Wildfire threatening the SART

June 19th, 2015 by MTBBill

There is a wildfire burning near Angelus Oaks, Barton Flats South Fork Area.   Hopefully they can keep this contain south of HWY 38 and protect the homes in the area.   It would also be a horrible for the Santa Ana River Trail or Wildhorse to burn.  Major Bummer!

LAKE FIRE UPDATE AS OF 6/19/15 @ 0658 HRS:

The U.S. Forest Service is reporting that the Lake Fire is now at 11,000 acres, with 10% containment. There are currently 1,224 personnel battling the blaze with the following resources on scene: 88 engines, 1 air tanker, 10 helicopters (including night-flying), 1 air attack plane, 28 crews, 3 water tenders, and 1 dozer. Additional resources have been ordered. Highway 38 remains closed from Angelus Oaks to Lake Williams Drive. The Big Bear Sheriff’s Station will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.

You can follow along with the progress of the firefighting efforts here

JUNE 22th 2015 UPDATE

The fire has burned 17,305 acres and is at 21% contained.   If the trends continue in their current form, the Santa Ana River Trail is going to be spared from any fire damage.  Currently all hiking trails into the San Gorgonio Wilderness and the Pacific Crest Trail from Whitewater Preserve to Onyx Summit are closed.

JUNE 29th 2015 UPDATE

The fire has affected approximately 30,716 acres in size and burning in timber. It is now 50% contained. Highway 38 has been re-opened, however all areas affected by the fire remain closed to recreation purposes.

Utah Pages Added – Updated

June 18th, 2015 by MTBBill

Magic Carpet Ride
The Magic Carpet Ride Trail on Little Creek Mesa

Following up on my recent road trip to St George I have updated my Utah section of the site.   I have added the following pages:

Guacamole
The Boy Scout Trails
The Zen Trail

I also updated the Little Creek Mesa page with an updated map, GPS files and pictures from both this most recent trip and a 2013 trip.  I also have enough Utah trails on the site now, that I split them out from the “Other US Trails” section to try and make things a little more organized. (It is still a little wonky)  I also split out Colorado Trail into its own section, but that section looks a little light.   Time to plan another ROADTRIP!

Beautiful Scenery at Laguna Meadow

June 3rd, 2015 by MTBBill

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!

Boden Canyon Update

June 1st, 2015 by MTBBill

Here is some news you can use concerning the Boden Canyon portion of the Orosco – Boden Loop.   It turns out the California Department of Fish an Wildlife (CDFW) owns a couple of parcels of land in the canyon and have it designated as an ecological preserve.  The agency’s default policy is that mountain biking is not allowed on ecological reserves.   I was made aware of this by CDFW after publishing the route.   I made them aware of the lack of signage concerning trail use restrictions.   It is my understanding that the signage has probably already been corrected.    I have updated my page, map and GPS files to reflect the CDFW parcels.  Unfortunately, the CDFW trail use restrictions makes it impossible to legally loop together the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail and Orosco Ridge.

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As you can tell from the pictures, the canyon is beautiful and is well worth a hike through.    The only other way you can go legally enjoy this canyon is during hunting season.  During the upland bird hunting seasons you are more than welcome to trounce around wherever you like in the ecological reserve and blast the heads off those birds with a shotgun.    I’m having a tough time trying to make sense of how the CDFW can view killing birds as a more acceptable use for this land than allowing mountain bikers and equestrians to pass through the canyon on the old road.   I’m going to leave my commentary at that for now.    If I get some reasonable justifications for the policy in the future, I’ll provide an update.  Until then beware that you can’t legally do the Orosco-Boden Loop on a mountainbike or horse.

User Registration Fixed

May 19th, 2015 by MTBBill

mail

During one of my previous BLOG software updates I misconfigured the email settings which prevented users from receiving the systems emails when they either tried to register or when they requested password resets for retrievals.   I fixed this last night so that function now works.  I apologize for the inconvenience.   Also please note that I in the coming weeks I will be sending out a system wide email for actual human and current user validation.   I have had a glut of spammer attempts over the last couple of years and I suspect there is a fair amount of scrubbing to do with the registered user database.

UPDATE:  The user database has been scrubbed and some new anti-spam goodies are in place with some fairly aggressive parameters.   I’m fairly certain a few legit users were caught in the “nets”.   I apologize if you were affected, but you will have to re-register.

Thanks,

Bill

 

Utah Weekend – Little Creek Mesa

May 18th, 2015 by MTBBill

Our last day of the Utah weekend found us rolling out of the hotel at a pretty descent time and headed out to Little Creek Mesa with a pit-stop at River Rock Roasters  for some caffeine and sandwiches for a mesa-top lunch.  I have ridden Little Creek several times before and this place is just great.  It has pretty much everything I want in a trail.  There is plenty  flowing singletrack with technical goodies.  Huge vistas that start right at your feet , rock slabs to play on with features big and small, and nature’s beauty all around you.  It also has a feel of being far and away and the route finding you have to do (even with the aid of a GPS) offers a kind of mental engagement that I love in a trail.

