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Thread: Mission Scrubbed...

  1. #1

    Mission Scrubbed...


    Mission Scrubbed... April 20th, 2011


    As each year begins my thoughts are of a ride to Death Valley. The weather has not been inviting for such a ride however this past week it seemed that the planets were in alignment and I could go. Monday we finished up a project and collected a check. After a few things Tuesday morning I was off. Today's destination would be the hot spring at Summer Lake. I arrived early evening and after setting up a camp spent the rest of my time in the spring. This is a favorite destination as what more could be needed after a days ride? Didn't bring dinner, that might have been nice...

    The hot spring at Summer Lake...

    The next morning I was up before light and after a soak in the spring packed up my camp and was off. I had expected and was prepared for colder temperatures overnight, the start of the day was thirty five degrees. A few short miles down the highway it started to rain, no problem I have done rain before. Breakfast was in Lakeview and then a ride over Cedar Pass would bring me into the eastern desert of California. The rain hasn't let up and at some point becomes snow, sticking to everything. The black pavement has disappeared and it is snowing so hard it is difficult to see. I peer between the gap in my raised face shield and the top of the windscreen. This is a spring snow and there is no frozen ice beneath the surface so all is smooth, the temperature drops to thirty three degrees. Over the top and down the back side, snow gives way to rain.

    when it was over I stopped for a photo, there is still some snow on the front of the bike...

    There is another hot spring a few miles from here and by the time I get there the rain has let up, only a drop or two falls from the sky. This spring usually is quite warm and today was no disappointment, warm and pink in no time. The weather is better for a distance then after I cross into Nevada the wind picks up something fierce. I have never driven in such a torrent, like being blasted in a wind tunnel. There is a layer of crap, sand, garbage and dirt about thirty inches thick blowing across the road trying to push me off the edge. This part of Nevada doesn't have anything to stop the wind, no trees or hills. Only a few shacks along the road and they can barely hang on by themselves.

    I turn to cross the mountains back into California arriving in Bridgeport early afternoon. The clouds have descended on the mountains, covering everything except the actual town and the wind is still blowing. I went to the hot spring but there are too many people for me, a check of the weather forecast at the ranger station is in order. The wind is expected to continue a couple more days and there is a fifty percent chance of rain or snow, at this elevation it will be snow, no question. What happened to that nice weather break I thought we were going to get?...

    I continue south but the high wind warning signs are flashing, most likely is not the best idea to go over the next pass and if I stay here... Well , Mission Scrubbed... Turning around I head for Carson City where there is food and a warm motel. The wind is now at my back and as I ride into the mountains and the clouds it starts to snow, nothing sticks just kind of floats in the air and then melts on the windscreen.

    In the morning I wake up to a steady rain and turning on the TV find that anything higher than where I am at requires chains or traction tires, I don't have either. It is starting to get light so I pack my bike and keep my room key just in case. I have no idea IF I can get out of here. The freeway leaves the city heading for Reno and stays low, the wind warning sign are lit but conditions are not too bad. I make it out of the city, thru Reno and beyond. Susanville here I come.

    Everything a few hundred feet higher than me is covered in snow but nothing on the highway. At Susanville I stop for breakfast then decide to see if I can go by way of Eagle Lake. It's a long shot but why not try, at least the wind has stopped. The road is bare as I climb out of the city, some snow on the edges but nothing on the road.

    This is incredible!... Snow everywhere, Caltrans has plowed the road! Who would have thought? Last nights storm has hammered snow to the sides of everything, bare bushes, twigs and tree trunks. You can definitely tell from which direction the wind and snow has come. It didn't just fall out of the sky, it was driven hard! Standing here in the morning sun there is a steady plop plop of snow falling from the branches. And... then I hear that sound?

    Two guys on Harley wanna-be's! (Honda's) Turns out they are from British Columbia and have ridden south for warmer weather, Arizona, the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. They have only a leather jacket and jeans, no hand guards, heated gear or riding pants. I don't know if I should feel like a wuss in my insulated suit, heated liner and Hippo Hands or if these guys are just plain tough? They left home with nothing, are they not the sharpest tacks in the box?... So far the day's ride had hovered in the low to mid thirties, doesn't look like it will warm up any time soon.

    The snow photos don't do the scene justice, it was fabulous. The best part of this ride was between Susanville California and Lakeview Oregon.
    Snow is something I don't often get to see. Even the side roads have been plowed.

    This is a side detour, remnants of a sawmill from time passed. Here on Goose Lake they floated logs from the other side to this mill for processing into lumber.
    I sure could use some help in getting better snow photos, the scene is much more vibrant than depicted.

    I was sorry to scrub this ride but there will be other rides. I can do rain, a little snow and even some wind but having all three at the same time made it tough. I was figuring on being home Sunday or Monday, with these weather conditions it might not have been possible. Riding north I made a side trip along Abert Rim, all covered in snow but lousy light so I didn't get my camera out. I stopped along the lake and had a power nap then headed for home some three hundred miles away.

    Looking back if I had known what the conditions would be I would have gone to Susanville Wednesday evening and then rode along Eagle Lake Thursday morning with a return to Susanville for the over night. That part would have been worth the time to do twice and again. Next time I see "breezy" in the weather forecast I will be more skeptical, typhoon would have been more to the point...


    Thanks for riding along...


  2. #2
    Registered User mpmarty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Camas Valley Oregon
    Yeah Bruce we know whereof you speak. We typically leave home (25 miles west of Roseburg) and head over diamond lake down to Winnemucca Nevada and on to New Mexico. We generally do this the last two weeks of May and usually coming home on the first weekend in June we ride in snow over Crater Lake and Diamond Lake.
    Marty - in the western Oregon mountains.'06RT, (gone '04RT, '86 Venture Royal, '81 Yamaha Virago920, '82Suzuki GS1100GK, '76 Suzuki GT750, Triumph 750 Bonneville, BSA Road Rocket 650, 61" Harley knucklehead)

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