Archive for the ‘Advocacy/Trailwork’ Category

Laguna Mountains Camping

July 27th, 2014 by MTBBill

Last Sunday through Wednesday  my youngest son, Jake, and I did a three-night camping trip up in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego. We got in some mountain biking, hiking and some good just kicking back time.

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Nichol joined us on the first day for a bike ride around the meadow, dinner and some marshmallow destruction before heading back home to play responsible adult while the boys played in the dirt.  Over the last few years there has been some reroutes to the meadow loop as well to some of the spur trails.  I would say they are all for the better.

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Back at camp, the marshmallows did not stand a chance.

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The morning of day 2 was meet with some leisurely breakfast making before hitting up some of the trails.

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Some play time on the Los Gatos trail was had.

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Jake working on a skinny.

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Jake working the camera.

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We spent the early part of the afternoon just chilling out camp watch the squirrels trying to figure out how to get to our camp treats.  This guy was craving some Cheetos.   That afternoon we did a hike nearby that include the PCT connector trail from the meadow.

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Day 3 we were up pretty early to hit some of the other Pretty Cool Trails in the area.   We rode the meadow over the Penny Pines Trailhead and then made our way over the Pioneer Mail Trailhead where we picked up the Pine Mountain Trail.  We took the Pine Mountain trail over to the Indian Creek Trail at Champagne Pass.    Indian Creek is the primary legal trail connector for bikes between Cuyamaca and the Laguna Mountains.

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We dropped off of Champagne pass to the east on the Indian Creek trail heading back to towards the Lagunas.

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Jake loves him some downhill fun but is not a fan of climbing at all. He wonders why every place can’t be like Mammoth or Big Bear. Once we got to meadow pictured above, I took great pleasure in letting him know it was 3 miles to anywhere from here in either direction and it was uphill in both directions.  We continued on the Indian Creek Trail to the east and climbed up to the junction with the Noble Canyon Trail.

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From there we turned north and climbed Noble.   (Colloquially known as the “Elbon” trail.)   There is a recently completely reroute of Noble up near the top.  The reroute eliminates a couple of road crossings.    The new section is much tighter and a twistier that the original section and while a bit loose right now it should bed in nicely once we get some rains.   I’m sure some of the Strava-tards and will wank about the reroute messing with their times.  (My suggesting to those folks is shut up, just ride faster or turn to juicing.)    Noble Canyon has its loyal followings of which some subscribe to the “Never Change My Trail” mentality so I would expect there will be discontent for a few months.  Personally I think the reroute is going to be really nice once bedded in.

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We took the “shortcut” spur trail that connects back to west end of the meadow vice going all the way back to the Penny Pines Trailhead.  Once back at the meadow it was a quite spin back to camp.

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It was pretty hot during the middle of the day so we kicked back in the shade of camp for a while before jumping in the truck for a swing by Laguna General Store for a Mexican Coke (The south of the border variant is made with real cane sugar vice corn syrup…tastier)  and an Ice Cream bar  before we did some recon work for some of the other trails in the area that are on my to-do list. Dinner that night was some tasty rib-eyes, grilled asparagus and zucchini with some brown rice.   That night we shook off the food coma by strapping on the headlamps to do a mini night ride out on the meadow that included some lights off time to check out the stars on that completely dark night.

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The next morning I was up before sunrise to get in a solo ride while the boy slept in.  Presumably there would be no one else out of the trail as well.  Sunrise was a Pretty Cool Time of day to be out and about by yourself in the woods.    On the way back from the 16 mile loop I saw Mr. Wyle Coyote out looking for breakfast.  After the initially moving away from me for a bit the coyote went back to hunting once establishing that I was not there to bother him.   I watched him for a good five minutes or so before moving along.

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Jake was just waking up when I got back to camp. A second round of coffee was in order for me and it was time for breakfast all around.   After breakfast it was time to break down camp and head out of the mountains.  I had a great time on the camping trip with Jake.   With the exception of a few minutes, we did not have data  coverage so having Jake “unplugged” was a bonus.   With no competition with the all powerful 3G/4G  it allowed for things like watching the “Campfire TV”, gazing at the stars, observations of the “little” things and conversations that would rarely occur otherwise.  Good times.   With some new GPS data and observations,  I’m planning on updating some of the maps, files and pages I have for this area on the site, so stay tuned.

CRHT Page Added

June 7th, 2014 by MTBBill

I have added a page to the site for the California Riding and Hiking Trail.  At this point its designed to share my on-going information gathering on the trail in the form of an interactive Google map.   I have not physically ridden all of the sections of the trail so if during the course of looking at my information you have some information to share feel free to comment here or email me.

