One more of the old skool videos remastered. This video is one of first videos with an HDV camcorder and the optical stabilization was so not geared to handle MTB type action. I tried some stabilization with this video but the crop required is just no good. I plan to put together a video of a scouting I did out here back in May so I wanted to get this out for comparison later. I really hope this area can recover back from the fires to something akin to what it was in this video.
Nichol and I spent this weekend at the Hurkey Creek Campground. While there I got a chance to get check out some the trails that were impacted by the 2018 Charston Fire. I am used to the shock of post-wildfire landscapes but I was particulary taken back by some of the damage nearly three years later. It was not all gloom because at least a couple of the trails I checked out are only a little worse for wear. Others are still a complete wreck.
I put notes on all the trails I checked out on my Hurkey Creek Page. The most encouraging thing I saw was the Johnson Meadow trail as it was minimally impacted and is pretty good shape.
The most disheartening thing is the Keen Camp climb as maybe 50% of it is rideable and it will require a lot work to get it functional again. Without this trail there is no practical way to loop the trails together from Hurkey Creek Park.
I did see some flagging in the Keen Camp climb corridor so hopefully there is some work planned. I don’t know about you but I would down to help out with that effort. I hopento chase down if something is indeed in the works.
I was pretty stoked to finally be able to get a way from the house in the midst of all this COVID-19 BS. The plan was to take the RV up to the Herky Creek Campground and base camp there for the weekend Nichol and got up there on Friday afternoon and a couple of hours later my longtime MTB Bud Bill arrived. We spent the afternoon and evening grubbing out catching up and sampling tasty whiskeys. Bill and I have learned a thing our two about our proclivity to try and solve world hunger around a campfire at night when there is a bike ride the following morning. We set an alarm clock, not to get up in the morning but to go to bed 🙂
The weather was pretty foggy the following morning it looked like we might get some drizzle action as well. We had the right gear so off we went. Today’s ride would be Pine Cove and Hub Trails.
We took advantage of the spousal shuttle service leaving Bill’s truck at the Hub Trailhead while Nichol dropped us off up in Pine Cove
It has been more than a couple moons since the last time I had started from Pine Cove so it took me a couple of minutes orientate myself. I ended up taking the route I new and then later in the ride realized that few new connectors had been added that optimized your elevation loss/gain. Our basic route was a bit of Project X, Toptimater, Dreamwalker, Hard Sun and Tubs.
The cloud cover kept the temperatures at just in the comfortable range. We got ourselves turned around a couple of times snooping on some of the new stuff (since the last time I rode there) but that is all part of the fun of this area.
That evening was more tasty grub and good times. The next morning the sun was out and it was time for some more fun on two wheels to the east of where we were base camped.
The Pretty Cool Temps and cloud cover were gone for this ride and replaced with gorgeous sunshine and warmer temps.
Spring was still holding on in a few spots.
Bill harassing the locals
We had a great time out on a nice bit of trail. This was my second time out on this route and I was really stoked to show off some of the bits of trail that included some of the California Riding and Hiking Trail.
Back at camp we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon, before breaking camp and rolling back to San Deigo. I had reserved the spot for Sunday night as well, but I enjoy not having to be rushed out of the site on the last day. This was a nice weekend getaway and good opportunity for Bill to check out live in the RV for some of less local adventures I have planned with this rig in the future.
The last couple of weekends I have spent some time riding and a little bit hiking around the northern part of San Diego County and into Riverside County. I was able to get out on the final northern section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) in San Diego County.
One thing that has become obvious during my roaming along the CRHT and research. When the Pacific Crest Trail was first established in 1968 it “commandeered” quite a few sections of the then existing CHRT in San Diego County and the Anza area in Riverside County. In at least two locations I have found the traditional style CRHT markers along the Pacific Crest Trail. In the years following the establishment of the PCT the desired PCT routes were created/rerouted off the original CRHT, leaving the CRHT to wither away or left unprotected from future development/protection. The impact of this was not readily apparent until many years later when in 1988, the USFS dubiously banned mountain bikes from the PCT without proper public input.
