The last couple of weeks January was a busy time with lots of non-biking goodness. I had been getting in some rides but they have been pretty utilitarian in nature. Such was the case on February 4th when I got in spin at Lake Hodges. I started out on the north side near at the storage facility staging area and took on the north side of the lake.
I took the north side all the way out to the dam and back. I was feeling really strong and keeping up a good pace (by my standards anyway).
When I got back to the bridge I cut over to he south side of the lake and started the working my way through the trails there. I was still feeling great. While doing a bit of out of the saddle work to press up a short rise I felt a sharp twinge in my right knee followed by a sharp pain as I neared the top of the pedal stroke. Even in my granny gear just getting through the range of motion at the top of the pedal stroke was quite painful. I had to cut the out rest of my intended route and go home.
Just walking around was a only slight uncomfortable but stairs and getting the knee bent beyond 45 degrees was painful.
So I have resigned to just walking and hiking to keep active. The dogs are pretty happy about this they are getting some longer adventures in beyond just the usual walking circuits.
It has been three weeks since I hurt the knee and it has only slightly gotten better. I have a doctors appointment in a couple of weeks when I get back from a work trip to have it assessed.
Time to get in some more Black Mountain. I continue to be impressed with the improvements that been made and the progress on the trails out here.
The Black Widow trail going down the west slope of the mountain continues to see love from the trail crews.
Word is there are future plans for access to the East Rim from the east side as well. That would be pretty awesome as all of the current access point are both social trails and brutally steep hike-a-bikes. I’m so excited about this place is coming along from standpoint of how advocacy groups and willing community governments can actually make things happen.
Steve, Mark and I decided had a rocky start to the New Year. Mighty rocky!
Iron Mountain has some really technical bits on it and it has been some time since I have been riding on that kinda stuff so it took a little bit to my rock monkey motion dialed back in.
Iron Mountain is a very popular place with hikers so typically you only want to ride out here on a weekday. Coming out here on New Years Days was a bad decision on our part as far as the start and stop aspect of the ride is concerned. The people looked like a string of ants going up the mountain.
The trail lends itself to sessioning the various sections and “moves” so that was how most of descent went. Good times as we had an audience the whole time. There must have been 300+ people on that trail while we were out there. Nuts!
After partaking in all of traditional Christmas time feasting it was time to try to knock a little of the growing HO HO HO off of my belly with some miles and some climbing. Daley Ranch offers plenty of that. I decided to switch my routes some on my two rides out here this week. I decided to start out with a climb up the boulder loop which I have not done it quite some time. While on the climb I came upon a Kangaroo Rat.
So I have seen plenty of Kangaroo rats out on the trail when night riding. This was my first time seeing one during the daylight and certainly catching one. I actually caught this little critter several times while trying to get the photos. Other than a couple ticks on its under side it seems to be healthy. I’m pretty sure its behavior is going have it being a coyote or hawk snack very soon.
It was has been really pretty out here lately with the winter storms bringing in some much needed moisture.
It was pretty nice to do some of this area in the opposite direction than what I normally take. Seeing things from a different perspective as well as at a different speeds put a nice “new” twist on things.
I always think it is a treat to see and visit snow without snow coming to visit me.
It has been quiet some time since I have been over to the east side of Black Mountain in Rancho Bernardo. Man I have been missing out. There has been some really good contouring single tracks built on “Little Black Mountain” that are replacing the stupidly steep old jeep routes that were previously most of your options out there.
The great thing is these are fully above board legal trails. The local community and the San Diego Mountain Biking Association working with the City of San Diego have a good thing going out there.
The route I have been kinda digging as of late has me starting from the Black Mountain Open Space Park and head south along west base of the mountain to connect to the main fire road climb where I head up to the peak. After the peak I drop down the Black Widow Trail. I climb back up the main fire road where I then cut over to Little Black Mountain and ride the loops out and then connection up to the Nighhawk trail to Miner Ridge Loop. From there I do the eastern half of that loop to Lilac and then to the Ahwee that takes me back to the park. Here is a link to that route. The end of the Ahwee is cut off due to my GPS watch running out of juice so your distance should be slightly longer. (I need to update my website page on this trail system)
So I managed to get back to the Cowboy trails for another crack and making it up to the ridge without getting snowed out.
