“All the hermit Dan’s stuff was in the way. And at that point she drove over her his hose and a bucket and he hollered at her. Get the F#$%K off my hose!”
This is the altering Podcast Episode 10. I’m Mike Henderson the voice you just heard are my guest today Brent Hart and Shawn O’Meara. These guys are two good friends from here in Reno Nevada who have done a lot of mountain biking together over the years and in recent years we’ve all gotten back into four wheeling and off road. If you follow our YouTube channel All Terrain Family you might have seen Brent and Shawn. In the video from our family adventure on the Deer Valley Jeep trail.
If not well it’s a real treat. You should grab a beer and check it out. You should also check out our website where you’ll find hats patches and stickers. They’ll make your truck a better Overlander. And I’ve been proven to prevent shock fate. Check it out. It Ultron podcast dot com and you’ll never have to hear ads for mattresses and mailorder kale salad on this pocket.
All right here’s episode 10 with Sean O’Meara and Britain are talking about their adventure on the Plumas Backcountry Discovery Trail in Northern California.
[00:01:09] All right guys how’s it going. Thanks Kelly. Thank you.
[00:01:15] All right so we’re going to talk today about the Plumas National Forest back country Discovery Trail I’ve got this little book right here that we picked up that I think I’ve got to set the Plumas ranger station in. Greg when we went to pick to cut down a Christmas tree you can find that any of the ranger stations or you can go online and download it from the Plumas National Forest PDF it’s a little spiral bound little thing here.
[00:01:41] So this is a trip that I planned and I scheduled and I talked to you guys doing. And then I didn’t go on because I was sick. So I’ve been super bummed and pissed and that’s why I really haven’t asked you guys about it because I was like screw those guys.
[00:01:56] So they were really sick. Now you’re here. We’re going to talk about it.
[00:02:00] So so so generally the map is there are seven maps and seven sections in this. It goes from basically Laporte California to Lake Alman or through Quincy spring garden along the Feather River. So where did you guys where you guys start this trail this time.
[00:02:29] Well I think we kind of changed it up a little bit instead of starting in LaPorte. We started in downhill down the road.
[00:02:36] And we took the trail from Donnie ville to Poker Flat and stayed the first night in Poker Flat and then drove to La Porte the next day.
[00:02:48] And I said a good campground how’s the drive from Townsville to Poker Flat is that long and boring.
[00:02:55] Not at all. Actually it turned out to be the. I thought it was the best part of the trip. You know it’s Spierer road but right from the highway it climbs right from the highway and you’re in dense forest.
[00:03:12] You know it’s it’s forest service road and you can actually mine back there maintains the road but OK so it’s in pretty good shape and about halfway through the trip there’s a fire lookout OK on on that road to to put her flat on the road poke flat and so we didn’t know anything about it and we thought let’s take this right turn and go check it out and glad we did yeah that was that was one of the highlights was that fire look out and they keep somebody staffed up there he stays up there 24/7 for I think a ten day shift and super friendly and showed us everything about the fire look out and showed us the different peaks and pointed out the road that we needed to go on to continue over to put her flat cool.
[00:04:02] Is there a nice campground poke from Oscar flats an interesting look at OHV staging area right. It’s an OHV camp ground.
[00:04:11] There’s five spots Max.
[00:04:14] That’s not really stationary it’s just a OHV campground but it’s seen it’s real popular with some miners. There’s a couple of claims back there so the older the people at the campground were where miners with active claims.
[00:04:28] It’s it’s right on that creek okay. There’s water running by there and I enjoyed it actually cool right at the bottom of a ravine.
[00:04:40] So the road going back to a road across to poker flat after we left the fire lookout station got real sort of technical nice descent down into poker flat that was basically a big basically a big V. And there was a sign that we saw you’re on your own drag your own risk.
[00:05:04] No no no cell phone coverage no tow travel at your own risk.
[00:05:09] That same thing at the open cut road in Death Valley sort of thing. So let’s back up a little bit I forgot to do this little house cleaning what tell me about your tell our viewers or listeners because I know but tell me about your truck and who was with you on this trip.
