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First of all I made two efforts trying to post this. In each case when I closed down the window on a particular photo the action closed down the narative portion of the post. It would only do that on a certain series of photos that I was more or less going through in order to find the ones I tranferred to the desktop for downsizing. This has not happened before and it was really frustrating. This time I posted the pictures first so I'm not going to do a 3-peat of the narative, just a shorter summary. I've been looking forward to posting my first Ride Tale because this section has been my inspiration to get into sport touring. There are many excellent posts here and many excellent writers, those that can make you feel like your actually there. I want to thank all of them and I hope this is a start of many more adventures in the future.

Went on my first motorcycle camping trip to a small resort off the Feather River and hgwy 70 called Belden, Ca. Its in Northern Cal N/E of the town of Oroville up in the Sierra Nevadas. Its claim to fame is the fact the Pacific Crest Trail runs smack dab down the middle of the place. The PCT in itself is an interesting subject and I did see some "Thru Hikers" walk through. Belden is kind of a waypoint, rest stop for these really outdoor to the extreme hikers. About 300 attempt the 2,650 mile Mexico to Canada border each year, about 180 make it. It takes between 4 to 6 months to do it. The trail was concieved in 1932 but not officially designated until 1968 and from that date on a combination of fund raising, massive volunteer help and government help led to it's dedication in 1993. For the fun of it I rode my motorcycle the short distance to the end, which was some rail road tracks. I walked over the tracks after spotting a trail sign and decided to step on to the Pacific Crest Trail. The area is extremely steep and likely one of the more arduous sections. I went up and traversed maybe 3 switchbacks, at the top of the first one lay two hand made walking sticks, put there by a hiker for all to enjoy. I used it until I reached another sign that indicated Bucks Lake was 19 miles distant and another location 8 miles distant. I was puffing even after doing only 3 switchbacks, so I ended my identity adventure and turned around. I replaced the walking stick and rode back to camp. The last time I encountered the PCT was about 5 years ago while on a family day hike in the Trinity Alps. This is an area in Northern California close to Mt Shasta, apparently the PCT encounters some other well known trails, the one we saw was the John Muir Trail. While taking a nice easy hike with my two kids we spotted two lady hikers packing up their campsite. We stopped and chatted for a bit and to my amazement I learned they were Mom and Daughter heading to the Canadian border via the PCT. Both were from England and the Daughter started the trek at the Mexican border and had been alone for a couple months before hooking up with her Mom in Sacramento. I was blown away by all this. Two things that stood out during the encounter was the fact both my daughters smelled the two hikers from 25 feet away and the size of the hiker's calves caught my eye, the daughters that is. They looked like my Bulldog's thighs, kankles were of world record size. Nice people, not your everyday home body types thats for sure. I wonder what makes them tick and I wonder what it would be like being up there in the middle of the night where you can't see the hand in front of your face.

The first night out "in the bush" was a disaster; between my cheap pup tent and 4 trains passing through, I felt like a train wreck the next morning. Biggest issue was the fact I didn't take a shower since the showers were a good 1/4 mile away, thought I could get by without it, not. Borrowed a shower from a fellow rider's cabin and then had breckfast. The restaurant there fortunately was very good.

