We start off with, I am once again slacking a bit on BLOG posts. I will try to catch up at some point, but for today I have to talk about the Condor Peak Trail in the northern bits of the San Gabriel mountains. I first rode this trail in in 2007 and thought it was a fantastic trail. I was quite saddened in 2009 when the station fire tore that area and the trail up. After thousands of volunteer hours put in by the dedicated folks of the Lowelifes Respectable Citizens’ Club the trail was officially reopened back in July.
Those folks did an amazing job of rebuilding that trail. It is in fantastic shape and they did not sacrifice any of the narrow twisty exposed nature of trail which make it such treasure to a single track connoisseur .
My buddy Bill and I revisited a point-to-point ride we did that included a 12 mile climb up Mendenhall Ridge and a connection over to the top of the Condor Peak Trail. Condor Peak can also been done as an out and back, but I don’t like the idea of trying to climb some of those narrow exposed sections when you are momentum deprived. No matter what method you take to get to the top of Condor Peak you are going to put in some work.
A while back I revisited the Santa Margarita River Trail and shot some video.
The placed has changed a bit with the primary thing being some “improvements” to the south side that has “tamed” some of the trails a little and made them slightly wider. To the east of the preserve the Red Mountain and “Hills Loop” I used to describe have been cutoff due to an property acquisition by an environmental group. There is still plenty to see out here and while summer is not the best time to be out here it was still a nice outing on the bike.
The Laguna Mountains are one of my happy places. Nichol and I spent the July 4th holiday weekend (and then some) at the Laguna Meadow campground.
We really love this area not only for cool trails right from camp but also for it just being an awesome place to just to chill outdoors. One of the things we like about it during the July 4th weekend is the lack of fireworks. Within hearing distance of our home are several annual fireworks events that pretty much keeps are dogs traumatized for the bulk of the Independence Day evening. Life is just better for our dogs (and us) up here away from the boomage.
Did I mention trails? I already posted up about checking out Garnet Peak, but I hit most of the stuff in the area over the course of the trip.
The nice thing about camping here is that you don’t have to try and hit everything at once. Some trails in the morning. Some in the afternoon. Hell, why not a post-2nd breakfast ride?
Then of course there is hammock time. Yeah we had a great time!
Looking for something off the beaten path near Moab? Do you like eating your dessert before your vegetables? While I would not put Fisher Mesa on the must do list for the Moab area it is certainly worth a spin if you feel like you have already done all the marquee stuff in Moab. Fisher Mesa is two mesas east of Porcupine Rim and if you are taking the scenic way Fruita from Moab it is along the way. This video was shot in 2008 using a “bleeding edge” 1080i HD Camcorder with “new” tech such as optical stabilization.
This video was shot in 2008 using a “bleeding edge” 1080i HD Camcorder with some “new” tech such as optical stabilization. While it worked great in your hand it was pretty horrible in the Moab area terrain as it was always “catching” up and actually made things worse. It was still way better than GoPro options of the day where 384p resolution with the young YouTube offering video hosting at 480p max. So glad for the modern era tools to share.
I have been talking about doing Garnet Peak with a couple of my buds off and on for years. The themes of the conversations have usually included phrases like ” Its worth checking out”, “Oh yeah it chunky” and “You will probably like it”. So while camping in the Lagunas over the July 4th weekend, I decided to give Garnet Peak a go. This is a short (2.4 miles out-and-bike) hiking trail that bikes are allowed on. The trail is accessed right from Sunrise Highway if you are on a bike. Hikers can additionally access it via the PCT trailheads at Penny Pines or Pioneer Mail.
The trail starts off easy enough and appears to be an old road bed. The trail supposedly gets lots of use but it was not too apparent on this day. The trail narrows way down and steepened up just before it crosses the Perfect Cycling Pacific Crest Trail. The raw chunk factor steps up as well. I do enjoy this type of slow tech climbing…for a while. At some point I was “Yeah, I know how to climb this stuff but hiking it is easier. I feel I did climb a solid amount of this trail but with plenty of stops. Often times it was stop and eyeball the line for the descent. Sometimes I just told myself that knowing the real reason was I just did have the willpower to keep throwing down the grunt.