[00:05:25] John so this is the first trip and my new to me vehicle is the 2012 Ram Power Wagon. I had a wrangler didn’t wasn’t working for our particular situation and f 150 and of course that wasn’t working so I finally found a used power wagon because it would our RV trailer because it comes with lockers and this connect to sway bar for 56 years so it was it’s a box stock power going cool since made some other mods but they weren’t on there at the time but right at the trip it was box dockets.
[00:06:07] I’ve modded it a little bit since then it was just you and Emett right.
[00:06:11] And the dog and the dog.
[00:06:13] And Brent who who’s with you in what my entire family fit into a 2015 Jeep Wrangler.
[00:06:21] J k. My family consist of my wife Rachel and our 13 year old son Sam and our 80 pound labradoodle is inefficacy.
[00:06:37] It’s a picture that if you will Jake have you had right before this we hope we hope to put that roof rack on so that that worked out pretty well.
[00:06:47] Yeah this was that was a big trip for us. You know previously we may have a pop up tent trailer. For the past nine years we pretty much camped in it and out of its basic standard campsites. So this was a new experience for us and going without the trailer. So the big big test was how do I fit my whole family and our gear. Food water everything that we needed into this cheap. And so we did it on the head. The answer was Sean was nice enough to volunteer and help me install a new roof rack right.
[00:07:32] And that wasn’t simple I mean we had to pull the lid off of that thing on the floor of the garage bolting things up drilling holes in it.
[00:07:40] It was brutal. Shaun was confident I was a little skeptical about drilling holes in the roof right now.
[00:07:47] I had already had already put one of these racks in my jeep so I was pretty competent with Brandt’s but it was classic to see the look on his face when I was running the unit to the jeeps.
[00:08:05] So Khoso. So you got a rhino rock platform rack and you threw some through some straps some stuff up on their overland style. You put your did you put your max tracks up there those go inside because they’re just too nice.
[00:08:19] They went up on top of a bungee cord and right to the top. Basically all my soft goods that could afford to get wet if it rained went up on top like sleeping pads and chairs fold up chairs a couple boxes actually carried all of our kitchen where all our pots and pans coffee maker and front runner box red boxes as well thanks had two of those one carry food and one carried our net went up on the roof so anything like it could afford to get wet went up on top.
[00:09:02] All right. So back into it we get at Poker Flat camp ground and then one of the things that we were worried about initially trying to find information on was wasn’t it we were worried about Poker Flat to Laporte and that ended up being challenging.
[00:09:16] It was it was fun. I wouldn’t say it was that challenge it was it was fun.
[00:09:21] I want to back up because there was an interesting story that kind of set the tone for Brent’s wife Rachel the rest of the trip before we got to Poker Flat. We’re on the steep descent that Brent was talking about earlier and we get to this old YJ Jeep probably late 90s.
[00:09:45] It was in good shape except the one of the rear hubs that snapped off. So we see this Jeep abandoned on the side of the road with its wheel next to it. With it snapped off Hubb and they actually got the they put some type of steel piece of metal underneath the hub and drove it off the road. It looked very dramatic. And I remember Rachel saying could happen to her jeep.
[00:10:14] So the rest of the trip. Yeah. She she she was concerned that she could kick the tires every time.
[00:10:21] And then there was a nice little creek crossing into the campground before we kept cool you tell him you know you got some intel from the miners.
[00:10:36] Say you’ll never get that dodge up that trail.
[00:10:40] Right. So we the next morning we actually we had a lot of fun with the camera. I really enjoy that camp Greiner’s a little. There’s one building or what’s left of a building from the ghost town and we had fun that night. You know we sat at the creek in chairs and drank cocktails and watched the kids playing the dirt. Brent’s 13 year old son Sam is really good with with my 3 year old excuse me 4 year old son. So they had a lot of fun and then the next morning I woke up and as we’re getting ready then I went over at that point and talked to some of the crusty old miners there in camp. And when he realized that you know I told them we’re going to Laporte. He looked over at my truck and said Oh not that you’re not I’m sure you didn’t know the difference between that. You know that truck and any other pickup not knowing you know what a power wagon is. But I was confident you know that road is leaving Lapore excuse me leaving poker flat is steep and rocky with some tight sections. We did get some video. I think the only thing that I did was smash a hubcap at the things went very very loudly. But yeah it was a fun road up. I mean once we got through the really steep section it was just kind of a rough dirt road all the way up to Laporte.
