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Snow Mountain Wilderness • WCXC
Photo: Gregory MacDonald

A couple of weeks ago my friend Greg, from gadmachine, and I went on a quick trip up to the Mendocino National Forest, south of the Snow Mountain Wilderness. While there, we made some seriously good camp fires. We also set up an interesting camp, that I thought I’d share with you.

We set up two 10′ x 20′ tarps in a roughly A-frame shape. The open ends were parallel with the small valley we were in, so that the breeze could flow through. The top was open so that smoke from the fire could easily escape.  We put the tents in the eaves of the tarps so they were protected from rain. The main thing though was that the tarps reflected the heat of the fire and kept any breezes from blowing in behind us. This made for a comfortable, warm camp even with the temperature around 26˚F (-3˚C).

There was hardly any snow. There’s been precipitation since, so call the ranger’s station if you’re planning to head up there. The campsite, which Greg had scouted years earlier, was a very nice one: flat ground with trees in a nice little valley.

An image gallery and a map with our campsite near Bear Creek pinpointed, can be found after the jump.

Related Links:
Fire Skills: The Elevated Long Fire

Four Essential Campfire Tools for About $30

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CBDT 763
Photo: Gregory McDonald

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Our last morning out on the CBDT found us patting ourselves on the back for finding such a great campsite. I made us a special breakfast of fresh crepes and hot Masala chai, and we soaked up the sun and the view.

While we were eating we heard some yelling from the road but thought it was hunters. Then, a few moments later, we saw a man walking through the woods towards our camp. He was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and, when he got closer, we could see he was Latino. We called out, “Hello? Hello?” and got no response. We were a little on edge when he walked out of the woods, into our small clearing and stopped. Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_3467
Back on the CBDT on Forest Road 23. Photo: Nik Schulz

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After a little target shooting and a bit of breakfast we got back on Forest Road 23 and continued up the California Backcountry Discovery Trail. We weren’t sure where we would stop for the night but since we were passing by Ruth Lake again, only this time at much higher elevation on the ridge above the lake, we thought we’d find something there.

I don’t know if it had anything to do with my totem pants — a pair of white jeans I painted in the style of Pacific Northwest native art and which seem to convey good fortune on many a situation 🙂 — but we were blown away by the beautiful spot we found.

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CBDT 601
Ruth Lake: Photo: Gregory McDonald

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On this part of our trip up the California Backcountry Discovery Trail, we spent a couple of nights at Fir Cove Campground on Ruth Lake. After leaving there we found one of the nicest remote campsites of the trip. Read the rest of this entry »


Photo: Gregory McDonald

Our goal for the third day of our trip was to reach the intersecting forks of the Van Deusen River, in the Six Rivers National Forest, southwest of Ruth Lake. I figured we might find a good campsite there. So, at about 10:30am, we broke camp and left our site at 22N63 behind. Read the rest of this entry »


Photo: Gregory McDonald

Shortly after getting on the road for our second day on the California Backcountry Discovery Trail, a tiny CRV carrying a long, thin, rip-stop-nylon-clad load on its roof, came clamoring up the rocky trail behind us. In front of us a Toyota Tacoma made its way up the mountain, similarly equipped. We were way out in the forest in traffic.

Soon we figured out what all of the congestion was about. Besides the opening of deer season, people were heading up to Hull Mountain for a hang glider “fly in.” Read the rest of this entry »


Photo: Gregory McDonald

I first spotted the California Backcountry Discovery Trail a couple of years ago as a yellow highlighted route on my Mendocino National Forest map. The idea for the CBDT started in the 1960s when 4-wheel-drive enthusiasts had the dream of creating a jeep trail that would traverse the length of the state from Mexico to Oregon.

Today over 600 miles of trails are designated as part of that system. Try to find information on it though and you won’t come up with much. I called the Ranger’s Station in Upper Lake and they faxed me some mid-90s-era brochures. They listed “Discovery Points” along the route, mostly things like campsites, trail heads, and, interestingly, a hang glider port.

Wanting to see what this grand 4×4 trail system was all about, we planned a week-long trip up the CBDT starting at the southern end of the Mendocino National Forest and snaking through the Six Rivers National Forest. Our 235-mile route would end on a 35-mile-long, 5,000-foot-high ridge called Southfork Mountain. We would traverse some of the least visited wilderness in the state, an area more known for its bigfoot sightings than anything else.

This past September Natalie, Greg, and I set off to see what the CBDT had to offer.

Update: I posted a map at the bottom of the post. Read the rest of this entry »


I went on a nice little solo trip up to the Sierra Nevada this past summer, found some great back country camp sites, and thought I’d share them with you. Keep these in mind for next summer when the snow clears.

See the map at the end of the post for exact locations. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s some video of our drive through Joshua Tree. At one point I took a bad line and impacted the bottom of the truck, which was less than ideal. The drive was beautiful though.


Photo: Nik Schulz

After leaving the deserts of Arizona we crossed over into the deserts of California. We’d initially planned to camp at Joshua Tree’s south entrance off of the 10 freeway, but we completely missed the exit and ended up in Indio (in the Palm Springs/Coachella area). By the time we got there it was well past sundown and the wind was blowing an absolute gale. We shelved our camping plan and headed to a hotel.

After a hot shower and a good night of sleep we ready to head into Joshua Tree and found what was probably a more interesting way in.

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