First I must RANT! I am came across this dead rattler while climbing up one of my local trails. This is such bullshit! I’m pretty sure there was no real reason to kill this rattler. If they show up at your house they are asking for a whacking. If you go over to their house you should leave them be. The only crime this snake did was probably blocking somebody’s way along the trail.
Okay RANT over.
Last week my doc shot up my right knee with a huge syringe full of steroids, cortisone and other joint goodness. My knee hurt from the injection for a couple of days and then felt much better. I went back to out to my local trail twice over the last couple of days and while I have overall fitness I need to get back, I had no knee pain at all on the climb today. I was not pushing the knee but I was able to put in the required effort in the granny gear without pain. Finally after three months I am seeing some significant progress with the knee. Now if I can just keep the rest of my shit from falling apart.
It was time for a dawn patrol ride in the Cuyamaca Mountains and Anza Borego Desert State Park. I was at the trailhead bright and early. Too early was my first thought as it was quite brisk (mid-50’s) and I was dressed for the heat to come.
I started out at the San Diego River Staging area. The early morning temps made for a zippy start to help keep the blood flowing.
I made my way up the west side single track and then cut over to the at the visitor center and picked up the Green Valley fire road.
I saw turkeys and some deer along way. When I got to the bottom of Soapstone grade fire road, I took the Upper Green Valley single track. About half way up the climb you leave the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and enter the Anza Borrego Desert state park. Now it looks nothing like a desert up here.
Normally, I hookup with the La Cima Trail and head west toward Lake Cuyamaca and the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT). Today I turned east on the La Cima trail where I went for just over a mile up and over a ridge to the La Cima Trailhead. This was a nice bit of trail. At the La Cima trailhead I picked up the Sunrise trail and continued east.
What a nice bit of trail. There were one spot where you could look down into the Anza Borrego Desert and see the Salton Sea.
I took the Sunrise trail out to its end at the entrance to the Lucky 5 ranch and the northern terminus of Deer Park Road (private property). This was my first time on this bit of trail and I must say I liked it. I have heard that there is a trail planned that would stay on the south side of sunrise highway and connect the Sunrise trail all the way over to top of Noble Canyon. I am all about new trails and I would gladly welcome such a trail. Interestingly enough there is already a trail that connects those two points together. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is that trail. There are access points to the PCT at the the entrance to the Lucky 5 ranch as well as at the top of Noble Canyon. Unfortunately bikes are off limits on the PCT. Now this particularly section is not off limits to bikes because it is in wilderness. No it is strictly off limits to bikes because the PCT has a blanket ban on bikes mostly because the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) feels bike should not be on “their” trail. (I’m grossly generalizing their position that from their perspective makes sense) To me it seems to be a nearly a no brainer that allowing bikes on the PCT section that is on the north side of the Sunrise Highway from Lucky 5 to Noble would alleviate the need to build a trail between those two points on the south side of Sunrise Highway. This makes me wonder, would the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) rather see additional environmental impacts created in this area to create a redundant trail just so they could continue to keep bikes off of the PCT? Is their need to maintain a certain trail experience greater than their land stewardship goals? Would the organizations that support the PCTA simultaneously oppose the creation of the new trail on the south side of the trail due to environmental impacts while also opposing the sharing of the section PCT on the north side of Sunrise highway? Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm.
Well after my deep thoughts I started working my way back the California Riding and Hiking trail. It was well into mid-morning at this point and things had warmed up to near perfect cycling temps. Along the way I came upon the fellow above.
After a bit of snake and camera juggling, I was back on my way and rejoined the CRHT which took me to Soapstone and Stonewall fire roads followed by the Coldsprings trail and the then back to the staging area via the westside single
So I have not been up Bernardo Mountain located on the north side of Lake Hodges in a quite some time. While it is not a terribly long climb, it has always been a solid climb with some pretty technical bits up near the top. For many years it has been one of those benchmark trails to judge where I stand against my former self. I decided to go out and run “the test” again.
