Beat down at Iron Mountain

I should have known better.    One of those days when I was too stubborn to follow my own advice, and I paid for it with some suffering on the bike.   I decided to ride Iron Mountaintoday.  It was nice and cool with a thick marine layer at my home and Vista so I thought what it will probably be okay out in the Ramona/Poway area where the trails is at.   I got out to the Ellie Lane trailhead around 9AM and it was already warm.  I took Ellie Lane over to the Wild Horse trail and then cutover to the Iron Mountain trail.  I was not even up to the T-intersection with the other end of the Ellie Lane trail and Iron Mountain and the heat was already getting up there.    I had forgotten how the rocky terrain here just radiates the heat back at you.  At the saddle here,  I contemplated that 100 ounces of water may not be enough to do both the Ellie Lane and Iron Mountain trails today.   I thought about just hanging a left here and doing just the Ellie Lane loop.   (This was the smart side of brain thinking).  Instead I decided that I’ll push the decision to later and make my way up Iron Mountain.

Iron Mountain   

From this spot it is only 1.45 miles to the peak.  But it is a beater even on a cool day and today was not a cool day.   Until you get fairly close to the peak you spend most of your time on the east side of the mountain.  The key thing here is that the onshore breeze is blocked resulted in the bake factor being even higher.   This climb is a pick your battle kind of ride, and I hiked a handful of sections.   The heat was sweltering and sapping my energy.

The views at the top were nice as usual and the onshore breeze was taking the edge off of the heat.   I had also slogged up my pads and full-face helmet up the mountain on my pack in preparition the return trip. (I had worn my normal helmet on the climb)  This was my first ride with the new full-face helmet so I was interested to see how it would feel.   A couple of quick thought:  Good field of view, when you are moving there is plenty of airflow and it is a little harder to hear the outside world while you can hear your on breathing very well.  

The descent off of the peak went really well as I cleaned plenty of stuff I had not before.  It was not the chunk that was giving me the troubles, it was switchbacks.  Often times clearing the chunk leaving with little to nothing to work with for getting through the switchbacks.   I sessioned some sections, finally getting some while having to let a couple wait for another day.

Back down at the T-intersection I once again had to think about my options.  The smart choice would have been to skip the Ellie Lane trail as it was freaking hot right now.  I decided to be a big dummy and take the Ellie Lane trail.   I felt good about my decision early on as I got a bit of descending before the trail turned back uphill.   At this point I was once again blocked from the onshore breeze and the temps jumped up.  I was also reminded who bike unfriendly and poorly laid out the numerous waterbars on this trail are.  At nearly ever switchback there is a treated log waterbar that is placed right through the apex of the switchback.   This is no big deal if you are a hiker or an equestrian but these things have the biker approaching them in a nearly parallel direction forcing near-trials like moves to get past them.  Skills I don’t so there as plenty of hiking up to the Ramona Overlook and the saddle.

Yes this is the trail
Yes this is the trail

I was pretty much roasted back the time I got the saddle above the Ramona Overlook.    After slapping back on the protective gear, I had a good run down off the saddle.  Once again really tricky stuff, but I did not session much stuff as I was feeling the need keep moving towards the trailhead.   After this descent there was some more suffering to be had to get up to the tablerock area.  I moved into fully blow survival mode as my water was terribly low the terrain was basically a large rock bowl.  I felt like I was in a brick oven.    I hiked most of the climb up to the tablerock to avoid overheating which I could tell I was close to doing.   I started to be a bit more generous with my water rationing at this point as I was close to peaking out on the last significant climb.   I had the early stage of a headache brewing, not good.   At the saddle there was a little relief from the breeze, but it was not much help at this point.   The full-face helmet would stay in the pack for this section as I felt heat stress was a bigger risk than a header into a rock.

 I got down off the saddle fine, but I could tell my technical skills were not crisp due to my fatigue.  The rest of the ride out was okay and I drained the last bit of my water about a 1/4 mile from the trailhead.  I was beaten down, and hella-fatigued for the rest of the day.  The mileage count was only 11 miles, but I felt like I had done 40.   I think the riding season at the Iron Mountain/Ellie Lane combo is rapidly coming to a close as summer rolls in.