Big Laguna Camping

I have had a big project on my to-do list for quite some time since I bought the trail-trailer. That being a highly capable solar upgrade. I had previously installed 500 watts of solar panels on the roof along with a solar charge controller in a earlier effort. The next phase was to add a bank of LiFePo batteries, a 3,000 watter inverter, an automatic bus-transfer and a battery monitoring system. That stuff took sometime to complete and now it was time to head out for a weekend of fun and testing things out.

Campsite on Laguna Meadow

The Cleveland National Forest was shutdown due to the CA wildfires drawing away all of their resources so we had to wait until the closures were lifted. The morning that it did I was already headed into the mountain to try and grab a first-come first-served site. I was rewarded with a nice spot on the meadow.

Oops on Los Gatos

After setting up camp it was time for quick spin around the place. It was still early in the day on the first day the forest had opened back up so the place was pretty much empty. From camp I went along the meadow and then up Aqua Dulce to Los Gatos. There was a tree down on Los Gatos that was a bit too big for me to try and muscle out of the way. Another thing that was pretty cool was the the number of pine cones all over the trail. With the forest being closed to the public for two weeks no one has been kicking them off the trail so there we all these little land mines along the trail. It was an added layer of fun for the day.

Traeger Smoker (Ranger Model)

To go along with the solar/power upgrade I bought a small Traeger wood pellet smoker for the RV. These nice thing about these is you pretty much set, forget and go for a ride. While they use wood pellets to cook/smoke they do need a little bit of 115VAC power to run the controls. The power upgrade took care of this without even thinking about. Considering that this thing uses less than 250Watts max and less than 50Ws most of the time, I basically have a solar powered smoker ūüôā

Pulled Pork – Yummy! (Yeah we are not really camping)

The In-the-field operational test of the smoker was a hit! Pulled Pork awesomeness.

The next day was a pretty mellow cruise around the meadow with Nichol. At the top of the meadow there is a pine tree that the Acorn Woodpeckers have taken over a pine tree to be used as a granary or “Acorn Tree”. The whole woodpecker family/community will use these trees and they will take turns guarding it.

One thing I think is really cool about this behavior is that initially they will get a acorn jammed into the hole so tightly that it cannot be easily removed. As the acorn dries out it will shrink. The woodpeckers maintain the tree and will rotate acorns as they shrink to smaller holes were they will more snuggly fit.

Top of Los Gatos

Sunday a friend of mine came up and we did a sizable loop that included a climb up to Redtail Roost followed by a run down the singletrack to Aqua Dulce. When then went up and over Wooded Hills and then a loop around the meadow. Definitely good stuff. We finished off the ride with Pulled Pork Tacos!

There was plenty of chilling done over the weekend as well.

We chilled out with the dogs leisurely broke camp the following morning to head back home. So nice to get out of town for a few days.

Noble Canyon Fun (Kinda)

I finished off my riding during our camping trip up in the Laguna Mountains with a run down Redtail Roost, Los Gatos, the Meadow and then onto Noble Canyon.

Upper portion of Noble Canyon

What an awesome day it was with the exception of a total of 345 milliseconds. I clocked myself pretty good on Stairway to Hell and banged up wrist and arm pretty good. (It my defense I was on the original line and not the new lower easier line). I was pretty thumped but shook it off and kept going. I managed to do another endo on the Extra Credit and that was pretty much me for the day.

I banged up my other wrist, gave a little extra smack down to the rest of my upper body and broken my derailleur hanger. The cause of the second endo was pretty easy to understand, I was riding a bit timid which is not a good idea in that section of trail. If I would have been smart I would have skipped that last climb (aka Whore) and extra credit and bailed off for a road finisher. I only had a couple hundred yards of trail left of Noble at this point, but not only was my bike broken, my will to ride was broken. I can’t think of the last time that has happened.

Recovery Mode

So for the rest of the day, I enjoyed the hammock and settled in for some Motrin and bourbon therapy. The following day I was already feeling more beat up than the day before.

The Prefect Cycling Trail

That next morning we did a hike from Camp. I must say that it felt exceptionally odd to be hiking on the Perfect Cycling Trail.

Laguna Mountains Trailfest

I had a really nice time up in the Laguna Mountains this past weekend.    The San Diego Mountain Biking Association was putting on the 2nd Annual Laguana Trailfest.    It was a Friday-Sunday event that included lots of organized rides, demo, food, music clinics and much more.   You know, A Festival!   The event was being held and the El Prado group tent camping sites and I wanted to have the comforts of our traveler trail.   So I went up on Wednesday and got spot in the adjacent Meadow Loop campsites.

Casa Del Bill and Nichol for the weekend

With the campsite acquired and setup it was time for a late afternoon spin through the area.  I had a good time and I used up all of the day.

Big Laguna Meadow. Hmmmmm I’m thinking Arbys

I might have gone a hike as well

Trail Goodness!

I caught this guy eyeballing up the compressor line!

I ended up spending the night up in the trailer and headed off to work the next morning and was back on Friday for a weekend of festival.

Bacon cooked in a cast iron skillet over a campfire. Yummo!

Trailfest was an¬†exceptionally well put on event and I had a great time.¬† I’m already looking forward to it again next year.¬† One thing I did not manage to do was take any pictures.¬† Instead take a look at the SDMBA Photo Album of Trail fest.

On the way to Red Tail Roost

I ran into Bengt with whom I worked with for a period of time in Bahrain.  We did the bulk of the Poker Ride together.  Here is his video that as well as some bonus footage of the upper section of Noble Canyon.

