Sunday, July 25, 2010

High Sierra Bound

The woods were scorched by heat and nearly a month had gone by with very little rain. The trees on the tops of the mountains were dropping leaves in July. Finally, the day we leave, rain finds it’s way home. We go from stop and go traffic on New Jersey’s I 80 to a plane where we are delivered to stop and go traffic on California’s I 80. Too many cars in the world for sure, but I can forget the traffic for a moment because I am very glad to soon be visiting and riding my bike with an old friend in the Sierra mountains.

We drive up long winding roads that twist through the foothills to arrive at Debra’s house where we are greeted by a lizard on her back porch. Tall pines and manzanita surround her home, and it smells somewhat like the drought in New Jersey, but much more floral. I know instantly why she loves her home, as it is beautiful in her yard with a view east towards Donner Pass.

not too much luggage, just bikes

Day 1 : Pioneer Trail. We opt to ride local on the Pioneer trail just outside of Nevada City. Debra and her high school team helped build some of this trail several years back, so it was nice to ride with someone who’s signature was embedded in our day’s adventure. The trail followed a historic irrigation ditch. Often trail builders adopt old ditches and make them into mountain bike trails. They have little elevation gain and make easy use of steep terrain and already existing benching. I have ridden places where flowers or plants line the trail leaving a narrow path, but this trail had sections of pinecones covering the ground, leaving the dirt trail exposed. This is big pine tree land.

Day 2 : Lake Tahoe Epic. Debra hooked us up with Mario, a Tahoe local for somewhat of an epic ride. Mario arranged a shuttle run for us on the Tyrolean downhill. Our run got off to a shaky start when Mario slipped while walking on a berm and dislocated his shoulder. Being the closest to him, I was instructed to pull it back in, which made me a bit nervous, but did the job. He then went off his jumps as usual, and we caught our shuttle back up to Mt Rose. Not sure who this Mario guy is, but my guess is that he is some sort of local hard core mythological hero.

From there we rode south on the Rim trail to Marlette Lake and down Chimney Beach trail. The rim trail is very spectacular with numerous views of Lake Tahoe and snow tipped mountains. A heavy snowfall year made for incredible wild flowers along the trail. There was also quite a bit of climbing before reaching the highest point just over Marlette Lake. Five hours later, we finally arrived at the highway near dark for a five mile ride on the road back to Incline Village. As I rode, I watched the sun set over the lake. It was a spectacular and full day.

Day 3: Forest City. Lucky for us all, Art, while packing in the dark, forgot his helmet at Mario’s house, 100 miles from where we were the next day. Debra scored a loaner from Tom, who offered to show us around Forest City. Tom is not only a friend of Debra’s, but one of the trail builders at Forest City, who happens to be riding that day with another local trail builder and dirt expert “Fish”. We show up at the trailhead a little late, but find a helmet on the hood of car, grab it and head out onto the trail. We run into Tom and Fish sitting at the first intersection, and proceed to get the full history of the place.

After some history, we bombed down a forest service road together, and made an uphill turn, while being prompted by our leaders, onto a narrow, wall lined trail, which led us across an arched bridge. This was no ordinary trail bridge. It looked like a bridge that a troll would live under in an enchanted forest. Apparently, Zachi their trail building leader had quite an eye for beautiful stone work. From there we rode up several miles of 5% grade switchbacks made by machine. Not only was Zachi talented, but Fish was pretty amazing with his machine excavating. We finished up riding down Highgrade trail, which had a bit of a Kingdom Trails flavor. This trail was really fun. We all came out of the woods laughing.

When in the Downiville area, this place is worth checking out. Maps can be found here:

Day 4: Spaulding Lake. Lake Tahoe is not the only beautiful lake in the area, they all are beautiful. Debra took us to Spaulding Lake for a short out and back to the waterfall. This trail was a bit more technical and rocky, and much more like home, even to the point of having more fall line hiking style trails. The trail varied from deep forest to rocky view points. This whole area was really special. We rode about five miles in to the secluded waterfall that spanned 60 feet across and 20 feet high. I stuck my feet in the stream and the water was COLD, like take your foot out soon because it hurts cold. So no swim for me that day, only a foot dabble.

Chimney Beach

more rim trail

Day 4: Rim Trail Monday, we headed back to Tahoe to visit with Sean and Georgette, and pick up Art's helmet along the way. We made a quick stop at Chimney Beach for a swim and then rode the southern section of the rim trail towards Heavenly. The flowers were amazing. It was uphill all the way, but well worth it for the return, downhill of course.

knightmares of Mt Snow

man in a tree

Art and Sean

last chance before Mr Toads (photo by Sean)

more big trees

Day 6: Mr Toads Wild Ride .... Need I say more? Rode with Sean.

Check out video here:

1 comment:

Humble Coalition said...

I think we WERE at Spaulding Lake on just about the same day, different times. That is where I picked up Lizzy and Adam after their kayaking excursion... interesting.