16
  17. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    Another place in California that I've always wanted to visit, but inexcusably never found the time to do so was Lassen Volcanic National Park. Many don't realize, but California has a number of active volcanoes in the upper half of the state. Lassen Peak is one of them.

    The National Park is covered in jagged terrain, lava flows and tubes, as well as a myriad of sulfur pools and various volcanic geological formations. By all accounts, the place is stunning. In 2017, thinking I may be leaving the state for a job opportunity, I swung by in late May but everything apart from the main visitor center was covered in 20+ ft of snow. The Visitor center itself was still covered, but the front had been cleared allowing entrance although the center was still closed for the season.

    Fast forward a few years and I had a newfangled sense for adventure, so on a whim on Friday evening I hatched a plan to ride down into the valley, back up Highway 70 to 89, up to Lake Almanor and then over to Lassen.

    I set off at 8am sharp, and by 9am I was on Feather River Highway, AKA CA-70. This being my first time up 70, I didn't know what to expect but boy was I surprised. Unfortunately I first had to ride through the remnants of the prior year's Camp Fire. This was the fire that burned out the town of Paradise, CA. I used to visit Paradise 3 to 4 times each month for work, but hadn't been back since the fire as I'm honestly terrified to see a town I was so fond of in complete ruin. Still, what little I saw on the lower stretches of 70 was more than enough to turn my stomach. It truly is devastating to see an area with even a few burned out homes that you're so familiar with.

    Still, as a reminder to the raw power of nature, I stopped to take a lone photo in the area. Adding to the tone and emotion of it all was lingering smoke in the area from the Walker Fire, burning through a meadow further East outside of Quincy, CA.

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    I continued on and was soon rewarded with what I've concluded to be one of the most scenic stretches of highway California has to offer. The highway meanders alongside the Feather River leaving you at the base of a stunning canyon, paired with a huge number of engineering feats from a century ago. As an engineer myself, I love older bridges - this highway is absolutely worth riding (even with all of the smoke that spoiled my view... womp womp.)

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    As you ride over the Sierras, the Feather River slowly rises and becomes level with the highway. I tried to stop as few times as possible, but I couldn't resist the urge to stop every time I saw a good photo op. This one is gonna be a two parter.

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    I kept pounding pavement but the views (and bridges), kept delivering.

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    After realizing how much time I was wasting, I decided to stop one last time along 70 in a small and strange community called Belden. There isn't much to be found regarding it's history and there's little more there than what seems to be a small roadside communal stop for quick overnighters or travelers passing through. I bought a Powerade and took an aspirin to nurse a headache likely brought on by the smoke and then continued on.

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    My next stop was in Greenville to fuel up and switch over to highway 89. I scarfed down a quick gas station muffin, paused to snap a photo of how thick the smoke had become and then got out of dodge.

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    I raced north on 89 and after a long half a day's ride, reached Lake Almanor. This would be my first time in the area, and as such I decided to find some tracks that led me to it's rocky shoreline. I parked the bike for a bit, put some calories in the body and took a few photos before heading out. This is one of those few occasions where the Walker Fire's smoke just added to the scene of it all.

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    Coming up - Lassen Volcanic National Park: Part 2
    #17
  18. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    I headed further north on 89 alongside Lake Almanor and shortly thereafter reached Highway 36. I stopped again briefly to take in the scenery before finally reaching the turnoff for Lassen Volcanic National Park.

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    After a couple of miles, I stopped to take advantage of the welcome sign.

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    I again stopped quickly at the welcome center for a proper lunch and then entered the park. The most famous hiking attraction in the park is an area known as Bumpass Hell. After riding a truly incredible section of road made up of switch backs, and steep drops that offered hugely expansive views of the area, I made it to the start of the trail. It was named for Kendall Bumpass who in 1864 lost his leg after falling through the brittle crust into one of the boiling pools of sulfuric, boiling mud. If this isn't a stark warning to stay on the trail, I'm not sure what else is. I found a spot to park the bike, unpacked and began the hike. You often forget how out of shape you are until you ascend 5,500ft and then try hiking a few miles up and back a steep trail, but damn was it worth it.

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    After reaching the springs and volcanic pools, I took a few minutes to explore the area, snap some photos and ultimately catch my breath before hammering out the rest of the trail back. The day was fading fast (it was nearing 3pm) and I still had 160 miles to get to my stop for the night.

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    I reached the bike a bit after 3, packed away my camera and backpack and went a bit further up the highway to take in a bit more scenery before heading back down towards Lake Tahoe. As I couldn't get enough of the scenes, I took one more photo on the way out of Lake Helen with the 10,300ft Lassen Peak Volcano towering over in the background.

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    Part 3 Coming Right Up!
    #18
    The Virginian, snglfin, Bors and 3 others like this.
  19. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    To cap off this very long day trip, I shot down Lassen Peak back to 36, wound out to Highway 89 and back past Lake Almanor.

    I stopped briefly in the small village of Canyondam for a bite and then headed further South. On the way down I crossed the 3,000 mile indicated barrier on the bike (closer to 3200 but 200ish of the miles didn't go accounted for on the odometer to a blown fuse on an earlier trip.) In 7 weeks of ownership, with 90% of my riding being on Saturday/Sunday, I had done an average of over 400 miles a weekend.