The Saturday ride was awesome, a continuation of the road we took to get there, winding up in Quincy for a fuel and rest stop. At that time we decided to head for Lassen Volcanic Park by way of Lake Almandor and the town of Chester. Again, the roads were perfect, but still very warm out. At the entrance to the park we took a break and the folks on the sport bikes decided to turn around and head back to camp. I wasn't going to turn around after going all that way so myself and the guy who rode up with me from Sacto proceeded into the park. One of the sport bike guys was out for the first time after sustaining a broken leg in an AFM racing accident. The ride we were on was a real test for anyone on a sportbike, broken leg or not. Needless to say he was hurting by the time we got to Lassen. The cost per bike is only $5 and the road was a very nice slow speed twisty with a number of turn outs as you head up the mountain. Lassen is an active volcano. Last erupted in 1914, previously it erupted 27K years before that. It displayed all the signs like steam vents, sulfur smells, boiling water pots,etc. We ended up at a large yet empty parking lot which is used as a staging area for hikers wanting to reach the summit. Actually the volcano isn't really tall, about 10.4K feet and we were at around 8K feet. Apparently it takes 4 to 6 hours from where we were to hike up and down. The area is right at the tree line and for some reason the summit trail was blocked off. We hung out long enough to take a couple shots then headed back down to the visitor center for some ice cream before leaving. As we walked to our bikes in the parking lot we passed 6-7 guys who were loitering around their fully modded full dress Harleys. They all looked alike, dressed alike and about the same boomer age. I almost yelled out, "are you guys doing a Viagra commercial?" It was still very hot out and so I stripped down to my tshirt, so did my buddy and we rode back to camp that way. First time I have ever done that since I was a teenager, felt like I had my hand in the cookie jar. But I felt much more comfortable. I think if I had some good fully perforated leathers, at least the lowers, I would have been OK. On this run I wore abbrasive resistant jeans, I believe now they are not good for hot weather. Packing the right safety gear was a problem. I couldn't pack both my race boots and hiking boots, so I opted to just wearing full time the hiking boots. I think I'm going to look into getting lower cut riding boots, the type you can wear on or off the bike.

Back at camp we got the evil eye coming in with only tshirts on, we heard about that later on. The others are the type to not go anywhere in any condition without full one piece leathers on. I know, they are right and I'm wrong, but I think riding a sport tour bike has something to do with it. I doubt I would have done that on my 999R, no way.

That night the AFM guy with the broken leg put on a killer BBQ, he is known for his BBQ talents. No dissappointments there; marinated Tri-Tip, Brats, Chicken and the trimmings. I purposely stuffed myself knowing you can't raid the frig while camping. We hung out for a while, I did the smart thing and used the camp showers, hung out some more at the bar before retiring. Leading up to this point we all noticed an increase in electrical weather activity and its not uncommon for thunderheads to appear in the high sierra during summer. In fact its quite common, kind of like the mountain's monsoon season. Sure enough, about an hour after hitting it the rains started. I had to rescue my boots outside and then tried to get back to sleep. Not a chance between the very noisy raindrops, the guy in the tent next to me snoring (he drank 5 long island ice teas with equal number of beers earlier), the two trains and the micro weather condition inside the tent. What I mean by that is the fact the tent had minimal ventilation, it was humid out and I provided body heat in the tent so here I was all sticky again. At the first hint of sun light I quickly got dressed and proceeded to pack up; not so much because I didn't have a good time, I just wanted to get home, take a shower and sleep in my own bed.

The ride back was uneventful through patchy wet twisty roads along the Feather River. The Bridgestone BT016s are awesome, never a slip. However, when they wear out I'm opting more for a road tire since I want to increase my tire range. I'll be lucky to get 4 to 4.5K miles out of them.

All and all it was a very good and fun first time motorcycle camping trip, except for the nights that is. I knew going in this would be a learning experience so I decided against buying better gear for now. However, the next day I was on the internet researching tents and related gear. I will be getting a better tent, likely a three man dome type. Kind of overkill in the size department, but when they say two man, that means one man to me. Being in a pup tent having zero height clearance, it was a PITA to change clothes. I want elbow room, excellent ventilation and rain protection. In the sleeping bag department I'll pick up a more efficient one but not a mummy bag. Don't need one of those -30 below bags, I won't be doing any cold weather camping. I would like to find a more efficient small six pack type cooler. I brought one but upon inspection I noticed it had zero insulation and that is why the ice melted so quickly. It was basically a plastic box with a fabric cover. I'll learn alot more about motorcycle camping as time goes on.

The Multistrada performed flawlessly. Excellent gas mileage and no worries about running out, unlike the riders with sportbikes. Having the MRA Vario windscreen really helped on the slab portion of the trip, or anytime we were at speed actually. It literally kills wind buffeting dead in its tracks. I can't think of a more perfect bike for this type of trip. There was an equal amount of twisty roads vs flat hgwy roads and the Multi was designed to handle both with ease. I suppose if I were to consider longer slab runs I would upgrade the seat, the stock seat isn't too bad, but could stand improvement.

