Monday, June 12, 2017

Plumas National Forest - Round 1

The adventure started with a 1962 topo map... Turns out a lot has happened in the Plumas National Forest since 1962: new dams, lakes, trails and roads! Luckily Jen figured out that the confluence of rivers in the map, is actually now a lake and dam. The addition or roads threw us off our navigating, but the trail was decent enough that we didn't have too many issues.

One day after moving to Reno, Jen and I set off on a backpacking weekend (June 3-4, 2017) with the goal of completing the Antelope lake - Taylor Lake trail. Supposed to be a 10 mile jaunt with 1500' of gain or so, we somehow ended up covering about 12 miles the first day and only 8.5 miles on the return trip. The area had burned perhaps in the last 5-10 years, opening views of the Sierra foothill, snow capped peaks and antelope lake. The trail hadn't been traveled recently, evidenced from the over growth, and we had the entire place to ourselves... shared only with the garder snakes, deer, a large black bear and many many happy birds. The trail ended up being perfect for us, as it was snow free and a nice workout with a lot of valleys and ridges traversed (2,000' +).

Antelope Lake - the starting point in the distance

The burn area made for nice views, and the birds loved it

Some old growth stumps we estimated at 300 + yrs old

It was a treat to see two of these guys!

Snow plant - a parasitic flower that blooms in spring.

Left: Jen and I made a bridge across this little stream, the log is heavier than it looks :)

Below: Some old growth trees still lived along Hungry Creek.

A bear had passed through here sometime recently... 
we saw old prints too, suggesting it was a common place 
for it to swing by.

And then there was the massive scat pile, still pliable... and just up the road from where we camped

View from the tent. Somewhere up there is a lookout tower.


Left: Cheesy noodley tuna dinner in my new pot! Thanks Jen and Cyrus!
Top: ROAD TO BE OBLITERATED - a little intense, no?

We were luck to find this bear cable line up the "road to be obliterated" - as many of the trees were either burned or their branches were too high for bear bagging.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mojave Mavens - 6 day bike trek

Day 1 - Already taking risks with this new little camera,
snapping photos while riding along SR-95. 
Jennifer Wilcox and I set off on a 6 day cycling adventure over which we covered 286 miles of road and lots of desert country.

Days: 6
Total Miles: 286
Total Elevation Gain: ~ 13,000'
Total Elevation Drop: ~ 15,700'

Bike: "K-rat," my Steel, NASHBAR cyclocross bike/frame with Shimano 105 components. [K-rat was named for my uncanny tendency to drink relatively little water on long rides...I got better about that in the desert.]

Gear Storage: Ortlieb rear panniers, a small backpack and handle bar bag.  

Gear: All the usual needed for camping and adventure! Plus bike repair tools, incl. a bike specific multi-tool, tubes, patch kit, tire levers, chain oil, and a portable pump...and Bike Flags!

Water: We each started every day with between 6 and 4 L of water, depending on water availability. 6 L was enough for a full day ride and one breakfast and dinner. 

I had initially proposed biking the Utah Cliff Loop (ACA route) but after hearing it involved about 26k' of gain, we decided to go for an equal distance but less gain route: the great Mojave Desert.  Jen planned all the meals - which worked out beautifully. Light food options (just add water!) and plenty of it. Plus some homemade protein bars made with cocoa and black beans - these started out good and got more and more delicious as the miles ticked by. We planned the overall route together - but Jen and Cyrus had a good grasp on where we could get water and what the roads were like. I printed a large format map with 18 Google Earth generated map panels- to which we added our mileage, elevation gain estimates and notes by hand. 

Day 1 - Jen's homemade protein bars. 
They were awesome. We already wished 
we had more after day 1.
Day 1: Boulder City, NV > Nipton, CA 
(~ 58 mi., 2034' gain). 7 happy honks! 0 mean honks. 

We started on SR-95 just outside Boulder City, NV. Our bikes were loaded with about 6 L of water each and all our gear. We never got an actual weight on the gear situation - but with all the water we guessed around 40 lbs each. While the road was busy we had a good berm - though this was often strewn with glass and bolts and other treacherous things. Biking along the 95 we came to realize just how many people think the edge of the highway one big trash can... there were bottles all along the road side. About a few hours in we both noticed a packet of thinks on the road side...we got about 100' past and both decided it was worth a closer look - I ran back and picked up the plastic find a weird little jackpot of old letters and postcards - I felt like I was living a "This American Life" podcast. We pocketed the find and continued on our way. 

Day 1- Cholla and the forest of Joshua Trees
We were in good spirits through Seachlight, NV but we hit our first big hill climb shortly after... IT WAS HARD - It was about a 10-15 mi climb up and over a mountain pass, and our legs were not used to the weight of our bikes...We climbed for 2 hours...and sang various versions of the finding Nemo "just keep going" song. Over the course of this climb we entered into Joshua Tree territory - a reward for our efforts which we would come to appreciate on each climb throughout the trip. The sun was dropping which made the cholla cactus glow in the late afternoon light.

Day 1 - Big Joshua Tree! 
  When we FINALLY crested the pass we were rewarded with a long 10+ mi decent - FLYING down the other side into Nipton, the temps were dropping and we were freezing! This was its own challenge since the grade was enough to make you want to grip the breaks the entire way down. Lucky for us the Nipton trading Post Cafe was open... over 1/2 lb burgers (seriously huge and seriously amazing) we opened the packet we'd found on the road earlier. Inside we found some old timey post cards, books of S&H green stamps, letters from 1960/70s congratulating a family on their new baby boy and...a lock of baby hair! GROSS. We camped that night at the Nipton Trading Post...100 ft away from the RR tracks... The railway there is alive and well at night. Some character decided to shower in the camp bathrooms while blasting Coldplay... the hotel just next to our campsite is supposed to be haunted... I asked Jen if she thought ghosts listened to Coldplay. We decided it was probably a local and formed a safety plan involving pepper spray, me yelling and Jen going for help. 

Day 1 - Castle Mountains late in the afternoon

Day 2: Nipton, CA > Kelso Depot, CA 
( ~46 mi., 1,660' Gain) 5 friendly salutes! 

Day 2 - Breakfast in Nipton 
with our new kitten friends.
Each day started and ended in, or near a town where we could refill water. We cycled through some serious desert, so each day we needed to start with enough H2O for a day of cycling and possibly for dinner and breakfast the following morning. This also somehow led us to have a serious hill climb in the morning and long downhill in the afternoon. Day 2 was spent in the Mojave Preserve. We climbed most our gain in one go - up to Cima, CA and through some of the most established Joshua Tree groves I've ever seen. The high desert was lush in the preserve - it didn't feel like a desert at all. Temps were perfect, in the mid 70s/ low 80s and dropped as we climbed. The hill climb was still challenging - The low points of which are looking down at my bike computer, seeing the 5 mph speed and known that yes - it will in fact take us 1 h to go 5 mi, and then also seeing the mileage rising in the 100th decimal place on my odometer...I try to not look a my bike computer on hill climbs. We cruised down the other side into Kelso Depot, CA and refilled with water and chocolates at the park gift shop.

Day 2 - Breakfast in Nipton, CA

Day 2 - Joshua Tree grove in the Mojave Preserve.
Day 2 - Remnants at the now closed, Cima, CA general store
Day 2 - Sunset in Kelso, CA. 
Jen stretching out the day's miles.

Day 2 - Old timey car ruins ~ 50 ft from our desert campsite. Kelso Depot, CA

Day 3... updates on this post still to come.