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We started out on the main loop and soon found ourselves playing on rock slabs with Zion National Park in the background.

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With all of the rain over the last handful of days there was plenty of water pooled up in the depressions in the rocks.  The big rock slabs gave way to forested single track that was just awesome with the fresh scent of moisture.

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I was not expecting to see snow on the mountains west of St George.  I just don’t see how the views from this mesa could ever get old.

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“The Hot Tub” along the western rim of Little Creek Mesa.  This was one helluva spot for snacks.

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The rain had lots the cacti blooming.

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Better to look than to touch.

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The main loop took out to the fork for the North Point loops. There are some sweet bits of single track goodness as you head out to the North Point with Gooseberry Mesa typically in the background.

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I had ridden this thing a couple of times before but failed to notice the gap this slab went across until this trip.  I guess I was too focused on where I was going.

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The same gap after it opens up a bit.   What an amazingly gorgeous day!   Once back out to the main mesa  we enjoyed a bit of route finding as there seemed to be cairns here, there and sometimes seemingly no where.  You could play out here all day.

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Our playing around eventually took us to “The Waterfall”, one of the iconic features of the mesa.  This was my first time doing the waterfall with actual water around.  I dug how the water showed the line I took. The dark line on the slab is the rear tire while the much fainter line to the right of it is the front wheel.  Here is a shot from a previous trip that shows the led in.  We took the Magic Carpet Ride trail back to the trailhead.   After leisurely enjoying some refreshments and more snacks we had to lament about the reality of still having day jobs and the continual puzzle of how to grow old without growing up.    Considering that we spent that last few days playing in the dirt and riding bicycles we had scored points for neither growing old or growing up this weekend.   That shit would have to wait until tomorrow.

Utah Weekend – Boy Scouts & Zen

May 15th, 2015 by MTBBill

We woke up on day 2 of our Utah weekend to find that it had rained most of the night.    After consulting with the folks at Over The Edge in Hurricane, we changes our ride plans for the day to kept from mucking up the trails. We went out to the Quail Overlook Trail System which is beside the Quail Creek Reservoir.  Colloquially this place is known as the Boy Scout trails due to a nearby Boy Scout camp.

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Oh my this place put down some techno-spank right out of the gate that included tight rocky single track with plenty of “power” moves.

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The trail system primarily includes four loops on three sawtooth escarpments.

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The builders have done a super job of laying out the system to maximize the use of a rather small chunk of land.

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This place is advertised as an expert level trail system and I can’t argue with rating, but I will clarify it.   This is a “slow-tech” wheels-on-the-ground playground. There is not a lot flow here and it is not a bad thing, its part of the character of that place that just seems to pack “It” into the miles.

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I particularly enjoyed the combination moves.   Things like a rocky climbs with ledge moves coming out tight switch backs.   There were plenty sections where you seem to be continually in a state of using body English.

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The most northern loop called Adventure Scout was by far the most technical of the bunch out there.   We ran into one of the primary builders of this trail system (Quentin – – Awesome Job Quentin!!) and he described a couple of sections as best ridden “Balls over Brains”.  It is interesting to note that not following that advice could have you literally going “Balls over Brains” into some very unforgiving terrain.   There is a lot of effort per mile designed into this this place.  We only did a little over six miles and it felt like we had done twice that.   I really dug the combination of power moves and the bit of  mental “checkers” required to clean the stuff out here.

As we enjoyed a tasty smuggled in San Diego microbrew over lunch, we decided that we had enough gas in the leg tanks for an afternoon session.

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We hit up The Zen Trail which is right on the outskirts of St George.   I had heard lots of good stuff about this trail and it has always been on the To-Do List but have never gotten to it.

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Things opened up with a climb and soon we were near the edge of the mesa.

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There is about a total of 1,100 feet of climbing on this route.    We could see ominous clouds slowly moving our way.

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The variety of this trail is quite awesome. Rock crawling, sweet single track, vista, there are lots of goodies out here.

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When we got to the top of the mesa we had some great views of Green Valley below.  We could also see the rain a coming!  Shortly after the picture above, the rain caught us and the camera remained holstered in my pack.   The descent was exceptional with a combination of sweet single track and with some slick rock.  There were also a few undulations along the way that put a little sting in the legs at this point in the day’s overall effort.   We also missed a turn and found ourselves on double track.  After a bit of uphill backtracking we hooked back up on the single track that lead us back to the trailhead.

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Just as we were getting back to the truck the rain stopped and the sun broke out.    Ahhh rainbows and microbrews from heaven.  We were living well!

 

Utah Weekend – Guacamole

May 11th, 2015 by MTBBill

This past weekend Bill O’Neil and I made a dash to Utah to get on some good red dirt and killer rock riding.    We were quite surprised that a storm had settled in the SoCal area the night before and brought in some much needed rain along with some snow at the higher elevations.   It was a mighty fine time to get the hell of Dodge.   The destination for day one was the Guacamole trails perched up on a mesa outside of Virgin, Utah.   After copious amounts coffee, beef jerky and a tank and change of fuel (burned at a highly uneconomical rate), we crossed into Utah to be greeted with storm clouds.   As we rolled through St George and Hurricane we were intermittently getting rained on but I had learned that in this neck of the woods if you don’t like the weather wait five minutes.  As we rolled through Virgin there were clear skies above and the dirt road that goes up to the mesa had just a puddle or two.

