California Cruise 2004 – Day 4: The Trinity Alps

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Tuesday, June 22

We awake to find ourselves in a very wet fog that is blanketing the Pacific Ocean coast. We pack up the wet camping gear and head into Orick for a hearty breakfast at the truly world famous Palm Cafe.

Today, our goal is to extensively explore an area in Northern California known as the Trinity Alps, a mountain range between the coastal redwoods and I-5. Motorcycle riders before us have returned from this little known area telling tales of endless, remote, twisty mountain roads. Thanks to Tim, a very talented and dedicated rider, all these marvelous roads can be researched online at pashnit.com, a motorcyclist’s guide to great riding in California.

We travel south along the coast on Highway 101 until we pick up Highway 36, the first of the Trinity Alps roads. We plan to ride it to Highway 3 – The Trinity Heritage Scenic Byway, cross Hayfork Pass on Highway 3, then ride west on Highway 299 to Highway 96 – the State of Jefferson National Scenic Highway. If all goes well, we’ll swing back to the northeast at the end of the day and stay in Yreka.

While we are still on the foggy western edge of the Trinity Alps on Highway 36, we are halted by a road construction project. A construction worker tells us that we’ll break out of the fog and into the sunshine once we climb up into the Trinity Alps. He is right and we gladly pull over to shed some clothing. This is a wonderful road through the forest and hills and there’s little traffic except for the occasional logging truck. But then as we climb over a ridge, the road is reduced to nothing more than a paved logging road, barely more than one lane wide with no center line and no shoulders, just solid white lines on both sides, rimmed with firs trees. Visions of one of those logging trucks coming around the corner has us cautiously creeping along but we only encounter a couple of cars.

At Weaverville, we stop for gas before we head west on Highway 299 to Highway 96 in order to make the big loop through the Trinity Alps. But before we leave Weaverville, Joe badgers Trev about the extremely manky chain on his CB1000 and convinces him to take action rather than risking it falling apart in the middle of nowhere in the Trinity Alps. A local in Weaverville is very helpful in putting us in touch with the Honda dealer in nearby Redding and even gives us driving directions for when we arrive in that town. There is a very brief discussion about splitting up the group but it is quickly and unanimously ruled out. We ride together to Redding. The service department is pretty booked up so we spend a couple of hours checking out every new bike in the place. Eric takes advantage of the bright sunshine and dries his wet camping gear out in the parking lot. We are all very taken with the gorgeous blue ST1300 on the showroom floor but no one is moved to trade in their ride just quite yet.

With new chain installed and Trev immediately noticing a big improvement in power transfer to the rear wheel, we head north to the Castle Crags State Park for the night. It has a beautiful campground in a lovely forest with only one flaw. The constant noise from nearby I-5, plus the occasional train, fills the air. Nevertheless, we have an enjoyable evening around the campfire.

Day Five: Lassen Volcanic National Park & the Sierra Nevadas

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