Darkness and Mud
Darkness and Mud in the NorCal Redwoods
Jacoby Creek Trail, Arcata, CA
NOTE: This story was originally posted at MTBR.com. The text has been slightly edited
for clarity and accuracy.
The Jacoby Creek Trail, near Arcata, CA, is a non-official trail through Simpson Paper land [now part of the Arcata Community Forest] above the mud flats of the Eureka and Arcata bays.
In the morning, we went to the Golden Harvest Cafe in Arcata and had a wonderful breakfast to kick off the day. Three of us would be riding today: Mark the 'DJ', Dave the Easterner, and myself (Tom of SoCal). Mark had to be at work at KFLY Radio in Eureka at 4:00 that day, so we were already on some kind of schedule. We went back to the infamous 'Mai-Kai' appartments on the HSU campus to collect some stuff and we were off...
We rode up Fickle Hill, which is about 14 miles of the most beautiful, steep, grinding, unrelenting country road through farms, ranches, redwoods and meadows. We stopped near the top, at Big Rock, which is a great overlook providing views of such far-off wonders as the Marble Mountains and the Coast Ranges marching into Oregon. A little more climbing and a screaming unpaved descent led to the turnoff for the trail. This, I have since learned, had been nicknamed 'The Couch Trail' because someone had dumped an abandoned couch right at the entrance to the trail.
The first section of the trail was a neglected 4WD road through the forest. There were many ups and downs, and at the bottom of each down, there was a bog of deep, clay-rich mud. When Dave tried to ride through one such bog, it stopped him and kept him and his bike in an upright position.
This 'bog country' soon gave way to a rough descent down a very steep section with large water bars (moguls?) across the trail. This descent seemed painfully endless, and I was nearly thrown into space several times. At the bottom of this section, I had expected to see Mark, who was in front from the beginning. He wasn't there, so I waited for Dave to catch me. Soon Dave was there, so we continued, figuring Mark had gone ahead (schedule, remember?).
Now we were in the depths of the canyon, and long spanish moss was hanging from everything. The trail was not too muddy here, but large puddles were plentiful. We sped through long flat stretches in meadows, passing through an ancient forest of huge redwoods and some kind of hardwood [perhaps madrone] lining the canyon the whole way.
Soon, we came to an unmarked intersection where a group of other bikers were gathered around a fallen rider. He had fallen and broken his leg, and they were just now administering first aid and deciding who to send for help. We wished them the best, let their messenger go ahead of us, and continued down the trail.
The trail ended at a dirt road, which continued down the canyon and back toward Sunnybrae (a 'suburb' of Arcata). As we were speeding down this road, Mark suddenly caught up to us! Well, this was a big surprise. As we rode down the road, he told of how he got lost somewhere long before the singletrack started, and ended up on another trail which connected to the main trail. He met some very surprised hikers, one of whom he knew from HSU, and then got in a nasty crash on an impossibly steep descent, and broke a bottle cage and lost the bottle without even noticing.
We reached the paved road through Sunnybrae at 4 PM, the time Mark is supposed to be at work in Eureka. He had to be there at 4 PM, and on the air at 6 PM. Fortunately, from 4-6 PM, there was a religious program delivered by another announcer. He called from a pay phone in Sunnybrae and said he'd be there at 6 PM!!! We kept riding back to Arcata, and Mark and I got right in the car, muddy and tired and scraped and scratched, and sped down to Eureka just in time to deliver the 6 PM station ID. PHEW!!!! We now return to our normally scheduled programming...here's Herb Alpert and Tijuana Brass...