New Year’s Day in Pamo Valley and Black Mountain

I decided to start the New Year off with a solo ride through the Black Mountain area near Ramona.   There is something about the combination of a ride with lots of climbing, great vistas and solitude to help get things straight in your head.    I done the 30 mile loop I had planned a couple of times before, but I decided to do the loop in the opposite direction today (clockwise).  I parked at the corner Pile St and Black Canyon Rd and took Pile St west over to Pamo Road as a brisk 48 degrees with a slight breeze that a had a bit of bite to it.  

The descent down into Pamo Valley was very zippy which is typically super fun but on this morning the self-induced wind chill factor wiped a nearly frozen smile off my face.  

At the Santa Ysabel Creek brige there was quite a bit water flowing which had me wondering what the crossing I would have to further upstream later in the day was going to be like.

As I proceeded up Pamo Road (now dirt) I was astounded by the amount water that was in and the earlier flood water level of Temescal Creek.  Mother Nature has been done some landscaping in this area as of late.

Pamo Valley was green as I expected at this time of year but the rains had added a little extra pop to the colors.  As I worked my way up the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail (FS 12S07) the views of the valley below kept opening up and trend continued after I switched over to the Black Mountain Truck Trail (FS 12S04) to continue the climb up the mountain. 

This entire area was burned during the 2007 wildfires but it making a fairly swift recovery.  Throughout the climb there were many spots where the recent rains sent some boulders down onto the truck trail.   In the past the truck trails were open to vehicles but both the truck trails are closed due to “soft roadbeds”.  Bummer for the four-wheelers but it is nice to not have to worry about vehicles on the descents.    

I was quite happy to see that most the oak trees along the route had survived the fires  and with the exception of some charred bark they seem not too worse for wear.  The shade of these oaks were quite a welcome treat last time I was here during a summer month.  

While the sun climbed as my ride went on, so was I and the temps gradually got a little cooler and the breeze made things a little more nipplely.  Thanks goodness for quality techncial apparel as I stayed comfortable for the most part with some minor adjustments here and there.   

The views at the Black Mountain summit (4,051 feet) were exceptional.  Oakazanita, Cuyamaca and other peaks to the west were clearly seen and amazingly the Coronado Islands as well as Catalina Island could be seen to the east.   Not a bad spot for contemplation and and reflection at all.

After all the work to get to the summit, I was quite content to think about taking a nap before heading back down.  The breeze ultimately changed my mind for me and after some additionally layering an exceptional fireroad descent was had.  It was one of those descent were you are not completely hammering and forcing the speed.  It was more of a case of flowing smoothly and the speed naturally flowed.  It was quite blissful and I was giggled out loud on no less than half a dozen times.  My stoke meter was in the happy zone by the time I was back down to the Santa Ysabel Truck Truck.

I continued on the Santa Ysabel Truck Truck to the East-Southeast to work around to the south flank of the Black Mountain.  There is an exceptional Oak Grove in this area that I was really happy to see had survived the the 2007 fires.    At this point I had be fiddle farting through most of this route and I decided I had to get a bit more serious about finishing off this ride so the photos came to end.

 

This was a ride that was good for the body as well as good for the soul.  I’m ready to take on 2011 at full speed.

Getting a little Iron in my diet.

Yesterday,  Steve (Aquaholic), Mark (HecklerMark) and I decided to get our chunk on at Iron Mountain located between Poway and Ramona.  The weather was a bit brisk and the threat of getting a little wet was moderate.  All of the other times I have done Iron Mountain I have been solo and the temps were high.  Today was a treat by having folks to ride with and not having to stew in my own juices.

There were a metric ton of hikers out today, so trail etiquitte was certainly something we had to be very mindful of today.  As in all of my previous visits here, the hikers are generally freaking amazed that anyone would ride a bike out here.  There were lots of words of encouragements thrown our way both on the climb and then descent.

The weather did not offer the best of views, but I always find it cool to look down from the peak and pick our there vehicle down at the trailhead.   The descent down went well as all three of us seemed to be in a good groove for riding the chunk.

Once back down the mountain, we split off onto the Ellie Lane trail.   I am not fan of the ill-placed peeled-log waterbars, then again they are quite a challenge.  Once we worked our way past the Ramona overlook we into some good downhill chunk.

Steve being Steve on his circus bike.

Mark in some chunk

Getting some chunk on myself.  This was my first time cleaning this sequence.

More Mark Chunkage

Steve and the trail ahead.

The top of “Final Exam” (Trickier than it looks)

Can you tell Steve hates to have his picture taken?

This was by far my best ride out here yet.  A damn fine day on the bike, if you like playing on technical bits and down have a problem with some hike-a-bike.