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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
A wad of short blonde hair going in 27 different directionsu nearly buried under a pillow was all that could be seen of youngest son, Jake’s this past Sunday at 6:30AM when I went to wake him up. 13 year old boys are not fond of this time in the morning and he fully looked the part of a coma rattled teenager when I rousted him out of dreamland. We were headed out to Laguna Mountains for a different kind of bike ride.
A few week ago a good friend of mine Cliff Walker made an unscheduled dismount from the ride of life. I can’t use the word “close” and “dear” without feeling some sense of guilt. Cliff had lots of friends who were much more involved with his day-to-day life than I. Cliff was one of my “MTB Buds”. One of those friends that you primarily assoicate with while mountain biking. We have done a couple of road trips and races together as well as many rides and some epics together. A solid good person you just a joy to be around.
Jake and I were headed to the Laguna Mountains to join some of Cliffs other friends for a memorial ride. Twenty-nine riders gathered up to take a spin around Big Laguna Meadow and honor Cliff’s Life.
The ride was timed to end at about the same time that some of his family and no biking friends could gather up as well to celebrate Cliffs life. The gathering swelled to over 70 people who sit under the shade of the meadow’s pine trees to share and tell stories about how Cliff had touched each of thier lifes in some way. Cliff had a very diverse group of friends and the stories about Cliff I had never before really showed just how impressive a life he lived and how he had touched so many people’s life in a positve way.
There was more than a couple of stories that included Cliff’s perpencity to be the first person up the hill. More than a few of us recalled getting up to the top of the hill to find Cliff walking around in circles looking under the various bushes and behind the trees. Once we questioned Cliff would look at you with this devilish smirk and reply “I dropped a hammer have you seen it?” It was always good for a laugh and the celebration of his life gathering was no different. A special thanks goes out to Chip Brent for making the celebration event happen.
Afterwards, Jake was down for just a father/son ride. The memorial ride was just along the meadow and he had not down some of the other trails in the area before. We decided to add Wooded Hills and Los Gatos Ravine into the mix. A pretty significant event happened on the Wooded Hills climb. Jake was riding strong and then you decided to see how quick he could go. I saw him lift the pace and I was having a tough time matching it. It was not long before kicked up the pace enough more.
I saw the half-sly turn his head to see how far back I was. That was his moment. The moment when a Son knows he is beating his Dad something. Not just something, but his Dad’s thing. He knew he had me and he was not letting up. I knew he had me too, I was not going to catch him, the best I could do give a good showing for second place. I was weird mix of pride in my Son and a relevation that I’m slacking. Sure I could make excuses and rationalize things like the fact I weigh about 90lbs more than he does and I did a respectable climb after a couple of beers at the celebration but no matter who you slice it my son kicked my ass up that hill. I got to the top about 45 seconds behind Jake and he was already off the bike with his helmet off and was hoofing and puffing. After a bunch of praise from me, he looked a me with a very smirky look on his face and calmly said, “Yeah, I dropped a hammer. Did you see it?”
Of course there have been some excursions outside of the local range as well as places not fit for public blabbage. Here is a Pretty Cool Trail off the beaten path that during the right kind of weather would be within sight of Palm Springs.
Homebase of my employeer is Philadephia and I am part of small contigent of folks who take care of things here on West Side. Quite a few of my co-workers back in Philly are mountain bikers as well so we when they are out here we try to squeeze in some “Off Site” time with me playing Julie the cruise director. Here is Jonathan out of the Laguna Mountains lugging around my UZZI.
Some good summer monsoon clouds rolling in.
Rocking a log ride
I have been up on the Big Laguna Trail more times this summer than I have in quite a few years combined. Here is Michael Paul riding the big log on the Los Gatos Trail.
From the top of the of Los Gatos trail near Mount Laguna you can get in some awesome views when it is clear out. In the center of the picture above is downtown San Diego and Point Loma, 49.5 miles away as a crow flys.
Here is a zoomed in shot. The downtown buildings are in the middle and Point Loma is on the left hand edge of the screen. For a number of years I worked out at Point Loma and I always marveled at the handful of days in the winter when you could look at downtwon with snow capped mountains as the backdrop. It was pretty cool to see the view from the opposite direction on this day.
From another visit, here is my youngest son Jake making a run at the big log on the Los Gatos Trail.
This was a successful “One and Done” run for the log ride. I’m going to have to watch out for this boy.