Before I really got started I had to take a short pause to yield the right of way to one of the locals. I have only see a few rattlesnakes this year so I was pretty bummed that I was not lugging a round my DSLR rig on this ride. After some interaction time with Mr Nope Rope I was onto the climb proper.
There is a distinctive spot on the trail where the “test” really starts. Its probably a little more than halfway up and the trail switchbacks to the right and gets rocky, ledgy and steeper all at once. It is not like this all the way up but there are plenty of sections like this to negotiate. From this point on I had a series of disappointments. (Just for the record I did not clean the climb to the summit from here) The amount of sanitation that has occurred in this trail has very much changed the character of the trail. For the most part there are no longer any loose rock sections to climb. The loose rocks have for the most part have been kicked off the trail and piled up along the sides. People have even pulled out rocks to make some sections smooth. Smooth sections that are now going to be more prone to erosion now that the soil “armor” is gone. I realize that some people think they are improving the trail, but really? There are also those other types you feel the need to modify the trail in order to say they rode it or to get that personal best. Those folks are some other special flavor of narcissistic asshole.
Maybe I’m just a grumpy old bastard. Maybe I’m the narcissist asshole yelling the equivalent of “back in my day we had to walk to school in the snow, uphill, both ways!”. Either way I did much better on that climb than I should have. It was not because I was in any kind of better shape or more skilled than my last outting here. The climb is just not as hard as it used to be and I’m pretty aggravated about. Its not easy by a long shot, it is just not as hard as it used to be. I realize this happens to most trails as I have seen it happen in numerous places but it does not mean I have to like it! Alright Bitch Sesson complete.
The San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDMBA) has a Call to Action Alert regarding the California Department of Fencing Fishing and Wildlife’s (CDFW) continued mismanagement of the Calavera Highlands Reserve (aka Calavera Lake). CDFW officials have been “aggressively” engaging with trails users
While Calavera is a sizable area with a large network of user-built trails that is a good place to get in riding with a descent outdoor experience it is definitely a shit show of redundant trails. No doubt about it, these are unofficial and illegal trails that the CDFW are wanking about. There is also no doubt about it that the CDFW does not manage this area. If this organization was doing its job, they would have been losing their mind a long time ago. Arbitrarily locking out the public from public lands by putting up fencing and signs and then walking away is not management.
From the periods in which I have interacted with CDFW, I have come to believe they think the land they acquire is “their” land and they are entitled to all of the protections and benefits that private property owners have. The primary benefit being they get to solely decide who may come on their property and who may not. It does not matter what their regulations state, the public knows that the land is public. The public will never accept Calavera Highlands Ecological Reserver as a pristine ecological reserve worthy of locking out the public. All one has to do is stand atop Calavera Hill and look around. The public is not staying out.
The CDFW track record in San Diego county seems to indicate that they do not possess the skillsets to properly manage lands that have an existing recreational baseline that includes people. Personally I think they depend on academic, non-profits and “friends of …” groups that do the bulk of the monitoring and management for them. The primary reason Crestridge Ecological Reserve allows mountain biking is because the Earth Discovery Institute is the de-facto land manager who recognized the benefit of responsible human-powered recreation . If the Earth Discovery Institute had not pushed so hard for the unique change for this reserve it would not have happened.
Despite the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) being on the San County Regional Trail Plan it is pretty much unattainable as a viable regional trail as long as the CDFW is involved with any of the land along the route. Numerous sections of the this trail in San Diego county go through lands mismanaged by CDFW and at pretty much everyone of those, the trail has fences and off-limits signs.
The county is most likely going to end up speeding hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new section of trail for the Coast to Crest Trail near Boden Canyon because the CDFW are not going to allow an easement along a 0.2 mile section of an existing old dirt road!
There are many other examples of the CDFW’s culture of “its my land not yours” mismanagement style throughout the county. Humans are part of the fauna of the San Diego ecosystems. Until the CDFW develops the skillsets and polices to effectively deal with the outdoor experience needs of this species the organization will continue suffer from a lack of land management creditability with the pubic. Until that changes the pubic will continue to give the CDFWs signs and fences a big double middle-fingered salute.
