Saturday, June 23, 2012
THREE RULES FOR THE SUMMER RIDE
1. Find a new road
…many roads exist by which men have pursued
and still pursue their quest for the truth
and none has universal validity.
Kenneth Scott Latourette
on Hinduism’s basic tenet
The morning ride over Carson Pass and into Woodfords Canyon had been joyous. The pavement on State Route 88 is nicely engineered, the weekday traffic light and the views of both the crest of the Sierra and Nevada’s Carson Valley made me wonder why I would consider returning home at all. I gave some thought to pulling out of Woodfords Station and retracing my steps back to Jackson. In my experience, riding any road back the other way is like a new ride all together. Right?
2. Return by a different route
And being warned of God in a dream…
they departed into their own country another way.
Matthew 2:12 – American King James Version
On the eastside of the Sierra, plenty of unridden roads web the valley and the mountain’s morn-facing rise. Nearly into Nevada, I veer north on new-to-me Foothill Road, tracing in and out the steep and stubby canyons that dig into the Sierran escarpment. Glancing eastward, I think of the growing stream of possible invectives and recriminations employed by the earliest pioneers – ragged from weeks of deprivation having crossed the plains, the Rockies and now the arid basin and range – as they grew closer to the massive uplift that shot the range skyward. Woulda been a helluva lot easier to turn tail and return to Illinois, had they the provisions and the strength.
3. Stick to the high country as long as possible
Elsa: …there's only right and wrong - good and evil.
Nothing in between. It isn't that simple, is it?
Steve: No, it isn't. It should be, but it isn't.
From Ride the High Country (1962)
US 50 in California crosses from South Tahoe to Sacramento. For a major highway, all but the Sacramento section presents a pretty good run, descending on good pavement through beautiful scenery, verdant forests and along a rushing South Fork of the American River. I’d done this several times, passing a sign for Wrights Lake with each journey. Today, I would discover Wrights Lake.
The US Forest Service has provided the citizenry with many paved access roads to the high country of the El Dorado. Wrights Lake Road (FR 4) is no exception. Winding up the north side of the South Fork canyon, the road makes quick work of necessary elevation gain. Each turn exposes a new view of the depths below and each invites a stop for a photo. None of the photos, however, do justice.
Once atop the ridge, FR 4 passes through spring like meadows and into stands of fir and pine. Nature hasn’t been kind to the pavement so it pays to moderate speed and keep an eye out for chuck holes that, taken at the wrong speed or angle, might rattle loose one’s fillings. But the prize at the end of the road is worthy.
Wrights is a high country lake rimmed in granite peaks, cloaked by forests and dotted with summer homes. Camping is available in clean sites accessible to those with trailers as well as those of us on scoots. A hand-hewn boat ramp of sorts allows access to those with paddle craft. A stroll along the lakeshore offers unfolding views of the High Sierra and pleasant hellos from those fishing or picnicking or boating.
A couple had just pulled ashore in a pair of mahogany kayaks, available from a company in Port Townsend, WA. I comment on the graceful lines of their crafts and ask if they are Pygmies. Astounded that I knew the make, I explain that one rests in my garage gathering dust – and has done so for the eleven years since I returned to motorcycling. They opine that there are many, many ways to enjoy the scenic high country besides the BMW.
I cannot disagree and finding yet another new-to-me road to explore as I make my way home (FR 32 to FR 3 – Ice House Lake Road) I resolve to dust off the kayaks, hook ‘em behind the truck, pack a lunch, invite my wife and revisit the area soon.
This, I determine, is why I find new roads, different routes and stick to the high country.
Today’s Route: From Woodford’s, east on 88; left onto Foothill; left onto Kingsbury Grade at Mottsville (west of Minden). [A nice extension is to continue north four or five miles and visit Genoa, Nevada’s oldest town site.] From Kingsbury Grade, left on US 50 through South Lake Tahoe, eschewing the casinos and t-shirt shops. Continue west, turning left (southerly) west of town. Cross Echo Summit. [Another extension is the old Echo Summit Road, which zips up the canyon wall to the right a few miles west of Meyers reconnecting with 50 a few miles on. Great views of the Tahoe Basin! What’s more, a detour down to Echo Lake is enchanting. Do this.] West on US 50, right on Wright’s Lake Road. Return: Left on FR 32 (Wrights Lake Tie Road) to FR 3. Right. Left at Wentworth Springs Road to Georgetown; right or left on CA 193 to CA 49 and Placerville (south) or Auburn (north).
Bonus Rule – Use “…” freely when quoting others
The nice thing about using ellipses (…) is that you can edit any quote or scripture in a manner that allows it to support whatever’s on your mind.
[Makes you wonder what I left out, doesn’t it?]
Wrights Lake Campground: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/eldorado/recarea/?recid=77636
Pygmy Kayaks: http://www.pygmyboats.com/ Check these out! If I can build one, anyone can.
On Kenneth Scott Latourette (although probably not too scholarly): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Scott_Latourette
Church of the Open Road Press