Weather has finally returned to northern California this week! Rain clouds built and started spitting rain on me out here near the Yuba River a couple nights ago. The mid-winter summer weather has finally come to a close and we are back to building the snow pack and filling the aquifers with much needed water. I can finally sit in a coffee shop for a whole day and not be tempted to go run in the sun! Yay for the Gray!

This week I have been scouting the potential path of the Japhy Ryder Route where it crosses from the Sierras to the coast. I have had a few successes, like discovering the Stonyford Store and what looks like a good route from Snow Mountain Wilderness out to the Sacramento River. Unfortunately, I have had a ton of not so successful moments too. Some defeats have been discovering I can’t access the Sutter Buttes & that half the trails on my map of Mendocino National Forest don’t actually exist. Many of the trails I was hoping to use have been burned in the 08 fires or are heavily populated by large marjana farms complete with armed and paranoid pot growers. It is becoming clear that establishing this route will be harder than I hoped. This summer’s route will not be the streamlined dream hike I envisioned, but at least it will be a beginning. Getting from the western most point of California, Cape Mendocino, to the northern foothills of the Sierras will include quite a bit of road walking. I am seriously considering getting a bike for a few of the sections.

This summer should be filled with the temptation to trespass. Trespassing might fly in some places, but here in Nor Cal with the lawlessness and general chaotic paranoia of the emerald triangle’s relative war zone, I have extra incentive not to hop fences and b-line where I want to go.  I want to make a route other people will be able to hike in the future. That means going places the public is allowed to go, and here in Nor Cal the public access is pretty limited. I want to pick a safe path of travel that minimizes potentially dangerous encounters, but still goes to as many scenic places as possible and doesn’t turn into a big whirlygig of extra and senseless miles.

On a positive note, I chatted with a fire guy in Mendocino National Forest and he reminded me that the risk of driving my car across the central valley is far higher than walking a few hundred miles through the coast range. He is right! The risks we all take on a daily basis are far more dangerous than walking, even if it is in a place crawling with pot growers! What am I freaking out about? I am sure when I actually start hiking in June things will unfold just fine, I just want a good idea of what I am getting into.

The time has come for me to set my route worries aside and head up to Tahoe, where I will resume my “most unskilled ski bum in the world” project! Fresh powder is falling as I type and I want to get up there to watch it land, then go play in it tomorrow! At the moment I have the luxury of being able to drive up, it’ll take about 40 minutes to Donner Pass. This summer when I hike,  it’ll take about 4 days. Both now and in June I will be glad to reach the mountains! Off to the Sierras!