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Old 08-28-2005, 12:39 PM   #1
Desert Dave OP
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The Quest for Calaveras Dome

This is actually three ride reports in one, covering my epic adventure that began last spring. What started out as a ride became a mission, and then eventually a quest. How could I take somthing so simple and make it complicated? Let me explain.

It all started last spring when I was looking at some topo maps searching for new ride ideas. I'd seen Calaveras Dome on the map and it seemed like an interesting destination. I'm sure I could have found detailed directions and road/trail conditions but that wouldn't have been very adventerous now would it? While plotting a route I came across a point called the "Buck Ranch Motor Wax Jeep Trail" What the? But with a name like that I figured it was absolutely essential that I check it out, so it was mapped into the route. Now all I had to do was go ride it and see all these interesting things.

Well things got a little complicated once I hit the trail. With record snowfall this last winter I quickly found the riding progress very slow as I encountered many snow patches still there. Many of the fire roads still looked like this:



Now alot of this I could ride around, or at the edges where it was not to deep. My favorite was this next shot where I thought I couldn't make it through because it was to deep of a patch, then I realized that a small run off creek was going right through the middle of it and had bore out a "Tunnel" with only about 10 inches of snow concealing it. Between a large stick and my boots I went to work caving in the "Tunnel" to the point where I could just ride through. About a half hour delay to ride 30 yards....



All this work to eventually ride around a corner and an impassable section of snow. I looked for alternate routes but could find none.


Oh well, guess it wasn't going to happen today,time to turn around. That turned out to be an adventure in itself.

Some of the stuff I rode through to get to this point I knew would be more challangeing going back, as some would be uphill. Riding down this wheel track was easy, I noticed a bit of a step that I would have to hit with some momentum. Little did I know the string of problems that this would start.


This is actually going uphill petty good. I tried backing down and hittng it again only to have the front wheel get very airborne as the back spun and dug down. O.K.....time to be smarter than the mud I'm riding through. I scouted a small creek to the side I could ride through and then up a small ditch to avoid this obstacle.

The small creek sure looked easy but the mud sucked me up like quicksand.


Fast forward about an hour of pushing, lifting and sweating, getting stuck again and I FINALLY got to the base of the ditch that would lead me up the hill. Easy climb I thought, traction looks good. And I was right. What I didn't count on was a few yards from the top a large rock sticking sideways into the ditch. You guessed it......



Clang! Chain was pulled right off the rear sprocket and I was going nowhere. I almost could have pushed the bike to a better area to work on it except obviously the chain had it all locked up. Oh well, on my stomach in the mud reaching down in the ditch to loosen the axle and slide forword so I could get the chain back on. Once on riding out was easy, but I did have to stop and re-adjust the axle to get the alignment and tension correct.

I was defeated today. My ride has now become a mission. I will be back to find Calaveras Dome and the Buck Ranch Motor Wax Jeep Trail.

More to come.
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Old 08-28-2005, 03:07 PM   #2
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Nothing like riding alone to amp up the pucker factor in times like these. Add a little darkness, sprinkle in some bad weather and you have a full blown epic. Bring on the rematch, nice lead in.
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Old 08-28-2005, 03:09 PM   #3
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Old 08-28-2005, 05:00 PM   #4
Desert Dave OP
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My second attempt wasn't nearly as exciting. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures, after all I was on a mission, no time for picture taking.

Most of the snow was gone, and it left behind nice wet dirt with occasional mud pits, overall very easy to ride. As I rode by spots that gave me fits a month earlier, I had to laugh at how easy it was now. The only problem was the forest service still did not see fit to opening quite a few roads. I re-routed several times. I finally gave up...and by gave up I mean I rode around a gate. Besides those are only for cars right? Must be because there was a perfect motorcycle path right along th hillside next to it.

I found out why at least this one was closed. The record snowfall also had record snow melt, which left a river crossing out of the question...like don't even think about it. It was getting late, I rode home. This has now become a quest.


I figured the route I had been taking would be to easy this time of year (again, where's the aventure?). I wanted to try an OHV trail that runs off a spur of RD 7N11, so I put it in the loop and I was off for my quest.

The good riding started off of HWY 4 as I followed the Corral Hollow OHV/fire road for awhile.


A fun fire road








Cresting a ridgeline some of the views are stunning






As it falls off the ridgeline, the road, not me, it goes down into a valley with some lush meadows.











I think this road exsists primarily for access to that old hunters cabin above. Right after, the road narrows down nice and provides a great ride for big adventure bikes.




The road dead ends into the trailhead.



I always wonder if I'm going to get in over my head when I do this sorta thing. Sometimes an easy trail will be great for awhile and then turn to a pile of rocks. So far this was some easy single track on the sde of a hill with stunning views.


A lot of fun twisties between the trees. Times like this I would kind of like to be on a motocrosser, but then I would miss the sights as I'd be concentratring more on my line and backing it in. On my KLR? Line? I just kinda plow through it like a tank and relax.