Pulling back to a larger scale, from the area just east of Cuyamaca Lake to at least Paradise Valley (Highway 74/371) area the California Riding and Hiking Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail typically parallel one another to varying degrees. San Diego County has the concept of restoring the CRHT as part of its master trails plan but I see the PCT being nearby as a deterrent to getting this historic mountain bike accessible back country trail restored. I see the PCT sucking the bureaucratic willpower away from the CRHT effort. I am very supportive of the Sharing the PCT movement as well was the removal of the blanket bike ban in Wilderness being spearhead by the Sustainable Trails Coalition. You should take a look at what those efforts are trying to accomplish. If both the Sharing the PCT and San Diego County CRHT restoration efforts were to come to fruition the routes/loops that could be done with both of these trails would be absolutely amazing. We can all dream!
It was mighty nice to get back up in the mountains near Big Bear again. Outside of the my recent ride in Flagstaff, it has been months since I had been out for a decent ride. This was just what the doctor ordered.
Ali, Bill and I started off on the Sugarloaf Trail and I was quickly reminded that the main muscle that I had been working out as of late has been my beer drinking arm. 9,000 feet of elevation and loose semi-chunky climbing soon found me gasping on the side of the trail barely able to see let alone breath. That kind of punishment was exactly what I needed. I had been a bad bad lard ass and I deserved to be punished. While it was not that far, it seemed like a long way before we hooked up with the loose chunky Sugarloaf connector down to the Wildhorse Trail.
Ali rolling through the ferns at the upper end of the Wildhorse trail.
Looking down along a part of the Santa Ana River watershed area from the Wildhorse trail.
Bill zipping by
Ali cruising through
Besides a bit of Where’s Waldo action, you can see a good bit of the impact of last year’s Lake Fire that came through the area. After finishing off the Wildhorse trail we did a bit of road cruising to the South Fork campground and hooked up with the Santa Ana River Trail for some more single track goodness. The SART was in just about as good of a shape as I can remember for this time of year.
Clowning around on the SART.
As usual good post-ride refreshments, grub and general shat talking ensued at the bottom. A great day to be out in the dirt!
I had a pretty good bit of mountain biking over the last handful of days.
I made a return trip to Mount Woodson on Thursday to reacquaint myself with the other trails on/near the mountain that I did not get to the week before. I took the Fry-Koengle trail up to the summit and then took the Old Fry-Koengle trail on the way down. There has been a bit of trail sanitization going on parts of this trail but the trail is still plenty interesting. I only did a dozen miles but there was plenty of climbing done.
On Saturday, Nichol, Francisco and I did a ride out at Lake Hodges and then some. After doing the north side stuff, we continued past the dam down into Del Dios Gorge and then onto the Santa Fe Valley trail eventually over to the Lusardi Creek.
We did a small lollipop of trails in this area before heading back in earnest. We ended up doing right at 30 miles which was a new mileage benchmark for both Nichol and Francisco.
On the cruise back we came upon this fella (or gal – I can’t tell, and I not looking any closer to figure out either). I was pretty stoked that this snake posed so nicely for the camera while there was some good light to work with. This was rattler #11 for the year. (The following day I would encounter #12 that was quite uninterested in hanging out for a photo op)
Saturday I meet Bill up in Idyllwild to ride “The Hub” trails (currently called Alvin Meadows on my site). This place really rocks and there has been quite a bit of new trails out in this area.
I passed so many new junctions that I’m going to have bump this place up in trail rotation get all the new stuff figured out. I’m always amazed how you can feel like you being putting in huge miles out here and then you look at your mileage gizmo and you have done less than half of what you thought you did. One thing is for certain, the quads were barking on the last climb back to the truck. We definitely earned our tasty post-ride beverages!
I spent this past weekend out in Palm Springs with my girlfriend and got in one of Southern California’s Classic Epic rides, Palm Canyon. I have done this ride quite a few times but the plan was to do a different variation on the route for this outing. All of the logistics has been carefully worked out a day or so before the ride which meant that would be not be how things would actually go down.
Everyone pretty much arrived on time and after some introductions and early morning chit chat while jostling bikes between vehicles we were on our way out of Palm Springs and up the mountain to the upper trailhead. We met up with most of the San Diego crew at the top and were soon off and rolling through the Pinyon Pines trails which is the most commonly taken variation on the classic route. It was really good rolling up and down singletrack goodess before getting serious about dropping into Palm Canyon.