[00:11:59] So you go down to poker flat and back up to Laborde reflects on Canyon.
[00:12:05] It’s on Canyon Creek going to this mountain essentially a in the campgrounds right in the bottom of the. Now you camp there then you go right back up. Can you get to is it close and you would like to down little writing from there pretty far from that.
[00:12:20] Yeah I don’t I can’t think of any rides that would be over there.
[00:12:25] I would say to the south of Downey ville the town. I think all the writing takes itself in the West West of town and most of the writing takes place to the east.
[00:12:37] Didn’t we cross one bike trail on the way up to the fire lookout. I thought there at one point there was a bike trail across the road.
[00:12:44] Could be wrong. I didn’t see the so looking at it looking at the book. There’s a St. Louis Bridge and Eureka tunnel. There’s a town site and cemetery in them and I’m in the mine. Any place to stop and look at historic stuff around there.
[00:13:08] I mean after we climbed out of poker flat we ran across a ghost town the old cemetery I can’t remember the name of the establishment. There was tons of history there and there are signs to read.
[00:13:24] Yeah that was probably one of the highlights of the trip that cemetery was really cool out in the middle of nowhere. There’s just all these amazing headstones and most of the gravesites are still fenced in and the crazy thing was is to have the two of the graves were somewhat modern.
[00:13:45] If I remember right the last one was from 1989 wasn’t home and there was also one from the 60s.
[00:13:56] So somebody had taken their relative back there and buried him and threw up a headstone.
[00:14:03] I wonder if kids like have a flight property back their family connection.
[00:14:07] I had actually read some other books that people had actually inhabited the area until recently in a thread that I was reading somebody generations or people reflecting on the area I grew up there. What kind of scenario. So interesting. Cool.
[00:14:29] It’s a really remote area even even the first day. Oh yeah. So the second well I guess the first the first map which we just talked about is Laporte poker flat which is not numbered in the book it’s sort of like an optional thing although if you if you go by that route takes a long time to get teleport anywhere you go and then you turn around and come back the same way.
[00:14:54] Now I think that was our reasoning behind starting a down even if we were going to take the time to drive to port.
[00:15:00] Let’s just do it on dirt and do the the Poker Flat Tylo teleport road one direction rather than going out right.
[00:15:10] And it sounds like that was worth. That was a good decision.
[00:15:13] Yeah it was. I would recommend anybody who is to do this is to add the day and do that section of trail from Diable teleport.
[00:15:21] Cool. So the second map labeled number 1 in the book at least is Laporta Harrison flat which looks like is that it. I think it’s paved road mostly that paved road a dirt road.
[00:15:33] Or is it good dirt road it was paved road out of La Porte.
[00:15:38] And then it was just fairly smooth for service road after that.
[00:15:41] Okay. That kind of winds around. There’s a couple of historic Maurice Gibson ville saw mill Ridge pacific crest trail crossing encounter jointing who columnar jointing that’s like like devil’s post pile big columns of wheat.
[00:16:00] We looked for that didn’t we. Is that. No that was the day before.
[00:16:04] Yeah I think we saw that but we didn’t stop at that point. We felt like we needed to get moving forward so that we could find our next camp spot right to camp that night.
[00:16:16] Where did you end up camping that night.
[00:16:19] Was Harrison flat. Where were you.
[00:16:23] Go ahead. Yes I’ve heard this. We had actually pinpointed Harrison flat as a potential camp spot that night.
[00:16:31] Right. And of course when we got there it was exactly what we had hoped for.
[00:16:36] Yeah it was flat right. Well there’s so that’s the thing is any section in there is marked flat is because it literally is the only piece of flat ground in the area. Everything is very hilly but we were headed towards Harrison flat and right as we got there. I didn’t realize I was passing it and this old guy was on the on the road. And this is literally out in the middle of nowhere. And he kind of moved that away and waved a nice CBJ back to Brent and Rachel hey watch out for random old guy. And they didn’t seem at that point he had ducked back into the trees. Well then he vanished. Well then we realized that we passed Harrison flat and we turned around and went back and then we stumbled upon this old guy who will call hermit Dan. We eventually found out his name was Dan but away off the road where you could see he had a whole encampment. He was dug in deep. He had an old RV that was not roadworthy. That was basically all dug in had a bunch of permanent features and he had basically taken over Harrison flat it’s own his own little encampment.
