Posted by: caryandjohn | October 15, 2010

Bodie and Pine Grove Hills

View to the west from just north Potato Peak

View to the west from just north Potato Peak

Gate just noth of Potato Peak ....

Gate just noth of Potato Peak ....

My friend, Dave Peckham, e-mailed me earlier in the week: “Let’s go for a ride!”

Oh boy, here we go. Dave is a bonafide rally racer, having just returned from competing in the Dos Sertoes Rally, a ten day stage race that covered somthing like 3000 miles through Brazil. He and Phil Bowman competed on KTM 525s, and they both finished the rally, and finished well …

“O.K.” said I, “What bike are you going to ride?” “My KTM 450,” said Dave. Wonderful. I’m doomed. Dave’s bike is basically a dirt-bike with a plate, and probably weighs 100 pounds less than my KLR …

A rough map of our counter-clockwise route

A rough map of our counter-clockwise route

So, off we went, with much trepidation on my part, to Bridgeport, over Sonora Pass, about five hours and 250 miles from our homes in the Bay Area. Dave picked me up in his super-plush pickup truck on Wednesday morning at around 6:30 a.m. and after lunch at Rhino Burger in Bridgeport we hit the Bodie Hills at about 1:30 p.m.

Rhino Burger ... in Bridgeport

Rhino Burger ... in Bridgeport

A Rhino Burger burger and fries ...

A Rhino Burger burger and fries ...

 A pic Dave took near Potato Peak ...

A pic Dave took near Potato Peak ...

We climbed up and over a saddle just north of Potato Peak, and dropped back down to the Aurora Canyon Road into the famous ghost town of Bodie …

Looking south over Bodie towards Mono Lake ...

Looking south over Bodie towards Mono Lake ...

Del Monte Canyon

Del Monte Canyon

From Bodie, we took the road along the Bodie Creek towards the old ghost town of Aurora …

An old stone building along the Bodie Creek ...

An old stone building along the Bodie Creek ...

It was an amazing day, about 70 degrees, with no wind, and not a cloud in the sky … perfect October weather in the desert …

The road through Del Monte Canyon ...

The road through Del Monte Canyon ...

We eventually came out to Forest Road 028, the big gravel road that leads up to Lucky Boy Pass and Hawthorne …

Dave at the Ranch water crossing ...

Dave at the Ranch water crossing ...

Dave made short work of the water crossing at the big old ranch house on Lucky Boy road. We continued west on that road and made a left on Forest Route 046 which would lead us to the ghost town of Masonic …

An old log building in Masonic ...

An old log building in Masonic ...

A view of the old mine works in Masonic ...

A view of the old mine works in Masonic ...

From Masonic we went up and played around on some of the hillclimbs just uphill from the old town … I suffered my first indignity of the day, trying to follow Dave, who will be racing an enduro event this Sunday, up a steep, loose climb … ouch. Dave helped me pick the bike up and gave me some tips on how to get the bike pointed back downhill without dropping it again … which would come in handy later in the day …

We rode up to the microwave station on Masonic Mountain …

A view from Masonic Mountain ...

A view from Masonic Mountain ...

The view south from Masonic Mountain ...

The view south from Masonic Mountain ...

On top of Masonic Mountain ...

On top of Masonic Mountain ...

From Masonic Mountain we took an insanely steep road that just dropped off the peak into the valley south of the peak, where I suffered my second indignity of the day, when the bike stalled on the way down … both our bikes were pretty unhappy with the altitude, and were running so rich that they were having trouble idling …

I was just coasting down the steep mountainside, when I decided to try to restart the bike when BOOM … down I went. Dave rode back up to help me pick up the bike, and we were off again … I’ve got to remember to take photos of the poor KLR when I drop it!

We fooled around in the hills between Masonic Mountain and Potato Peak … following a faint two-track up … it disappeared after a gate high up on the hill …

Dave scouting in the sage brush rock garden ...

Dave scouting in the sage brush rock garden ...

Dave pointing the way cross-country to a road ... ha.

Dave pointing the way cross-country to a road ... ha.

We could see a road across the valley … so close, and yet so far for a KLR … after a couple of falls, I voted to go back the way we’d come, and try to find our way that way …

We wound up taking FR 177 past Logan Spring and followed the Rock Spring wash back into Bridgeport, where we got supplies for dinner, and headed back to camp …

Our camp just off Aurora Canyon ...

Our camp just off Aurora Canyon ...