Lance, Matt and Ben were the rabbits of the group and they were being mighty zippy with the pace. I should have known better than to chase those guys but I’m a slow learner. After a few miles I found myself in cardio distress hanging over the handlebars whezzing like a 90 year old chain smoker with screaming quads and the only coherent thought I could hear in my melon over the sound of blood pounding through my temples was “What The F$%k!”.
After regaining some composer I was back on the peddles and was able to notice what a glorious day it was now that I was back in my proper place in the whole age/weight/fitness lineup. The thought did not escape me that we connoisseurs of tasty malted and hopped beverages seemed to be pushing similar paces.
Palm Canyon is known for finding weaknesses in your gear and exploiting them. Steve had one of his pedals strip out of the crankarm. We tried a variety of McGuyver options to keep him rolling but as the ride progressed the pedal got worse and worse and worse. He ultimately ended up have to do at least 6 miles of one legged pedaling, hiking and coasting across the desert before you was able to hit a bail out point and head downhill towards civilization.
The trail conditions were pretty good despite it being a fairly dry winter in these parts. None of the stream/creek crossing had water in them.
Here are Steve, Michael and Evan heading out on the Indian Poterro trail. I managed miss every catcus gauntlet on and along the entire trail but I managed to step into a cholla while getting setup for this shot. I plucked out a good dozen spines and I’m sure I will pluck another dozen out of my leg over the next few weeks as my body works to push out the ones that broke off flush or under the skin.
Michael had a couple of the evil chollas jump out and attack his tires over the course of the day. Evan was kind enough to donate a Slime tube after the second flat.
One of the variations on the route involves not going up the 3 mile wash climb and the follow on descent of the Hahn Buena Vista trail which represents a big cost followed by a big reward section of this route. Instead we only climbed about 10 percent of the 3 mile Dry Wash and the hung a left onto the East Fork trail where we did some rolling ups and downs over to the Vandeventer trail before settling in for a climb along the fern canyon trail up to the saddle of the upper end of Wildhorse and the Clara Burgess trail. The next variation that was being thrown in on this day involved taking the Clara Burgess trail up and over Murray Hill and down into the bottom of Goat Trails with a follow on climb that would take us back up near the top of the Goat Trails again. I have gone over Murray Hill in the opposite direction and I knew it was going to be a real beater. After taking stock of what I had left in the tank, I along with three others opted to forgo this section and meet at the next variation point along the Garstin trail. Above are some of the manly mens group heading up the Clara Burgess trail.
Dave and Michael making their way to the top of the Garstin trail.
The peak to the left is Murray Hill and saddle were the manly men started from is off to the right side of the frame. If you play a little “Where is Waldo” you can see them working their way up to the Garstin trail. One of the manly men had to bail after Murray Hill from being completely bonked to the point of being sick. We ladies of the shortcut crew had spent every bit of an hour changing our feminine napkins, snacking and napping. Did I mention what a glorious day it was?
The final variation on the traditional route today had us dropping the Shannon and Henderson trail out of the Goat Trails. Above is the top part of the Shannon trail before it gets really steep with a series of hella tight switchbacks. It was a really cool section of trail but not for those who get a freaked out when exposure is involved. Blowing some of those switch backs to the outside would not make you a happy camper and could net you an appearance on “When Vacations Attack”, “Worlds Most Amazing…” or any one of those other “Awh Shit” shows.
As a bit of coolness bonus along this trail you go by Bob Hope’s house. Its the big domed pad on the right hand side of the picture. The Shannon and the Henderson trails dump you out on surface streets that we took back over the traditional bottom of the Palm Canyon route in Von’s Rimrock Shopping Center. Tasty beverages were soon being had along with post-ride chit chat before more bike jostling ensued before we made our way over to Rancho Mirage for dinner at Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse. I helped shuttle folks back up to top before rolling back down to the hill to finish out the weekend in Palm Springs with my girlfriend.
So I know some people who know some people who …….
