Into the Volcano

Day 4: Folsom to Volcano
50 miles, 3000-???? ft

The original plan was to head up over the Mormon Emigrant trail from Pollock Pines to Kirkwood. This is supposed to be one gorgeous climb (as described on However due to late snows in the Sierras, the forest service had not opened the road yet. Bummer. Time to self route.

After considering the options, we decided to go up highway 88 but rather than going all the way up from Jackson, we wanted to keep to back roads as far as Pioneer.

We knew it would be another very hot day so we got up early and were on the road by 7AM. The morning ride was a warm and pleasant meander though perfect California foothill country (“I love this kind of landscape” yells Gabi as we ride).

But after lunch things got bad. The route we chose from Fiddletown to Volcano follows a road called Hale Rd. After about 2 miles we renamed it “Hell Rd”. Up to 3500 ft, down to 1000 ft, then up, then down and up and down again. All this on roads that felt like they were 18 percent gradient and all the while the temperature is climbing to 100 degrees for the third day in a row.

Finally, around 4:30, we roar down a steep descent into Volcano (population 85). We almost rode all the way through town because the town is only two blocks long and that is just what we needed to come to a complete stop.

Well, right in front of us is this beautiful Inn called the St. George Hotel ( It is absolutely perfect. The only problem is there didn’t seem to be anyone there. It turns out that Elsa, the Innkeeper was about to head home because it was so quiet. We were so beat, and the place was so nice, we decided it was time for a rest day and checked in for two nights. Elsa put some yoghurt, berries, pastries and granola in the fridge in the Hotel’s industrial kitchen, left the door open and the whole place was ours for the night.

Day 5: Rest day in Volcano
We spent a well deserved rest day just hanging around downtown Volcano. Though we were only four days into our trip, we were tired. Partly from Hell Road and the heat but also from all of the work we had been doing over the past few months just to get ready. We’ve hardly slowed down since February.

There isn’t much to do in a town so small. We met most of the town locals at the general store and café and told them about our trip. We napped and read. And I went swimming in just about the best swimming hole I’ve ever seen on Sutter Creek about 300 yards from the St. George.

It was prep day at the Hotel Restaurant (no meals, sorry) but Elsa said they could probably put together a box dinner for us. A box dinner! It started out with fresh baked bread with home made chick pea humus. Then came a salad with fresh roasted red peppers and onions. For the entrée we had grilled filet, fresh green beans and pasta with a fresh tomato sauce, all cold. We popped open an chilled bottle of Bonney Doon Pacific Rim Riesling and it was perfect. Yum!


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