Saturday, October 10, 2020: Adventures suck when you’re having them

Virgin Valley Hot Springs, Nevada, to Old Station, California

Woke up to a dramatic sunrise in the east, orange with dark clouds of an approaching weather system. Off in the western distance were skies that looked dark and threatening. I looked up to see what way the clouds were blowing, hoping that any bad weather would be heading away from us. The clouds appeared to be heading northwest, away from our planned route. Hopefully, we would miss any bad weather. We were on the road by 8:30, heading west toward Oregon.

The highway was mostly empty at this time of morning. That gave me a chance to take a “ghost rider” picture with my bike on its center stand parked in the middle of the highway.

We pulled off at the Oregon-Nevada border for a moment. As I lifted up my face shield, I could smell the odor of oncoming rain. Off in the distance were dark clouds with the mist of falling rain below them. We donned our rain gear.

People have asked, “What happens if it starts raining when you ride?” The answer is: You get wet. Our only option is to continue through it. The rain was light at first, but I could feel the temperature dropping as we continued on.

The highway made a right turn and dropped down the side of a steep ridge into the narrow Guano Valley. The highway dropped about 1000 feet from the top of the ridge to the valley floor in a little under three miles. The views from the top of the ridge, and on the way down were amazing. We passed a pickup pulling a trailer, and the view of the oncoming truck looked like it was right out of a commercial.

We crossed into the Fremont National Forest and followed several canyons through the mountains. The temperature continued to drop, settling around 42 degrees. Coupled with the rain, it was fairly miserable. To top it off, my visor kept fogging up. I tried lifting it a bit, but got a face full of frozen water droplets pounding my face. My grip heaters were no match for the wet and cold. Unable to see, and with my hands freezing, I powered on. As Neil Peart said: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes … Or the wrong attitude.

Greg waited for me at the intersection of Highway 140 and Highway 395. I gave him a thumb’s up and we turned south and continued through the rain.

The rain let up as we crossed into California, and I could see the weather clearing off in the distance.

We stopped for fuel and breakfast in Alturas. Chicken fried steak and hot coffee at the Wagon Wheel were just what I needed to warm up. While eating, I saw a couple of kids, who were probably around 8 years old, running around and looking in awe at the motorcycles. We gave them a wave as we rolled out.

Winds coming off a plateau to the north picked up as we turned onto Highway 299 and rode through the Warm Springs Valley. The winds continued as rode through several canyons that wound through the Modoc National Forest.

We stopped at Burney Falls State Park to get a campsite, only to find out the campground was closed. We checked the map and decided to head for Old Station, outside Lassen National Park, to seek out camp for the night. There were several campgrounds in the area, so finding a spot should be easy.

Oh look, a campground … Closed … Ride on.

Oh look, a campground … Closed … Ride on.

Oh look, a campground … Closed … Ride on.

Guess we might be making a run for home tonight.

Just as we entered Old Station, we found the sign for Cave Campground. It was open! We found a spot a stone’s throw from the rushing Hat Creek. Cloudy skies still appeared to be threatening rain, so we were quick about putting up our tents. Luckily, the skies cleared a while later.

The entire Old Station area is built on ancient lava flows from Lassen Peak and other volcanic vents of the Hat Creek volcanic area. Across Highway 89 from the campground is the Subway Cave, a lava tube. Lava tubes are formed when flowing lava moves under the hard surface of a lava flow. When the tubes empty, they leave caves behind.

Subway Cave formed about 20,000 years ago when lava covered the Hat Creek Valley. Though there are many lava tubes in the Hat Creek area, Subway Cave is the largest and most accessible. Halfway through the cave is an offshoot cave where one can go, turn their light off, and experience complete darkness. On hot days, the cave is a great place to get out of the heat, as the air inside consistently stays around 50 degrees.

Clouds returned early in the evening, so we weren’t able to see the ISS on our final night on the road.

I fell asleep to the sounds of Hat Creek babbling in the distance.

Day’s Mileage: 264, Total Mileage: 1606