It was a beautiful drive to Lake Tahoe from Yosemite. I stopped a few times just to get out and enjoy the scenery. I stopped at a cool river to clean off since I hadn’t had a real shower in a few days. And I stopped once more later on the drive to enjoy the scenery and the distant mountains. Once I arrived at Lake Tahoe, I headed over to Emerald Bay. The bay offers amazing views of the lake. I ended up meeting up with my neighbors from Orlando, Dave and Mary! They have a house in South Lake Tahoe, and are staying there for about 6 months. It was great to hang and chat with them for a bit. After that, I went in search of a place to set up camp for the night.
The following day, I got up early to for a mountain bike ride. I wanted to get some climbing in before my good friend Ken Byran arrived. Ken was just in France watching the Tour De France and climbing Mont Ventoux, so I wanted to get a warm-up ride in to get my legs ready. I found a great ride which started out climbing up a few miles to the top of the mountain, then taking a fun single track trail all the way down. The trail had a handful of table top jumps near the end. Im not a big jumper, but the first lap went great and I felt comfortable on the jumps, so I decided to go for it again. On my second lap I decided to go a little bigger, and on the last jump I wrecked pretty bad. I separating my shoulder, and my rib, cracked my helmet, got a concussion, and my legs went numb for a few seconds (never a good sign). It was a pretty painful fall, but I’m happy that it wasn’t bad enough for me to have to end the trip!
Luckily, our good friend Ashli was in Lake Tahoe, and offered me to come crash at her cabin with her and her Uncle Bill. I was so happy to be able to have a real bed to sleep in and place to chill out. Since I was still concussed and pretty banged up, this was a saving grace! We ended up going out to have dinner in a small town called Truckee just outside of Lake Tahoe. We met up with Bill’s friends, who were a very nice couple! We shared stories, had a great dinner, then went back to the cabin. I was so grateful that I was invited to stay and help aid my recovery! Thank you Ashli and Bill for having me!
The next day I went to hangout at a brewery to kill some time and some of the pain from my crash. I met some cool people there, and got to hear some live music before I picked Ken up from the Reno airport. I was pretty bummed that I wasn’t able to do the rides that Ken and I had planned out, but it was nice having him visit! We stayed in Reno for a couple nights at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino where I had my first experience gambling. I didn’t win big... but I did win a little stuffed bear. We had a great time playing Blackjack, and caught some excellent people watching! I’m not sure which was more entertaining, the people watching, or Ken watching me hobble around the casino all battered up! The next day Ken rode the Flume Trail, while I stayed back and was able to catch up on my blog a bit. The following day, on our way to San Raphael, we stopped at Squaw Valley Ski Resort to check it out. We popped in a couple shops and hobbled around some more. The next day we did a cool hike in San Raphael and had a few drinks at the Terrapin Crossroads- a cool bar with live music. Later that night we headed into San Francisco for some drinks and an interesting time!
I had such a wonderful time hanging out and exploring with Ken. Although I’m bummed that I wasn’t able to do any riding with him, it was nice of him to join me and take care of me since I was crippled from my wreck! Thanks again for everything Ken, I had a great time!
Since I had to drop Ken off at the San Francisco airport I headed back down to San Jose to recover for a few more days. My body was still pretty painful and the idea of camping did not sound too appealing. Again, I am very fortunate to have so many people that were able to help me out. It was nice getting to spend some more time with my uncles in San Jose! I mostly slept and tried to recover as much as possible while I was there. I enjoyed spending more time with my uncles and having a real bed to sleep in. Thanks again, Uncle Juan and Uncle Dennis!
