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.
I woke up to the sounds of Coyotes yipping it up with all of their friends in the wee hours of the morning. One of the coyotes sounded like he was right outside of tent. I could hear the other end of the conversation way off in the distance, so evidently the fellow near me had to put a little extra spank on his call to get there. It was still dark out and after Mr. Coyote moved on, I got another hour or two of shuteye before getting up for good. Here was the view of Casa Del Bill for the weekend.
After seeing a few “new-to-us” forks in the trail and cairn stacks yesterday we decided that we would ride a second day here instead of hitting up a different location. It certainly made the logistics easier by not having to break camp and pack up before heading out for a ride. Cook up some breakfast and hit some trails straight out of camp was the plan.
Little Creek Mesa once again did not disappoint. We found our way over to the stuff we had seen the day before and we were soon on some nice stuff not on our map.
I later did find the trails on some other maps where it was listed as something along the lines of “The Alternate Loop”. It is a fantastic alternate.
I like the way the photo above came out as I think it captures one of cool aspects of riding on the huge sections of rock on the mesa. You are routinely scanning for the route, looking and chasing rock and looking for lines across and through the fields of slick rock. It is a form mental engagement with the trail that is hard to come by on different forms of topology.
While scoping along our route, we came across sizable rock overhang that required an assessment of its chilling out worthiness. Oh its most worthy! This area we were was marked with cairns but was to later not be found on any of the maps/resources I have.
Talk about a tough way to make a living. This small pine tree is literally between a rock and a hard place. You see this often out on the mesa and it pretty to cool to see how life is going to find a way.
One of the section of the mesa we were on was quite fun and required quite a bit of route finding as we went along. The picture above is looking back at the direction we came from. We realized we would have more ups than downs on the way back.
This was the view off the edge of the mesa we had ridden down to. The view did not suck. From here we would trace our way back to camp and start getting packed up for the return trip home. I pulled back into the garage at home at roughly 10pm. This was a pretty easy there and back kind of weekend with some quality trail time from sure. I tend to forget just how accessible this area from San Diego. I need to make more trips here.
Day two of the quick Utah weekender started off by waking up on Little Creek Mesa. Both Bill and I are Scotch and Bourbon fans so we both brought some offering from our collections to share around the campfire. I was clearly too enthusiastic with the barrel aged goodness that night and I found myself having a rough go of getting started in the morning. Luckily it was a short commute to the trailhead 🙂
I love this mesa, the slick rock, the vistas, single track, it just sooooo good.
One of the first spots along the main loop that comes out onto the western rim of the mesa.
Gooseberry Mesa out across the valley.
Good stuff and good views along the main loop. There are a few spots where you don’t want to wildly blow a turn.
At the junction of the north loops and the main loops, a flash gathering of the Yeti tribe happened. The two Santa Cruz riders in the group took the pictures.
Cruising along out near the North Point.
I dig how this rock formation looks like some kind of ape skull with the way the light is on it.
More slick rock awesomeness. While on our way back to camp we saw a few lines of cairns heading off in directions we had not been before. We decided then and there we would come back and check that out tomorrow vice dealing with additional logistics of going someplace else and bringing down camp.
After the main ride for the day, we did some poking around at other spots on the mesa. We came across this “Waterglyph”. According to my readings, these were made by the Anasazi inhabitants in the timeframe of 900-1200AD. While most like they have nothing to do with water, there are some interesting theories on their use. Solstice markers, prayer shrines and bird of prey snares were just some of the more intriguing theories. There seems to be plenty of debate among the theories. You can find some the resources used at Waterglyphs.org and Dixie Rock Art. I think next time I head out here I’m going chase down an archeology/rock art enthusiast with a MTB problem or a Mountainbiker with a archeology/rock art problem to show us around.
Once back at camp, we were devising plans for the following day, eating huge tasty camp burgers and enjoying tasty spirits.
Last weekend, Bill O’Neil and I got in a quick weekender in St George, Utah. This is not our first rodeo for a roadtrip so most of the planning came down to the “You bring the usual, I’ll bring the usual. Meet at the usual spot. What time?” So with all that intricate planning done we were headed north on Friday morning.
