Friday, October 26, 2012

More goofing off, this time in Downieville and Forest

Nim's school had a teacher training day on the 15th, giving us a bonus three-day weekend.  As we hadn't been up to Downieville in a while, this seemed like a natural thing to do -- especially given that the weather was still good for mountain biking.  For Christmas last year, Linda gave us a weekend in a friend's rustic cabin up in Forest that needed to be used before the snow started.

For those not in the know, the small hamlet of Forest, CA is a Gold Rush town up a dirt road from Downieville that hasn't quite achieved ghost town status.  There are a few funky cabins dating back from the late 1800's, a picnic table, and an old bar/dance hall building.  And mountain bike trails.  Some of the most beautifully-designed trails for bikes that I've ever had the pleasure of riding, thanks to the efforts of the Forest Trail Alliance.  Chad, being a former local, knows the guys who built these trails and had ridden them previously.  Their project has really gained a lot of momentum; every time we head up in that direction, there are new sections to play on.

We knew what to expect in terms of trail fun, but this time had the advantage of actually staying in town in a rustic, but cozy cabin.  The structure itself was an interesting patchwork of additions that originally probably dated back as far as anything else in town.

Chad was amused by all of the wacky old things hidden about the house.

He was also very good about making sure we had a cozy fire the first night, when it was a bit chilly.

The riding, of course was fun.  We finally got around to exploring the Plum Valley Ditch trail, where we had previously been thwarted due to grumpy mine owners and logging activity.  It's now open and clear to ride.  After the drop down the singletrack, Chad led us through the maze of dirt roads back up to the Truckee Ditch trail and back to town.

We also enjoyed the usual trails up on the ridge and on Sandusky. I just can't wait until they get around to building the connector trail back down to the river and Downieville.  One could then do an epic ride from Downieville down the North Yuba Trail to Goodyears Bar, up Mountain House Road (dirt), around all the fun trails in Forest, and then down the new connector trail back to Downieville in time for dinner.  It'll be glorious!  Unlike the "traditional" Downieville trails, the esthetic here is more that of good flowing lines through the woods than crazy technical downhill racing -- though there are many side features and jumps for temporary moments of insanity.

 Can you spot the rider?
Here I am!

Clear evidence that more trails are coming in.

All in all, a good weekend.  We exercised the truck's low gears crawling down Galloway road on the way back down to town to pick up Nimue from Linda's house before heading back into the sunset toward home.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Goofing Off

It's fall in the Bay Area.  My favorite season here.  School is in session and the colors are starting to turn, but the endless sunshine continues.  The high tomorrow is supposed to be above 80 degrees again.  Needless to say, it is a fine time to be outside, so that's where I've been.  Here are a few things to get you all caught up.

Chad had Columbus Day off, but Nimue had school and it was a band day, so she wasn't due home until 4:00.  As a result, we had a rare parents-get-to-ride-together day, so we headed up Mount Hamilton.  It was a lovely climb, as usual, and we had time and energy to explore Kinkaid Road, a scenic dead-end stub of pavement that forks off partway down.  A fine addition -- it was hard to believe that we were less than 20 miles away from the hustle and bustle of San Jose, given that the tiny road snaked through quiet ranchland with few signs of life in sight aside from old barns and the occasional manzanita-filled bear droppings.  We managed to accumulate almost 7000 feet of climbing in a mere 50 miles, so stopped for well-deserved burritos on the way back home.

Nim needs attention too, of course.  I made a promise of Super-Yum a while ago, without following through.  This, combined with some sticky leftover homemade marshmallows sitting in a tin on the counter driving me nuts led to chocolate cake covered in marshmallow fondant.  (The fondant is not actually hard to make -- just vaguely follow the proportions here and use a couple tablespoons of butter instead of the crisco).  Can be made even when tired after being outside all day, and Nimue deemed it proper Super-Yum.

It's also a lovely time of year for hiking.  I finally got around to searching out a local rock outcrop in one of the local open space preserves. The existence of Aquarian Valley is not well-publicized -- the approach trail isn't even on MROSD's Long Ridge map, even though there is a decent trail with an official-looking sign along Peters Creek down to a small waterfall (where you then get to scramble, climb, and explore to your heart's content.)  There are plenty of rocks, and a couple of caves amid fine views to play around in.  A bit of poison oak too, but that's what Technu is for...

 Climb on the solid outcrops.                             NOT on the tafoni.

That's all just the non-routine M-F stuff; more on the weekend Downieville/Forest City trip shortly.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Walk and Roll to School

To celebrate International Walk to School Day yesterday, we kicked off our annual "Walk and Roll to School" incentive program.  Not only were the bike racks overflowing, but I only saw a mere handful of cars drive by.  The dropoff circle was empty.  Eerie, for a school of 850 kids.

It's heartening to know that people's habits are changing, at least locally -- it was nothing like this when we started at the school a mere 5 years ago.  Today, on a normal day, we are at about 50% self-propelled; yesterday it was more like 90%, to my eyes, which bodes well for the rest of the year!

New Toy for Tree Carnage

Tree carnage escalated to the point that I got a new toy:

It sounds like a model airplane on steroids, which makes me laugh, but aside from that, it works quite well for cutting up branches that exceed both the size the loppers can handle and my patience with the hand saw.