The chunk of the trail often dictated a climbing line not dead center of the trail. This is where the chapparral brush took its toll. I had some good exfoliation going on by the 2/3rds mark up. I highly recommend some knee/shin guards or pants for this alone.
The views expanded as a I neared the peak. First it was to the North and Northwest. The Palomar Observatory was easily seen in the distance. Closer is a prominent reddish rock formation that you can’t help but wonder what is out there. There is a barely discernable path out to it from the trail when the formation is right off your left shoulder. (Thats Port Beam for you Navy Schallywags). It’s worth a scramble around.
The last 50 feet to the summit are not what I call doable unless you are a trials rider. The juxtaposition of the Anza-Borrego Desert and Mount Laguna made for some impressive views. It was clear enough on this day to see the Salton Sea and beyond. This peak is known for being one of the windiest spots in the county and that certainly seemed to be the case on this day.
The descent was challenging with a high requirement for precision. Boy the exfoliation factor was climbing rapidly and becoming uncomfortable to distractingly painful everytime a brush touched already “treated” skin. I did not ride everything I put on my “ride list” while on the uphill scouting climb. The common theme with everyone of these balks was I would have to take an off center line than ensured more lower leg treatments.
This trail was fun, with momentary hints of Type II fun. The trail is really too short breech into full blown in the moment misery. Garnet Peak might end up as an annual affair but next time I will bring some lower leg protection. I would not come out to the Lagunas just to do this trail but if you are a regular you might want to spice up one of your loops by adding this trail.
It was not planned but I found myself awake at four something this morning. (Thats O-damn:Early for this retired military guy) After determining that getting back to sleep was probably not going to happen I managed to shuffle to the coffee machine without stumping a toe. Somewhere along the ensuing journey to coherencency the MTB gear managed to get loaded in the truck. The destination was not decided until I had to pick a freeway on ramp.
I pulled into the staging area for the Upper La Cima and Lucky 5 trails about 30 mins after sunrise. I was doing a switchup on one of my favorite routes in this area. I normally start down near the bottom of the mountains and climb up to here. I wanted to enjoy the mostly downhill half of this route in the early morning light.
Boy was I rewarded with some fantastic light as well as nice temps for this late June morning. I always enjoy these trails but this was something special. Some of it could have been my own low expectations of muted summer “brown” but the early morning light put a nice pop of color on the landscape.
As I worked my way to Soapstone Grade and then Stonewall Creek fireroad I was pleasantly surprised to still have the good light holding on. The Cold Spring and Cold Streams singletracks were just glorious. It was not until I was heading down the Westside singletrack did the last remnants of the morning glory relent to the rest of the day.
I was stoked to have seen some my “old” favorites literally in a new light. It was now time to eat my vegetables after enjoying dessert first. The temps were climbing quickly and it was pretty much all climbing back to my truck. The price of admission was well worth it as I closed out the loop using Green Valley fireroads followed by Upper Green Valley singletrack. This will not be the last time I do this dawn patrol ride.
It had been many moons since I was last rolling through Whiting Ranch. It along with Santiago Truck Trail and the Luge were some of the first “out of town” MTB rides I did when I was first getting in to modern mountain biking back in “The Day”. After doing the big Harding Truck Trail Loop last month I found some new interest in revisiting this trail system.
Whiting Ranch is really a bit too small on its own for my taste for having to drive up from San Diego. Doing it as a loop with the Santiago Truck Trail and the Luge brings it up to a sizable enough ride for the drive.
Since I was last out here the lower portion of the Santiago Truck Trail was graded for some wildland fire management purposes so it was not as near-single track as it used to be. It was still and enjoyable climb up to the top of the Luge.
I had recently done The Luge so I had some familiarity with it on todays run. After a zippy descent it roll down to Cooks Corner and then hooked back into Whiting Ranch to finish off the loop.
I was shooting some video today as well so I will try to get that put together as some point.
Doing the Caballo trail out a Daley Ranch requires a bit of a commitment as it will add some climbing to your day. The Quail trail is a much easier sell as it just adds a little work to your day. Both are worth the price of admission in my book.