Mt Lowe to JPL

I had not seen my buddy Bill it quite some time so we were overdue for a bike ride and catching up.   We decided that a run into the San Gabriel Mountains was in order.

Working our way around Mt Lowe

The Mt Lowe to JPL run was in order.  I have done this route several times before and it is always a good time.

I will not recap the whole route as I already have it page up on this route.   I will talk about some of conditions.  The descent off of Mount Lowe seems a bit looser and chewed up than I remembered.

Upper Sam Merrill and run in down to the old Mt Lowe resort were also a bit chunkier than my last visit.

El Prieto was in in pretty good shape.

 

Playtime in Santee

I was long overdue for a ride with Steve and Brian so Wednesday, I met them out in Santee for  some play time on the “Mel Brooks” trails.   The loop we did was only about nine miles but the trail was a beater.   This trail is all about the play not the distance.  With names like Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, Mongo and Spaceballs how can you not have some fun.

Cuyamaca – ABDSP

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.

Still some flower out and about in the fields.

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.

Mule Deer, the Ross Perot of the deer family.

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.

Along the La Cima trail heading east

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.

Views along the Sunrise trail

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.

The Salton Sea is out there in the haze.

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

Good times on the trails!

Black Mountain – Coast to Crest

Fresh back from working in the Puget Sound area it was time to hit up some of the local stuff.  I got up at O-Damn Early to hit up a new bit of trail and the Black Mountain Truck Trail near Ramona.

O-Damn Early

Ramona this time of year can get really toasty and Pamo Valley can really turn into a pizza oven.   The plan today was to get some elevation on me before things got to really cooking.

The new trailhead staging area off of Pamo Valley. The pine trees on the top of the mountain is my destination.

I made it out to Pamo Valley good and early.   The new staging area is quite large and can accommodate plenty of cars and horse trailers.   I made quick work of getting ready to roll as it was only going to get warmer.    The trail starts out in the northeast corner of the lot and parallels the road for a short bit before crossing over.   A word of caution, the first section of trail near the road was ate up with goat heads.    If you are not running some type of sealant system you may find yourself having a frustrating day right from the get-go.

This new section of the Coast to Crest Trail eliminates the need to ride along the Pamo Road to connect the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail to the Black Mountain Truck Trail.   It is 3.2 miles long and overall I think it is a nice addition to the trail system.   It undulates on the hillsides following the general route of the road but is not just paralleling the road.   It does cross the Pamo Road several times but I really don’t consider that much of a detractor.

McGuyver Time!

Shortly after I got onto Black Mountain Truck Trail, my dropper seat post started acting up.    It started sagging about 1/2″.   I was able to just raise my post up some in the seat tube to compensate, but it was not long before it dropped about 2-2.5″ down.    I did not have enough seat-post to compensate for this.  The first thing I tried was wrapping some duct tape around the upper part of the post.  It worked for just a short amount of time before the whole tape mass just slide up the post.   Next I tried reposition the table and give some extra clamping power with some zip ties.   This worked better but not for long.    Trying to do a long climb without full leg extension can be rough.    I was about to throw in the towel an head back down the mountain when I saw a sizable stick.   I was able break and trim the stick to just the right length to wedge between the seatpost clamp and the bottom of the seat.    Once I got it jammed in place I zip-tied the stick to the post.    This fix held up and I was back in business.

The remaining five miles or so of climbing I had ahead me after fixing the post when well enough and while the temps were climbing they were not bad at all.   I was joined at the summit by a couple of jeepers and their dog and I had an enjoyable time shooting the breeze with them for a while before heading back down the mountain.

 

The top of Black Mountain lookin to the south west. The new trailhead can be seen at the south end of the valley.

As I descended you could feel the temps climbing and it was really hot down at the valley floor.   I opted to not take the new connector trail back at this point and just zipped back on the road.    I did a total of just at 20 miles and 3,300 feet of climbing.

Lower Dungeness/Gold Creek

One of my favorite trails to date in the Puget Sound area is the Lower Dungeness and Gold Creek Trail Loop.    I have ridden it twice before and I was excited to get back out for another outing in the area.

