Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 17 & 18: Garberville to Fort Bragg to Gualala

Friday's ride from Garberville to Fort Bragg, CA was one that many of us had been dreading.  Below is the elevation profile for the 67 mile ride. While all of the days have included hills, this was the biggest hill of the ride and a number of us planned to "bump" up to mile 31 and then ride the rest of the way to Fort Bragg. Unfortunately, the WomanTours van and trailer exceeded the length limited permitted on the mountain road and we were forced to take a 75 mile detour down U.S. 101 before cutting over to the coast. At the bottom of the hill we waited for some several of the riders who earlier indicated they wanted to catch a ride in the van. By the time everyone loaded we had 15 riders and bikes. I hadn't planned on riding in the van the entire day so after we arrived at the hotel and I unloading my bags, I hopped on my bike and road about 15 miles through town and down the coast. Not exactly what I had planned, but sometimes you've got to roll with the punch and do the best you can.  

Pomo Dancers
While in Fort Bragg I visited the local museum to learn about the city's history. Having once lived in California I was somewhat familiar with California Indian history and knew that Fort Bragg is located within the aboriginal homelands of the Pomo, but I didn't know that the town is the former site of the Mendocino Indian Reservation. Established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1855, the reservation was for the "resettlement" of California Indians following the discovery of gold in 1849. The impact of the gold rush on the Native  population in California was devastating.  

When California was admitted to the Union in 1850, one of the first statutory acts of the legislature was to offer a bounty on Indian scalps. In Northern California, towns offered bounty hunters cash for every Indian head or scalp they obtained. Rewards ranged from $5 for every severed head in Shasta City in 1855 to 25 cents for a scalp in Honey Lake in 1863. In both 1851 and 1852 the state of California paid out $1 million to militias that hunted down and slaughtered Indians. In 1857, the state issued $400,000 in bonds to pay for anti-Indian militias. From 1850 to 1863, state law provided for the indenture of California Indians. Further, Indian property was free for the taking because Indians weren’t permitted to testify in court. State Senator J.J. Warner spoke for many at the time when he said: “... there is no place within the territory of the United States in which to locate them ... better, far better, to drive them at once into the ocean, or bury them in the land of their birth." 

By the mid-1870’s, the Indian population had fallen to less than 30,000. White merchants, miners, and others impatient for the new state to further their interests created citizen militias to rid the state of Indians who resisted their demands for their land, their labor, or anything else. The Pit River Rangers, the Oregon Militia and others carried out their deadly work with support from the new State of California that provided a bounty for Indian scalps. By 1859 less than a third of the Indian population in California was able to escape the bloodbath. During this same period the federal government negotiated eighteen treaties with California Indian tribes that promised reservations where Indians could live in peace and economic aid and vocational training in compensation for the lands taken from them, including the Mendocino Indian Reservation. The California Legislature prevailed on the Senate not to ratify the treaties and the genocide proceeded. By 1900, California Indians had nearly been annihilated and the population was only 15% of what it had been in 1850. Sadly, this is a part of U.S. history that is often overlooked during "celebrations" such as Columbus Day earlier this week. 

Okay, back to the ride...

Today's ride from Fort Bragg to Gualala started out inauspiciously. While putting air in my front tire I lost the value cap and the tire tube wouldn't hold air. Unable to find the cap, I had to replace the entire tube.  Fortunately, our guide Cy was there to help and 20 minutes later I was good to go.  Unfortunately, I was now 30 minutes behind the group so I decided to get a "bump" up in the sag so that I wouldn't be trailing behind the entire day.

When I rejoined the group at  mile 10 we were just north of Mendocino, a quaint little coastal community perched above the Pacific Ocean. I stopped for about 30 minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee, a croissant, and to take some photos. By the time I left, much of the early morning  fog had cleared and the day began to warm up. 

Buildings in Mendocino
Close-up of church steeple

Coastline just south of Mendocino

Another breathtaking view of the coast

About 5 miles south of Mendocino we came across a scuba class from Humboldt State University 

The trees along the coast are quite a contrast to the giant redwoods we saw riding from Eureka to Garberville 

We'll be in San Francisco in 2 days!
Riding along the coast has meant being in tsunami hazard zone. Nearly every hotel we've stayed in has had a tsunami evaluation plan in case of an earthquake.  We've been told that there are sirens that alert us to move to higher group in the event of a tsunami. Fortunately, we have yet to hear them. 

Its always a relief to see these signs notifying us that we are out of tsunami danger areas. 

Photo of the California coast

Another breathtaking photo of the California coastline

A hidden cove about 15 miles north of Gualala

Another shot of the beautiful California coastline

Rock formation off the coast 

View from hotel balcony in Gualala

Hydrangeas still in bloom
I rolled into Gualala around 2:30 pm under sunny skies.  After schlepping my bags to my room and grabbing a quick shower, I headed to a nearby restaurant for lunch. I took a seat on the outdoor deck where I could watch the waves roll in. Although it was only 70 degrees it felt much warmer as I enjoyed a late lunch. 

Below is a map of our route for the past 2 days, Garberville to Fort Bragg to Gualala, CA. Tomorrow we ride 50 miles to Bodega Bay where the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds" was filmed in 1963. Much like our ride today, tomorrow we will continue down the Pacific Coast Highway.  Our queue sheets have become pretty simple, make a right out of the hotel parking lot and head south until arriving at our next hotel. Pretty easy directions even for someone like me! 

View Larger Map


  1. WOW! I got a history lesson today!! Your informtion was "mind boggling" but interesting. It is something that California (the U.S. actually) should definitely be ashamed of.

  2. Hi Angela,
    I agree with Jan B. It was devastating to read about the annihilation of Indians in California. In Sport History classes that I teach, we discuss the legacies of Indians in sport. One of the videos that I show estimates that the Indian population was reduced from 10 million to around 250,000. Your entry is much more profound in telling how that happened! Thank you for sharing this entry. I would like to include it with readings about Indian legacies in sport.
    The photos you have posted are beautiful. It really makes me want to take this trip!!

  3. Hi Angela-this is Peg's sister again. Just want to let you know how lucky you are to be out of OR. 30+mph winds from the south with rainfall up to 1.5 inches in 3 hours. Keep heading south!!


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