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Exploration the CRHT

May 31st, 2014 by MTBBill

So for the last couple of weeks I have been out exploring and researching the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) here in San Diego County.   The history of this trail dates back to 1945 when the state legislature  passed the California Riding and Hiking Trails Act which called for a 3,000 mile multi-use loop trail between Oregon and Mexico.  The 3,000 miles never happened but over 1,000 miles did get built/designated.  Here in San Diego county there is about 108 miles of the trail with only 76 of being used. A portion of those 76 miles are having legal/access issues as some land-owners (not just private but other government agencies) are denying access to the public right of way easements.   It is worth noting that the County Parks and Recreation Department has officially put this trail into its Master Trails Plan.  Most of my research has been using their official GIS data on where they recognize the trails to be.  There are some deltas between their data and the current and/or historical trail that can actually be found.  The trail segments vary in quality from sublimely superb to completely obliterated by pavement.  There is a lot more to tell here and I hope to gather up and publish some of the information on the various segment issues in the future.

The trail passes through some of the trail systems that I have reviewed on the site.  The  Otay Mountain Loop, Hollenbeck Canyon, Cuyamaca State Park, and Oriflamme Canyon Loop reviews all have a segments of the CRHT passing through them.  The Warner Springs area has been my latest bit of on the ground research on the CRHT route.

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There are still bits to the original trail (as intended) still in use and accessible.

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Back in the 1940s and 1950s when many of the section were designated that used old truck trails, cattle routes and farm roads as the trail.   That might have been okay back then but as civilization came along some of those truck trails and farm roads have been widened and paved making them completely worthless as a trail.   It seems that there was never any mitigation made to reroute the trail.   Pictured above here is an old chapel that is still on a dirt road that the CRHT uses.

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Lost Valley Road (Which on some maps is called Lost Creek Road) is one of those segments where the CRHT used this dirt road that has since been paved (still single wide)  and the trail was not rerouted.   This would be a nice dirt road climb with good views of the valley below.

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The picture above is of the gate on the CRHT that uses the abandoned section of Lost Valley Road.  A 1/2 mile up the CRHT the PCT joins onto the CRHT.  Now keeping in mind that bicycles are allowed on the CRHT there is a bit of interesting co-use going on.  For  9/10ths of a mile the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) uses the CRHT trail as its route and of course all of the PCT signage says “NO BIKES”.   Now the Pacific Crest Trail was not established until 1968 a full 23 years after the CRHT.   This is not the only place were PCT co-use antics occur.  Up in the San Gabriel mountains, a 1/4mile section of the PCT was rerouted onto the Burkhart trail (a nice long open to bikes single-track) and the PCT folks tried to close that 1/4th mile section of the Burkhart trail to bikes.  It is complete onsense.

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Here is a view along the section of the 9/10ths of a miles of the CRHT discussed above.

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A fair portion of the CRHT route in this area sees far to much of this action.   Landowners illegally denying access to a public right of way easement.  The CRHT uses the dirt road pictured above but the Vista Irrigation District has removed all of the CRHT trail signs and has locked the gates.

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 It also looks they have removed some of these notices as well.

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This is just one of the tasty bits of trail that these landowners are attempting to deny the public access too.  I’m going to publish more information in the future as I gather it up. In the interim here is a Google Earth file (KML) extracted from the San Diego County GIS data base.  It also has some additional data in it and is what I consider a working document.

 

Playing around in Santee

January 19th, 2014 by MTBBill

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Last weekend I joined hundreds of fellow mountain bikers for a  Protest Ride at  “Missing Trails” Regional Park. MTRP-ProtestRide-11JAN14-25

The article linked above gives a little bit about the story.  I plan on dedicating more to the trail problems in San Diego County in the near future. Santee-Mongo-11JAN14-01

After the protest ride a handful of us worked our way over into Santee to play on some of the real trails in the area.   By real I’m mean the city and county had absolutely nothing to do with their creation.

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Evan playing on the rocks

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I even managed to get both wheels off the ground.  (Photo by Sean)

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In the category of “Stupid Human Tricks” I was trying to get a low angle looking up shot of Steve going off a rock jump.    I have probably taken over a 1,000 pictures of Aqua doing stupid human tricks in the past.  I’ve come to know the sound of his bike coming in as planned.  That was not the sound I heard on this occasion.

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I already started my air raid rollout when Evan got the first shot.  Other than a handlebar in the back it was kinda nice getting in a little cuddle action in on the side of the trail.

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This was the shot I was originally aiming for.  There were tasty post-ride burritos had and Steve even sprung for the burritos!

Snooping around South Poway

March 26th, 2013 by MTBBill

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.

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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.

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Here is a bit of an offical 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.  

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The next section of trails I was on roughly followed the route of the planned eastern end of the South Poway trail.   

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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.

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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.

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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.

Lake Hodges – Benardo Mountain

March 13th, 2013 by MTBBill

On Sunday Jake had hockey practice over at Kit Carson park in Escondido so I took the opportunity to get in some pedal time out at Lake Hodges.

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  I stuck to the North Side trails on this outing.

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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.  

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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.

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The view of the bridge connecting the North side to the South side from the peak. 

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Snow on the mountains to the east.

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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.

Update to the Otay Mountain Loop

March 4th, 2013 by MTBBill

It came to my attention some time ago that the segment of the California Riding and Hiking Trail that I used as part of my Otay Mountain Loop has gotten horribly overgrown.    