We made really good time and were rolling through, Huricane, La Verkin and into Virgin by early afternoon. The destination for the afternoon ride was Guacamole Mesa. We had ridden here a couple of years ago and were itching to get back out here. Above is the view from where we parked on the mesa.
It was a fabulous day out in the low-mid 70s. In the valley below is Dalton Wash Road that we came in on.
View that don’t suck. I love the nice combinations of singtletrack dirt trails, up/downs, slick rock, mesa views it just a great buffet of the stuff I love about this area.
Near the south end of the mesa on the Holy Guacamole trail. The trail names are all pretty cool and themed; Margarita, Lime, Salt-On-The-Rim and of course Guacamole.
More mesa goodness.
A great time of the year to be out here. Lots of the flora has thier springtime happy face on.
Zion National Park is the backdrop to the north and east.
There are some cool rock formations to ride through around and over. The trail can be technical enough that the views can be thier own hazard. Sometimes its best just to stop and take a look around.
Riding on the slickrock (equestrians came up with that term – it really should be called griprock) is always fun and I enought the route finding aspet of following the trail. Finding and chasing cairns is demension of riding out there that I find quite in enjoyable.
Of course when you have a whole field of this stuff sometimes freeforming on the rocks are a ton of fun as well. (There is a waldo in shot above). After knocking out this ride we head over to Little Creek Mesa where we setup for camp for the next couple of days. And enjoyed some tasty beverages and camp food.
For those of you have ride out at Sycamore Canyon and have been dealing with all the hub-bub about the USMC base, the Stowe Trail is now open for those that get a permit from the USMC base. Check out the info here.
This past weekend, I got out into the Cuyamaca Mountains. Main this place has some nice scenery and trails. We started from the San Diego River staging area just off of HWY-79 and took the west side single track up to the visitor center and then took the Green Valley fire road to the Upper Green Valley single track for a climb up to the La Cima trail by Sunrise Highway. We then looped over to the California Riding and Hiking Trail. From there we took Soapstone Fireroad over to Cold Springs trail and then loopback on the west side trail. We were a bit past the greenest time of the year but there were still plenty of blooming flora. Good Stuff!
Steve and Rodney climbing the Upper Green Valley Singletrack
The board members of the Pacific Crest Trail Association were seen out and about in Green Valley.
Plenty of water to cross on the west side trail.
The Cold Springs Trail
Bloom along the entire hillside
Rodney on California Riding and Hiking Trail. This is one of my favorite sections of this trail in the county.
Steve working his way up to the “Oak Trees”.
Lake Cuyamaca has both a upper and lower dam to help keep the “normal” water contained in the south end. You can see the upper dam as the thin line of land in the middle of the picture. There is water in the entire upper valley which is just incredible.
I believe Steve is trying to convey that this trail is the #1/Ichiban Trail 🙂
I am overdue for an update to my Cuyamaca Mountains page. I think I am going to split it up into two different pages to cover several of the routes you can take out here better.
A couple of weekends ago, my good MTB Buds Bill and Jeff joined me for an excursion on The Palm Canyon Epic. SoCal was in the middle of some Grade A crappy weather and it was raining nearly the entire way out to Palm Springs. As we expected shortly before we peeled off of Interstate 10 onto highway 111, the sun came out as the San Jacinto Mountains blocked the storms from heading further east.
We decided to start from Pinyon Flats. It had been many moons since I had started from here and I managed to get slightly turned around at the beginning. It was readily apparent early on that we were being treated to some fantastic conditions. The trail had enough moisture to have great traction but fast. We could see the could spilling over the top of the mountains to the west and dissipating or breaking up into puffy clouds without the menacing look of rain.
Where the Pinyon Flats trail connected to the Palm Canyon trail there was plenty of running water in the wash which is not a particularly common sight. The “hero” dirt got pretty amazing beyond this point. Places where you would have to watch your speed due to loose corners were of little concern on this day. The classic desert flow had us simply giddy.