On the way to Redtail Roost

I got the campsite through Sunday night so we I would not feel rushed to get out of there on Sunday, so as the festival wound down I went out for another loop that included a climb up to Red Tail Roost down to and then up Aqua Dulce, a run down Gatos and a loop around the meadow with a diversion up to the kiosk.

After a post-ride refreshment it was time to pack up and move on out.   It was a nice weekend to be out on a bike!

Big Laguna Trail

Time for some more Big Laguna Trail fun.

Cool clouds
Cool clouds

It is monsoon season in the deserts well to the east but the Laguna Mountains gets in on some of that action as well.

Water of the World
Water of the World

I have had the pleasure in the past of starting a ride here with not a cloud in the sky and watch huge clouds form in no time at all.

Clown bike
Farting around with Steve’s Clown Bike

Today the clouds were already in the sky and made for a picturesque backdrop to the day.

Such a nice day out
Such a nice day out!

We spun around the meadow, Los Gatos, Chico and few other select trsils in the area. Such a great day out on s bike.

Cruisin on BLT
Cruising on BLT!

Laguna Mountains Funtime

This weekend I joined Chip, and crew out in the Laguna Mountains for some good times in the dirt.  We started at the top of Redtail Roost and dropped the singletrack  down to near the meadow.  We then climbed up Aqua Dulce to the top of Los Gatos.  After taking Los Gatos down to the meadow we looped back up to the top of Los Gatos via Chico Ravine.   After descending Los Gatos a second time, we took a lap around the meadows before climbing back up to the Redtail Roost.  Good times!

Here a few pictures of the dirt hulligans on this outing.

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Chip and Roger

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Jorge

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The crew at the top of the Meadow. (Photo by Chip)

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Jason

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Jason and Amy

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Chip playing with his new bike

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At the top of Los Gatos with Jason, Jason and Tony

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Me with Mr Gopher Snake (Photo by Chip)

Beautiful Scenery at Laguna Meadow

This past weekend Nichol and I did some camping up a Big Laguna Meadow for a couple of days of enjoying the trails in the area.

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The last bit of rain we had did the flora some good and it look downright like spring up here.

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There was plenty of color both out on the meadow and in the trees.

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Some pretty white stuff on the Big Laguna Trail.  This particular section is one of the reroutes from a couple of years.  I said it before but once again, thumbs up to the ranger out here was made it happen.

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Some color on the upper section of the Noble Canyon trail.

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Lupines near Wooded Hills.

If getting out to Laguna Mountains has been on your to-do list for a while now is an excellent time to get out there!

BLT, Redtail Roost and Noble Canyon

Saturday Nichol and I went up to Big Laguna Meadow to get in some biking and a night of camping.

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It was quite a pretty day with some fall colors up in the trees and exceptionally nice temps. After setting up camp we did a cruise around meadow.

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We were up bright and early the next morning to meet a gang-o-folks down at the lower Noble Canyon Trailhead for some playing around for the better part of the day.  We left some vehicles at the bottom and then drove up to the Redtail Roost trailhead off of Sunrise Highway.    There were at total of 10 of us in the gaggle.   Redtail roost is a fun trail that goes along a wooded ridgeline for a ways before descending down into the Laguna Meadow area.    Encountering a dude all decked out in camouflage early along the trail was good reminder that it is hunting season up here.   I was also glad I passed on wearing my buckskin jersey and Viking helmet on this ride.

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After descending Redtail Roost we climbed up Aqua Dulce to the top of the Los Gatos trail where we then descended down to the meadow.    But not without playing a few features here and there.  Here is Michael playing on a skinny.

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Dave getting in some log action as well.  Once down on the meadow we went up the east side of the meadow a ways and the did a side loop that included a portion of the connector trail that goes between the meadow and the Pacific Crest Trail.   Once back at the meadow we went around and up the west side of the meadow and caught the connector over to Penny Pines and the upper Noble Canyon trailhead.  It was here that David’s frame broke where the downtube meets the bottom bracket.   So he broke off  from the group for a very dodgy ride back to Redtail Roost along Sunrise Highway.

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It was Noble Canyon time now and there was plenty of good stuff as always between the top and the bottom.   Here is Jenny rolling through the woods up near the top.

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James playing on a jump about halfway down or so.

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James rolling into the ‚ÄúStairway to Hell‚ÄĚ

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Kevin meets Stairway to Hell.  I was kind of jealous of his superlight rig earlier in the ride, you know like on the climbs.   I was pretty stoke with my rig through these parts.  After spending most the summer riding a XC hardtail rent-a-wreck my long-legged stretched out full suspension couch felt awesome through this stuff.  Woot Woot!

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James working through some chunk.     By the time we hit the bottom trailhead most folks’ mileage device had us doing between 24 and 25 miles with a little under 2,800 feet of climbing in.   While the rest of the crew headed out, I went back up to he meadow and we broke camp down at a leisurely pace and then headed out for tasty BBQ and Beer at Alpine Beer Company.   Another good weekend on a bike.

Laguna Mountains Camping

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 ‚ÄúElbon‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôm 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 ‚ÄúNever Change My Trail‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äúshortcut‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äúunplugged‚Ä̬†was a bonus.¬†¬† With no competition with the all powerful 3G/4G¬† it allowed for things like watching the ‚ÄúCampfire TV‚ÄĚ,¬†gazing at the stars, observations of the ‚Äúlittle‚ÄĚ things¬†and¬†conversations that would rarely occur otherwise.¬† Good times.¬†¬† With some new GPS data and observations, ¬†I‚Äôm planning on updating some¬†of the maps, files and pages I have for this area on the site, so¬†stay tuned.

Some Noble Canyon and BLT Play Time

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.