The surprise cafe in Cedar Grove, California is housed in an old store on the main street. The floors are weathered blond wood, the ceilings are 15′ high and the morning sun spills through huge old windows that look out on the sleepy town.
After espresso and gasoline we set off for Lake View, Oregon (not to be confused with Lake City, California which is what led us here in the first place). See previous post.
Instead of taking the official Trans America Trail out of Fort Bidwell we detour into the national forest to climb high above the dry lakes on a winding dirt road. We are back into trees now and giant ponderosa pines tower over us.
The gravel turns are great for two wheel drifting slides. I can slide through the turn but have trouble smoothing it out. I wonder what it will be like to ride the bike again without a pile of junk on the back.
The road brings us over a low summit and down into the long valley that leads us north to Lake City. We get gas and run into a gentleman taking his motorcycle to a show somewhere in California. It’s a 1975 Honda trials bike and looked light and fun to ride.
We resupplied on dried fruit, Mac and cheese, oatmeal, coffee, ramen and bags of pre cooked rice – all the essentials of a motorcycle camping trip. Soon we were headed out of town on a dirt road that ended in a barbed wire fence. Alas, we were in the backyard of a new house. Note to bring wire cutters next time.
After a quick detour we are deep in the forest on a smooth and winding double track. There are so many turns it’s hard to keep track of each other. Then I lose Samantha entirely in the midst of double backing for a wrong turn. The only thing to do is go back to where we last saw each other and wait. Finally I hear the motorcycle through the woods.
We are riding around the forest having a blast when suddenly I catch a glimpse of barbed wire. I lock up the back brake and squeeze the front to stop within inches of the fence. Every cattle fence we’ve come to has had a bright yellow sign or at least surveyors tape tied to it to warn people. If you’re a rancher using a handout of public land for personal profit the least you can do is not quarter other visitors with your fences. We leave the fence open so as not to kill anyone.
Eventually we find Happy Camp, a secret little spot with no sign, on the side of a creek. There’s a spring nearby, a lean to and a bear hanger for our food.
We sparked a warm fire and reflected on whether ranching and logging were still the best uses of our national forests. We had witnessed first hand in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and now Oregon how degraded our public lands have become from private ranching. Lowlands, riparian areas and even alpine areas, all important habitat for wildlife and all degraded by ranching. There seemed to be a pattern of logging, followed by ranching and then hunters marching through.
We put on every piece of warm clothing we had and zipped in against the freezing night. Tomorrow we hoped to see the big trees of real Cascadia, where the loggers hadn’t been.