Sierra Nevada Gold country - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 06-28-2014, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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Sierra Nevada Gold country

The Sierra Nevada Gold country is just across the Sacramento Valley from me and I don't seem to get there as often as I should.
Had some time this week and decided to get away solo and do my own kind of camping.

But of course, I had to take the long way there. I knew the campground I wanted to check out, and it's usually about a three hour drive/ride when you do it straight. Not the case when leaving early and deciding along the way to change course. I hadn't been to the old gold country towns of Sonora & Columbia in a while, and being a history buff I decided that was the side route about an hour into the trip.
Sonora has grown and spread out like everywhere else in California with shopping centers, strip malls, and coffee shops. But Main Street is still old 1800's buildings and packed with traffic.
Now Columbia, that was nice mid-week. Stopped at the bar to have a Sarsaparilla before heading on out.

Then headed on up to Hwy 4 and then to Boards Crossing Road which leads down to the Stanislaus River.

Found a great spot and set up camp in a Forest Service campground for convenience, but they had no water, so it was only $10 a night. I had a picnic table, flat site, & pit toilets, so I was happy.
Always carry your own water out there. I did and was very happy about having something to drink.
On the way up, I stopped at the Ranger station and bought a Forest Map of the area for the roads. Another point of this ride was to RECON the area for a longer ride across forest roads to Hwy 108 and Sonora Pass.

Hiked along the river for some pictures and met some people who turned out to be former co-workers of a friend of mine. Small world. And they offered me a cold beer! Life is GOOD!

Returned to camp only to have the next site neighbors come over and offer me dinner due to them cooking too much. A dad was taking his three Eagle Scout sons out camping and they were great company for the evening.

So nice to see the good human nature out there again.
Of course, when I saw the Eagle Scouts looking up at the Sierra clouds forming, and then putting on their rain fly's, I decided to take heed.
And at 4:00 AM, I was glad I did. The sound of rain on a sealed tent is so relaxing, slept great.

Next morning I packed up (soggy tent and all) and headed up the other side to find some roads. Wound up doing a small loop down to another (original) bridge and going back up to Hwy 4 that way.

The rain stopped before I even got wet, but it kept the dust down. And I headed down to the great town of Murphys and found the best bakery with coffee. (I forgot mine)
Parked next to an older guy on a BMW K1600GT who just rode 50 miles for coffee here.
Must be good!
Great guy and the most critical BMW owner I've ever met. He started telling me that he was on his wife's bike because his was in the shop AGAIN, and it's been in there for warranty work over & over. Are my ears deceiving me? Motorad change their KoolAid? He asked me about the KLR and commented on simple it was, and wished he had something so simple.

Said goodbye, good riding, and headed home.
Great two days out on the back roads.

Confidence is the feeling you have before you fully understand the situation."

Jeff in Napa California
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post #2 of 10 Old 06-28-2014, 06:19 AM
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Sounds like a great Sarsparilla-fueled trip, campfire: nice scenery, good riding and good people along the way.

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post #3 of 10 Old 06-28-2014, 07:05 AM
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Looks like you had a blast! Wish I could have been there with you.

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post #4 of 10 Old 06-28-2014, 03:13 PM
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Great write up Campfire!!
Highway 4 is one beautiful route!! My wife and I drove over to the 49 on 4 from Highway 395 in May. We did not realize how narrow 4 was until we got on it. We were driving a 35 foot Motor home pulling a car. Well that is another story.
I am planning on riding my KLR and camping off highway 4 some day. Long way from here.
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post #5 of 10 Old 06-28-2014, 06:23 PM
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Totally Kewl.

Thanks for sharing.. I got to find that bridge...

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post #6 of 10 Old 06-28-2014, 07:08 PM
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I was kind of surprised by that bridge because there used to be a bunch of the same style bridges around here that have been replaced by either new concrete bridges or tubes/culverts.

I'm thinking maybe these bridges were a 1930's Works Progress Administration (WPA) standard design. I need to do some research.....

I found the name "Stanislaus" to be intriguing and did a quick search on it and found this under "How Our 48 Counties Got Their Names: California."


Created 1854. The word Stanislaus is a corruption of Estanislao, the baptismal name of a mission-educated renegade Indian chief who led a band of Indians in a series of battles against Mexican troops. He was finally defeated by General Mariano G. Vallejo in 1826. The county is named for the Stanislaus River, first discovered by Gabriel Moraga in 1806, and later renamed Rio Estanislao for the Indian chief.

Last edited by planalp; 06-28-2014 at 07:34 PM.
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post #7 of 10 Old 07-06-2014, 12:53 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks for all the printed history. But now for the "local" history.

Our friends had a cabin up the hill and we spent a lot of time around this area in the '70's. We would drive down here to the old bridge and play in the water, slide on the rocks, etc.
There was a primitive campground across the river that was popular with locals and residents that came for the summer. Everyone got along. It grew in popularity so much that problems arose and the Forest Service decided to make a new campground on the North side of the river. In 1996 they started construction under protest of locals and the local Indian tribe as they said it was tribal land and a sacred sight where they wanted to build. The more they dug, the more they found remnants of an Indian village and artifacts. Tribal leaders begged for them to stop.
Feds know best. The winter of 1996 proved to be a wet one, and in January of 1997 they had a mudslide that started above Hwy 4, and flowed for 1.8 miles downhill to take out the bridge and construction equipment.

Here's the view up the hill of the slide path as you can see it now.

The sign on the bridge today.

And the new bridge today.

Makes for some great ghost stories around the campfire, and always look up the hill.

Confidence is the feeling you have before you fully understand the situation."

Jeff in Napa California
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post #8 of 10 Old 07-06-2014, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by campfire View Post
Makes for some great ghost stories around the campfire, and always look up the hill.
Clearly, the mudslide was precipitated by the anger of the disturbed . . . sorry, can't go on, can't complete the sentence without offending someone, somewhere, though no offense intended. Don't want to give even the appearance of condescending toward or being dismissive of any people.

Regardless, great ride report, campfire! Worthy of any I've read on ADV or elsewhere! Also, historical background enhanced the report, Planalp, without hijacking the thread at all.
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post #9 of 10 Old 07-06-2014, 09:29 AM
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Well, my favorite "watch your ass" quote used to be "Never Get Out Of The Boat" from Apocalypse Now.

As of right now, it's been replaced by "Always Look Up The Hill" from campfire.

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post #10 of 10 Old 07-06-2014, 10:51 AM
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Great pictures and stories.
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