The Breakfast Club: Patricks Point Camping
Saturday, May 21 2016
Carl’s pictures are on this page
I woke about 6 AM for a 6:20ish departure for the Patricks Point camping trip. The bike was packed Friday save for the items that go into the ice chest. Since the plan was for only two meals in camp there was plenty of room for beer.
I left more or less on my planned time. First stop was about a mile from the house to pick up Tim. We were soon on our way to Novato to meet Carl and Tom at Marvin’s for breakfast. This was my first time at Marvin’s. It’s easy to find, especially with Tom standing outside waving as we got close. The restaurant is small. It is also a local favorite. It was packed. We had to wait 10 or 15 minutes before they could seat the four of us.
After a fine breakfast we headed North on 101. We expected showers during the ride and that’s what we got. It was sometimes dry, sometimes lightly raining, and once or twice we rode through a decend downpour, but only for a few short miles. We took 101 to 128 to the coast then up highway 1 to Fort Bragg. We stopped for fuel and lunch at our standard spots.
We were not the only motorcyclists in town. The lunch waitress said they were expecting 500 dirt bikes (actually dual sport bikes from what we saw) for some kind of annual get together. As we left the restaurant and headed north we intermingled with a group that seemed to be heading the same way. Our guess is that they would be turning off at Usal Road.
Patricks Point campground is only partially open this time of year. Their rules stated only two vehicles per site – the four of us needed two sites. There were only three open sites available. Carl and I took the smaller site and Tom and Tim took the other. We decided we’d use Tom and Tim’s site when it came time to gather around the fire pit. While Carl and I were setting up camp Tom and Tim fetched beer and firewood.
After two large meals on the road I wasn’t all that hungry. We’d already changed plans such that we’d have our restaurant dinner Sunday night instead of Saturday. I made a very small amount of pasta and dumped a can of lentil and vegetable soup in the pot after the pasta was done. That was more than enough for dinner.
When it came time to sit around the fire we were quite disappointed. The wood was wet. Very wet. We could get some coals but little to no flame. Tim was trying to cook a sausage over the lask of flame. It took a long while.
I hit my sleeping bag around 10 PM and read for a short while before turning off my head lamp and going to sleep.
Sunday, May 22 2016
I first awoke at O’dark thirty. The sound of rain bouncing off of tarp and tent kept me awake for maybe 20 minutes. Tarp and tent kept me dry. I went back to sleep.
About 7 AM I got up to start the day. I think the rainstopped some time before the sun came up. I made some coffee and also had an english muffin and a couple of slices of bacon for breakfast. Carl, Tim, and Tom were going to hike into Fern Canyon from some trail. It’s a 20 mile ride to the trail head and 4 or 5 miles of hiking to get to the beach end of the canyon. Then another 4 or 5 miles back to the trail head. My arthritis or stenosis or whatever is good for 4 or maybe 5 miles before hip pain has be resting more than walking. I had other plans.
They left for their hike. I kicked back with another cup of coffee and my Kindle. Later I walked around the camp site. About an hour after they left I got on the bike and headed north toward Prairie Creek Redwoods St Park and the beach end of Fern Canyon.
There is a parking lot about a tenth of a mile from the beach end of Fern Canyon. My plan was to walk into the canyon from that end and perhaps meet the hikers if the timing is right. That lot is at the end of a dirt road about 8 miles from 101. A wet dirt road from recent rain. With shallow creek crossings. It was an interesting ride.
The parking lot was almost full when I got there. Lots of people. Lots of elk, too. Good thing a bike doesn’t take up much space. I grabbed my cameras and headed toward the canyon.
The canyon walls are steep. Home Creek runs through the canyon, meandering from wall to wall. The creek is not very deep and the park service has laid plank walkways to cross the water where needed. The following pictures may give you an idea why it is called Fern Canyon.
I made a planning error for this little trek. I did not stop at the rest room in the parking lot and was beginning to feel that extra cup of coffee. Every step further into the canyon was a step further from relief. I sat on a log for a while, hoping the others would soon show. Pressure overcame patience. I got up and headed back to the parking lot.
It turns out I missed the others by maybe 15 minutes. I was back in the parking lot around 1 PM. Tom reports they were there sometime between 1:00 and 1:30.
I managed to miss the very slick spots on the 8 miles of dirt road back to 101. I stopped in Orick for gas as my bike was telling me I was going to be walking within 20 miles. I grabbed a bag of mountain mix to tide me over until dinner, too.
I rode back to camp. The sun had come out. I moved my chair to pick up some rays and grabbed my Kindle for some more quality reading time. The campground was pretty much empty – weekend campers had broken camp and left. New campers had not yet arrived.
Carl, Tim, and Tom returned to camp about 5 PM. They brought fresh wood that was promissed to be dry enough to give us some flame. We would see. The three were quite worn out from their 10 mile hike. But not too tired to have a nice dinner at the Seascape Restaurant near the pier at Trinidad Bay.
Back at camp after dinner we started the fire. This time we have some flame. The fire got hot enough to dry out the wet wood from the previous day. I made my usual tea with brandy to sip while staring at the flames in the dark. Tim sipped on some of the brandy, straight.
Monday, May 23 2016
We got up, broke camp, and headed to Arcata for a great breakfast. The plan for the day is to take 101 home. The route isn’t as nice as Friday’s ride, but is faster and shorter.
Tim had a minor mishap at a gas stop. The credit card reader didn’t work. When he tried to push his bike to another pump his saddlebag caught on something and down the bike went. With the fuel cap open. On a BMW f800 where the cap is on the side of the bike. The fuel landed mostly on him.
After recovering and taking off I noticed that one of his saddlebags was about to fall off and got him to pull off to the side of the road. Tom was in front and did not see this. It was the last time I saw Tom.
It took 30 or 40 minutes to unpack Tim’s bike, re-attach and bungie the now loose saddlebag to the bike, then re-load camping gear onto the bike. Once that was done Tim, Carl, and I got back on the road. I pulled off of 101 at Cloverdale, wonder if Tom had stopped there as once mentioned. Tim followed me as we rode through town. Carl stayed on 101. It was the last time I saw Carl.
Not seeing Tom Tim and I got back on 101 heading for home. I pulled off the freeway at the outskirts of Petaluma for a break. I needed to stand instead of sit for a bit. Tim stayed on 101. It was the last time I saw Tim.
I got home about 4:30. Good trip. What rain we had in camp occurred when sleeping. Rain on the road didn’t last long enough to wash the dirt off of my bike.