The high desert route was my chillier but rain free option for heading north. A 20mph WSW wind helped propell me along earning 120-150mpg to the surprise of Oregon-mandated fuel attendants. Not many stops and therefore not many pictures but trust that the expansive lodgepole and ponderosa pine forests were quite enjoyable. With 65mph trafffic on Hwy 97, I was thankful to Yvette for my construction safety vest which helps visibility. I did lose my flag somewhere in California, rather I inadvertantly returned it to The Road.
Despite miles of NF camping, many trails remained snowed in or a mucky bog so I headed to the Cy Bingham City Park which had picnic tables, water and fire pits. Kindling a cookfire, I set to making coffee amd enjoyed the sunshine and rainshowers that proceedes ever easterly. At dusk, snow began a tinny picking at the rain fly and I rested easy once the adjacent RV finally shut down the generator.
Every time I cross this imaginary line I stop for a snapshot. Oregon, Minnesota, Montana, Maine.
Arriving at the Columbia River Gorge, I was struck by the unique geology of the eroded hillsides and the attractive grassy hillsides blooming with wildflowers and new vineyard growth.
Rain was on thr horizon so I set up camp at Avery Park along the river's edge and watched the barges pass on the slate colored water. The only downside is this site is along the railroad tracks so the overnight whistle blows give ample opportunity to fluff the pillow or pick another side to lay on. This segment of the trip is nearing a close as I stop in Portland tonight to visit Brian, Lindsey and Bodie before completing the final stretch to Bay Center. I've got a tire to change, belt, and a few odds and ends before tackling the northern roads once more.
Leaving the high mountains behind, I checked the radar and found less rain forecast to the east of the Pacific Crest. Wandering northeasterly through the upper valleys of California, Mt. Shasta made a brief appearance before becoming enveloped in clouds.
East of I-5, the Klamath River is dammed for hydro power creating the Iron Gate and Capco Reservoirs. Free campsites on the lake at 2200ft sounds pretty good for a restful night before exploring into Oregon. It is a river and lake system like this that makes me want for a kayak.
It is common up here to give open range livestock the right of way. Complicated rural traffic jam on a Monday morning.
Each bridge over the Klamath into Oregon was closes or private so I pressed on along the California side. Once past a sign warning "No Autos or Trailers", Topsy Grade Trail began. The steep and boulder strewn trail was quite difficult on the Ruckus. Deep mud puddles and large bogs stretched on for miles but the Ruckus crashes through admirably. The restored meadows of pine, grasses and wildflowers were particularly serene in comparrison to the arduous task of keeping the bike upright. Fortunately the hard work kept my core warm.
In some sections, mud built up in layers enough to jam the rear wheel and fender. My boots were also caked and weighed a ton.
My mind drifts to the industrious men who carved this trail from the rocky, wet and unforgiving terrain. I'm enjoying the hell out of it 150 years later.
At each turn the trail seemed to deteriorate and split but thanks to my GPS, I followed it out of the gorge where this view of my progress was reward enough. Onward now to Oregon.
Let me start by saying WOW. The Shasta-Trinity Alps region is a recreation wonderland just emerging from the winter freeze. Snow hangs around above 4200ft and some impressive snowbanks melt along the curves. Signs posted along the creeks mark out mineral claims to the waterways for various individuals and companies. The campsites are plentiful and private.
Boating, hiking, skiing and cycling are all available sports in these mountains. My mind mulls over a future trip to this region in a,van or wagon. Maybe someday.
FS12 goes through on the map but after negotiating rockslides and precipitous cliffs, snow drifts without a mark in them meant the remainder would have to wait for next fall. Fortunately I had plenty of fuel to backtrack.
The mountainous terrain was unrelenting on La Tortuga but it faithfully chugged over multiple 4500-5000ft passes without a break. I logged some seriously long days and the broken wire fix is the only weak point bugging me at day's end.
I'm a few days behind on the blog as I sit listening to seagulls on the Columbia River. Keeping this post short on words.
Fantastic weather and empty back roads meant 250 mile days and countless county lines. The gravel road north from Parkfield is incredible in regards to scenery, changing forest dynamics and wildflowers. It felt like being in an alpine meadow.
I broke down just before camp and almost missed this view at sunset. Free camsite to boot!
I'm knocking out the miles with only 20 uphill twisty more left to go before Mt. Laguna Campground when I hit a bumpy section of road and the bike loses power. Thankful there aren't any cars following, I pull over and begin to diagnose. It will run on the centerstand and rev high with wheel spinning but as soon as off the stand, it dies. There is no stand switch on scooters. After checking the clutch and belt, I lift the rear swingarm while it is running and it dies. Clearly an electrical short down below the floorboard.