First: This from San Diego City Parks and Recreation Department.
Please be advised that the trails approved by the City Council on Carmel Mountain and Del Mar Mesa will be open for use tomorrow. Maps will be posted at kiosks.…
On the Del Mar Mesa map, as shown below, trails opened by the Council action are shown in black and white. Trails shown in black and red are NOT open due to private property and/or the need for Coastal Commission approval. Maps will be updated once further clearances are obtained.
For Carmel Mountain, all trails appear the same on the map and all are open.
The Council action also included biological habitat restoration on a number of areas previously used for recreational activities. Ranger staff have installed brush, signs, and fences at the access points to these locations. Please respect these access controls along with the ones installed at the Coastal Zone boundary and report any inappropriate behavior to Park Ranger staff.
Now a bit of opinion from me: While this progress is the culmination of a lot of work by a wide array of folks working quite diligently it also shows off some of the bureaucratic buffoonery that is all to common when multiple agencies have to work together. It better than it was but this trail plan is a setup to foster undesired behaviors. Where are the loops? Tunnel 4 is the only legal ingress/egress into the tunnels and then you can only go out and back on the Deer Canyon Trail. The California Department of Fencing Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is the primary players who would not allow for a trail to create a loop to get back from the eastern end of the Deer Canyon trail back to the Eucalyptus Grove. This failure to manage the flow of trails users will most likely lead to undesired effects such as trail users figuring out their own way to create a loop with those trails which will further challenge the management of this area. You can bet that when a group of folks do this they will be demonized by the very folks who help create the problem in the first place. You know people, particularly trail users, are fairly predictable. In many respects people are much more predictable that the array of critters these intelligent conservationist are trying to protect. You would think they would have figured this stuff out by now.
Now my recommendation: Like the city is asking, PLEASE do not go around any barriers, remove any of the brush, debris or tamper with the “access controls” (What do that have squirrels with lasers attached to their head?) that has been put up to close off the existing trails that are not going to be part of this trails system on the mesa. I believe this would be exactly what some of the ANTI-BIKE ANTI-ACCESS folks/agencies would love to see happen. DON’T TAKE THE BAIT! I’ll be updating my page on this trail system in the coming weeks
With all of the destruction that has happened in the Penasquitos Canyon area over the last decade due to land development coupled with the various land management agencies waking up with from decades of management slumber the whole area is kind of a land management circus show. The only groups that are making out in this deal are the developers and the folks making a living off protecting Fairy Shrimp (I’m still looking for a good recipe BTW)
My Los Penasquitos Canyon page has been absurdly out of date ever since the development started. I have decided to finally update the page so I have been riding out here as of late to refresh my GPS data and try to figure out the best legal way to ride out in this area that is not completely mudane and boring. It is fairly tough as the mountain bikers have very little in the way of legal quality trails. It seems the only things that are not endangered out here are no biking signs. (Just for the record that trail in the picture above is not single track, it is more like a baby stroller trail, ATV trail, etc…) You can get in some good riding with a quality outdoor experience but you are going to have illegally share with the hikers and the equestrians and blow by closed signs.
The Camino Ruiz trail is the nearly lone exception to legal boredom of highway wide fire roads in the canyon offered to mountain bikers. This is a nice chunk of single track.
Ok, ranting aside, the warm weather streak we have been having in February has both plants and critters getting confused. Flower are blooming and the everything is nice and green.
Chasing the sun greenery
It is pretty early for the snakes to be coming out already. This is a rather healthy looking whip snake.
It was in evening time so he was mighty sluggish and very easy to handle. He seemed more than happy to leech some heat off of me before getting anxious to head off.
Last weekend at the San Clemente Singletracks I saw my first rattlesnake of the season but he was uncooperative for the camera. I saw my second rattler of the year at Penasquitos Canyon this week and this fella was more amiable to getting his picture taken. The guys are going to be sucking when the weather shifts back to typical temperatures soon.
This past Friday, I went and checked out a loop in South Poway that I had heard about that contained a mix of city approved/created trails and social trails. I really did not have much in the way of expectations when I set out on this semi-urban adventure.
The first chunks of “trails” that I went on were what I typcially expect when I hear of a municipality in San Diego county being involved with creating “Trails”. Dirt sidewalks and bullshit existing dirt roads trying to be passed off as “trails” which provide little in the way of a quality natural outdoor experience. After six or so miles of the this homgenized lowest common demominator tripe things picked up as I went further along on this loop.
Here is a bit of an official new city of Poway trail that is a nice singletrack. Clearly somebody gets it in the city as it provides a nice natural outdoor experience, its sustainable and it is narrow to minimize the enviromental impact.
The next section of trails I was on roughly followed the route of the planned eastern end of the South Poway trail.
According to the current city trail map the eastern end is still just planned. I sure hope the intent is to use this trail pictured above as the eastern end of the of the South Poway trail because the trail above it is just an awesome chunk of cross country singletrack that had great flow and contoured well.
Once I got onto the “built” western portion of the South Poway trail, I was once again back onto the crappy “THIS IS NOT A F#$^^NG TRAIL” dirt road junk. Note in the picture above only about half the width of the road being passed off as trail is in the picture. It is a wide barren strip of non-native gravel that is an enviromental blight that the city probably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to “create”. Everytime I have pulled the string on the “who designed this” question, it seems to typically point back to some trail standard the governing agency has that was written by people who have a background in civil engineering (aka building roads) vice either an enviromental or forestry background (aka protecting and managing natural resources). People (or contracted companies by the city) then blindly follow these antiquated standards to build these low quality, expensive hunks of crap.
This little gem (which I think is not an offical trail), was probably built by volunteers and did not cost the city a dime. Its enviromental impact is a mere fraction of the offical dirt road tripe that scours along the ridgeline above it. The rest of the route I did during the day was a mix of both the offical junk “trails” and a fair amount of well done social trails. Overall the awesomeness of the singletracks outweighed the retardness of the dirt/gravel road abortions (referred to as “trails” by the city) that had to be dealt with. I did about 15 miles total that day. I will be doing some more exploring out here.
Updating the Lake Hodges pages on my website has been on my to-do list for quite some. Now that there is a pedistrian and bike bridge connecting the north and south side of the lake there are more ride options in the area on a single outing. Additionally, a few years ago I got a letter from some of the land owners and the western end of the easement road (known as the high road) that did not want anyone using the easement rsload for recreation and asked that I take down that information from my site. Well obviously I’m a busy guy and have not be able to get to that yet. It looks like it maybe all figured out by now since new signage has gone up. Of course that new signage has made things as clear as mud. Take a look at the picture above. The easement road sign says “No Trespassing” yet they installed a people tunstill beside the gate. New signs were put up telling you it is okay to hike and bike to the right, but no trespassing to the left. Looking at the sign above at the far western end of the easement road one would think it is okay to go through the gate and ride off to the right vice on the easement road that goes to the left. That is not the case at all. What the signs are trying to convey is that when you are on the easement road, everything uphill of the road is private property and everything downhill (towards the lake) is part of the park. This is also not entirely correct as the private property owners land typically goes some number of feet/yards downhill of the road. The park has put up private property signs at the bottom of the trails that connect the lower trails to the upper easement road. I find it odd that some of the land owners don’t want people on the eastern end of the easement road, yet nearly all of them have gates onto the easement road from their backyard. Presumably so they can use the easement road to get into the park. Hmmm so it is okay for those land owners to get onto the little sliver of the easement road they own and then trespass on their various neighbors property and then enter the park through unauthorized trails but it is not okay for the public to do so. Hmmmm, the best advice I can give is to do your best to make sense of the various “non-truth” signs you see and make your own judgement calls. Following the predominate and fresh foot and bike tracks is probably a safe bet.