About the toughest parts were a few uphills with some roots to dodge (sorry no pics) and a spot or two that forced me to use my skid plate. My KLR does not "loft" the front wheel well in this dry dirt, so a roll and slide is neccesary.


I was suprised to see this sign on the other side.


Most difficult? Who writes these things? The trail was in great shape, I'm sure from lack of use as opposed to maintanence.

Enough fooling around. On to Calaveras Dome.

Many views from the easy firec roads as well.


A few spur roads led to dead ends. My maps didn't match exactly what was out there! Who cares, the ride was fun.





When I finally came to another dead end, my GPS said this was as close as I was going to get.

I had to walk through a few trees to barely get a view of the Dome I was searching for.


Here's m little cameras full zoom.



O.K. Now I've seen it. I know it's out there. But this sucks! I don't want to see it from from far away. I want to park my bike on top of the thing!

I must get closer. I've come to far for this.

The quest continues...........
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Old 08-28-2005, 05:31 PM   #5
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Nice!
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Old 08-28-2005, 06:21 PM   #6
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So I go back to an established fire road in an attempt to get closer. I seem to be heading the right direction, which is pretty good for me. According to my waypoints in the GPS I should be right there as the road Ys again. I see a bit of a clearing, which seems near the edge. I'm so excited I almost miss the two BMWs parked there.

Seems these were piloted by two ADVRiders as well. Kurt and Zollo of Jo Mama fame.







I'm not sure if they're giving the ADVRider salute or just saluting me . A couple a great guys and a pleasure to meet on the trail. We had the mandatory B.S. session of motorcycles/equipment, hitting dear, different trails, and even the feeding habits of yellow jackets depending on time of the year (no, I'm not kidding). Thy assured me I was at the right spot and could hike a short trail from there to the dome. They even seemed to understand this was the fulfilment of a quest for me, and the gravity of the situation .
Unfortunately they were just getting ready to leave as I showed up, but in a way that was O.K. as I could finish the journey like the rest of it.....alone.

As they rode off I started to look at the path to go down to the rock. I said I was going to ride on the top of the Dome and that was what I was going to do!

The trail was tight, and barkbusters a must.








Times like this are why I dont have hard bags on his bike. Returning up this trail later I had to dab a few times on an uphill turn and the thick growth pulled my legs into my soft bags, which have a lot more give than aluminum.

So I rode onto the rock. I wanted to go to the edge, which would have ben no problem for a controlled decent. However returning would have had a few step ups on the rock, if I weren't alone I would've tried it. However sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, so I stopped a bit above the last edge.







Walking to the edge will take your breath away.....incredible.





Looking out from the edge....





Here's a zoomed view of the river at the bottom





Same view with no zoom.....as close as I want to get to the edge... this is adventure!







I've been on top of Half Dome, which is a bit more spectacular, but the solitude of this place, the unadulterated experience of no safety signs or warnings make you feel as you're the first one to find it.....like the end of a quest.

Some more views


















Man, I sure wish I knew how to take good photos, because mine don't do the experience justice. Stuff like this is a spiritual moment for me.

I proceeded to take a nap on the rock with the cool wind blowing...all was perfect for a while.

Here's the obligatory timed photo of myself enjoying my victory cigar!









Oh yeah, THE END
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Old 08-28-2005, 07:13 PM   #7
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Bravo! Great job!

I'd hit that cigar

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Old 08-28-2005, 08:20 PM   #8
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Nice adventure! It's usually more fun getting there the hard way.
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Old 08-28-2005, 09:11 PM   #9
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Nothing better than Winning the War, especially when there is a cigar for the victory dance!


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Old 08-28-2005, 09:36 PM   #10
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Nice report. Gorgeous spot!
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Old 08-28-2005, 10:54 PM   #11
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Nice report. Glad you stuck with it. That just makes it all the more sweeter.
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Old 08-28-2005, 11:30 PM   #12
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Breathtaking views and awesome scenary...offcourse you had to go on and it was worth it!

Thanks for sharing.



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Old 08-29-2005, 08:50 PM   #13
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sooooooooo Dave ..... looks like you found some good road up there ! A friend (soupy) and I did some ridin up there this summer and saw the dome from a distence but our map didnt cover the roads and trails to get to the dome for the most part . Maybe you might wanna put a ride together "late" next spring and do a camp out for a couple of days. Lots of trail up there and some great camp sites. Anyways thanks for sharin your report , I enjoyed it. on my smug mug pics in the camping pics and Boards crossing ride you will see some of where we were.

Kevin
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Old 08-30-2005, 12:29 AM   #14
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DD,

Good to see you smoking something other than that wacky week you old hippie. Very cool shots, and I thought it was all Sierra Clubbies out there on the left coast.

Thanks, Esteban
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Old 08-30-2005, 01:11 AM   #15
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Sweet ride! Great report.
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