After jiggling wires, I find that the positive lead to my ignition coil is frayed and broken at the rubber boot. I was in here while in LA and must have reconnected the female end with a twist in it. After removing the old and crimping on a new female spade, I gave it a test and she ran as usual. Crisis averted and I didn't even have to follow my Mother's voice in the back of my head to "check continuity in all the wires".
It was not easy saying goodbye to my wonderful friends in LA but the time had come to head north with the season. I recently had seen photos of the superbloom in one of my favorite parts of CA, the Carrizo Plain. It took the entire morning to escape the greater LA area but I finally found peace on Hwy 33 outside Ojai. The twisty mountain highway was almost empty and offered many pull offs peppered with fragrant yellow flowers. The weather couldn't have been finer and I smiled at mt fortunes.
After fueling up in Maricopa, I climbed back up the mountain and turned onto Soda Lake Rd. I couldn't reconcile the number of passing vehicles with my past visits. The once desolate dry lake valley was verdant with swaying grasses, shallow reflecting lakes, yellow wildflowers, lupine and sunkissed hills. The spring bloom always attracts a crowd and the full campsites were evidence of this. My memories of the quiet and monotone Selby Campground was erased by an overpacked RV wonderland with generators, screaming children and abundant flowers. It was only one night but in the morning I was ready to see what the northern valleys had to offer up the lonely road.
For many of you following without Facebook, I'm alive and well! The last two months have seen a hiatus from Scootering while travelling to VA for the month of March to visit family and exploring the areas of Southern California by kayak. In February I received a fb message from Scott inviting me to take a break when traveling through Los Angeles. Arriving during one of the heaviest winter rainstorms, I felt like a drowned dog and the hot shower and warm home was a welcome respite from the road. He and Yvette made me feel at home and provided a comforting environment to reconnoiter gear, work on the scooter and get private tours of the LA attractions.
Scott's big hobby is whitewater kayaking, something I had been interested in learning but never had the opportunity. We spent countless days practicing my brace, hip snaps, and roll in his friend Liz's pool dubbed the Roll Hole. This opportunity for one-on-one training will seriously pay off in a year when I put my SeaYak in the Monongahela. The last three weeks were nearly continuously spent paddling and camping. I challenged my limits on Class II and III water with high flows on the beautiful but cold Kern River, took a swim or two and learned much about eddy peel outs, surfing waves, punching holes and rescuing swimmers.
A weekend of cooler wet weather left us searching for sunny skies so we loaded up the flatwater sit on the opposite kayaks and headed over toward Vegas. Just downstream of the Hoover Dam, the crystal clear waters of the Colorado River enter the Black Canyon for a gentle Class I paddle. We put in at Willow Beach then paddled upstream 7mi to camp at Arizona Hot Springs. For the following three days we set out from our basecamp to explore slot canyons, hot springs, waterfalls and extreme scrambling up and down wet ropes on waterfalls. Downright dangerous fun! Desert Adventures out of Boulder City can rent all the gear necessary so if you've got a few days to kill in Vegas, you'll never forget this side trip.
We turned around and headed back to Kernville again for the weekend to hit the 3000cfs river on rapids with names like Lickity Split, Big Daddy and the Cemetery Run. Around the crackling campfire, the sound of a baritone ukulele drifted on the breeze and drowned out by the roar and crash of the swift river. I will look back quite fondly at my time spent in SoCal and to Scott and Yvette for their famous hospitality.
The Ruckus has been serviced and I'm feeling the familiar call of the road again. Planning routes, checking out new places in California and riding northward up through the NW are all heartwarming activities on the horizon. Follow along as I make my way up to Inuvik, NWT in the Arctic Circle.
I spent a few days camping out in Anza Borrego and the Box Canyons near Mecca, taking advantage of the pananderia and affordable produce. Once I had reached my beans and tortilla limit, it was time to move on. The Riverside Mountains outsid of Idylwild looked promising with free NF camping and pine trees. Have I mentioned how much I have missed forests since being in SoCal?
It was rather windy and I was fortunate to have data to check the forecast which hovered around 45 in the days and mid 20's at night. My water bottle froze solid one night despite being inside my tent. Fortunately the rain held off mostly and it was blue skies as far as the eye could see.
On my last night of camping before heading back to LA, I decided to go even higher into the San Bernardino NF to find some snow. Making camp at 6200ft meant sliding along the icy dirt road with steep drops and no margin for error. Once parked and with my tent staked down against the wind, I set out for an exploratory evening hike. The enormous pine cones of the Sugar Pine caught my by surprise. These are the largest pine cones from the tallest pine trees in North America.
The golden sunset over San Bernardino and rhe greater LA area in the distance. Mt. Baldy stands tall just right of center. After the sky grew dark, dotted lines of streetlamps on major boulevards formed a checker pattern reminscent of the make-out spot in old movies. The sound of owls and coyotes drift on the wind and I nestle lower into my bag against the higher altitude chill.
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 55'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.