My next scheduled overnighter will be Scott's Bridgeport run in September, but I just may do a couple more before then. The Bridgeport run will be a one night motel stay, which is fine. Camping instead of picking up a hotel sure saves money. With the right gear and shower facilities, camping is a fun and affordable way to explore this beautiful land. I'm really excited about planning and going on my next one, I'll take it slow, likely one to two nights out at a time. I can't really at this time pull off one of those long epic rides yet, I have to balance the home life and keep things fair. What I found wierd is the fact my wife for the first time is being supportive of my new found sport touring hobby. Keep in mind it was no fun on her part taking care of me for a couple years after my accident, so I don't blame her being negative about motorcycles. The other day she even sent me some leads off the internet regarding tents. In her mind there is a difference between sport bikes and sport tour bikes, I share that opinion. I'm convinced you should have both, if you can.

The first picture is enroute to Belden. The second is me in front of the Plumas Nat'l Park sign. Third is just prior to entering Lassen Volcanic Park. Fourth is a picture of some of the others on the ride and to the right is my POS pup tent. Next photo is inside the park showing the sulfur smelling steam vent activity. Sixth photo is going up the mountain with a view to the West. Seventh is my bike just before departure (should have been the first pic). Next is looking down on Lake Helens, a clear mountain lake on Mt. Lassen. The ninth photo is taken from the staging area parking lot with a view of Lassen peak and the barrier indicating the summit trail is closed. You can see beyond the barrier the markings of the actual trail going up the mountain. Its about a 2,000ft + elevation climb to the summit from where I was. Also, near the middle of the craggy outcroppings you see a smooth portion with a circular shape in the center of it. Thats called the Eagles Eye or something similar. The tenth and final photo is a fill in since I had one more to post before reaching the maximum of 10. Since I had no more camping trip photos, Mangia/Mangia was sitting next to me wanting her picture posted, so I complied. I get a kick out of the way Bulldog's sit, its a riot.
 

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Still needs a life.
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Thanks for the report. The trains would have kept me up all night for a different reason.
There are some adventure rider forums that may be able to offer info regarding good moto camping gear.
 

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Hey John, that is a great write up! If you need help with gear, Jessica and I have it really fine tuned and would be happy to give you some advice. I can tell you about my favorite tent to start your list, a Nemo Losi 3P. The tent is a little pricey but packs nice, is very roomy and worth EVERY penny. You can get it at REI. Call me for any help in looking and picking out the good stuff, it will save you money in the long run.
 

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Good story John. Got a kick out of the drunken snorer and POS pup tent. Bike looked well dressed, Debbie didnt go with? Did I see a 1098 in the Lassen sign photo? 848? cant mistake those exhaust. How did he/she pack that bike? My beemer has good hard bags, the 1198 a much different story.
Also enjoyed the t-shirt-only bit- just cauze thats what I do once in a while.
Mangia rocks the picture album
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hey John, that is a great write up! If you need help with gear, Jessica and I have it really fine tuned and would be happy to give you some advice. I can tell you about my favorite tent to start your list, a Nemo Losi 3P. The tent is a little pricey but packs nice, is very roomy and worth EVERY penny. You can get it at REI. Call me for any help in looking and picking out the good stuff, it will save you money in the long run.
You mean you don't recommend a 10'x10' Coleman dome tent? That Nemo Losi 3P sounds sophisticated and expensive, but I'm sure its great at regulating the environment both inside and outside the tent. I will for sure talk to you both about gear. thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the report. The trains would have kept me up all night for a different reason.
There are some adventure rider forums that may be able to offer info regarding good moto camping gear.
I like train noise, I have them from about a mile away at home, just right. The noise I'm talking about was like inside the tent. I knew there were tracks up a steep slope, but the noise the train generated late at night made me think at the moment there was another set of tracks 10' away.