A fire road that does not suck

The first few miles of the Lower Dungeness trail can be brutally steep and amazingly pretty.   A lot of people opt to take  the fire roads around to 3 o’clock ride and then take a connector trail down to the Lower Dungeness cutting out much of the brutal climbing section of the trail.

Views from along the forest service road heading towards 3 o’clock ridge.

I have done both options and decided to take the forest service roads/3 o’clock ridge option.

More views from along the forest service roads

The views from along the forest road are really nice and grades are reasonable but you are missing out on pristine stuff my bypassing those first few miles.

Lower Dungeness Trail

Once I reached 3 o’clock ridge there was quite a bit of zippy downhill singlet rack goodness down into the creek watershed.  Once down there it was just sublime Pacific Northwest loamy, mossy forested goodness following the creek up stream.

There is plenty of undulations along the Lower Dungeness trail and since you are heading upstream you know you are trending uphill.   You probably will not care as the experience is pretty incredible.

Once the trail reached the junction of the Dungeness Creek trail and another fire road it was time for some more climbing to get to the top of the Gold Creek Trail and the Tubal Cain Trail at the edge of the Buckhorn Wilderness.   It was not a horrible climb, but you certainly did some work.

From along side the forest service road climb

The Gold Creek is pretty awesome section of trail that spends a lot of time along the a steep hillside with the Lower Dungeness Creek far below.

Along Gold Creek Trail

 

It was not recently that I learned that a portion of this trail is also part of the Pacific Northwest Trail.  Established in the 2009, the Pacific Northwest trail is 1,200 miles long and goes from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Oceans.

Hmmmm, I was a little lite on pictures through much of the ripping downhill sections of this trail.    Gold Creek will eventually drop down off of the high ridge sides.  Where you will enjoy some more creek-side riding before you have to a wee bit of climbing on an decommissioned forest road back up to the trail head.

On this day I logged right at 20 miles with 3,900 feet of climbing.   My legs were drained and my soul was full!

Rainy Day Banner

One of the things I like about the typical loamy soil of the Pacific Northwest is that it can stand up to some rain.   So a little drizzle or rain is not automatically a ride stopper.

Such was the today’s ride out at Banner Forest.   Here are a few pictures.

Moss moss and more moss

Cool trail names

What would have been a bust in San Diego turned into another fun after work ride up in the Puget Sound area.

 

Ranger Creek/Palisade

Plan A was to ride on the Olympic  Peninsula today but that whole area looked socked with clouds.   Plan B was to head east for the big ride I had planned for the following weekend.   A return to the Ranger Creek and Palisades Trails.

Time for some significant climbing!

I first rode out in August of 2010 and it was fantastic.   This time was still fantastic and slightly different.

Chicken Soup for the MTB Soul

 

The elevation gain be deceptive to the eyes in the forest. You legs and lung will tell you the truth after a while.

As I climbed further up the trail, I could see that some fire damage had occurred in 2017 up near the ridge tops.

Little Ranger Peak

I would guess during the last mile up to where the Ranger Shelter would be, started going through some fire damage along the trail.  The trail was in pretty descent shape

The shelter that was at the junction of the Ranger Creek and Palisade Trails burned during a forest fire. This I pretty much all that remains
When I stopped at the location of the old shelter, I had to deal with some horseflies and gnats. Luckily I was prepared with bug goop!
Mt Rainier in the not so distance

Once I got rolling on the Palisades Trail, the views did not disappoint!

If this looks like it would be awesome to ride, you would most certainly be correct!

What also did not disappoint was the riding on Palisades as well.   Fast, tight and technical root bits made for a banging good time shedding off the elevation gained on Ranger Creek Trail.  One thing is for certain, it did not suck to be me today!

Good Times on the Palisade Trail. Last photo taken before ripping down the trail!

360 Trails, Purdy WA

This trail is located turn the town on of Purdy, WA in the Gig Harbor Area.   It is good example of what good city, county and user group relations can get accomplished.    Here is a link to the park’s map.

Most the forest here is new growth, kinda recently worked land is the vibe I get.    There are is a lot of purpose built MTB trails.  Some of them are even one way.

Most of the trails area XC type trails with a little bit of tech here and there.   There is a pump track as well as pump trail.

