Topher’s Truck

We, Ben and I, take off for the high Sierras in Topher’s Truck. The weather is beautiful, the Toyota motor hums for the open road as we cross the new Bay Bridge and head east on Hwy 80. The best book in the world is “Backcountry Adventures: Northern California.” Actually, the best book in the world is “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson but “Backcountry Adventures: Northern California.” is the best book in the world in a different sort of way. It gives routes of 4WD adventures in the most remote parts of the State, with full historical detail. A massive piece of research that lends itself to toilet reading. Buy it even if you never come to California.http://www.amazon.com/Backcountry-Adventures-California-Peter-Massey/dp/1930193084 I have worn out  2 copies but luckily James has just bought a third. Soon we are in Gold Country and driving up the old mule train roads that the prospectors used.

Thousands of square miles of mountains and lakes with nobody there except Ben and Topher's Truck

Thousands of square miles of mountains and lakes with nobody there except Ben and Topher’s Truck

The trails are very broken, frequently with thousand foot drops a few feet from your offside wheel. Topher’s Truck has 200,000 miles, 4WD with lockable front hubs and low ratios. She doesn’t care about the wind and weather.

We stumble across a young Brown Bear

We stumble across a young Brown Bear

We camp by a lake. There is nobody. There are probably lots of bears.

Trout begin to rise

Trout begin to rise

Bear Food

Bear Food

A Dutch Oven is the best cooking device ever invented. We fry up onions,  garlic, bacon, a big hunk of beef and then add potatoes and turnip. We feed the fire with a few small stick and an hour later there is the best “Ragout de Boeuf aux Navets, Favorit de L’Ours” that has ever lured a Bear out of the woods.

Food cooked outside always taste  so much better

Food cooked outside always taste so much better

We drink Sierra Nevada before the meal and strong Californian Shiraz with the meal. Holy cow, we are in the wilderness and life is at its best.

Ben opens beer with an axe.

Ben opens beer with an axe.

Bedroom

Bedroom

Ben goes fishing.

Ben immerses himself in freezing mountain lake to banish lustful thoughts

Ben immerses himself in freezing mountain lake to banish lustful thoughts

The leitmotif of this trip is to visit old mining towns. We set off the next day to Summit City, a mining town at 7,500 ft. In 1865, at its peak, there were 500 buildings and the population numbered up to 6,000 residents. By 1868, the population had dropped to fewer than 100 residents. The history in these high mountains is made more vibrant by their current total remoteness.

The trail is blocked by snow. It is nearly June.

The trail is blocked by snow. It is nearly June!

It is a big climb. As we approach the town the trail is blocked by a massive tree that has totally crashed.

End of the road.

End of the road.

So we go for a hike  following the Bear tracks that are all around and looking over hundreds of miles of high mountains. California is a wonderful place.

Is this a flower?

Is this a flower?

This stuff carpets the forest floor.

This stuff carpets the forest floor.

We finally emerge from the mountains at Truckee, a town that was named after Topher’s Truck. We then blast back to San Francisco. Ben drives, I sleep. Thanks Ben, thanks Topher’s Truck.

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7 Responses to Topher’s Truck

  1. Rosemary says:

    Fungus ‘flower’ I would say. Reminds me of when the cat aborted sad slimy little outlets.
    No way would I get any sleep in the open with bears about.
    Well done Ben and his Da.

  2. Not sure I needed to know about the baby cats but they are remarkable flowers – everywhere.

  3. Alan says:

    Sounds like a great trip – just the sort of random happening that appeals to me. I reckon those flowers are actually “the bloody flesh-like thing.” or, colloquially, Snow Plants. Not actually a fungus but a parasite on fungi. http://www.nationalforests.org/blog/a-few-reasons-why-the-snow-plant-is-one-of-the-coolest-things-youll-see-on-national-forests-in-california

    I took a search for Summit City also and found reference to an interesting little book about the place written by Roy Acker, whose family moved there in 1863 and ran a sawmill there for three years. His great-aunt was apparently the only person to die and be buried there during the place’s brief existence. Incidentally, she died at the age of 14 after a year of marriage – other times. Mr Acker remembered driving, no 4wd then, up to the site in the 1920s with his father in a search for his great aunt’s grave. Apparently that all traces of the little town were swept away in a great snowslide in 1923. That 6000 inhabitants seems something of an exaggeration as were the claims of great mineral wealth – seems it was all lies and hype. Amazingly there seems to have been an observatory built there in 1861, a couple of years before the mining boom.

    Couple of other links that I found: http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/ca/summitcity.html and http://oac.cdlib.org/view?docId=tf2x0nb5r3&doc.view=items&style=oac4&item.position=61

    Thanks for giving me an excuse to do some online adventuring!

    • Ah so, I had to approve this comment for some reason Got out of synch thus comment that follows on “who is Roy Acker” Look up Alleghany City and Forrest City while you are at it. We visited these towns on the first day.

  4. Who is Roy Acker? When I hit the link I get the message
    Sorry, 111.169.173.63 has been banned. Wow banned! must have been hot stuff about Summit City

  5. Alan says:

    Wierd, the link works fine here. Must be something about your provider or maybe the NSA reckon that information about Minuteman missile engineers shouldn’t be known to people working Japanese technical unis? Have a look at http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Historical_Summit_City.html?id=FFlJHQAACAAJ&redir_esc=y where the same link is available and at http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=jswatson&id=P3057 for some family info. Sadly there wasn’t anything racy on the page that I can remember though I did find another site which talked of miners being transported across a nearby lake to be entertained by ‘hurdy-gurdy girls’. I’ll make a ciopy of the site and send it to you.

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