The Benardo Mountain trail has no controversy involved with it. It just a nice trail that will work you over on the climb up to the peak. There are some tough grade sections and some technical bits as well that will test both skill and fitness. There was some nice purple blooms going off on the climb.
The view of the bridge connecting the North side to the South side from the peak.
Snow on the mountains to the east.
After Bernardo Mountain I rode out towards the dam until it was time to turn around and get back to the rink. I made it back just as Jake was get off the rink so two sweaty Porter Boys to funk of the truck on the drive back to Casa Del Bill.
So I was tube locked for most of the day on Wednesday, but an appointment near Balboa Park gave me about an hour and half to squeeze in a quick ride in Florida Canyon. Florida Canyon is part of Balboa Park and the canyon has trails on both sides of Florida Drive which goes down the middle of the canyon. I have only ridden here once before about 13 years ago. Besides that there is not much mileage out here I had forgotten my other aversion to this place. I was obvisously overdue for a refresher.
While this place is very short on miles, the fact that it is bascally in downtown gives it huge bonus points. The place is pretty and has enough ups, downs and turns to keep a beginner excited.
Most of the trails are about sidewalk wide and while being solidly in the none technical category they do have some character here and there. These trails are much better than the homogenized decomposed granite sidewalks that are so prevalent among most of the city and county created pathways/roads that they try to pass off as “trails”.
There are some more narrower singletracks here and there. The picture above is of one of the trails on the east side of the canyon. Now I am routinely prone to taking the trail less traveled to try and figure out an area’s trail system and today was one of those days. While over on the east side of the canyon just south of Morley Field (highlighted in yellow below) I spotted a few exceptionally narrow looking trails that seemed to not see much action so I flicked the handlebars and headed off down the second one I came across. Turns out I was quite wrong about the whole not seeing much action assessment. Less than 40 feet down the trail I hear somebody coughing off in the bushes in a manner that seems like they are trying to get someones attention. I thought it wierd but kept on rolling. Around the next corner I see some things that well (a) Ought to happen behind closed doors (b) Joe Public should not have to see in a public park (c) Just can’t be unseen! Everybody (Straight, Gay, Trannies, Furries, etc…) has to get their freak on but come on! I should have to type in some keystrokes like C: <INSERT> ### into my computer to see some shit like that on an idle Wednesday afternoon. I was certainly motivated get out of this section of “social ” trails at this point so I give some extra gusto to the pedals. These little trails seemed more like a maze and this point and two turns later I encounter a very stylishly dressed man in surprising uncomfortable looking shoes strolling along this little trail towards me. (Don’t ask me why I noticed the shoes, I just did okay. I have been paying more attention to peoples shoes ever since I saw Shawshank Redemption. We should all be slightly suspicious of people wearing inappropriate shoes.) He was a cordial fellow who wanted to chat while I figured out how to get around him with the minium of greetings exchanged. The guy seemed to pick up on the fact that Homee don’t play that pretty quickly and I was soon on my way again. A handful of seconds later I popped back onto the main trail to notice another well dressed fellow reading a book while sitting on a log seat and another guy just sort of standing around. Weird!
I then remembered why I had not been back over here in over a decade. Morley Field is a “Cruising” spot for gay guys looking to hook up for casual sex in the bushes. To each his own but the Public Service Announcement for this trail system is
“Stay on the Designated Trails in Florida Canyon”
Once I was back the main trail and checking out the rest of the trails I could not help but chuckle as dinner plans for the evening had already been made with my girlfriend.
We had dinner at Hilcrest Brewing Company where they not only have good food but good beers as well. Their pizzas are awesome and we had a tough time deciding between the “BBQueer Chicken” or the “Meatpacker”. The Meatpacker won the coin toss and it went well my girlfriends “Hoppy Endings” IPA and my “Pearl Necklace” Pale Ale. It was a very memorable bike ride with plenty of laughs and snickers afterwards.