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Old 05-17-2007, 09:16 PM   #1
Map8
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Sonora Pass Loop - Lots of pics (NSF56K)

I had wanted to get up and over the Sierra passes while there was still some snow on the ground and I had time last Saturday to put together a decent ride. Sonora Pass is a favorite motorcycle destination due to its beauty, remote location and 30+ miles of fantastic, twisting pavement. I did a loop heading south from Sacramento to the foothills east of Stockton, follow CA Hwy 108 up over Sonora Pass before heading north on US Hwy 395 to CA Hwy 89 west (Monitor Pass) and CA Hwy 88 (Carson Pass) which would deliver me back to the Central Valley. Right at 400 miles in all.




Before we get to the mountains, a few pics of the diversity of California which anyone can appreciate on a day ride.

South River Road along the Sacramento River not far from my house.




Vineyards are plentiful in the Delta and new vineyards are popping up everyday.




There are more orchards than any other form of agriculture in this area. The Pear Fair is the last weekend of July. Don't miss it.


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Old 05-17-2007, 09:17 PM   #2
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Turned out to be a better day for riding than boating. Note: Pack some of the beer in the FRONT of the boat.




Ranches as I get closer to the foothills.




The Oak-filled foothills and golden grass that gives the Golden State its nickname.




Dense forests at 4,000 ft elevation.

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Old 05-17-2007, 09:18 PM   #3
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Big rocks and more turns as I climb past 6,000 ft.




Really nice pavement up here.




Beautiful Sierra meadows as I get closer to Sonora Pass.




Just starting up Sonora Pass as the road tightens.

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Old 05-17-2007, 09:19 PM   #4
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Sonora Pass had just opened at the end of April but closed again for construction for the first few days of May. There was no new pavement, road repairs or new retaining walls. However...

...there were plenty of fresh tar snakes.




These were really slippery and most of the new ones were just at the entrance to corners. I tried to get some pictures to show how shiny they were. Looked (and felt) like freshly spilled oil. These were only at a particular elevation and the road soon cleared up. I hope they cure completely by summer.



Finally getting real close to the snow.



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Old 05-17-2007, 09:20 PM   #5
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A brief stop at the summit. The road drops off very quickly on the east side.




Pass has been used since 1862. Bet they weren't whining about tar snakes back then.




View looking west.




Immediate downhill. Some parts of Sonora Pass have a 26% grade. Yes, twenty-six percent.

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Old 05-17-2007, 09:21 PM   #6
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Obligatory "Steeper than it looks" photo caption.




The east side has a bunch of these blind hairpins. Note tar snakes on entrance. Fun.





View back to the mountains.




Blurry shot of cowboys roping and branding. Smell of burning cow hide.

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Old 05-17-2007, 09:21 PM   #7
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Map of Sonora Pass / CA Hwy 108




US 395 is open and flowing. Its even difficult to keep the anemic WeeStrom below triple digits along here. Uh...um...100 Kph. Thats what I meant.




Those cattle had an effect on me.




One last look at the high desert before turning west on CA Hwy 89 / Monitor Pass.

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Old 05-17-2007, 09:22 PM   #8
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Exact same damn photo absolutely everyone takes on Monitor Pass. I always expect to see the Von Trapp family up here.




Summit of Monitor Pass.




Map of Monitor Pass / CA Hwy 89.




Approaching Carson Pass on Hwy 88 from the east.

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Old 05-17-2007, 09:23 PM   #9
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Official Least Compelling Photo ever taken of Carson Pass summit.




Still plenty of ice on Caples Lake. It was breezy and the effect of the water moving under the ice was really dramatic.




The next 40 miles or so are mostly sweepers like this one near the entrance of Kirkwood Ski Resort. I've never been a big fan on Hwy 88. Its less crowded than Hwy 50 or I-80 and slightly more scenic, but not the greatest motorcycle road. Yes, I already know that Destination Highways loves Hwy 88 so save yourself some keystrokes.



Map of Carson Pass / CA Hwy 88.

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Old 05-17-2007, 09:24 PM   #10
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Soon enough I was back in the lush foothills near Volcano.




Nice road between Volcano and Daffodil Hill. Its named Goat's head Grade or something silly like that.
Edit: I've been informed this is Ram's Horn Grade. Thats better than Goat's Head Grade or Sheep's Ankle Grade but its still a silly name. Lets leave the overly-hyped road names to East Coasters, OK?



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Old 05-17-2007, 09:25 PM   #11
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Sutter Creek Volcano Road is one of my favorites. Narrow, tight and bumpy along a twisting creek for several miles. These pics show one of the few sections without complete tree cover.






Too soon, I was back in the Valley and headed for home. One last pic. Cattle ranches along Hwy 16 between Plymouth and Rancho Murieta.



END
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Old 05-17-2007, 09:51 PM   #12
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GREAT PICS THANKS!
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Old 05-18-2007, 08:36 AM   #13
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Awesome, Steve! I can't get up there for another three weeks ing
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Old 05-18-2007, 11:08 AM   #14
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Nice report. Thanks for the pics.
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Old 05-18-2007, 11:15 AM   #15
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Cool report thanks!


I really love going over Sonora pass. Did it last year only coming from Tiogo Pass/Mono Lake. Really cool ride.
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