Yep, I'm all over it when it comes to looking up things. Lots of choices leading to confusion. But anything would be better than what I used last weekend.
 

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Give me a jingle anytime. Worth not spending money on stuff that doesn't work. Ted was a big help in getting us pointed in the right direction and now we have it down.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Good story John. Got a kick out of the drunken snorer and POS pup tent. Bike looked well dressed, Debbie didnt go with? Did I see a 1098 in the Lassen sign photo? 848? cant mistake those exhaust. How did he/she pack that bike? My beemer has good hard bags, the 1198 a much different story.
Also enjoyed the t-shirt-only bit- just cauze thats what I do once in a while.
Mangia rocks the picture album
Myself and a guy who rode up with me were the only ones who rode (he has a Triumph Tiger), the others trailered in. Kind of hard to do what I did on a superbike. The thought of trailering in next time is appealing because I can bring the 999R and also sleep in the trailer. In fact, thats exactly what I'm going to do next time. Majority of the roads up there were built for superbikes, the lumpy bumpy ones for the Multistrada.
 

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John, take and use earplugs anytime you are in a group camping or room mate situation. they do help the sleeping situation. might not help much with the trains that shake the ground pulling the grade nextdoor, but will really help with the neighbor snoring.
 

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Nice write-up and pics John. I did my first camping trip in two years this weekend. Hwy 128 to hwy 1 to Avenue of the Giants. Camped in Humboldt Redwoods State Park - Albee Creek CG, very nice. You might like to try it if you haven't already. Nice way to get to Hwy 36 and 299 and points north as well.

I few things I've learned over the years of backpacking and camping. Backpacking = light weight and small, camping doesn't have to be that way. I love my 2", full length Thermarest mattress pad. Highly recommended. Also, I have some older dome tents. The amount of floor space and headroom in a 2 or 2-3 man done works well for me and my gear. If I were to get a new tent one of the criteria for me would be how quickly I can get the thing up and down. I hate messing around with setup, especially if the weather is not cooperating. Also, i shelved the mummi bag in favor of the big old Coleman cheapy. It's not sexy, but I like legroom. One other item I highly recommed is a microfiber towel. Packs small and drys quick.

This was my first camping trip on the ST and I noticed it handled differently with the added weight and changed airflow. Took some getting used to, mostly at hwy speeds. The bike wasn't as planted. No problems though.

Note - In looking back on my comments I contradicted myself. There are probably aerodynamic and weight advantages to having lighter, smaller tent/bag/pad on the back of the bike. I guess the question is whether they outweigh sleeping comfort. Interestingly, on my vstrom I never noticed any difference when the bike was fully loaded -- with even more gear than I had this weekend. Too bad the preload is such a bear to change. There is something to be said for twisting a knob to get more preload quickly and easily.
 

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Great write-up John! Sounds like a good time overall, not sure how that tent ever made it into your bags in the first place! :) Can't say enough about the wonderfulness of a mattress pad and having a bit of extra space in the tent, a headlight (straps around your head) and chilled drink too. As for the t-shirt ride, i did that for the first time months ago when going to the market down the street, so i know what you mean. The Bridgeport ride sounds delightful; i once stayed the Hunewell ranch, the area is breathtaking. Great pics, thanks for sharing.

See ya
 

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Nice write-up and pics John. I did my first camping trip in two years this weekend. Hwy 128 to hwy 1 to Avenue of the Giants. Camped in Humboldt Redwoods State Park - Albee Creek CG, very nice. You might like to try it if you haven't already. Nice way to get to Hwy 36 and 299 and points north as well.

I few things I've learned over the years of backpacking and camping. Backpacking = light weight and small, camping doesn't have to be that way. I love my 2", full length Thermarest mattress pad. Highly recommended. Also, I have some older dome tents. The amount of floor space and headroom in a 2 or 2-3 man done works well for me and my gear. If I were to get a new tent one of the criteria for me would be how quickly I can get the thing up and down. I hate messing around with setup, especially if the weather is not cooperating. Also, i shelved the mummi bag in favor of the big old Coleman cheapy. It's not sexy, but I like legroom. One other item I highly recommed is a microfiber towel. Packs small and drys quick.

