On the road in Reno by 3pm. Still time to get in a few licks before sundown. Went to Truckee and up SR89 to Henness Pass Road. (We should have taken Henness Pass Rd. from Verdi, NV, but I wasn't paying attention.) This is the only east/west unpaved road over the Sierras, and most of what we rode on was paved forest road. It climbs to over 7000 feet and there are some beautiful alpine vistas along the way north from Henness Pass to Sierra City. Nothing tough, just pretty scenery.
Here is the map:
We were starting to feel pretty darned confident about being able to finish the PCQ at this point. New tires, the bikes were all running well, and we were glad to be back on the road. The only issue was Berti's wrist condition. Buzzing up I-80 on the LC4 must have been very painful. He said he would ride ahead and meet us in Sierra City to shorten his ride time, but when we got to the turn off from 89 he followed us into the woods. I had a bad feeling that his situation was not going to improve. Shear determination was preventing Berti from calling it quits.
After Henness Pass, we went looking for Sierra Buttes Rd. (off 49 near Sierra City) Turned out to be a little hard to find. I knew this climb would be perhaps the most spectacular of the trip. It certainly didn’t disappoint. It was steep, and rocky and narrow. Cut into a loose granite mountain side there were uncertain steps and jutting rocks along the uphill edge. The downhill side was a place you just didn't want to be. The road was barely adequate for one jeep, with no turn outs along the two mile climb. Pretty scary stuff, considering the number of falls I'd taken in nearly every imaginable situation on every single day of the trip so far. I motored up the assent in 1st gear at a steady 3000rpm without stopping or slowing down. We all made it to the top, although Berti says he had one near death experience as the bike unexpectedly bounced off of his intended line towards the nearly vertical cut.
After a quick breath, we turned down Butcher's Ranch Rd. This started out as a gravel road, but soon a sign pointed down an OHV trail with a black diamond attached. I paused while J-L scouted ahead to assure us that this was the intended route. Down we went. Very cool indeed. A bouncing, narrow trail with a few off-camber moments, a deep crossing and then some big rocks. Lots of big rocks……
Here's an inset of the section from 49 to Gold Lake. This is an amazing route within easy reach for day trips from the Bay area. Just be aware, that the roads are difficult, very rocky and steep in some places. The GS barely has enough ground clearance to get through some places as you approach Gold Lake. It's only about 25 miles in length and takes 2-3 hours of riding straight through. Points 7 and 8 look like they don't connect on the map, but they really do.
TT cracked a valve cover on the Butcher Ranch trail. J-B Weld to the rescue...
We ended up at Gold Lake OHV Campground at about 7pm. Only problem is we didn't expect to be staying there for the night. It was late and we had no food other than TT's emergency supply. That would have to do, along with a few beers that Berti managed to beg from out neighbors.