After that I took the outer loop which I had never done before. It was some nice bit of single track
From Outer Loop I hooked up with Midas and SARS. It was nice to be able to feel my toes at this stage of the ride compared to my last time our here.
After that I took Radio Tower. (Next time I will take Little , The uppermost bit of Bomb Voyage, Little Jimmy Switchbacks up to the Ridge Trail
The views from the ridge line was just as cool as I remember Once off I the ridge trail, I hooked up with the Bomb Voyage trail. I got turned turned around just a bit at the top on some hiker spurs but there is no mistaking the trail once it turns downhill. Oh man is the trail burly! I had to walk more that a couple of sections. Pretty close to the bottom, the Bob Gnarly trail merges with Bomb Voyage. During my next visit out here I’m going to give Bob Gnarly a shot. The numbers are a lot less than the fun (and work) factor out here. I’m already looking forward to a return to here on the next visit to Vegas.
Thanksgiving has brought me to Las Vegas. Besides overeating with family getting out to the Cowboy Trails in the Red Rock area just west of town was on the list. A series of winter storms was rolling through the area so the weather was a bit iffy.
Well Las Vegas is a gambling town so I opted to roll the weather dice and hit the trails. I have ridden here before and near the trails handle rain very well. When I arrived at the trail head it was quite brisk at 47 degrees and wind gusts up to 20mph. I have gear so it was go time.
I was interested in doing some of the trails I had not done before. Last time out I climbed up a technical bit of desert goodness that is now been named Kibbles and Bits. I don’t recall that trail being named last time. This outing I went “Bunny”. A couple of years ago while working in the Pacific Northwest, I asked a local bike shop guy if bad weather was expected and his response has really stuck with me. “There is no bad weather, only bad gear.”
My gear included a long sleeve jersey base layer, a short sleeve jersey on top of that followed up with a cycling specific windbreaker/jacket. I had bandanna tied low around my ears. While I was a bit cold starting out, this was a good combo after a short distance up the trail. I had on a set of knee warmers and some wool socks. This was pretty good at the start, but I could have easily gone with full length leg warmers. I love my wool socks as it is pretty much the only type of socks I wear year round. On this particular day, the wind was cutting though those socks a bit more than I cared for but it was manageable.
When I got to the junction of Fossil Canyon I took First Finger as I was pretty sure I had not been on it before. First Finger was not sheltered from the wind much and I while I was fairly comfortable for the most part my toes were pretty cold as the wind just cut right through my shoes and socks. The temperature was dropping as well.
After First Finger, I got onto the SARS trail. I had been on this trail before and my intention was to get up to the Ridge Trail and then take Bomb Voyage or Bob Gnarly down.
A very short segment of of descending into shallow canyon SARS turns back into a climb. The snow started to come down pretty solid at this point. This was not bad at all as I was sheltered from the wind while in this canyon. My toes were damn cold at this point. As I neared the top of SARS the wind got to be really biting and my toes were really unhappy at this point. I pulled the plug on heading up to the ridge and decided to take Boneshaker down.
I have done Boneshaker before and it certainly earns its name. Now that I had committed to bailing out there was a knew level of calmness in my head since I was no longer having to make those risk vs reward calculations. This was a good thing as you need your wits about you when working your way down this trail. The snow was pretty close to horizontal now and the windward side of my face was almost numb. It was pretty cool to see this place in this state. I had a surreal moment while going through a series of technical rock moves on Boneshaker when my speed and direction became perfectly in sync with the near sideways falling snow. For a second or so it looked like the snow and I were motionless while the trail moved underneath us. It was so cool!
Boneshaker dumps off around about 1,000 feet in a mile and it certainly felt warmer as I rolled into the trail head. The thermometer in my truck read 37 degrees. Some would say the house won this gamble, but upon further reflection now that I can feel my toes and the windward side of my face, I rolled off that ridge line with some great memories.
The last couple of weekends I have spent some time riding and a little bit hiking around the northern part of San Diego County and into Riverside County. I was able to get out on the final northern section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) in San Diego County.
One thing that has become obvious during my roaming along the CRHT and research. When the Pacific Crest Trail was first established in 1968 it “commandeered” quite a few sections of the then existing CHRT in San Diego County and the Anza area in Riverside County. In at least two locations I have found the traditional style CRHT markers along the Pacific Crest Trail. In the years following the establishment of the PCT the desired PCT routes were created/rerouted off the original CRHT, leaving the CRHT to wither away or left unprotected from future development/protection. The impact of this was not readily apparent until many years later when in 1988, the USFS dubiously banned mountain bikes from the PCT without proper public input.