My friend Rob informed me about a mountain bike race going on in Downieville, CA. So I headed out there to check it out! I had a great time at the event; it brought back great memories of mountain bike races my dad, sister and I did when we were younger. Those events are always a good time! They had all sorts of fun activities including a river jump, a log pull and beer chug contest, a casting contest, live music and free shwag giveaways! Rob and I volunteered to help out with the event, but never really ended up having to do much. We did, however, get to reap the rewards of being a volunteer, which meant free food and beer tickets! Rob’s friends Jim and Cathy rented a cool cabin on the river and were kind enough to let us crash there. They were racing the event, so Rob and I helped to hand them fresh water bottles at the top of the climb. We had a blast watching all the mixed reactions when people were handing out beer and bacon to the racers at the top of the climb!
The race was a two day event; the first day was the crosscountry portion, and the following was just the downhill portion. The second day of the race, they also had a competition to pull a massive log behind a bike, race to the finish line, and then chug a beer. The person with the fastest overall time after chugging won the competition. That was definitely a fun event to watch! I would have liked to participate, but my shoulder and rib were still pretty banged up, unfortunately. I had a great time in Downieville at the event. It was a blast being at the race and made me reminisce on the old days. Cathy ended up getting 2nd place in the All Mountain (the overall from both races) in her age group! Congrats, Cathy! It was great hanging out and meeting Rob’s friends, Jim and Cathy, both very nice, kind people. Thank you, Jim and Cathy, for allowing me to stay with you!
I left Downieville and worked my way towards Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park is riddled with hydrothermic areas where steam and hot sulfuric water bubbles up to the surface. The water is very acidic and extremely hot, so touching it would cause serious injuries. It was definitely an interesting place. The hydrothermic activity releases the sulfur so everywhere near them smelled like rotten eggs!
I did a couple great hikes while I was there. I hiked the trail up to Emerald Lake, which was not long, but very steep, and gained almost 1,000 feet in elevation in just a mile. It was very rewarding to see a beautiful alpine lake at the top with crystal clear water... absolutely beautiful! When I got back down to my car, I saw a guy pull up with an awesome custom made pickup truck camper! I chatted with him for a while and asked him all about his set up. We had a great conversation and ended up hanging out for the night and finding a campsite together. Bill was a super friendly guy from New Jersey. His custom camper had me stoked on possibilities for a future road trip vehicle of my own. Hopefully I can make that happen one day! Bill was nice enough to offer me one of his steaks, so we ate and hung around the fire. He was heading further down south the next morning. It’s always nice meeting other travelers and sharing stories and experiences. Bill is also a talented photographer and graphic designer who does screen printing and embrodery based out of New Jersey. Check out Bill’s instagram for some great nature and travel photos!
After we parted ways, I went for another hike up to Brokeoff Mountain. This was a much longer hike than the day before, but well worth it. It was a seven mile roundtrip hike gaining over 2,600 feet in elevation. The hike follows up the spine of an extinct volcano that used to measure 11 miles across. I had my first snow encounter of the trip as well. Another sidenote, there are these sage flowers everywhere in this area. When stepped on or handled you get a strong sage smell that is absolutely delightful! I enjoyed finding these everywhere and catching an occasional natural incense. The view at the top is absolutely incredible, you can see all the way to Mount Shasta.
When searching for another campsite in Lassen, I had my first bear sighting of the trip. While driving on some dirt backroads in the middle of nowhere, I spotted a momma blackbear and her cub running off into the woods; they must have heard my car coming. Needless to say, I did not camp there! I found a bear-free campsite and then headed out to the Redwood Forest the next morning.
Upon arriving to the Redwood Forest, I explored the coast a little bit and drove through the scenic drive. I ended up finding an amazing free campsite right on the sea cliffs. I met a few other travelers and had a nice dinner under the stars. The following morning I set out to hike some trails. I did an amazing hike through a couple groves. I ended up off track and hiked at least 3 miles longer than I anticipated, but it was totally worth it! It’s amazing how small these giants make you feel. The Redwood Forest is such a magical place, I felt as if I was in a fairytale the entire time. The beauty of the giant trees and the sheer quietness of the forest is such an exceptional experience. I definitely recommend the Redwood Forest to anyone who has not been before!