We had a nice campfire, and dined on cheese and crackers … there was a bit of a moon, and we enjoyed the solitude, until I saw my go-to-sleep shooting star, afterwhich, I went to sleep. It was about 32 degrees overnight …

The next morning was going to be our full riding day … We wanted to ride back north through the Bodie Hills and on to the Pine Grove Hills …

The view north from FR 170 ... at the state line ...

The view north from FR 170 ... at the state line ...

The California/Nevada stae line sign on FR170

The California/Nevada stae line sign on FR170

We made a left onto FR 155 … Dave let me ride his KTM! What a joy … Dave was less than impressed with my colossal tank bag, that prevents one from really riding the KLR the way a dirt bike needs to be ridden … we made our way through a thick grove of willows that have turned around many and ADV rider … We explored FR 154 a bit before heading north again …

A gate on FR 154 ...

A gate on FR 154 ...

Dave said that this part of the route was a lot like the routes he and Phil run doing their Death Valley Rally training … I found it to be, um … rocky.

We made our way back to the big ranch house with the water crossing through Rough Creek, and got “yelled” at by the ranch lady when we tried to go into one of her cow-pens looking for one of the routes on my Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest map … she was actually pretty nice about it …

So instead, we took FR 3c towards the Pine Grove Hills …

Two pronghorn antelope ...

Two pronghorn antelope ...

We fooled around a bit, exploring FR 767 down towards the Walker River, and found an old mine …

The new bridge over the Walker River on 3C ...

The new bridge over the Walker River on 3C ...

We crossed over the Walker River and headed north past the Flying M Ranch …

Dave putting a gallon of gas into the KTM

Dave putting a gallon of gas into the KTM

Dave put a gallon of gas into his bike before we made the left onto FR 059, which would take us up to the Pine Grove mine … he was getting great gas milage riding along with the KLR … ha. My bike was getting terrible milage trying not to slow the KTM down too much …

The Pine Grove mine ...

The Pine Grove mine ...

We explored a bit around the Pine Grove mine climbing up what turned out to be quad-tracks that dead ended up above the mine …

A quad-trail dead end ... steeper than it looks!

A quad-trail dead end ... steeper than it looks!

Where are we? Looking for Pine Grove Summit ...

Where are we? Looking for Pine Grove Summit ...

It turned out that I was riding the KLR well today, making it up crazy steep rocky tracks trying to keep up with Dave … we found our way back onto FR 059 and rode that through a beautiful, difficult on a KLR, canyon up to Pine Grove Summit …

View south down FR 193 on Pine Grove Summit ...

View south down FR 193 on Pine Grove Summit ...

We eventually made our way down into Nye Canyon along a track that became sandy and whoopy as we decended … fun.

The gate at the bottom of Nye Canyon ...

The gate at the bottom of Nye Canyon ...

From there, we headed over towards the Sweetwater Mountains and Walker down Risue Road for gas and food.

Walker Burger drive in ... yum.

Walker Burger drive in ... yum.

Adam Vick's rebuilt 150,000 mile GS ...

Adam Vick's rebuilt 150,000 mile GS ...

We chatted a bit with round-the-world rider Adam Vick and checked out his cool BMW GS that he had just ridded from Alaska on his way to Tahoe and Chicago … he’d rebuilt it with a KTM 950 front end …

To finish off the day, Dave and I rode up Bircham Flat Road to Lobdel Lake … we were going to try to take FR 029 down to Rt 395, but found it closed …

Water crossing and aspens on road to Lobdel Lake ...

Water crossing and aspens on road to Lobdel Lake ...

Fall aspens in the Sweetwater Mountains ...

Fall aspens in the Sweetwater Mountains ...

Beautiful mountain roads ...

Beautiful mountain roads ...

Aspens on the flanks of Wheeler Peak ...

Aspens on the flanks of Wheeler Peak ...

We finished up the day around 6 p.m. taking Rt 395 back to Bridgeport and camp …  Dave had to meet the container in the Port of Oakland that had all his Dos Sertoes gear, as well as his rally bike, so we loaded up the super-truck and got back into San Francisco at about 11 p.m.

It was great, though tough, to ride with Dave … most of the routes we explored, an the wrong turns we took, I never would have done by myself with a loaded KLR … some of the rocky climbs we did were crazy, and I was amazed at how well the KLR works when ridden with conviction …

But. Oh, boy! I am sore today … ha.

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