[00:17:56] We drove in and there was a loop in front of his RV that at some point would have been a campsite. And you know Rachel because the jeep was so loaded down and she couldn’t see behind her she attempted to drive around the loop rather than stop it and back backing up. We pulled in and saw all of this and cam we saw a hermit Dan Hermant Dan’s dog and but as she got into the loop all the hermit dance stuff was in the way. And at that point she drove over here.
[00:18:31] His hose and a bucket and he hollered at a get off my hose and and is stuck in the back of his jeep so he doesn’t even know what’s going on. And I had I had already decided to back out. So I was already in reverse backing out.
[00:18:47] She managed to get around the loop and we went back out towards the road and came up with a game plan. But we definitely were not staying a hermit flat that night.
[00:18:56] There was a flat run Herman’s Hermits turn it flat now they eventually did.
[00:19:02] I eventually did walk back and talk to the guy cause he said oh he he cooled off and came back out and offered that we could stay there. But I know for sure Rachel was not comfortable with that she was having no part of that.
[00:19:15] We were moving on from that right. We’re done.
[00:19:18] So ultimately we traveled.
[00:19:20] I don’t know what another 18 20 miles down the road been like that and found a nice just sunny spot on a ridge. Keep in mind it’s October temps. You know the highs were the 50s. Yeah the sun goes down and gets cold.
[00:19:38] So we found a nice sunny spot in a clearing and you guys did this the first week of October right. Yes. First you leave Saturday or Friday Saturday and Friday and came back Wednesday night. So it’s called fall break for our kids right. Well I remember not feeling super crappy on Tuesday and being like anyway.
[00:20:03] All right so Laporte to Harrison flat Harrison the next section is Harrison fled to Highway 70 which is. Did you guys go all the way back out to Highway 7 because it makes like a big dog leg.
[00:20:19] EASTON It goes all the way down I would say we were probably in between Harrison flat and Highway 7. Camped that night.
[00:20:26] OK yeah we bolted when we did go all the way to Highway 70 because there’s a river there we never did find a place to cross the river right to to shortcut it. So we were all way out of the river which leads to another story we just pulled over looking for the turn.
[00:20:42] I think Brent forgot about this when we were parked along the side of Highway 70 just looking at our maps and highway patrolman a CHP passed us.
[00:20:53] And I don’t even know I noticed that then before we took off again he had turned round and was pulling up behind me and and you know at first it was odd the way he came up. He was obviously very cautious and somewhat defensive end and you know asked me what we were doing and it caught. It struck me as strange because you know we were obviously just two families on a trip and I don’t know why he felt the need that he had to turn around and stop and investigate was going on and even after I told him he looked very tentative. So that was that was strange. He did he did at least tell me where the turnoff was.
[00:21:37] You didn’t like say he was looking for somebody or no. No. He was very few words.
[00:21:42] Did a quick inspection of your cargo in the back of your truck.
[00:21:46] He did. He looked my truck up and down really good. And despite the fact that I had a you know a 4 year old boy and a Greyhound in the backseat and looked very innocuous there must’ve been something that caught his dad and wouldn’t say it looks innocuous.
[00:22:00] I would just go anyway OK. He told us where to turn which is very nice. The turn is near Lee Summit.
[00:22:08] Lisa of the products that we thought maybe we had passed it already. It turned out we hadn’t gone far enough. You know part of the fun of this whole trip is navigating map and there’s poor service roads everywhere out there.
[00:22:21] Yeah. Were you using the paper maps or did you guys pull up gas of any kind or iPhone. I mean no we’re not super technical I don’t think you guys even have like GBX but did you pull up an app GPS app that we now know. Now we were just using the book and paper man that the big supplements map it’s like as big as this room.
[00:22:42] It was kind of you know cross-reference seeing that map to the book and figuring it out.
[00:22:47] Right. Because a new map that they have is like they’ve come up with a whole bunch of new U.S. Forest Service maps for Plumas that one looks like brand new. And I know there’s new ones for you. I’ll be to you around here.
