Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Inaugurating the truck

Last weekend we headed up to Downieville for some mountain biking. As you can see above, we also used the trip as an excuse to try out the new motor vehicle's capabilities up in the general direction of the Lakes Basin.

You may recall that the last time I rode my bike in the vicinity of what I affectionately think of as Mt. El@#$$@well, I complained about the rocks. They're not really any easier to drive over than to ride on, and I have to say, it's most peculiar to drive one's vehicle through a spot that one really thinks of as only biking and hiking territory.

The road -- or in this case, the obscure Snake Lake OHV trail -- never looks as bad in the photos as it does in real life. This description from the Sierra Outdoor Recreation website says it all: (which incidentally, I ran across after getting home)

......Snake Lake/Little Deer Lake:

4WD, most difficult.

Pack your winches, tow straps, high lift jacks, and travel with another vehicle; you may need them. Going down is easier than up, so driving a loop is very challenging: rocky, narrow, ledgy, constant bouldering, tight turns, and steep. Dropping down from Snake Lake to Gold Valley is the easier route out. Camp at the pretty lakes and try the fishing.

Oops. Not really what we set out to do. At one point, we hit a tricky spot within view of the lake, and used a lot of mind over matter power and all of Chad's careful skills to work through it, only to find that we should have scoped out the next section beforehand. A narrow toothy granitic yaw full of drops, roots, and boulders was just around the corner. Argh.

We later found out that this stretch has a name: The Snake Lake Sluice; Chad found this representative picture of the spot at this site.

Fortunately, there was also an easy place to pull over off the road, which we did, and after fortifying ourselves with lunch, we hiked down to the lake. If you look closely in the picture below, you can see the cute little FJ parked on the side of the road. (about 1/3 of the way down, just left of center).

While Chad and Nim fished and I looked for bugs, we were treated to the entertainment of watching two other vehicles approach the spot, one from each side, and proceed to spend about half an hour discussing and maneuvering through it all. These were tricked-out, jacked-up, heavily-used, real adventure vehicles, and even they had some trouble -- so we didn't feel too bad about our decision to stop while we were ahead with the shiny new truck.

At the end of the day, Chad got to push all the fancy 4WD control buttons and did a fantastic job of driving through the gnarly bits. I directed through the hard sections and drove some of the mellower stuff. Nimue said "Stongman Daddy!" when he lifted a partially fallen tree the necessary extra couple of inches we needed to pass under it. We didn't get stuck. Fun was had.

The truck is now properly dirty and has scrapes on the bottom. As it should be.

The tan color hides the dirt well.

Lest you think we didn't do all our normal Downieville activities too, here's proof that we did:

No comments: