Fwd: Forks of Salmon 400 pre-ride

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Eric Larsen

Jun 15, 2022, 12:10:19 AMJun 15
to San Francisco Randonneurs
Humboldt Randonneurs have come through again designing a series of routes that could include one if not the best 400km routes in the west! It offers nearly 250 miles of scenic, low traffic, remote Klamath  mountain roads along the Salmon River, Scotts River and Klamath River. With a figure eight design and start/finish in Etna riders can leave a drop bag with heavy night gear and extra supplies in Etna and minimize weight for the first half of the ride that covers 200 km with over 3,400m (14,000 ft) of climbing! The second half offers a recovery segment after the descent back into Etna, the route heads out across the Scotts Valley farmland and through Fort Jones for a final provisions stop before heading down the Scott River canyon and back up the Klamath River.

Dan and I started our pre-ride in Etna at 5 o'clock in the morning, just twilight in June the day began to light up the valley ranchland on the 12 mile warm up ride to Callahan (mile 13) and our right turn to the first 3000' climb to the Pacific Crest trail followed by a fast descent into the South Fork of the Salmon River. We stopped in Cecilville (mile 43), which is just a store, tavern, gas station and disc golf course - as early as it was, everything was closed and we filled our water from a spigot on the right side of the store. 

From here the road becomes single lane for the next 80 miles of the route, and extremely stunning views of the river and mountain vistas. We stopped again at Matthews Creek campground (mile 50) to fill water again and continued on to Forks of Salmon (mile 60) there is no potable water here. We continued down the fantastic wild Salmon River to Somes Bar (mile 78) where there is a very nice store, the Salmon River Outpost for coffee, breakfast burritos, some yogurt and fruit, then returned to the Salmon river on the out-and-back section back to Forks of Salmon and on up the North Fork to Sawers Bar (mile 110). We were able to fill water at the Salmon River Restoration Council building, there is also a fire station where water is available. Further on at Idlewild campground (mile 116) the water was marked non-potable, so drink up and fill up at Sawers Bar before the big climb over Etna Mountain Pass (there is a spring at mile 123 of unknown quality, but it comes out of a black pipe into a wooden trough on the side of the road). The 8 1/2 mile climb to the pass from Idelwild is well over 7% with a sustained +11% grade for the last 2.5 miles, which is pretty tough with 120 miles in your legs.

I had got ahead of Dan on the climb and waited at the summit. And kept waiting and thinking he can't have been that far behind. By the time 1/2 an hour had passed I was certain something was wrong. With absolutely no traffic on the road and the question of whether to descend the 11% grade to look for him, knowing what I had just come up, I decided to descend the 10 miles back to Etna, got the car and went back for him.

I drove back up and just a mile over and down from the summit Dan was struggling to keep his bike moving in a forward direction. Just two mile from the summit, he had become quite ill, puked a bunch of times, took a short nap to try to recover and struggled to get to the top. I got him in and loaded his bike up. We went back to Etna, cleaned up, got some seltzer and he started feeling better. Our best guess is that he got poisoned from the water at the post office in Forks of Salmon. Safe back in Etna, having completed the most substantial segments, we abandoned the remainder of the route.

I'm still trying to upload my photos but for now, you can enjoy my video here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzUkbh 

I look forward to completing the route next year, but for you guys riding this weekend: your last food/supply will be in Fort Jones (mile 150). There is water at Scott River camp (mile 180) then at Tree of Heaven campground (mile 208). Your next food will be in Yreka (mile 222) the McDonnalds at the south end of town is open to 1AM, otherwise teh Speedway across from Super 8 is open 24 hours.

Those wishing to register for this Saturday's brevet can sign up here: https://humboldtrandonneurs.com/results/ Please be certain to fill out both the form and waiver and SUBMIT the form after completing the waiver.

Eric Larsen
RBA, Humboldt Randonneurs
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