[00:22:59] It actually comes with the I call it the BT t trail. Yeah it’s already highlighted and highlighted and the resolution is it’s a pretty big map. Yeah. So you really got to look close.
[00:23:10] But you know the forest service really does a good job out there marking all the roads signs and numbers and reference map cool and he things interesting things to note on that section which is Harrison flat highway 70 although OK so the next section is Highway 70 to Redbridge Redbridge looked like it was going to be a pretty neat spot. We had a campground there.
[00:23:41] It’s sort of earmarked that as a potential there is an official Forest Service campground there. We had figured maybe camp in one night at Harrison flat and then the next night at Redbridge. But the way it worked out we just the next day and end up bypassing Redbridge and kept moving forward.
[00:24:00] OK. Doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot on this particular section now and this section is 12 miles. So this is the third map. The fourth section twelve point eight miles two hours not including stops. So you probably bypassed I mean these aren’t these aren’t broken up by day necessarily. No just by maps in the book right. The next section Redbridge to East Quincy looks like little volcanoes you stupid little volcano east Clairemont we Clairemont peak actually bypassed around that.
[00:24:38] That was an out and back sort of situation.
[00:24:42] But we didn’t do that a little volcano and I think before we got to Quincy was actually where we started having where we had a mechanical what was the campground.
[00:24:53] We stayed at after Highway 70 down that creek that was at rock creek Rock Creek. So we stayed at we went up to we passed Redbridge and we stayed at Rock Creek and that was actually a pretty nice camp Canticle happened before before Rock Creek or after I thought it was for Rock Creek. When did we decide knows after Rock Creek because we left Rock Creek and we’re going to Quincy and we were gonna go up over that summit the other technical section I want to see Rock Creek. It’s over here I know you did you work on you working on your back.
[00:25:36] At Rock Creek correct. That’s right.
[00:25:38] So what went wrong. So the wheel fall off the wheel well. Rachel was worried the wheel was going so hard.
[00:25:46] Keep in mind we had already seen a jeep with a wheel that had fallen off and that had been pushed off the side of the trail. So so we were cruising along and just starting this more technical section of the trail. The Beattie trail is for the most part can be done by high clearance to drive four wheel drive. Nothing super technical but they have a superior vehicle.
[00:26:13] Most of it.
[00:26:14] Yeah most of it a Subaru could do the feature vehicles here and explore and for runners you know of course the front runner can do it.
[00:26:22] Typical stock SUV. No problem. But they also have four by four alternate routes. And so we sort of bypass the volcano. We were excited to get back to the flow by four alternative routes and we’re just started up along that four by four route and you know driving along and I heard from the rear suspension a big sort of crunch clunking clunk the classic clunk. Yeah I want to hit a rocket Klundt. And so my wife was skittish.
[00:26:54] What’s that. I don’t know. So I kept driving. Let’s see if we hear it again and it will work itself out. It’s about twice the plane going. So we kept driving.
[00:27:05] And you know next bump in the trail Klunk again. SCHIEFFER What is that. I said I don’t know. I radioed back to Shawn and said we got no check out I got a noise let’s check it out. You know it’s hard to find a noise when you’re stopped unless something is obviously wrong. No I crawled under there and just do a visual inspection.
[00:27:30] But that’s why I have a drone now so I can fly that drone underneath your car while you drive your drive.
[00:27:34] Yeah I get that. And so ultimately Shawn says you know risk you have to throw a wrench on all the bolts and see what you come up with or anything loose. So I did that and everything seemed snuggly everything seemed tight except for the one Ubel on my lift kit.
[00:27:55] Oh no I think I’d have to disagree with you on that. I mean the bolt was definitely very loose but you were getting quarter and half turns off of everything back there that first round was until we got back to to Rock Creek.
[00:28:08] It should be hard to get a quarter turn off of properly and well so well the way his lift kit works just like most Jake Hayes. There’s a bracket that relocates right the rear track bar and it has a big bolt and then it has a couple of smaller bolts.
[00:28:25] And that was the one that was unbelievably loose. Really it was so wooded. Ultimately I think what the issue was the whole that whole assembly was loose.
[00:28:36] But he you know Brent can tell you further he got a bunch of turns out of that.
