The Ridges of Mendocino County, Part 1: Yolla Bolly Wilderness- Ides Cove Area

The only thing that can be said about Paskenta is that nothing can be said about Paskenta. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The only thing that can be said about Paskenta is that nothing can be said about Paskenta.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Instant Caravan

I decided to see the month of May in by getting way off the grid for a few days. So I did the only thing I know how to do in that situation: I excused myself from my Friday morning Philosophy class, threw my dog Peanut in the car, along with most of my camping gear, cruised across town to pick up my friend Shane, and hit the highway, all by 10:30 AM.  We linked up with Abs in Suisun City, and with that- instant caravan!  We stocked up on food and booze at the Safeway in Vacaville, and then pointed our motorcade north towards the Upper Sacramento Valley, bound for the lonely vastitudes of the Mendocino National Forest, specifically that exceedingly rugged, and little-used, subset of the forest known as the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, a.k.a. Bigfoot Country (but if that’s all you’re here for, I’ll save you the suspense right now- we never saw him).

Our last outpost of quasi-civilization, as well as the end of the paved part of our journey, was Paskenta, a map-blip of a village about 35 miles southwest of the town of Red Bluff.  As we left Paskenta, we immediately began to climb steeply up into the Mendo National Forest on Forest Road M2, which was at first a good dirt road, but soon became a total pain in the ass.

Forest Road M2: a nice wide dirt  road, reasonably-graded, with good tread, and no obstacles, (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Forest Road M2: a nice wide dirt road, reasonably-graded, with good tread, and no obstacles,
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Ruts Never Sleep

About 15 or so miles in, a series of runoff channels, cut diagonally across the road and each about 4-6 inches deep, the breadth of a truck tire, and with raised banks on both sides, started appearing at maddeningly-short intervals, requiring near-constant stopping.  Hazardous to pass over at anything faster than 2 or 3 mph, these cumbersome ruts would require you to slow down and cross at an angle, causing the vehicle to rock and jar back and forth as each wheel crossed the threshold at a different time.  In this way, a good 8-10-mile stretch of the road became a time-sucking trial of patience and restraint that took almost an hour to drive.  The situation called for ice cold beer.

And fortunately, we were holding.

Forest Road M2: starting to become a pain in the ass. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Forest Road M22: starting to become a pain in the ass.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Eventually the runoff channels began to abate, and after an interval they vanished altogether; and from that point on we were able to resume making reasonably good time to the trailhead, which was only another few miles anyway.

Peanut guards the parking lot while the team closes up shop and prepare to walk.(photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Peanut guards the parking lot while the tail end of the team (me) closes up shop and prepares to walk.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Beware: The Ides of Mendo

We reached the Ides Cove Trailhead, situated on an eastern saddle of Mt. Linn (or, as it is known to local indian peoples, South Yolla Bolly Mountain), around 5 PM, and took our time packing our packs and finishing off the last of the beers.

The Yolla Bolly-Middle Eeel Wilderness is the best-named wilderness in the state of California. The name, which means   "snow-covered high peak" in the language of the Wintu indians, is so bad-ass that the whole thing can't even fit on the sign. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness has the coolest name of any wilderness in the state of California. The name, which means “snow-covered high peak” in the language of the Wintu indians, is so bad-ass that they can’t even fit the whole thing on a standard wilderness sign.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

We hit the trail at 6 PM, and took to the wilds.  It would be a short walk to camp- no more than three miles, along the north side of a ridge, into the setting sun.

IMG_6737
Peanut watches in amaze as the ghosts of the great Indian chiefs of old, channeling ancient griefs beyond reckoning, scatter golden tears across the forest floor.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

 

Next chapter: (Part 2:  Yolla Bolly Wilderness, Ides Cove Area)

 

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