Champion Spark Plug Mine

Way up on the side of a mountain, near Bishop, CA, is a former mine and mining camp.

The Champion Spark Plug mine operated from about 1920 to 1942. They mined a rare mineral, known as Andalusite.

Andalusite enabled Champion to make modern spark plugs and have a huge share of worldwide sales.

The mining camp has been lovingly restored by volunteers, starting with the Frasers around 1970, then by Steve McIndoo, amongst many others.

Most camp users know to leave it better than they found it. Due to it’s remote location, vandalism and “stupid people” are quite rare.

First-come, first served for the 5 restored cabins, with wood burning stoves.

I’m not going to tell you how to get there, but it’s not hard to figure out the location, with a little Googling. Choosing the exact route is a bit tricky, after two huge flash floods in recent years, washing out the trail in several places. Also, 4WD vehicles can no longer get as close as they used to.

Also, you may need to bring your own water, late in the year, or during extended dry spells.

Have fun, be safe, carry water, and be sure to let someone know when and where to look for you, should you run into trouble!

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Pinot Noir picking on the hottest day, above Monterey Bay (does that rhyme?)

One of advantages of my cycling club is networking! In this case, several of us were helping a club member pick about 600 pounds of Pinot Noir grapes, back on September 7th.

We started at 7AM, on the hottest day of the year.

It was headed for record-breaking 109 degrees in San Jose, so starting just after sunrise was a very good idea! (Monterey Bay is that blue area, just below the morning haze, beyond Watsonville.)

Done in about 90 minutes! No wine sampling or lunch this time. The grapes had to go straight to the crusher. An interesting and new experience!

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Half Moon Bay by bike again

Back about 7 years ago, I did my first bikepack to the hiker/cyclist site at Francis Beach. https://alpharoaming.com/2015/08/02/bicycle-camping-bikepacking-half-moon-bay-via-kings-mountain-road-purisima-creek/ A few days ago, I did it again for about the 4th time!

It was about 95 degrees as we chugged up Kings Mountain Road, but the relief as we coasted down the other side was great! (I had forgotten how reasonable and consistent the grade up Kings Mountain is…versus Old La Honda Road!)

Weasels in the campsite!
Burgers and beer at Sacrilege!
Tent, without the rain fly. The beach is just over those dunes.
The “flat bridge” on TCR, which is the secret route to the lost jet engine! https://alpharoaming.com/2014/02/11/plane-crash-site/
A neglected Citroen. I think it’s a Citroen SM, with the Maserati V-6.
Yes, a soggy Whopper and a beverage bottle with jelly beans inside!
No firewood? How about burning trash, a roll of T.P., and an unused club sign-in sheet? (Not my idea!)

That’s about it! 25F degrees cooler, and a few wacky antics in camp. Don’t avoid paying the $7 camping fee, or the Camp Host might ask you to leave in the morning! Ask me who didn’t join us for breakfast! (They do have a problem with an occasional homeless visitor and theft. Secure your bike! I laid mine down next to the tent, and put two tent poles thru the frame.)

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Henry Coe – Arnold Horse Camp & Bear Mountain Peak

Michael and I took advantage of the unusually cool weather to do a two night backpacking trip into Henry W. Coe State Park. Arnold Horse Camp was our base camp. The water there was intermittently dripping, but enough to keep the trough mostly full. We did about 30 miles and 6000 feet, in total, including a visit to Bear Mountain Peak, and the obscure Little Long Canyon. Perfect weather!

The end! (Exact route and tracks available on Strava.com. July 1-3, 2022.)

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Preston’s Candy: 75 years in Burlingame

I recently read about this 75 year old candy store, which I’d never heard of before! https://www.sfgate.com/food/article/Bay-Area-Prestons-Candy-faces-closure-17152476.php

They’ve been in downtown Burlingame, in the same spot for generations. I decided to pay them visit!

Besides being interested in local history, in an area where businesses and buildings are routinely replaced with new ones, I saw Black Raspberry ice cream on their Yelp page!

You can find them on Instagram @PrestonsBroadway and at https://prestons-candy.webflow.io where they’ve started a monthly subscription program to help them become more financially stable.

Stop and visit sometime!

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Pico Blanco Scout Camp is for sale

So, yeah, I’ve had a journey up Palo Colorado Road, to Pico Blanco Scout Camp, on my radar for awhile. It’s been closed for about 5 years, due to fire damage, and a washed-out road. It’s now FOR SALE!

I guess I better get going, and see it before it changes, or becomes off-limits!

There’s a gate, 4 miles from Highway 1. From there it’s about 3.5 miles to Bottcher’s Gap and 4 miles further to the Scout Camp…and about 1300 feet of climbing in each direction!

Road intersection, at the gate, where we parked
Sign at Bottcher’s Gap

The camp is in great condition, from what I can see. We were told there was an on-site caretaker, but we saw no signs of anyone.

The Aquatics area, with a lifeguard chair

The caretaker at Bottcher’s Gap told us that there’s been quite a bit of vehicle traffic to the camp. He believes the property showing is complete, and the Scout Council is reviewing offers. It will be interesting to see…

We also had an interesting discussion about the endangered Dudley’s Lousewort and the Santa Lucia Fir. I’ve seen Dudley’s at Portola Redwoids State Park, but didn’t spot any here. The beautiful, and very rare, Santa Lucia Fir was visible on the steep hillsides, as well as one in the Bottcher’s Gap parking lot

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Mt Sizer (Henry Coe) overnight! #SixPackOfPeaks

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Death Valley in the snow!

So back about a month ago, I did a tour, with two friends, of the Death Valley area. Petroglyphs and old cabins were the highlight!

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Dick Wright grave -Clear Creek

During my recent visit to Clear Creek, I made a quick side trip, just before sunset, to visit Dick Wright. He was a local hermit, who lived in a crude cabin here. When he didn’t show-up in town for awhile, a local rancher went to check on him. Buried him near the cabin!

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Joaquin Rocks – Clear Creek

Yeah, it’s been awhile! Sitting down at a desk and blogging is much more of a chore than Facebooking! I have the WordPress app on my phone, so this will be quick and easy!

Got my two permits on-line, and the gate code was wrong! Burned a few hours and $20 in gas getting to a phone signal, to call the BLM.

About 25 miles to the eastern end of the park, after a short detour to the Benitoite Gem Mine.

Cooler than expected, at 4000 feet!

I slept in the Subie at 4000 feet. I was happy to be wearing three layers, and two sleeping bags!

Thats about it! Long drive in the Subie, and a 7 mile round-trip hike. I was buzzed by a scruffy old ex-Coast Guard chopper, for some reason!

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