[00:28:42] So you know I tightened everything as much as I could. OK. This has to be the you know this has to be the problem. So we got back in the vehicles and started to proceed down the trail and sure enough Clunk Noise again and you know by this time you were like oh that’s frustrating. I mean I thought we had a problem solve them right. Still have the same noise so Rachel really wanted to play safe than sorry. End up like that Jeep that we saw earlier. And so we abandoned the trail we turned around and took a shortcut across the pavement OK and went back into Quincy or not back into Quincy but went to Quincy for the first time. And Sean had remembered there was a Les Schwab tire center there. So we long story short pulled and there it actually the Klunk sounded like maybe a hub was we’ll lose or a hub or a lug nuts were. So I had them checked that out with a torque wrench and sure enough they worked it out and there was nothing loose there.
[00:29:49] We had luckily we were at a junction. We had just gotten to a junction where we get a band and go down to Quincy went on a fairly easy road right or we would take the left and go up over the four wheel drive forward drive alternate route.
[00:30:05] So when we went down. And then at that at that junction was when we realized we didn’t have we want to check the wheel hub. We didn’t have a lug wrench for Brandt’s splines.
[00:30:20] And had ProComp wheels that has a splines lug on it so we could check the lug nuts there like a lock like a lock nut or something for the know those ProComp wheels have aftermarket lugs all the lug nuts aren’t standard lug nuts. So we didn’t have a spline lug wrench so that was on Brandt’s to get list which I do. Did however I could not find it. Okay.
[00:30:47] So that’s when we chose to go to the Les Schwab and at least throw a wrench on those lug nuts and make sure his wheel wasn’t coming loose or something like that. Then Schrum from Quincy was when we decided to drive up to yeah we took pavement over to Rock Creek Campground.
[00:31:07] Ok I’m on the map here. Yeah that’s right. And it was about four miles off of the pavement. Quincy road. No no no noise with the jeep on the pavement. No noise on the easy dirt roads. But that night Sean broke out his tools again and I started going back on the bolts and sure enough I can get more turns on those and bolts. So I think what happens is you know I can get them as tight as I could with the wrenches. And then once we drove it it would shift.
[00:31:45] It was so loose the first time that when the time that it wasn’t completely settled there was a track bar like moving back and forth or something.
[00:31:52] So we went up the track about compress and slide down the side.
[00:31:56] It was more of the bracket and you bolt shifting on the axle Hulka.
[00:32:01] Interesting so that night I got more turns on it and cranked it again as hard as I could.
[00:32:08] Set to roll with that as it ever Klunk.
[00:32:10] Since then it has not been back with the rest of the way of the trip and didn’t have any problems. I think it was a matter of cranking drive and it let it settle crank and again let it settle.
[00:32:22] How many how many miles. Because you did your jeep have a good time.
[00:32:27] Thirty thousand. Ok so.
[00:32:30] He had put the lift kit on. He had the dealer put the lid on brand new. So this is a lesson to everybody. Right. Brand new Jeep brand new Lip Kit installed by the dealer. Thirty thousand miles maybe at for future reference at 20 25000 take a wrenching one in your vehicle.
[00:32:47] And each time I got home pull the bolts on put loctite on it or something.
[00:32:51] I know you would want to pull them out. Just want to because most of that stuff had aircraft nuts on it. So you back off but. I think just since everything back down. Check it out.
[00:33:04] And then if there is a problem where you really are then at that point could you do it. True.
[00:33:11] All right. I’m going to cut them off here for now. There’s more to this story and you’ll hear about the rest of the Plumas back country discovery route next time. Let us know what you think about this show with a comment wherever you feel like commenting. YouTube show notes at altering podcasts dot com or Instagram Facebook or you know drive to the top of a hill and honk your comments out in Morse code.
[00:33:32] The All Terrain podcast is created by me Mike Henderson at Reno collective a coworking space in Reno Nevada. If you have something to say look into a podcast membership where you’ll get access to this studio with mics and a mixer. We also have podcasting classes and workshops taught by Chris Webster producer of the archeology podcast network. If that’s not enough check out the northern Nevada podcasters group on Facebook. Thanks for listening.
Plumas Backcountry Discovery Trail Resources