Even a wee bit of a log riding as well.

 

Top of the upper jump lines

There is a set of jump trail near the upper end of the trail system that allows for some progression as you develop your skills.

Down near the bottom of the trail system are a couple of serious jump lines (not the ones pictured above)  they are not joke jump lines.  (Marvik and NWT3K)

Not all of the trails are on the current city map of the place, but if you check out Trailforks, you can see the delta.  Interestingly enough trailforks is missing some trails that is on the city map of the place.

It is well worth a visit, but I have to admit, it does not have the same classic Pacfic Northwest trail appeal that I get at some of the other nearby places like Green Mountain State Park and Banner Forest.

Green Mountain State Park

Green Mountain State Park is located within about 15 minutes of where I am working here in the Puget Sound area so it is part of the post-work ride rotation.

The Olympic Mountains seen along the fire road climb.

There are plenty of way to ride the trails out here at Green Mountain State Park.   I have not created a dedicated page on my site for this place yet.    Here you can find some of my previous posts on this area.

Most of the trails in this area are on Trailforks.com.  The Wildcat Trail is one of many trails out in the area.    It is well worth a look see for the network out there.

The Wildcat trail is one of the hardest ways to get up the mountain and it will certainly test your lungs and how well you can handle redlining into the anaerobic end your cardio reserves.   Lately I have been taking a longer series of fireroads up to the top of the mountain and then take Wildcat down.   Well mostly down there are some uphills even on the descent to keep you honest.

Downtown Seattle in the distance as well as Mount Rainier peaking out in the distance.

A great workout with good views on clear days.    A good way work out the stress of a solid day’s work.

 

Mt Saint Helens return

So I am working in the Puget Sound area of Washington for the next few weeks. This is a great time be up in this area of thr country. Last year I went out to Mt Saint Helens and rode the Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham trails. It was a pretty incredible ride but the weather did not cooperate so my views were quite limited. Here is report from that day

On the top of my MTB list for this trip was a return outing to here when the weather was clear. My first weekend here and the weather report looked good so I pulled the trigger. Boy was I rewarded for it.

Along the Ape Canyon trail looking at the south fsce of the mountain.

I saw a lot more of the mountain than last year even before I got to the trailhead. The climb up Ape Canyon was fantastic and the further up I went the better things got. The tops of Mt Adams and Mt Rainier were even visible in spots.

The view from the top of Ape Canyon

The view when you reach the top of Ape Canyon is incredibly impressive. In the pan shot above you can see the Rainier, Adams and of course Mt Saint Helens.

The south-southeast slopes of the mountain.

It is crazy to think that much of the foreground was forest before the eruption in 1980. The mountain used to have a typical volcano shape to it but the eruption blasted off 1,300 feet off the top. This is just the non-blast side of the mountain.

From here I rode the Plains of Abraham trail over the eastern slope of pumice and lava rock. Riding through here I once again felt very small seeing what the power of Mama Earth can do. There were also lots of wildflowers and other low growing stuff.

The northestern slope as seen on the fireroad out Windy Gap.

The trail takes you around to the northeastern area of the mountain where you can get your first view of the side of the mountain that was blown off. In the picture above you can see the trail in the ridgeline.

Spirit Lake and the “log raft”

The singletrack dumps you off a ridgeline and onto a dirt forest service road. I took that out to Windy Gap and the onward to the Smith Creek trailhead. Here I was treated to a nice view of Spirit Lake and the “Log Raft”. The lake took the brunt of the blast and most of the water was thrown up into the higher elevations in the form of a wave estimated to be about 850 feet high. When the dust settled and water drained back into the lake it was a much larger and shallower lake that had 40% of it surface area covered in the floating trunks of the trees between it and the mountain. Check out this wikipedia article on it. Moat of those trunks are still floating on the lake.

I thought about dropping the Smith Creek trail to do a more epic loop, but I wanted to retrace my steps and descend Ape Canyon to finish the ride.

In the trees of the Ape Canyon Trail

Retracing my steps was plenty of work but I was once again rewarded with killer views and the descent down Ape Canyon was the source of multiple joygasms. What an opener for this trip!