This was my first camping trip on the ST and I noticed it handled differently with the added weight and changed airflow. Took some getting used to, mostly at hwy speeds. The bike wasn't as planted. No problems though.

Note - In looking back on my comments I contradicted myself. There are probably aerodynamic and weight advantages to having lighter, smaller tent/bag/pad on the back of the bike. I guess the question is whether they outweigh sleeping comfort. Interestingly, on my vstrom I never noticed any difference when the bike was fully loaded -- with even more gear than I had this weekend. Too bad the preload is such a bear to change. There is something to be said for twisting a knob to get more preload quickly and easily.
I thought the ST had the preload dial on the right side like the Multi does. It does come in handy and does make a difference in ride behavior.

I share your comments on the sleeping bag, don't like the mummy thing and besides I don't plan on going out in very cold temps. I don't like how the mummy is so restrictive, so I'm staying with the older style but improved as to achieving comfort yet smaller. I agree with having a tent you don't have to mess with much setting it up. I like the one you just "throw it" and its practically set up by the time it hits the ground. I'm not concerned about weight saving with the tent, again I want ease of set up and big. A three man dome tent would be perfect since you can almost stand up in it in order to change clothes and theres storage galore. The pup tent or those small skinny ones just don't cut the mustard for me.

I noticed just a little wind buffeting around the bike due to the bag and tent being behind me and not in the top case. No problem though, sensation went away or I got used to it quickly.

The redwoods are calling, you just gave me an idea for my next short ride bro. Thats where I'll go next by way of Skaggs Spring then up the coast then come back 36, does that sound like a plan? If you have something more logical, let me know. The motorcycle camping trip clock has just been turned on. Seems to me the route you took would be great, I'm not familar with the roads you described, I'll have to check it out on Google Earth.

I think its very feasible to leave Friday late morning and get back by Sunday late afternoon, don't you think from the Sacto area?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Great write-up John! Sounds like a good time overall, not sure how that tent ever made it into your bags in the first place! :) Can't say enough about the wonderfulness of a mattress pad and having a bit of extra space in the tent, a headlight (straps around your head) and chilled drink too. As for the t-shirt ride, i did that for the first time months ago when going to the market down the street, so i know what you mean. The Bridgeport ride sounds delightful; i once stayed the Hunewell ranch, the area is breathtaking. Great pics, thanks for sharing.

See ya
Thanks Obie, the light device that straps around your head is the most important accessory to bring on any trip, if not for that then you can use it for adjusting your valve clearances. lol. It is a fantastic tool because the light it projects is always where you are looking and allows hands free work too.
 

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I can suggest a much better option then the Thermarest is the very compact Exped Synmat 7 or 9. It's an air mattress but is so compact it will amaze you.
 

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The redwoods are calling, you just gave me an idea for my next short ride bro. Thats where I'll go next by way of Skaggs Spring then up the coast then come back 36, does that sound like a plan? If you have something more logical, let me know. The motorcycle camping trip clock has just been turned on. Seems to me the route you took would be great, I'm not familar with the roads you described, I'll have to check it out on Google Earth.

I think its very feasible to leave Friday late morning and get back by Sunday late afternoon, don't you think from the Sacto area?​

John, I just did a quick google map and your route looks to be in the neighborhood of 620 miles. Seems very doable in your timeframe. There are some nice camping spots along the coast where Skaggs comes out on Hwy 1. Could be booked on the weekends for the next month or so though. You'll have to check. There are two campgrounds on 36 that I know of. One is Grizzly Creek. Nice but a bit noisy since it's right on 36, and the primitive one near Platina. Quiet, but all it has is a pit toilet, no running water... as of 2 years ago. Can't comment on the Red Bluff to Sac leg since I haven't ridden through those parts. Here's some info on Grizzly Creek...

http://www.redwoodhikes.com/Grizzly/Grizzly.html
 
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