Mt. Ellwell, Lakes Basin, near Downieville


I hooked with with a bunch of Norcal folks and did another fun ride up around Downieville.

Friday Elwell pics:

A small group enjoy the Lakes Basin on Friday.

I wonder why they call it lakes basin?

A wide shot from higher up.

click for pano

Suzy rides on by near the start. Nice mellow flatness (that won't last for long).

Jim dominates a log crossing, sans his lucky Mexican Wrestling Mask (see Sumo pics near the end for explanation).

Gary finds rocky goodliness overlooking Long Lake.

Derrick, Steve, Dana, Frank and Jed find a small bit of downhill in the midst of the climb.

Gary and Suzy get engulfed by lupins. It smelled like an old lady's underwear drawer, not that I have any first hand experience with that though.

...and then the climbs began in earnest.

hike-a-bike, meet Derrick and Dana.

hike-a-bike, meet Jed.

Gary, being swallowed by flowers again.

The group climbs and climbs...








As we continue to climb, the Buttes come into view and the discordent cries of the shuttle monkeys can be heard. The Lakes Basin trails are in great shape because they can't be shuttled.

Looking back, we can see the nasty flower infested switchbacks where the Gary and Suzy pics were taken and the mellow flats that preceeded this last climb that we are on.

...and then we're at the top and grab a bite to eat next to the snow.

The views are pretty damn good once again.

Wide shot from the summit:

iclick for pano

Next up was a bit of snow biking to get to the trail proper.

Frank eyeing his line.

...he commits to the off-camber spine line...

...and gravity and low friction snow conspire to smote him down.

Jed got a dose of the same medicine.

Next up was a blast of a descent. So much fun that I only have two pictures, taken in the huge moss grove. (riders are lower right disappearing into the forest)


Then it was time for a road burn back to a bit of singletrack, to the cars, and back to camp for a nice fire and some bike Sumo.

Do these glasses make me look like Ron Jeremy?

Why Gary doesn't trust his LBS to fit bikes.

Gary and Jed square off. (NO HELMETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Pfunk does her Predator camo routine as the boys look on.

Does Jim take this bike Sumo thing seriously?

Fear the Mexican Wrestling Mask!


110+ Miles and 28,000'+ of descending

[summer 2000]


Day 1, the drive, the drop, the pizza.

Jay and I were tasked with securing a campsite for this year's Downieville extravaganza so we left the overcrowded Bay Area around noon and made our way to the campgrounds around Packer Saddle. We found what we thought was a primo spot, paid our fees, hung our card, set the tents and then got ready for the payoff.

We were getting a bonus drop to town where we would meet the rest of the gang for dinner. Butcher Ranch/Third Divide/First Divide was calling..........

Butcher and Third have been hacked up by folks who have been braking in the silliest of places. I wish these folks would discover the wonders of using the FRONT brake rather than skidding the rear. As the FS signs say........"Ride It, Don't Slide It"

First was a tame cruise as usual, despite the pretty views of the creek. Somewhere on First Jay's bike started making a most horrible sound. It seems that a very large rock decided to get personal with his chain stays and seat tube. I've never seen this before.

We arrived a bit early so we went and explored. We found some non-urban stairs and I practiced my panning technique.

Finally we had some pizza, loaded up the bikes and headed off into the night.........

Day 2, Breakfast drop, XC penance in the Lakes Basin

I wake up at 5:30 am and go for a quick spin up to Packer Lake.

The plan for this day was to drop down into town for breakfast and then head to the Lakes Basin to offset the shuttling karma that we would be incurring on Saturday. We had agreat time descending (typical) and didn't see another soul (atypical). We saw this shaggy local:

Every year we see a bear on our early morning drops. Thankfully we didn't encounter Momma and baby bear like we did last year.

It was pretty dark down on Third Divide, so I took the opportunity to practice my panning again:

After pummeling some rude wannabe XC racer type on a Moots YBB, we eventually got to town, had some loverly pastries from the bakery and loaded up Das Shuttle:

The Lakes Basin is about 20 minutes North of the Sierra Buttes. The area is off limits to OHVs and since the riding requires people to  actually pedal their bikes up hills, the lameass "Downieville Downhill" shuttler types avoid it like the plague.

We climbed and climbed and did some hike-a-bike. Along the way, the scenery was incredibly drab and depressing.

The peak is our ultimate goal, Mt. Elwell (a mere 7810').

We did some more granny grunting from hell, some more hike-a-bike, and then something different.

Really steep hike-a-bike.

Eventually, we summited and the boys did their victory dance (the ant-like specs on the top with raised arms).

The views were only slightly less depressing than the earlier views
(this actually only 2/3 of the way up)

The obligatory bike in foreground pic.

It was around this time that I discovered that my lower shock mounting bolt was trying to escape. The nut had already made it's dash to freedom and we had a nifty descent coming up. First aid tape to the rescue!

The descent down the backside of Elwell now claims a spot in my personal top ten. It started with very primitive rocky singletrack.

You know the "trail" is good when you are constantly trying to figure out where it goes next.

The middle portion entered a mossy Fir grove and got a little bit faster.

Short video 1.2 mb

After filtering some water....

..........we eventually made it back to the car about 5 hours later. Our lameass shuttling karma account had some serious credits and we were ready for a day of descent.

Day three, the Day of Descent

Just video on this day.

butcher ranch/third divide pauley creek/second divide