Month: October 2016
Approximate reading time: 3 minutes
I checked the weather forecast earlier this week and eliminated the possibility for a weekend adventure due to an approaching storm. However, on Saturday morning I got a call from my friend EJ, who you may remember from my last post. He suggested we brave the weather and go hiking as opposed to sit around. When adventure calls, it’s difficult for me not to answer.
We decided to go for Castle Peak since we both had never hiked it before. We assembled a crew of Greg, Alex, Dan, EJ and me, and set out in Greg’s Toyota Camry. The approach to the trailhead was on a dirt road, and Greg rallied that little Camry like Ricky Bobby on his way to Applebee’s. However, we confronted a hill that caused Greg’s tires to slide in the wet dirt, and car to almost high-center on the crest. We parked at the base of this hill and that’s where our hike began.
We continued hiking on the dirt road until we saw a single-track mountain biking trail off to the left. We decided to follow it, which led us up to Andesite Peak. As you can see below, this portion of the hike was quite lovely and scenic.
We even saw some humongous wild mushrooms. Does anyone know what species these are and if they’re edible?
In hindsight, it’s a much more direct route to Castle Peak if you continue on the main dirt road until it ends. (You can drive the entire section if you don’t take a Toyota Camry.) The exposure at the top of Andesite Peak revealed how strong the winds were. But the wind and mist added a layer of excitement to the hike. We were all in good spirits and having fun.
Nature selfie! (Feel free to leave me hate comments for this. I deserve it.)
As we climbed higher, the winds increased and the visibility decreased due to the mist. Per usual, Greg won the coolest picture award. He climbed to the top of a gnarly cliff and got this silhouette.
As we climbed higher the moisture turned to hail, and the wind delivered it against our bodies like a hundred cruel third graders were shooting us with airsoft guns. The hail turned our lovely day hike into a pretty extreme challenge that we were determined to conquer. You can watch the earlier sections of the video to gain a scope of the challenge we faced.
As we climbed higher, conditions just got worse: The wind increased, the frequency/size of hail increased and visibility decreased. Although the hail was pelting our bodies, I was worried about my eyes. The only strategy to shield my eyes from the horizontally-blowing hail was to turn in the opposite direction and walk sideways, or cup my hands around my eyes like a shield.
At this point, Dan and I decided to turn back. The extreme challenge at hand just became uncomfortable and unenjoyable. EJ, Greg and Alex decided to hike on. As Dan and I headed back down, we acknowledged the storm was gaining strength. It was raining much harder and we were soaked to the core.
The other guys carried on for about 20 mins before they decided to turn back. They reported visibility becoming so poor that they couldn’t see more than 20 feet ahead, and were concerned with getting lost in the whiteout. Not to mention, the hail took a toll on their motivation as well. I’m pleased they had the judgment to turn around, as proceeding in those conditions is just dangerous. If I had to contact a search party to locate my human popsicle friends, this blog post would have been a little darker.
Do you think it was fun or foolish of us to attempt a summit in these conditions?
I received a call from my friend EJ last Thursday, and he suggested we spend the upcoming Saturday mountain biking on a “really cool trail outside of Quincy CA.” I objected because I don’t own a legit bike, and I don’t enjoy riding uphill. He successfully overcame my objections by informing me there were numerous bike shops to rent from, there were shuttles that provided rides to the top every hour and the trail was rated as the 8th best trail in the country.
I should have learned by now, I can’t trust his information. He’s that friend. But I did.
Flash forward to our 6:15am departure on Sat morning: Our crew consisted of EJ, our friend Kirby and me. I typed “Quincy” into Google Maps because that’s where I thought we were going. Wrong. We established we were going to Downieville once we were about 45 mins into the drive. Fortunately the route we pursued only added about 15 mins to out trip. For your reference, the best route from Reno is shown below: 80W -> 89 -> 49.
The route we took directed us to 395N toward Quincy, and had us take a detour as shown below. It was still a beautiful drive and therefore the stoke was still high.
Once we arrived in Downieville around 9am, I learned there were only two bike shops. The first bike shop’s shuttle was booked solid for the day, and the shuttle left every 2 hours. Why didn’t I verify EJ’s information again?? I felt so dumb.
The second bike shop was also booked solid for the day. HOWEVER, they had a shuttle leaving in 15 mins and a party of three that hadn’t checked in. We had a party of three and we miraculously got their spots. Good karma was on our side, and I’m glad it worked out since the next “potential” shuttle opportunity would have been at 11am.
I rented a sick Specialized downhill beast for $65. I had never ridden a legit, modern downhill bike until that day, and I can understand why they’re so expensive these days. Everything was engineered to handle the bumps and the speed perfectly, and it did. The shuttle was $20 per person and dropped us off at the very top.
The ride was about 14 miles and about 4500 feet of downhill. It was sick. There was only 1 section with a climb. The trail we took was the Butcher Ranch Creek Trail, and you can read more about the numerous trails HERE. After the ride, I had the most miraculous guacamole burger from the local restaurant. After a hard ride, some calorie-dense soul food is the best.
The video encompasses a brief overview of some of the terrain: fast downhill sections, flowy sections through the trees, gnarly rock sections and beautiful scenery. Since mtn biking is so organic, I decided a raw edit, (no music,) would be more fitting. Click the wheel on the bottom right and choose 1080p for best quality.
If this post inspires you to go ride, I want to hear about it. Leave me a comment and tell me about your experience!