The Detour of the Locked Gated Pinnacles

The group arose to a damp ground with wet tents and vehicles, but partly cloudy skies with breaks of sunlight. The weather this morning was a lot more brisk than the previous nights so the ones who were up early got the fire started to keep warm and dry off the chairs left outside in the rain.

It was definitely a slower morning than the previous nights as well since we had to get the tents dry enough to stow away. We all got breakfast and coffee underway while we stood around the fire to eat and warm up. Once things were dry enough to pack, we were underway at almost noon time.

We decided to do another supply run since we were running short on firewood and others were short on food and other items. We took Jolon Road up to Highway 101 at King City and resupplied at Safeway Market. We then headed north to our next site at Pinnacles National Park via Highway 101 and cut across the north side of the park utilizing La Gloria Road. We were hoping to find some plotted BLM land to camp in so we plowed on the miles to find it off La Gloria Road somewhere.

We entered the park visitor center to gather some data of the area and also pick up some souvenirs. As we were leaving, Brett reconned the area ahead to make sure the road was passable, but he radioed us to say it was another locked gate. The only way to that area was back the way we came, so we double backed to Highway 101 and exited Camphora Gloria Road to La Gloria Road. We zig-zagged up the road hoping the road would lead us to the BLM lands, but we kept running into locked gate after locked gate. We continued to push towards Highway 25 hoping to find an open trail to camp-able land but it was all private lands with more locked gates.

After a surprisingly beautiful drive along La Gloria Rd, the convoy ended up stopping at Highway 25 intersection and debated what the next course of action would be since we were running out of daylight and people were getting tired. Our options would be to give Pinnacles NP a shot, head back to Ft. Hunter-Liggett to the same campground from the night before, or head to Clear Creek Campground in BLM territory further down the road. We opted to check out Pinnacles NP since we were short on time and that would be the first stop anyways along the highway.

The group saddled up and began the short trek to Pinnacles Visitor Center to get some intel on the camp availability and/or the immediate vicinity. Good news was had and the group was told that there was a vast area of open campgrounds tucked away in the furthest corner of the site. We were also ecstatic to hear that they would also be able to fit the 9 rigs, and some. We took that option. Humberto fanned us out and we all picked the corner site as our community area. Deanna and I deployed our ground tent, while Jon set up his rain fly on the Flippac for that just-in-case rain. We all then got the dinner cooking, fire going, and finally were able to relax for the night. With hot showers, running water, flushing toilets, heck and even a pool (although closed), this place was heaven after a mileage pounding day.

It was a beautiful night, partly cloudy but the stars were visible in the clearings so we were optimistic for no rain. I had tired out quickly and fell asleep at the fire. Thankfully I’m among mature adults so luckily nothing happened. I hit the sack early. The guys who stayed up were disrupted by two raccoons who stalked them all night from the next morning’s report. The two trash pandas made their way up a tree and watched them from above until we all went to sleep.

Again, the light pitter patter of rain had awoken us and we were thankful we set up the ground tent and rain fly, even putting the chairs under the awning to keep them dry. Deanna decided to sleep in so I did my usual camera sniper task around the camp.

We had both decided to cut this trip a little short since we wanted to be home for New Year’s Day, so after breakfast, Deanna and I said our farewells to everyone who were continuing on to the planned site of Carrizo Plains. Andy, who also needed to be back this weekend, left as well so we hit the road together. Our route home was Highway 101 via Highway 25 South to Highway 198 West.

We stopped in Paso Robles for lunch. Deanna had chosen a pizza place called Rustic Fire just off the Hwy 101 and Hwy 46. The food was pretty good, along with the beer selection, but a tad pricey. Not bad, so after a coffee break, we hit the road for about 4 hours all the way home into Los Angeles. Once on I-405, we went our separate ways and arrived home safely in times for New Year’s.

Just joining us? Catch up with Part I and Part II of the story.