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It was a bit brisk and windy but beautifully sunny when we rolled out onto the first trail segment called Margarita. This was a new trail to me and I was stoked to check it out.

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It was not long before we juked onto the Salt on the Rim trail and got in some good views along with the sight of incoming weather.   Someone in Seattle once told me that there is no such thing as bad weather only bad gear.  We had the gear, but from the best we could tell it looked like this storm would pass us just to the south.

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We did end up get a little sprinkling on us as we made our way out to the main Guacamole Loop but it only lasted a few minutes.   What we were left with was straight up hero dirt.

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We took a connector trail called Lime (These trail names rock!) that went out to another loop called Holy Guacamole that took all the way to the southern tip of the mesa.  We had good views of Zion Nation Park as well as the north rim of Gooseberry Mesa from here.

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This is some fantastic single track with good technical challenges through amazing landscape with Zion National Park just a stones through away.

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In several spots the trail is literally along the park’s fence line.

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Holy Guacamole this is a fun trail!

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The Holy Guacamole goodness brought us back to the other side of the earlier loops we were on that eventually took us back to the trailhead.   This was some grade A trail awesomeness and it will certainly not be my last time riding on this mesa.   Shortly after we got off the mesa and headed back to St George we got into a good bit of rain.   We were pretty stoked at our window of fortune with the rain and we were particularly glad we had decided to get a hotel room for this trip vice our typical camping arrangements.  It was a mighty fine start to the weekend.

Orosco Ridge – Boden Canyon Loop

May 6th, 2015 by MTBBill

I have added a page to the site for the Orosco Ridge and Boden Canyon Loop near Ramona.  This is 14.2 mile loop that includes about 2,200 feet of total climbing.

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An old road/truck trail turned singletrack through a meadow in Boden Canyon.

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Mother Nature is doing good stuff to the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail.

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This old road in Boden Canyon has turned into some singletrack goodness.    Check it out!

Cool critter encounter

May 4th, 2015 by MTBBill

Sunday I did an MTB ride-along with San Dieguito River Park Senior Ranger Dave Hekel. After my recent Coast-to-Crest Trail trip I had some questions about the park and tagging along on his Sunday patrol was an easy what to chit-chat about the park and get in a ride.  I ride Lake Hodges quite often as of late.   It is right on the way home so it is in the routine post-work ride rotation.   I have seen lots of critters out here on these trails.  Deer, snakes, coyotes, rabbits and all kinds of birds.  On this ride I ended up with a critter encounter of completely different sort.

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While riding the “high road” single track on the north side we came across an obviously distressed little coyote pup stumbling across the trail like a drunken sailor. After a quick look around the hillside to see if mom was anywhere nearby, I scooped this critter up.  It was tiny and whopped and did not resist in the slightest to me picking it up.  A quick scan showed that this female pup was not injured but had pretty big tick in one ear.  Dave went up the canyon to see if there was an unattended den but could not find anything.  We guessed that this little gal had been away from momma for a least a full day or two.

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Talk about camouflage.  Look how the coat is a spot on match to the hillside in the background.  While Ranger Dave made phone calls I gave her some water.  I took the top off of my water bottle and turned it upside down and used it as a small bowl. She drank quite a bit of water and it seemed to help as after about 5 minutes she would have a spat of being squirmy.  I’m thinking instincts were telling her to get away.  I found that if you held her close to my chest she would stay  calm. (Much better than the one-handed holds for posing her for the camera)

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(Whooped but still a cutie)

While Ranger Dave was getting all of the arrangements made quite a few riders came by so the this pup because the star of trailside show and tell session.

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(Check out how long those claws are for its size)

Soon the rangers had a plan.   I rode/walked the rest of upper singletrack with this pup nuzzled up between one hand and my chest to a meet up spot with another ranger with a truck. While Dave and I waited for the other ranger to arrive the pup feel asleep in my hands.  There was a point when we wondered if she had “checked out” but then I could feel her chest going in and out so things were good. Once the other rangers arrived we handed off the pup to them and they were off to a nearby wildlife recovery facility.

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After that we went off to finish out the rest of the patrol.   We did encounter a rattlesnake on the trail and I did a slight bump stop into the back of Dave.    Normally seeing a rattlesnake is kind of a big deal but considering that this was the 14th rattler I have seen this year (I typically only see 2-4 a year) along with the coyote pup just a little while ago, this rattler sighting was kind of ho hum.  It was a beautiful day but after the coyote pup and the rattler then return trip back the ranger office was uneventful.  This was a most excellent day to be out  on a bike and  reinforced to me that your next life enriching event could be right around the next bend in the trail.