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    I stopped to top off the tank in Quincy and carried on racing the sun.

    By the time I reached Sattley it was 6:30. Back North on the horizon I could still see the smoke from the Walker Fire and took a moment to breath the fresh air, take a few photos and ultimately continue on to Truckee and Tahoe. I found amusement in a sign that read "No Fishing or Trespassing" as it was hardly a place to fish.

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    Just as I set off, the sun dipped below the mountains.

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    I reached Squaw Valley at nearly 7:30 on the dot. The temperature had dropped, my stomach was empty, I was exhausted but as usual, there was a certain euphoria and adrenaline caused by the memories of the day. I had just ridden my first 300+ mile single day and loved every moment of it. I finished it off with an amazing 4 course dinner at the Resort's Six Peaks Steak House, and damn was it worth the money.

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    The next few weeks would have my riding at a minimum as life kept us busy. On my birthday I took the opportunity to ride up to Squaw Valley via. forest and logging roads through Soda Springs which offered some amazing views.

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    Many sections of babyheads, fields of loose quartz, gravel, a small water crossing and a couple of steep and challenging climbs later, I reached Soda Springs.

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    Thanks for reading.

    Next Trip - Immersing Myself in Autumn
    #19
  20. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    198
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    Having grown up in South Louisiana, I'm not accustomed to seeing much for Fall colors. In my latter teen years I moved to Atlanta for school and as I got into my 20s I ended up in Oklahoma City, and then Denver Colorado before coming to California. Due to the times at which I hopped around, I consistently missed out on the changing season and the colors that came with between Summer and Autumn. Seeing a fall bloom has been on the list for some time as a result and I've managed to just barely miss out on the changing colors in and around Mammoth Lakes. This year I decided to be a bit pro-active and kept watching the foliage in my area for what would seemingly be the perfect time. Due to a slightly earlier than expected deep freeze in the higher altitudes of the Sierras I ended up fast-tracking and on a whim, heading up into the Sierras for another weekend of riding fun.

    As this trip was bound to be a long one (home to Mammoth and back is near enough to 500 miles at it's shortest), I set out with the expectation of being gone overnight but not much else planned apart from heading toward Mammoth Mountain and the surrounding area.

    I set out a bit late at 11am and rocketed up Highway 20, switching over to Old Donner Pass Road and ultimately came down into Truckee stopping only for a breather at Donner Pass.

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    I dropped in to see the lady for a few minutes before her weekend shift and then continued out toward Incline Village on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Opting to take the route along Tahoe's Eastern shore, I rode toward Highway 50 and descended down the mountain into Carson City to catch Highway 395. At around the 3 and a half hour mark I made it to Topaz Lake, my first real stop for the day. I rode down a steep embankment of jagged rocks and parked on beach to enjoy the view and a late lunch roadside snack.

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    Funnily, as I thrust the Himalayan back up the steep/loose and jagged path to the highway, a gent on a GSA 1200 stopped at the same turnout just as I crested over the top of the climb. I gave him a nod and sped back out onto 395. I watched him give the embankment a look and decide better of it. At the time I had a laugh to myself that this apparently experienced rider was convinced the hill I just raced up was a bit too much for his $22,000+ motorcycle.

    This stretch of 395 is dotted with few people and a lot of land. Between Walker and Sonora Junction lies a canyon carved out by the West Walker River. It's a surprising site to see in this terrain as it's largely made up of flat, open terrain abutted up against steep, barren mountains. But here in the middle of it all was this beautiful, lush canyon. I got caught up in the moment and rode through without stopping, in awe at the golden yellow Aspens dotting the banks of the river.

    I continued through and stopped just outside of Fales Hot Springs to take a breather and photograph a herd of horses out in the open country. I'm not sure if this particular group was wild or not, though there are a number of herds of wild horses out in this part of the Great Basin Desert.

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    Once I reached the open road outside of Bridgeport I had decided that though it was already late in the afternoon, I'd detour up to Bodie State Historic Site. I took one last stop and then raced toward Bodie.

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    About 7 miles past Bridgeport is the turnoff for Bodie. Bodie, for those unaware, is arguably the most well preserved and non-gentrified Ghost Town of the Old West. It sits at 8,600ft in a basin nestled between mountains on the edge of the Great Basin. The climate is one of the harshest in North America, recording only 5 days fewer annually than Barrow Alaska that dip below freezing. Winds regularly rip across the valley and surrounding area in excess of 100mph so it's amazing that the ghost town as withstood the elements long enough to still be standing after 150 years.

    About 12 or 13 miles up the paved road and you're in loose but tractable gravel. As Bodie sees decent number of tourism, the road can sometimes be a bit sketchy with people driving on the wrong side of the road not paying attention to their surroundings. In one instance I had a drive force me to come to a complete stop as he insisted on driving his truck on the opposite side. I had a few choice words for him but continued on without issue. Once there, you truly feel as though you've stepped back in time.

    I'll let the photos do the talking.

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    I took dozens of photos here, but there simply isn't enough room for me to post the lot of them. As it was getting late, I took off once more, still undecided on which direction I'd head for the evening. On the way out I stopped one last time for a bit of a poser shot.

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    Chasing Autumn: Part 2 up next.
    #20