Click here for a downloadable .gpx file of this trip for your GPS device.
In mid-November I went to the Mendocino National Forest, north of Clear Lake, solo, to see if I could circumnavigate the Snow Mountain Wilderness. I tried to do it back in March in the Montero but the snow melt-swollen rivers were too deep to cross. This time I brought a dirt bike. I didn’t think I’d be able to cover the estimated 60 or 70 miles in the truck, at least not in a day—10 mph is about average on rough roads. I figured I could easily double that on the bike.
I got up early, was in the woods, and on the bike by noon. Within a few minutes I had crossed
Parramore Creek Rice Fork (the one that had held me back in spring) without a problem. OK—I stalled the bike mid-stream and had to dunk a boot in the water to keep from falling over, but basically no problem. From there my wet right foot and I headed north on forest road M3—see map below—and things got a little more serious. At one point, after slamming through a deep puddle in an especially rutted section of road, I stopped and thought, “Should I take a picture of that for the blog?” I decided yes and headed back. There in puddle lay my spare gas can. Sheesh.
After an hour of bouncing two wheels over mangled dirt, I had covered only 11 miles, about as much as I could have covered on four. I doubted whether I’d make it round the whole loop. That morning though, much like a 17th-century captain hoisting the flag of his patron saint, or an Indian taxi driver with dashboard shrine to Ganesh, I had attached a photo of Archangel Michael to my handlebars, well, a photo of a statue anyway. It helped. Despite my fear of heading alone into the wilderness, I felt a certain solidity in the journey and pressed on.