Pulling back to a larger scale, from the area just east of Cuyamaca Lake to at least Paradise Valley (Highway 74/371) area the California Riding and Hiking Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail typically parallel one another to varying degrees. San Diego County has the concept of restoring the CRHT as part of its master trails plan but I see the PCT being nearby as a deterrent to getting this historic mountain bike accessible back country trail restored. I see the PCT sucking the bureaucratic willpower away from the CRHT effort. I would love to I am very supportive of the Sharing the PCT movement as well was the removal of the blanket bike ban in Wilderness being spearhead by the Sustainable Trails Coalition. You should take a look at what those efforts are trying to accomplish. If both the Sharing the PCT and San Diego County CRHT restoration efforts were to come to fruition the routes/loops that could be done with both of these trails would be absolutely amazing. We can all dream!
This weekend I did some more recon on the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) between Warner Springs and Chihuahua Valley Road. The area pretty much qualifies as the North Back 40 of the county. I have updated my GPS files and interactive map on my site. If I mention a mileage marker or waypoint here, it is referring to that map.
I started this ride at the CRHT and PCT access point near the top of the paved section of Lost Valley Road (CRHT-193A). I have done this section before where you climb along the remnant of old old Lost Valley Road before the Pacific Crest Trail joins in from the south.
At this junction some of the minions of the PCTA have messed with the CRHT signs to try and cover them up and in typical PCTA fashion put up no-bike stickers. The CRHT is open to bikes and just because the PCT is using the CRHT doesn’t mean they get to kick bikes off of it.
After about 9/10ths of a mile the CRHT (at CRHT 196A) continues north and downhill as the PCT turns to the northeast and uphill. Beyond this point was new CRHT to me.
The CRHT which is still the remnant of the orginal Lost Valley Road was pretty raw beyond this point. Initally there was a fair amount of elevation shed off (200 feet in about .4 miles)
After crossing over a stream bed the trail, you will have some punchy climbing bits for the next half half mile. The trail much more trail than old road now. Through this one mile section the trail will leave Cleveland National Forest, cut through a corner of BLM land and into private property.
The trail comes out to a junction with a farm/ranch road. The CRHT contines north along this ranch road which sees very little usage. The trail gradually losses elevation through here and get a little washy/loose in a spot or two as it descends down to an area called Johnson Canyon on some maps. The ranch road makes a sharp right hand turn in this area (CRHT-199A).
The actual trail turns off the road to the west here and is a narrow singletrack. The trail is following a creekbed which is loose and a bit bear up from the horse usage. Between CRHT-199A and CRHT-200A there is good bit sand to slog.
A better option if you are not interested in dealing with some sand slogging is to stay on the ranch road when it turns east. It will soon cross the creekbed and turn back to the west. The actual CRHT will rejoin the ranch road at CRHT-200A which bypass just under half a mile of the mostly sand slog.
Less than a quarter of a mile further up the ranch road from where the CRHT rejoins the road you come to a diversion off of the CRHT at CRHT-201.
At this point the property owner just north of this point is not honoring the CRHT easement. I do not know the story and legal bits regarding this specific property but the owner had some signs that said “California Hiking and Horse Trail” to divert people around his property.
The diversion around his property is a dirt road. I know the the original route is also a dirt road so I’m not so sure there is a net loss here.
At CRHT 201A, the diversion rejoins the original route. The property owners has a gate up at this point.
Further up the road (CRHT-202) there is more fencing off to the west preventing access the original trail. Based on seeing the same type of faux CRHT signs, this seems to be the same property owner. You have to continue north on the dirt road where it will turns to the west for a short ways until the north and becomes paved.
In 2014, this corner was the staging area for Bucksnort Mountain Trails. There were proper CRHT signs are up here back then. Since then the property owner has put up fencing and removed the proper CRHT signs. New signs stating “California Hiking and Horse Trail” have been erected with arrows showing the diversion of the trail around the property.
After this I made my way north. The CRHT is alongside the pavement through here. The CRHT turns off the west alongside Chilhuahua Road. I turned off to the east on the dirt Lost Valley road. I did some some 12-15 miles of exploring out this area and made my way back to CRHT trail head where I started from. It was a perfect type of day to be out on a bike.