The weather really sucks on the other side of those mountains. Nothing but smiles on this side of the mountain. We were not trying to be in a hurry, but we found ourselves making really good time. We took note of the signage reflecting no bikes on the Indian Potrero. I bet that trail is in really great shape right now.
Once at the bottom of the Dry Wash we grabbed some snacks and prepared ourselves for what can be a brutal loose climb up to Dunn Road. No one should have to do that climb completely sober. We were prepared.
Turns out the climb was by far the “easiest” climb of the wash I have ever done. Typically you have to contend with long stretches of loose sand that can be both taxing and demoralizing. That was not the case today. While it was a climb, it was pretty well packed and made for consistent spin all the way up.
Jeff working the climb.
At the top of the Hahn Trail. Much downhill awesomeness occurred after this point.
(Along the Wildhorse trail)
After the Hahn trail we climbed the Cathedral Canyon trail and then worked our way over the Fern Canyon/Clare Burgess/Wild Horse Saddle. We then took the Wildhorse trail down into the Goat Trails and then onward to the trailhead where tasty beers were waiting.
In addition to all of the rain we are getting here in San Diego this winter (Which is a good thing) life has been busy over the month. Nichol and I bought a house and we have been pretty well occupied with closing that deal and then moving in and setting up shop so to say.
Most of rides during this time frame has been what I would categorize as local “maintenance” rides. I have been out to Anderson Truck Trail a few times.
Daley Ranch has spent a good bit of time in the rotation as it is one of the more rain tolerant riding areas around the area. I have also hit up La Costa a time or two.
Now MTB Life has not been all about just the same ole same ole. I revisited some old places that have had a new batch of trail gnomes out doing to good things. I’m not a liberty at this point to provide details but don’t be afraid to look around near your own backyard.
There are is plenty of green out and about right now, and so should you. Ride On!
Nichol and I started out 2017 with a bike ride out on the Blue Diamond trail system just outside of Las Vegas.
It had rained a bit the previous two days which I am pretty such set this place up for near-perfect trail conditions. It was a little brisk out (by us San Diego weather weenie standards) but long sleeves or a second layer fixed that.
We basically followed this route from MTBProject with a couple of slight variations. Another good site for trail info out here is Trailforks. Of course chit-chatting with the folks at McGhies Bike shop where this loop starts from it always a good call. (16 Cottonwood, #B, Blue Diamond, NV 89004)
The counterclockwise loop we did started out from town and connected up with the Landmine Loop trail up and over a saddle where we then turn mostly westward. This was some quality cross-county desert cruising action.
From Landmine we turned on Southcut and then picked up the Lawnmower Saddle trail where we did a bit of climbing before dropping down to connect up with the Rubber Ducky trail.
After Rubber Ducky we were had a nice long stretch of barely needing to pedal buff goodness.
We eventually connected back up with the Landmine Loop trail where the trail got a little more rockier for a while before we got back into mostly buff trails.
We did have some clouds shadow things up a bit off and on but for the most part we beautiful blue skies with big puffy clouds for the bulk of the ride.
If you look closely you can see some board members of the Pacific Crest Trail ASSociation out tromping around off trail.
We closed off the loop with a fairly mild bit of climbing with a couple of gullies to navigate. This was a nice loop and I’m looking forward to getting back out here and exploring the rest of the trail network that is out in this area. The only other riding I have done around Las Vegas has been The Cowboys Trails just up the road a bit from Blue Diamond. At some point I’m going to check out Bootleg Canyon as well.
It was nice to get back out to Iron Mountain. I had not been out here since what seemed like ages. It did not disappoint.
Views from the top.
We even managed to get the band back together! Steve back at doing stupid human tricks. The last time I was out there the city of Poway had been doing a bunch of trail work that was sanitizing many sections of the trail. The good news is that they were basically throwing dirt over the rocks and not really “fixing” the water flow issue. The good news in all of this is that after a few seasons all of that dirt has away and much of the trail is back to the way it was.
Hey I can see my truck from here.
I need to work on my trail face.
Brian showing both of us how it is done.