2 days, 2 states, 2 Toyotas

We decided somewhat at the last minute we needed to squeeze in one more camping trip.  Every weekend until November is now full, mostly with unfun things and we realized this was our last chance to get in a good camping trip, even if just an overnighter.  Lucky for us, we live in Grass Valley, right at the base of the Sierras and some of the best areas in the world for camping.  So we packed up the trailer, and the cruiser and decided on Henness Pass road.  It was one of the original overland routes into California, and was a very active wagon road through the early part of California’s history.  Also, the chance to take a dirt road over the summit into Nevada was excited me.  

A friend came with us, who had never been up to Bowman lake, or any of that area before, and I figured most of Henness Pass road from 49 up to Jackson Meadows was likely pretty boring, so we skipped the first half of Henness Pass road, and went up to Meadow Lake to camp.  Spent the day just exploring, showing my friend some of the amazing lakes.  I was pretty horrified to see how low Bowman lake was.. it was depressing to see it that low.  I was up in the area in May, and it was low, but not anywhere close to this so I suspect they might have done some work on the dam or something and dumped water. 


We came across a pickup with a flat tire, and a bunch of guys standing around looking pretty confused.  I asked if they needed help, and they said they’d figure it out.. but I stopped anyway. I had a tire plug kit and a compressor, so I figured I could have them on their way again pretty quick. Plugged up their tire and filled it and they were back on their way to go fishing.  My buddy and I laughed a little at how amazed they were that we were able to fix their tire in the middle of nowhere.  They were a bunch of kids… and I know I got lucky I never had any issues when I was that age because I would have been equally unprepared.  Sorry, no pictures of the tire fix.

Moved on to our turn off, and headed to Catfish lake.. which is closer to a large pond.  Had lunch and scooted on down the road to Meadow lake, and down Fordyce Jeep trail a short way.  We stopped and showed our friend some of the stuff we knew was there, and we explored a little more and found the remains of a stamp mill.  I figured from all the crushed rock, there had to be a stamp there, but it took a while to find it.  But it was pretty impressive how much was still there.  It looked like it had been a pretty good size one by the foundation.  At this point, it was getting later in the day, and we headed back up into Meadow lake to find a camp site for the night.  

Old smashed car… strange thing to find up here.

Now, normally I am not a huge fan of Meadow Lake, the way we came in was a long, very rough road, but there is also a pretty decent gravel road in from the other way, but my normal unimproved camp sites in the area wouldn’t have allowed us to have a camp fire, and camping without a camp fire is kind of a bummer to me.  We lucked out, and there was pretty much no one there this weekend.  Had a nice quiet night.. just BSing around the fire.  I am never as happy as I am around a campfire with good people.

Not sure how this works.. Penny got my chair, and I sat on a log.  Spoiled much.

It’s hard being an adventure dog, always having to go fun places, eat hot dogs around a camp fire, chase chipmunks.  It’s a hard life.  

Is there anything more amazing and peaceful then mornings in the Sierras?  I don’t think so.  After breakfast we loaded up and set out for the part of the trip that was totally new to me… it ended up being a very short spur, but very pretty.  Some awesome views. It dead ended at the top, so we had lunch and rested a bit and then  turned around and headed out for the next part of the trip. 



The second half of Henness Pass road.  We made our way up and connected to it.  And almost right away were amazed how much cool stuff we were coming across.

Pretty meadows.

Amazing canyon with a huge waterfall… well, big drop anyway, not a lot of water but it was sure pretty.

Came to a nice little water hole and had to jump in for a bit and clean the dust off.  Really pretty area.. and lots of dirt roads shooting off in all directions.  Might have to come back here and explore the area more.


Coming out into a really pretty meadow, the very rough road improved and I picked up speed a bit… and hit a huge washboard patch and it was enough to jar us half to death, and rip the bolts out of the cheesy sheet metal hitch on my trailer… damn.  It wouldn’t be an offroad adventure without something breaking.  Just for good measure, as I climbed out to inspect the damage, when I closed the door my mirror fell off and broke too.  Just had to laugh at that.  A few minutes later, we had it patched together and debated on what to do.  We finally figured that the trailer was as strong as it ever was before it broke, and not point in stressing about it, lets just finish the planned route.  I knew I’d be bummed if we went back to pavement as quickly as possible instead of finishing the planned trip.  

Really amazing meadows.

Then up and over into Verdi Nevada.  The views seemed almost unreal.  The fading sun really made the valleys light up.  I had to remember to watch where I was driving instead of staring out the window at the views.

Finally got to the top, and overlooking Reno.  We felt so remote, and were actually pretty remote in a way, as it was still another solid hour down into Verdi, but it was so strange to see a large city from so far back on dirt roads.

We made our way back down the mountain, and down into Verdi, by the time we got down it was quite dark.  Filled up our trucks, washed the windows, grabbed a cold soda and some gas station beef jerky and started the drive home.  It was a really awesome little trip to end the camping season. I’m glad we took it.  I am always amazed how much there is to explore just a few hours from my house.  I think you could spend your entire life doing this and never get tired of it.  I know I could anyway.  But.. for now anyway, back to reality and jobs and stuff like that.

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