It was pretty faint in spots back in 2008.  I have updated my page to reflect that riders may want to go around on the road.   Or better yet, check out this route and take some pruning gear along on you. :-)

The Killing of Iron Mountain

February 12th, 2013 by MTBBill

Here is a special contribution from a long time riding friend of my mine.   Iron Mountain is (rapidly heading towards the “was”) a classicly technically challenging hike/ride in San Diego County).   People enjoyed this trail because it was hard.    Once again we have well intended but misguided people in charge listening to the vocal minority of the trail users who want to “say” they did something hard without “doing” something that is hard.   There are plenty of sterile dirt sidewalks being touted as trails in the city of Poway.     The city has plans for additional trails, how about putting the sparse resources they have to making new trails instead of screwing of the ones we already have.     

The Killing of Iron Mountain

by: Steve Gordenker

Mark and I had a chance to get up to Iron Mountain, yesterday. We witnessed firsthand, the latest round of “Trail maintenance”, by Poway parks and recreation trails manager, Bob Hahn. Recall if you will, last year, I spoke in front of Poway’s city council, sat in on parks and trails planning meetings, wrote letters, and emails, and made phone calls to city council members and the Mayor.

 What a complete, colossal waste of my time.

The slow death of Iron mountain continues, at the hand of Bob Hahn.

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This is towards the top, at the “Hemotoma” area. Large swath of granite removed.

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Wheelchair accessable.

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Ironic, no?

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They dismantled the Iron Meatball.

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Two military guys were hiking down Iron from the top. This poor guy slipped on the loose, powdery mess that Bob Hahn’s butchers left when they removed large portions of granite. He rolled his ankle badly and was unable to put any weight on it. With no way to walk out, his buddy had no choice, but to carry him out on his back. They were 2.5 miles up at this point.

 Thank you, again, Bob Hahn, for making Iron Mountain a “safer” outdoor hiking experience, by completely obliterating all of that dangerous grippy granite.

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Another iconic section of trail at the top , sanitized for your protection.

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Yet another switchback section cleaned and smoothed out by Bob Hahn’s wrecking crew.

Some Noble Canyon and BLT Play Time

December 31st, 2012 by MTBBill

Time to catch up on some photos that have tried to get lost over the last few weeks in a smorgasbord of work, holiday parties,  family visits and a cross country road trip (non-biking..but some intel was gathered).   A few days before I headed out to the east coast to start all of the festivities, I meet up with some of the SDMBA folks and Leslie Kehmeier, IMBA’s Mapping Specialist.    Noble Canyon is one of IMBA’s Epics and Leslie while on a Southern California swing wanted to refresh the information of Noble Canyon and check out the trail for herself.    Mark (SDMBA’s USFS Liason and Board Member)  had put together all of the logistics together for the ride and a great day out in this awesome area soon followed..

 

The route that was put together for the day was a point-to-point route from Red Tail Roost in the Big Laguna Recreation Area, down into the Big Laguna Meadow proper and then onward to drop Noble Canyon.

Leslie is an avid photographer and was sporting a DSLR along with a couple of lens.   I know first hand what a pain carrying that gear can be sometimes and she was carrying around more stuff that I normally do.   Here is Leslie getting some monkey action on to get the shot on the Gatos Ravine trail.    Some of the pictures in this post are from Leslie.

Los Gatos near the top

Big Laguna Meadow has brown up for the winter but it is certainly still pretty.  At the time of this posting, the meadow is most likely covered in snow.

Mark working the “Stairway to Hell”

A shot by Leslie of me on “Stairway to Hell”

Leslie working through the chunk of “Extra Credit”

Mark riding the “Roman Wall” near the bottom of the trail.

Lake Calavera

July 8th, 2012 by MTBBill

Before all of the 4th of July festivities started, I rolled out from Casa De La Bill to hit up Lake Calavera to feel a bit better about the tasty beers and snacks I would be having later in the day.   It was less than a 3 mile street ride to get to the dirt for some quality exercise.    I have not been here in quite some time and while at first I was impressed to see that there was some trail signs out and about I was soon disappointed to see fences.   I view fences as the land mangment equivalent saying the dog ate my homework.   If land mangers would do the thier homework  a bit better they would need a lot less of this stuff.  It was fairly easy to see where the public was giving the fencing passing and failing grades by looking at where the fences were cut and where it was allowed to remain.  LakeCalavera-04JUL12-01

While I do enjoy “front 40″ of Lake Calavera (northern part), the middle and back 40 are where some of the best trails are at.

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A nice little corner.

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A little creek crossing.   Some of the trails called for a bit of elbow and knee tucking here and there to not brush against some of the prevelant Poison Oak.   

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At pretty much the apex of my ride I broke my chain, which gave a bit of a minor delay.   One thing I like about the mountain biking culture is the idea of being self-sufficient while out and about.   Not quite the same as being on a road bike where you could get by with a cell phone and a debit card.