The Laguna Mountains are one of my happy places. Nichol and I spent the July 4th holiday weekend (and then some) at the Laguna Meadow campground.
We really love this area not only for cool trails right from camp but also for it just being an awesome place to just to chill outdoors. One of the things we like about it during the July 4th weekend is the lack of fireworks. Within hearing distance of our home are several annual fireworks events that pretty much keeps are dogs traumatized for the bulk of the Independence Day evening. Life is just better for our dogs (and us) up here away from the boomage.
Did I mention trails? I already posted up about checking out Garnet Peak, but I hit most of the stuff in the area over the course of the trip.
The nice thing about camping here is that you don’t have to try and hit everything at once. Some trails in the morning. Some in the afternoon. Hell, why not a post-2nd breakfast ride?
Then of course there is hammock time. Yeah we had a great time!
Over the July 4th weekend, we did some camping up in the Laguna Mountains. We were there for a long weekend so several rides were had between chilling at camp. Here are some random thoughts and pics from the weekend.
Climbing up Aqua Dulce
One of the many nice things about camping there is you can roll right out camp so there is no pressure to try and get it all in as you did not do a big drive to get here. You can a short loop around the meadow, have lunch and go back out for some more. Or take a nap 🙂
Big Laguna Meadow
It got pretty toasty during the day so some dawn patrol rides were in order.
Nichol eyeing up the line 🙂Fresh new stickers on trailhead markers.
One of the loops I did included Red-tailed Roost. I was pretty stoked with the effort I did on the climb up to the top. It was the best I have ever done. I knew that eBikes were not authorized on USFS lands, but seeing the new stickers on the trailhead signs drove home that I would have a tough time having an eBike as my only bike as I would not want to give up riding out here.
Upper bit of Noble Canyon
As much as I have ridden out here I have never gone up to the SDSU observatories. Instead of doing my usual of climbing up Wooded Hills I continued up the old county road and crossed sunrise highway to the paved road that goes to the observatories. Shortly thereafter I picked up a single-track that avoided the road. It was nice bit of trail. There is another trail off of this one that connects to Thing Valley road that I will be checking out soon as well.
The view from one of the observatories
Altogether I got in a handful of rides and really enjoyed ourselves.
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 🙂
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.
I meet Steve and Jim out at Big Laguna Meadow for a bit fun in the sun. Road work had the normal staging area closed so we went further up road and started from Red Tail Roost. Starting from there is a lot of fun as you kinda get to have desert before the main course. After the descent we climbed up Aqua Dulce but instead of doing the expected Los Gatos run we continued climbing up to Wooded Hills and took the trails up over that peak.
Playing around at the top of Wooded Hills
The knee continues to improve to the point of almost feeling good but I am making a concerted effort to spin more and mash less. By feeling good I mean I don’t feel it at all. It is back to just being part of the whole system and not making a fuss about itself. I have lost a good bit of fitness but that is on the mend as well.
Jim getting some up and over action on the Wooded Hills descent
After descending the Wooded Hills trail down to the old county road we turned and climbed up that road to Chico Ravine and took it down to the meadow. I can not recall the last time I have gone down Chico so it fun if for no other reason than it was a switch up from usual route. We futzed around on the meadow and some of the side trails in the area before working our way back up to Redtail Roost
That last single track to get back up top is tough. I was pretty happy with my effort on that section. I was certainly slower with the whole spinning effort to this recovering knee but I had enough energy in the tank at the bottom of the super steep section that I was able to clean it. It feels good to be able to put in a solid ride again.
Saturday Nichol and I went up to Big Laguna Meadow to get in some biking and a night of camping.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
James playing on a jump about halfway down or so.
James rolling into the “Stairway to Hell”
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!
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.