Posted by: caryandjohn | September 10, 2010

Sweetwater Mountains, Labor Day, 2010

Hi all,

Cary had plans this weekend to celebrate her friend Sam’s 30th Birthday in the City, with brunches, lunches, dinners, dancing and bar hopping …

I cashed in some of my umbrella-boy brownie points, and begged for permission to head up into the Sierras on my 2001 Kawasaki KLR 650, which was summarily granted by Mrs. Wonderful … so at 7 a.m. on Friday morning I headed out of San Francisco, over the Bay Bridge, out 580 to 205 to 120 to 108, all east.

The idea was to try to find a way east on Dodge Ridge, which runs just south of 108, otherwise known as Sonora Pass. I found forest road 31, or Merril Springs Road …

Merrill Springs Road (FR 31), Long Barn

Merrill Springs Road (FR 31), Long Barn

I poked around up on Dodge Ridge for a couple of hours, looking for the way through east to Cold Springs, eventually finding Browns Medow Road (FR 3N92) but soon got lost and was running low on gas … so back to Long Barn … I did find a loop called the Sierra Grandstand route, and got a pic …

View east from Dodge Ridge ...

View east from Dodge Ridge ...

There were all sorts of OHV trails and logging roads up here, and my AAA map was not much help … so back onto 108 and off towards Bridgeport …

I got gas in Bridgeport ($4.10/gal) and then went to the Ranger Station just out of town on south 395 on the left hand side, where I purchased a $10 map of the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest.

The plan was to take Sweet Water Road north out of town to where I’d make a left onto Atchison Road at the Sweet Water Ranch and another left onto FR 198, which leads up to the ghost town of Belfort.

Into Nevada on Rt. 338 several miles before Sweet Water Ranch

Into Nevada on Rt. 338 several miles before Sweet Water Ranch

FR 198 at 191 and Atchison Road ...

FR 198 at 191 and Atchison Road ...

Well … I had a nice ride over Sonora Pass, but I’d noticed that the bike was missing a bit as I tried to give it full throttle up the steep mountain road … I figgured that it was the altitude, maybe, but as I started ascending up the steep, rocky, loose jeep trail the miss started to get worse … hmmm. When was the last time I cleaned the air filter?

The first campsite, looking east towards the Masonic ghost town

The first campsite, looking east towards the Masonic ghost town

So, this looks like a nice place to camp … lets take a look at that air filter …

The KLR air filter, caked with mud ...

The KLR air filter, caked with mud ...

I took the filter out and yes, caked with mud … ugh. At least I know what the problem was, and didn’t seem to have messed up the spark plug …

I cut open a water bottle, siphoned a bit of gas and cleaned the foam filter, and re-oiled it with the quart of motor oil I was carrying.

Made a fire, had dinner, watched the Milky Way, and generally enjoyed the perfect weather … no wind, and not too cold. I could hear what sounded like cowbells off in the distance all night long, moving closer and further away, but never did see the cows … strange.

The mine meadow below Belfort ...

The mine meadow below Belfort ...

The next morning was also beautiful … I explored a bit further up the flanks of Mount Wheeler and Patterson, before turning around and heading back towards the highway … the bike was running fine now, but the jeep trails over 8500′ where too steep for me … I decided to head north and take Risue Road [FDR 050] west and have lunch by the water crossing near the intersection of Desert Creek Road, just after passing Jackass Canyon Road.

After lunch, I took Eastside Lane to Walker, where I got gas ($4.00/gal.), and water, before backtracking over the Walker River to Antelope Camp Road (1st paved right) to the first right onto Burcham Flat Road which would take be up to the left onto the road up to Lobdell Lake …

Water crossing in aspen groves on way to Lobdell Lake ...

Water crossing in aspen groves on way to Lobdell Lake ...

Lobdell Lake ...

Lobdell Lake ...

 It was another perfect day, and the area up by Lobdell Lake was mostly up above tree-line affording panoramic views of the Sierras to the south and east and Mt. Patterson to the north …

Mt. Patterson ...

Mt. Patterson ...

I explored all the little dirt tracks that lead into the sage brush up around 9000′ near Lake Lobdell …

Heading east into the sagebrush near Lk Lobdell ...

Heading east into the sagebrush near Lk Lobdell ...

At one point, on a track heading west from the Lk Lobdell road, the KLR decided to that a nap …

Time for a dirt nap ...

Time for a dirt nap ...

 Just a low/no speed tip over trying to turn around … I rode back on down and took one of the last lefts onto FS road 168, I think, which runs back up to around 9000′ and leads, eventually to a set of microwave towers on a mountaintop … I found a beautiful camp site:

Overlooking the Sierras to the south ...

Overlooking the Sierras to the south ...

2001 Kawasaki KLR 650 ... "Barbie KLR"

2001 Kawasaki KLR 650 ... "Barbie KLR"

It was another luminous evening, overlooking the Marine Training Base far down in the valley. It was Saturday evening on a Labor Day weekend, and I was wonderfully isolated, yet was able to watch the lights of trucks as people either came into the mountains for the weekend, or were leaving on the jeep trails far away. I didn’t hear any more cowbells this night, but could hear a flock of sheep far down near Bircham Flat … the coyotes where yipping much closer to camp!

On the way home on Sunday morning ...

On the way home on Sunday morning ...

This photo is looking down into the valley of the Walker River, westward, toward Bircham Flat Road and Rt. 395 … I got up early the next morning and enjoyed the day drinking coffee and reading my book, before heading back into the city to return to Cary …

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