Taken from the July 2005 Newsletter

(scroll down for Photos)


       Another successful outing. The Packer Lake camping area was really “packed in” so to speak, with eleven rigs from the Sacramento chapter and four rigs from the Diablo chapter, plus one van, two pickups and one SUV. We may gain a crossover member from the Diablo chapter who has moved from Antioch to Sacramento. The weather was superb. Being at 6,500 feet elevation put us above the valley heat with the maximum temperatures approaching the mid-70s.

        The rides were varied, and all were challenging. Chas put on 235 miles over four days of riding. There were two to three rides (or more) going out each day. Chas will speak only on the rides in which he participated. On Thursday, Keith Hepler and Chas checked out the Lavezzola Trail, and with a little effort made it to the top to the “A Tree”, and were prepared to make a loop ride. This turned out not to be possible due to too much snow at the top on the North side of the ridge; therefore they were forced to turn around and retrace their steps. On Friday Ron Cottrell, Bob Hampton and Chas traveled the Butcher Ranch Trail, Third Divide, Empire Ranch, Red Oak Canyon and again hit impassible snow at the top of the ridge and had to turn around. The Saturday ride went very well with Paul, Ron Cottrell, Bob Hampton and Chas traversing the Butcher Ranch Trail and taking the Pauley Creek/Big Boulder Creek loop then down the Third Divide, then the First Divide into the quaint town of Downieville. At this point, Ron took Paul on a scenic tour East on Hwy 49 to Sierra City and up to the Sierra Buttes Lookout for a spectacular view overlooking the basin in which TBSA was camped. Bob and Chas took off in the other direction, West on Hwy 49 to the two-track trailhead to Chimney Rock/Poker Flat in search of some new (to us) single track. Find it we did – – some really fun, steep climbs up towards Poker Flat. Unfortunately we had to cut our quest short as Chas reminded Bob that he didn’t want to be late to the potluck that evening, so back to camp via Hwy 49 they went.

        On Sunday, Ron Columbo, Keith, Dan Kelly and Chas embarked on, as one of us aptly phrased, “the ride from hell” which will be described in more detail by Ron. The trail – Rattlesnake Creek Trail – intrigued us for several reasons: first, the trailhead begins right out of Downieville, appearing to be a nice, bucolic single-track running along the Downie River and then Rattlesnake Creek; and second, the newer maps show this trail to be a dead end, while older maps show a continuity to the Chimney Rock/Poker Flat Trail. We set out to answer this apparent dichotomy. Suffice to say, the further up this trail we got, the more rugged and treacherous the trail conditions and water crossings became. The last section to the top was a real gut-wrencher, but What the Hey – – we finally had successfully connected up to the two-track at the top! The plan was, of course, to then take the two-track through Poker Flat and then on down to Downieville and back to camp. BUT HOLD THE PHONE, again there was too much snow to proceed forward!! We were literally stranded up on top with snow preventing travel in both directions. After pondering our predicament, and with much arm twisting, we turned around and proceeded back down this hellish trail. Both going up and going back down, we all occasionally needed each other’s aid, with our hero Keith doing more than his fair share of helping. Needless to say, this was a very exhausting adventure.

        The Saturday evening potluck went off without a hitch, and was well attended. Jan Moser even used her new solar box cooker to cook her casserole. As long as the sun is shining, these solar box cookers work amazingly well. The new one that we have is very efficient, easily reaching 350 degrees F. With the older design cardboard box cookers, overcooking was never a problem, however with the newer models, a closer eye must be kept on the food to avoid burning or drying out. These solar cookers are obviously energy efficient, plus they avoid heating up the RV unnecessarily with a propane oven or requiring a generator for the convection oven.

        As an aside, make sure that you attend the next TBSA meeting as there are many untold tales to be told!

Photos from the July 4th outing at Packer Lake:    (taken by Vicki Hepler)


        About 4 years ago Le Wallin and I checked out a trail north of Downieville. Four miles into the trail my steering locked up and I went tumbling into a log pile at the first major stream crossing. Le and I made it back to camp, but I was beat up. The next year, we went back with a group of riders but the river had washed out the crossing and it could not be crossed. We all returned to camp for other rides. Although many of the maps indicated that the trail ended a few miles upstream of the river crossing, my GPS showed the trail tying into the trail to Poker Flat.

        This year Chas wanted to explore this trail so, along with Keith Hepler and Dan Kelly, we set out to go the distance. We had no trouble making it to the first river crossing. We had little trouble getting across but after this, the SHI (fill in the next letter) hit the fan. Major loose hairpin turns, narrow single-track (slight error and you’re down a canyon), three more river crossings (each one worse then the previous), and finally a steep two-mile uphill that was full of loose rocks. The group made it to the top but as far as I was concerned I had depleted all my energy and looked forward to the ride back to camp via Poker flat. SNOW on the trail prevented any hope of reaching Poker Flat.

        Returning to camp backtracking was the only choice we had. For the first time trail riding, I could not make it back to camp without help. Keith did get my bike back across the river crossings and we made it back to camp. One quarter mile before camp, at 69.9 miles, my motorcycle stopped (out of gas) and I had to go on reserve. Got back to camp about 8 PM. Since we left at 10AM, that’s 10 hours of a ride I would like to forget but turned out an adventure not to be forgotten.

        Would I ride this trail again? !@#$%^&*()_+

P.S. Billie, do I have a ride for you.