Hi all! Bill here, back from Ruth. Boy howdy, did we have a good ride on Saturday the 4th, but before I tell you about that I'd like to tell you about the 15 mile Friday afternoon ride Trinity and I took. We went up in the hills above Clayton's and Trinity and we met an older husband and wife, Mike and Carol Swaner, shooting guns in the forest that said they knew Joe Tomich and was familiar with the club. Kinda nice to make that connection. They told us they'd try not to hit us as we rode away.
We left them and Trinity took me to another road that turned into a quad trail, and then ended in what can only be described as a rarely used foot path that traversed a steep slope. Well, there was no sign to tell us not to, so we shrugged our shoulders, gave each other a "what the hell" look, and took off down the trail. And it turned out to be quite the feat, much to my dismay. I now call it the Death Trail because we were traversing an extremely steep slope and the trail was merely a blip 4 inches wide, covered in slippery dry leaves and loose gravel. Double Black Diamond stuff, in my opinion. One wrong move and whoosh! Your bike would slide down the slope into the void of Deep Hollow Canyon. You can see how steep it was in the screenshot below.
So our hearts were pumping, and Trinity rode the trail like a goddamn TE300 mountain goat, while my 500 EXC kept trying to slip down the slope, despite my best efforts. I had to pull up the rear tire about three times as it would keep losing traction and slip downhill, scaring the bejeezus out of me. We eventually slid over some terrain and said to ourselves we are committed to whatever and wherever this trail takes us. No turning back now.
At one point, the trail took a steep turn downhill and I knew this would be trouble. Trinity was at the bottom giving me riding tips like a father teaching his son. He filled me with a warm and fuzzy feeling of confidence, so I slid out of control down the hill only to hit the hard right turn way too fast. I laid the bike down and slid three feet off the trail downhill. I was extremely lucky as there was an oak tree there to stop my bike's momentum. Trinity and I dragged that pig back uphill so I could continue. Exhausted from fear, I continued.
We eventually made it out to the safety of a dirt road and we both let out a sigh of relief that we survived the trail that wasn't a trail. We vowed to never ride it again (or at least for a while).
We rounded out the afternoon by riding Trinity's own trail system on his property close by and had a great time scooting around on the hilly terrain. He has made quite a bit of training trail at his fingertips, replete with overgrown manzanita and fallen trees. He was also very gracious to show me his cabin where he grew up. Pretty dang cool, and so different from my upbringing. Trinity you're a cool cat.
Anyways, food was abundant back at Clayton's Cabin. Thanks to the generosity of Linda Herron, everyone ate to their hearts content. She is always so willing to make food for everyone, and I can't thank her enough for her efforts. And a huge thank you to Clayton and Natal for opening up their ranch to everyone for us to enjoy. We are lucky to have very kind people involved in the club. We all finished off Friday night (and Saturday night) with drinking and light debauchery. Some people slept in tents, some on cots or in the back of pickups under the stars, some in the cabin, some in campers or vans.
So Saturday we all woke up to a beautiful day. There were 9 of us, and we headed out onto South Fork Mountain. We started with a warm up hill climb, well warmed up by the summit.
We then proceeded to South Kelsey Peak, being wary of vehicles on the forest roads coming the other way. Beautiful views met us along the way, and as a side effect of the big fire years ago, we were able to see in both directions for a hundred miles. Once off the forest road and onto single track, we picked up the pace and raced to the top of Kelsey Peak. One we all arrived, we were on top of the world. Shasta was visible, as were the Trinity Alps, Black Lassic, Black Rock Mountain and much more. Mountain ranges were lined up 8 or 9 deep, each one growing lighter purple as they faded into the hazy distance. There was a light discussion on the abilities of Colby Herron, who claims he had been riding for only 6 months but was as fast as a professional rider. After we realized his speed, we allowed him to go on ahead on the trails as it's kinda annoying to have someone buzzing on your back tire revving their 2 stroke like some kind of killer bee. Besides, quality over quantity is my motto. I like to look around every so often and that means riding a touch slower than some. But to each their own.
We found South Kelsey's American Flag at half mast on July 4th, so we set to fixing that. Here is me standing on my motorcycle with the help of Mark, Dan, and Colby, so I could unscrew the top pole out of the coupling. We reattached the flag to the topmost eye bolts and reinstalled the top pole. The flag was getting long in the tooth, but looked damn good up there high and proud on its day.
So after we got our fill of the views and snacks, we headed back down. It was at this point we had two in the group peel off to head back to camp (they had "stuff" to do). So the remaining 7 hit Bierce Ridge. We cleared it out pretty well last year, but the trail still needs more maintenance. We all had to push through overgrowth in quite a few places.
When we finally regrouped, we all did the hill climb back to the Humboldt Trail. This trail is an historic pack mule trail, and runs much longer than the section that we ride. There's a feeling of nostalgia as we cross through rocky gulches and traverse slippery hillsides. The trail runs under the North and South Kelsey Peaks on their south side, and can be seen in the above screenshot.
So it was at the end of the Humboldt Trail that we lost 4 more riders to their duty to their loved ones. The remaining three decided to hit the Little Bit of Idaho Trail, which is a steep downhill sidehill traverse. On the way to the trailhead, we chased a baby bear for a few hundred feet. We didn't slow down too much for fear of mama bear. So I was leading down LBOI trail, with Curt behind me yelling for me to stand up and put my weight on the downhill footpeg. But my bike was too noisy, so I couldn't really hear his words of wisdom. It was about this time that a deer jumped right in front of me and gave me quite a start! Curt saw it too, as I heard him exclaim clearly that time.
After that we climbed Berry Creek/Horse Ridge hillclimb. What a hoot, just roaring the engine and putting up a rooster tail of dirt as we all climbed to the top as fast as our fear level would allow. Once we reached the top, we enjoyed the views from the Horse Ridge lookout.
We then proceeded to head down the infamous Ruth Hayfork Trail, aka the Dump Trail. This is another historical pack mule route, and it is a most beautiful, technical trail. Among my favorites for sure. Not for the faint of heart, you find yourself in old forest, forging deep rocky ravines and managing steep slopes that induce vertigo if you let them. A great trail that separates the men from the boys.
So after the Dump Trail, we headed back to camp all dusty and tired. We had just finished 63 miles of dry, dusty amazing trail riding. We quickly parked our metal steeds and got down to the river to relax and drink bloody marys or gin and tonics, you get the picture.
I topped off the evening with a quad ride around the property. The Chadwells have 15 acres with a pond and a couple of knolls. The main knoll was the perfect place to host a wedding recently. As I was enjoying the time alone in the quiet dusk, a neighbor decided to celebrate Independence Day with what sounded like dynamite or tannerite. The explosions were massive and the shockwave could be heard travelling down the Ruth Valley at the speed of sound.
After enjoying the silence, occasionally augmented by large explosions, I rode back to the cabin to enjoy food and drink with everyone. Tall tales abounded, the hills got steeper and the trails got hairier in the stories, but it was all in good fun, reliving the day's ride with friends.
The next day, nobody wanted to ride. Most of the people left wanted to spend time with their families down by the river. This was the right choice. There were fish to be caught, and memories to be made. I packed up and got back to town, after thanking the hosts for their generosity.
Hope we all do it again soon. Until then, good riding.