So, there I was...I'm waking up 2 hours before the crack of noon (That's 10 a.m. for all of you who are near panic trying to find the calculator). No offense to anyone in my audience, but you know who you are! So here I sat, same as ever, took a dump and pulled the lever. Then I thought to myself, I really need to get out and take Billie with me. But where, in all this vast Northern Californian wonderland shall I go. I had heard that the fishing in Antelope Creek was pretty good, and one could wander around unmolested, so what better place to take the dog and let her run while I fish. I had also heard that Hogsback road, which more or less parallels Antelope Creek from afar (WAY AFAR, I would come to find out), was a little bumpy and that I would be best advised to go out and around the long way to come into the road from the top. You know that point at which you begin to ask yourself, "Should I keep going this direction, or just tuck my tail and return the beaten-up, rocky, gully-ridden, don't exceed 5 miles per hour unless you want to rip the rear axle from underneath your truck way that I came"? I apparently missed that sign somewhere between Red Bluff and HOLY CHRIST, THANK THE LORD I ONLY RAN OVER A 1/2 TON BOULDER AND DIDN'T SLIDE OFF INTO THE 4 FOOT DEEP RAVINE WHERE THE ROAD USED TO BE! Let me put this into perspective for you. Any of you that ever saw my driveway back in Nacogdoches, take the worst holes in that and that was the good driving. This "road" was chock full of soccer-sized rocks, 8-10 inch vertical steps of volcanic bedrock, potholes as big as the truck and twice as wide. It would be classified as a jeep trail anywhere else, only the jeep trails actually feed off of this road. Lord knows what those looked like. I traveled, get this, 12 miles in 2 hours. Hopefully by now you get the picture, because this next part isn't nearly as dramatic, the video doesn't do the "road" justice, and the photos I took for the day, including my fish pictures, somehow got corrupted. Damn, SD card gnomes!!
So after a few stops and a few jaunts over barbed wire fences and rock-ridden fields, I come upon the gate to Ishi Road. Well, according to the trusty GPS, this road crosses Antelope Creek, but as luck would have it, the gate had been locked just one month prior, so only foot traffic was allowed. So I says to myself, "Self, let's get down there and do some fishing." Did you know that when you walk a -25% grade over a mile, at some point, you eventually have to walk a +25% grade for that same mile. Let me tell you kids, Shiddy B was feeling pretty....well, you know. This road was closed for good reason. +12" drops, gullies cut across the road, switchbacks that would have put your front tire within mere inches of a near vertical drop-off. It was NASTY. I was on the verge of kicking in my 4WD on multiple occasions. The fishing was decent. Caught a few small fishkas on dries and nymphs, the biggest probably barely breaking the 10" mark. Sure was wishing I had brought the 3 weight. So it's back up the road I goes. Thank goodness I brought plenty of water.
After that lovely stroll, I hop back in the truck and continue on up the road. It was at this point I reached a bit of a "point of no return". I hit a point in the road that gave me three options. Showcase number one is a lovely slab of volcanic bedrock with a nice vertical downhill edge that only a rock-crawling jeep could traverse. Showcase number two is a real winner with beachball sized rocks on the left, an exactly truck width patch of smoother ground with another 8" bedrock wall, bordered on the right by a 2 foot deep gully. Aaaand showcase number three....we're not even going to consider that one. Let's just call it impossible, so NUMBER TWO IT IS! I start creeping up this thing, not sliding off on the right, so I'm good. Then BAM! I rolled my front left tire over one of the beach balls, only thought in my head is "Holy NUMBER TWO!!!!"....Luckily I rolled on past that little barrier with only a little minor dentage under the driver's door, and escaped the next two barriers unscathed. Long story short, I made it out of the Tehama Wildlife Refuge relatively unharmed, and no worse for the wear. On to Tips for a few medically prescribed brews.