2017 Klim Cow Tag

I never knew that motorcycle trail advocacy could be so much fun.  For me, trail advocacy has always meant being the boots on the ground and swinging a hand tool playing in the dirt to build or maintain trails.  Working dirt is good fun, but we all know that it’s more fun to ride a trail than build it.  Yet, the folks at Klim have figured out how to make riding trails something that directly benefits trail advocacy:  Enter Klim’s Cow Tag event.  Now in its third year, the Cow Tag event brings in riders from all over North America to ride in Klim’s backyard trail system, win great prizes, and most importantly to raise money that goes to trail advocacy groups like The Blue Ribbon Coalition and the Idaho Trail Machine.


If you’re wondering how Klim, whose gear has awesome names like ‘Drifter’, ‘Badlands’, and ‘Oculus’, decided on ‘Cow Tag’ for an event name, let me explain.  The event works like this:  At registration, you’re given a map of the entire trail system that has the locations of a bunch of cow tags (literally the things you see fixed to a cow’s ear) sprinkled all over it.  During the event, your objective is to ride to as many tags as you can and record the number written on the back of the tag.  Each tag is worth a certain number of points, and the end of the day the number of points you collect determines how many raffle tickets you get.  You’re then free to put your raffle tickets in a drawing to win gear from a number of awesome brands who all support trail advocacy.


The Big Hole Mountain trail system is something you can’t truly appreciate until you sampled some of this world class single track in the Caribou Targhee National Forest.  Ribbons of single track are laced over this awesome country by folks who clearly see the world through a dirt biker’s pair of goggles.  Hundreds of miles of trails climb to rocky ridge lines with stunning views and then drop into winding canyons that look like they came straight out of Middle Earth.  Trails thread their way through tunnels in the forest and along the sides of mountains.  There are no fall zones and snowfields, log and creek (read: river) crossings and technical moves innumerable – in short it’s a singletrack paradise.

This trail system has something for everyone.  From fast and flowy to hard-enduro technical, your dream trail is out there.  The folks at Klim have graded all of the trails for the event from green to double black on a difficulty scale (think ski area trail ratings).  Greens are typically two-track trails that are open to ATV’s too.  Don’t let that fact discourage you – ATVs tend to carve out perfectly-bermed turns that are an absolute hoot on a dirtbike.  Blue trails range from fast and flowy to easier technical moves and some exposure thrown in for good flavor.  My riding buddies and I spent most of our time on blues, and we were blown away by just how many miles of awesome trail are in this system.  Single blacks are where things start to get fun, as these trails have mandatory technical moves, and depending on which way you’re going on a trail some rather fun ledges and other obstacles to climb.  Double blacks are where you’re going to find the exposure and technical moves that can mean bad things if you blow a line.  One of the double blacks we sampled was a goat track across a very steep slide slope, and it took everything four guys had to recover a bike that slipped off the trail.


Klim’s Cow Tag event is the best trail advocacy experience I’ve had in my life – and I’m fortunate enough to live in a community where we get to build new dirtbike trails with the forest service every year.  Roughly 300 riders participated in this year’s event, and judging by the dusty, smiling faces I saw everywhere at the end of the day – I know everyone had a great time.  And, all of the riders that participated in the Cow Tag can feel good about the fact that not only did they have a great day of riding, but they’ve helped to make sure that places like the Big Hole Mountain trail system stay open to dirtbikes.

Trail advocacy is something that everyone who recreates outdoors needs to be involved in.  Whether you’re on two wheels or four, if you value the trails that you utilize, then you need to support or, better yet, get involved with an organization that’s working to ensure your access to our nation’s trails.  If we don’t get involved, we will only loose access to the trails and trail systems that we all love riding.  Klim has created something brilliant in the Cow Tag event – they made trail advocacy something that is a ton of fun to participate in.  They’ve found great companies and organizations to partner up with to help make this event possible, and it’s my sincere hope that other companies, clubs, and organizations will follow suit to host events like the Cow Tag all over the place.  The more folks that get involved in trail advocacy, the better the odds are that world-class trail systems like the Big Hole Mountain trail system will be open for years to come.  Do yourself a favor – if you can travel to one place to ride next year, go to the Cow Tag event.

Thanks to Adam, Kenny, Stephen, and Christian for letting me continually stop the ride to take photos.  Thanks to all of the awesome folks at Klim and all of the other organizations that put on an outstanding event for a great cause.