I had a fun ride to the Lava Beds today. It was mostly “normal” as one would expect in an unvisited portion northern California.

I started off with a good start — my neighbor in Lassen, Kristen (or however she spells it) offered me a hard-boiled egg for breakfast. I’m guessing this is in repayment for me giving her fire in the form of matches the night before.

It’s hard to describe most of it as anything other than fun.

Then I went the “adventurous” route (as specced on Lava Beds’ web site). This brought me next to Medicine Lake. It seemed to be a cold, overcast Monday so only a few folks were even there. The ride there was more than entertaining though. A shoddily maintained, seldom traveled, 1.5 – 2 lane road. The potholes were only occasional and even when I hit them the GS soaked them up like a sponge.

Once past Medicine Lake (which, honestly I expected a town around) the road shrunk to a real one laner with an occasional turn-off for the non-existent traffic.

Then it went to gravel. No worries… I had set things up for dirt before I got there. It was just a bit twitchy — even with the steering damper. God knows what it would be like without it.

Then it went to crap.

I later learned that there were a few stretches of “pavement.” Scare quotes since this road looked like it was bombed. Well, after that they ripped up the pavement and threw down some soft silty dirt and applied some gravel on top for good measure. I had some pucker moments, but all was well.

Until I tried to stop for the requisite photo-op of the bike with the sign.

A dabbed a tad more front brake than the surface could handle at < 5mph. I was unceremoniously dumped off the right side in the effectively 0-mph tip-over. And I have it on video! Joy! ;-) I even have the righting of the bike on the same clip. What fun.

Nothing damaged except my ego. That’s later.

I get to the visitor center to register. The ranger behind the desk, Jesse if memory serves, “you did that on a bike?!” :-)

No worries. I asked about what there was to do in the park. There’s lava caves or “you could hike the three sisters trail, it’s an easy hike with no real elevation gain.”

So I did.

Maybe going out in the desert alone wasn’t a good idea. (Full disclosure, I also brought along the Spot messenger in case something really bad happened. Ennie was tracking me so it was obviously working)

What if you twist an ankle?

Well, let me tell you from experience: you keep walking.

It was awfully pretty for the first four or five miles. So much to see. Lava tubes (more on that hopefully tomorrow), wildlife including a deer and a jackrabbit. Just the awesome desolation of the desert. And how it really is alive, though not ver hospitable to humans. Lots of pictures were taken.

Then, as the trail did a loop outside the boundaries of the park, the trail became almost non-existent. I was walking on a what looked like a Jeep trail from the 50’s — overgrown and barely able to make out the tire tracks. I got worried enough to mark the last known good point on my phone before trekking on.

I was expecting this to be a three hour walk. I was already two hours in and I wasn’t even to the half-way point. And I was half through with the water I brought with me. :-O

It turns out I was able to follow the trail back into the park. Thankfully.

Then I rolled my left ankle.

Ach.

Nothing to do but keep walking. For another five or so miles I trudged onward.

Eventually I made it back to my camp — just in time for it to start raining. I suppose some deity was smiling on me because the rain held off until I was back “home.”

Wait. I’m in the desert. Rain? Wazzat?

Remember… that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

Heh… and no bellyaching either.

Update from the next morning — the ankle is still sore, but not dreadfully painful. I also woke up to an absolutely beautiful clear blue sky with some hazy clouds in the distance. This was one of the first nights that I didn’t at all feel cold. I guess that’s what you get with lower elevations.

Today: Heading to Crater Lake — maybe further.