Saturday, August 1, 2009

August 1 - Run for Your Significant Other

At last we get to sleep in, but at least rouse ourselves for another Sierra jaunt, this time with Harriet, first stop being the exact same outdoor table as last week at Bootleggers Old Town Tavern in Auburn (calimari, Corona, etC.) -- both of us treating the outing as a working vacation, in present case finishing up half the grading for the piano class -- then back in the car, up Foresthill Road, and down and up and down and up the Mosquito Ridge route to the

French Meadows Reservoir

overlook (very different sun from last week), with its prospects of

fire-scarred upper Middle Fork American River Canyon and

Duncan Peak Lookout (very different clouds).

A run downhill to Red Star Ridge Road, past framings of Little Bald Mountain, completes a gap in the ongoing Pacific-Ocean-to-Nevada pedestrian odyssey, as Harriet kindly serves as shuttlemistress, then we reverse course over the sinuous bends to evening adventures, including
a bit of Google research on Mosquito Ridge, from strikingly different perspectives --


"Mosquito Ridge Road
600 Curves in 36 Miles

Mosquito Ridge has long gained an air of infamy in local riding circles. This is a road quite unlike those that surround. And one could probably go even further and say its uniqueness is unparalleled for the Sierra Nevada Mountains. So what's the big deal. For starters, Mosquito Ridge has length, at nearly 40 miles of just curves. Add in the scenery, drop-offs and a fantastic dosage of Sierra Nevada terrain- all the ingredients are there.

No peaky peaks here, just mountainous fingers and the pursuit of water. Like many of the Sierra Nevada's greatest roads, this one was laid down during those glorious reservoir buiding days. French Meadows Reservoir being the prize on this ride, thirty-six short miles away- but getting there is what this ride is all about.

So brace yourself for some outstanding pavement quality, intense views, and a chance to see what all motorcyclists dream of. Few roads anywhere in the state of California will compare. You have to see it to believe it. Long sweeping corners, left, right, left, hard hairpin right, yep, this one's got it all including straights and corners capable of sustaining a spirited pace."



Stop Press: Starting September 5, 2006 a fire burned for 2 weeks covering about 10 miles of Mosquito Ridge Road. The oak and pine habitat is largely scorched between MM 9 and MM 19. Many resident birds seem to be gone. Searching for Flammulated Owls over this formerly excellent habitat may be futile. At least the stretch east of MM 20 including the Big Tree Grove seems untouched. Anyone having success, please email me at BruWebb(at)

Here are FIVE reasons why MRR arguably one of the best owling roads in the Sierra Nevada.
1. It is paved.
2. It is seldom traveled by vehicles at night.
3. It has convenient mile marker (MM) signs.
4. It goes through several thousand feet of elevational change giving it a great diversity of montane habitats.
5. No dogs.

Owling: Here are my one-night highest counts:

Barn — heard once over the lower elevation of the American River Canyon. Probably more, but I go up to the montane areas to go owling.

Great Horned — 3 calling across the canyons and even in the town of Foresthill.

California Spotted — I had 5 calling owls on territories between Placer Big Tree Grove (MM 25) and French Meadows Reservoir (MM 36). I recorded the sound file heard here at the Placer Big Tree Grove in Summer 1999. Two birds were calling at dusk. Thanks to Dan Lockshaw for his equipment and recording expertise.

Flammulated — 7 males heard, between MM 12 and MM 16. Most easily seen by taking the road into Little Oak (MM 17.5) and Big Oak Flats (near MM 19). In 2005 two were calling at jct to Interbay Road near MM 21.5.

Western Screech-Owl — anywhere from MM 4 out of Foresthill to Little Oak Flat. Up to 8-10 owls in same areas as Flammulated.

Northern Pygmy-Owl — I have encountered up to four of these little guys in one morning. Usually one or two can be seen/heard/drawn out at dawn on virtually every trip in Spring/Summer.

Northern Saw-whet Owl — 4 calling birds on territories between MM 20 and MM 27. Can be tough getting them to reveal themselves."


"The Mosquito Ridge Road begins on the eastern edge of downtown Foresthill. Turn right off of the Foresthill Divide Road at the signed intersection. Drive very carefully up the canyon until you reach the snowline, usually about 21 miles.

See North Fork of American River-East Map, but the area actually lies within the Middle Fork American River basin.

Topographic map: U.S.G. S. Greek Store

Snowmobiling (Rating: Best)

Difficulty: Moderate

Most of the Mosquito Ridge Road is not groomed -- until it joins the groomed route from the China Wall parking area at the #43 Road. Via Mosquito Ridge Road and the normal snowline and parking, the snowmobile route to French Meadows Reservoir is about 15 miles, the last half of which is groomed as part of the trail from China Flat.

Adventurous snowmobilers can continue following the marked, but un-groomed trail, up the Middle Fork of the American River. A designated logging road then ties the marked trail to the end of the groomed trail on Foresthill Divide above Robinson Flat. From there follow the groomed trial down and past Robinson Flat where the trail branches to the left and follows the #43 Road back to the Mosquito Ridge Road. Whew. From the parking location and back this is a 47-mile loop. Snowmobile use is rather light. Take a good map and the proper safety gear. See Map.

Difficulty level: Easiest to French Meadows Reservoir; Most Difficult rating for the un-groomed route that loops to the Soda Springs Road."


"Ikon Cycles

Route: The ride goes down Foresthill Road to Mosquito Ridge (about 1/4-1/2 miles). Turn left on Mosquito Ridge Road and follow it on a 9 mile descent to the River. Then take it on a 20 mile climb to the summit. Turn the bikes around and reverse the course.

Ride Notes: The elevation changes are 3,100 Ft down to 1,400 Ft up to 5,800 feet and reverse it. The worst part of the ride is the last blankety blank 9 miles. It's an ugly climb that seemingly takes forever.

(In the Spring, we can add another 18 miles or so to the ride by continuing on from the 20 mile summit down to French Meadows and then reverse the course. Dan-dan The Mountain Man and Stuart and Remie (on their tandem) did that ride this past year. They may not willingly do it again.)

Distance: 58 miles approx.

Pace: Moderate and flexible -- sweep ride -- no one will be left behind.

Preparation: Drink plenty of fluids consume nutrition preferably 1.5 to 2 hours prior to ride."


-- and orchestrating through page five of Esther Xerxes: X. Proclamation Issued.