Well here we are, Saturday and day 05 of our adventure. Things changed before they began. Due to the heat we decided to run up the coast to Eureka.
While I hate Hwy 1 in the summer (staring at the back of a car going 10mph under the speed limit can be done on the morning commute), the temps finally dropped from the insane heatwave we’ve been in the middle of. The views are also spectacular on the sections that don’t have traffic, but steering 1400lbs of sidecar on a tight road is also taxing.
Eureka, at least in the center of town, looks a bit like a zombie movie. Methheads and drifters wander around gas stations in random patterns, in and out of the shadows. Fortunately we stayed in Elk Creek, which is just outside town but a different world.
Our host, John, was a fellow gearhead and tinker, so we had a lot to talk about. He had an addition to his house that was basically a studio apartment, so Kate and I could make meals, grab a shower, and sleep in an actual bed. Not a bad start…
We used this as a base to head out to Elk Creed trailhead, which was an old logging road. It led to the ruins of the old logging town but we didn’t head all the way there. Still, we were able to see the ruins of old (like 1910’s old) logging trucks and some buildings left behind, reclaimed by the forest. The sun broke and burned off the coastal fog but we were in and out of the shade.
The second day we explored a bit more of Eureka but mainly to get fresh supplies for dinner and to see some of the beaches. It would be our last time seeing the California Pacific but we’ll get to see the ocean again in Oregon.
Hwy 299 took us east through stunning canyon views and several bits of road construction That reduced traffic to one lane. Fortunately each time we stopped we were in shade. In Weaverville we met stopped to get our bearings, with Whiskeytown Recreation Area as our planned stop. A nice local stopped and chatted us up and mentioned French Gulch, which was near our planned stop and, according to him, much less known.
He turned out to be right as the campground was deserted, so we picked a spot right next to the creek and set up camp. The insects definitely knew about this spot, but we were the only ones all night. The creek was warm enough to bathe in and dinner was whipped up by Kate in short order.
Come sunset the wildfire smoke even took a break, giving us cool air and a clear view of the stars while mosquitoes assaulted our tent from the outside.
We explored a bit of Redding the next day and found a bead store that Kate could resupply at. They were friendly and holy hell I didn’t know that many kinds of beads existed. After that we grabbed some groceries and water before exploring Shasta and returning to camp. Shasta is a very old town, once the end of the line for stagecoaches trying to reach Eureka.
Now all that remains is a few crumbled stone walls, the old hotel (now a Masonic lodge), and the courthouse (now a museum, closed because of COVID19). Original photos showed what it looked like in the 1800s and it was nice to let the imagination wander back in time.
We are now stocked up for another few days and it’s time to leave all the smoke and heat of Redding for the heat but no smoke of Mt. Shasta. We’ll update again and of course the Instagram is more active since it takes less time and less internet than posting here.
John & Kate