That is typically the start of a really good bit of story telling. It ranks right up there with “This is a No-Shitter”. Of course any story that starts off with either one of those opening lines is to be treated as suspect and the phrases are synonymous with some kind of embellishment disclaimer. (NOTE TO SELF: Remind the viewers of my site, that nearly all my website work is done while enjoying tasty west-coast style hop-infused micro-brews that forces me into heavy reliance on the spellcheck function. With that in mind the readers should expect the wong word two bee used from thyme too time and possibly a complete would be missing here and there 🙂
So a freind of my mine in Norcal had a friend of his talk to a friend of mine, then that friend and I came up with a plan to take that friend of our friend onto a trail that a mutual friend had shown us some number of years ago. Yeah I know some people who know some people who….
So after meeting up with Vincent we dropped off a truck down at the lower elevation and made our way up towards the back side of Big Bear. About an hour later we were doing the final gear checks and headed off up “a trail”. The trail started off at 8,700 feet and we would be climbing to just under 9,000 before pointing the forks downhill. It is was immediatly clear we were not a sea level. It is pretty awesome how clean, clear and crisp the air feels at this elevation. Which is a good thing as I was using a lot of it!
We were not long into the ride before it became quite evident that the wet and late winter played havoc in this area as there were plenty of deadfall to deal with. We made a little roll action here and there and cleared what we could but for the most part we had some flow bustage to deal with when up in the pines.
So we were already in the “Back 40” so to say, but there was this off-shoot remenant of a trail that Bill and I had been eyeballing for some number of years so we decided to check it out. Checking it out meant some granny gearage and some hike-a-biking. The remenant ended up going where we thought it might and it was soon time to point the bikes back downhill for a quick bit of raw and untramelled excitement.
We expected cooler temps up higher but it soon became apparent that some unexpected weather had rolled in and had the entire area covered in clouds. The good news for us was that as we shedded of the elevation the temps were not climbing like we expected. We were living good!
We got in some great backcountry trail action before having to commit to a bit of dirt and paved road action that would take to the Santa Ana River Trail.
The SART was in good shape and the lower temps made for some nice riding conditions for this time of year. I was especially feeling in the zone and was having an incredible time on all of the sidehill goodness this trail has to offer.
Vincent rolling by
There was quite a bit more water than expected at all of the creek and feeder stream crossing.
This was the final creek crossing of the day and soon after this it was time for tasty beverages full of tiny bubbles and chit-chat about today’s adventure. We had barely rolled back to truck when the clouds cleared and the temps quickly climbed into the hot zone. Like most days on a mountain bike near the middle of nowhere, today did not suck.
Sunday I ventured up to the Big Bear area with Bill O’Neil for a bit of back country goodness. The person who first turned me onto this route asked that I not give out the names so I’m honoring that. Other than having to spend some quality time with the topographic maps there is no reason why you can’t go out and discover this ride for yourself.
We would ride/hike a series of trails over several peaks with some fantastic views. I had worn my SIDI biking shoes which was not the best choice for the adventure today. I have a couple sets of MTB shoes that have more rubber in the sole which would be much more hike-a-bike friendly than todays selection.
The terrain in this area is fairly energy sapping. Squared off rocks that slip and slide underneath your wheels makes for interesting descents where finesse of the controls and the nerve to let the bike make it’s own small line adjustments are a must to keep the rubber side down. This stuff also puts a little extra calf burn on you in the hike-a-bike sections. We did plenty of this in the higher elevations. Along one of these section I was surprised to see both a solo rider as well as two other riders (Actually at that time they were hike-a-bikers) later on. It was the first time in 3 years that I have seen anyone other than some hikers and the a couple of mounted forest service rangers.
For me the long stretches of hike-a-bike were well worth it for the views and the techy descents.
Of course what goes up must come down. We eventually did a bit of road interconnect before hopping onto a classic Southern California trail.
We took a break at a campground near the final trailhead to refill our Camelbaks and to grab some snacks. The campground was closed for maintenance but the water was still on so we chilled at one of the campsite benches. Within minutes of our arrival the little guy who runs campsite #1 came over, introduced himself and attempted to persuade us to kick him a little something for looking after the place.
Now, I know your not supposed to feed these guys but he was certainly a veteran of the campground gig. Not to mention he was so damn cute!
The final trail was in pretty good shape and it was a blast as always. The creeks were flowing well and the one pictured above got me pretty good. I picked a bad line through the creek and found the deepest part of the crossing and a sizable rock. Combined with my less that stellar effort I executed an endo to a perfect 5-point landing in the creek. That was Brisk Baby! There were no other unplanned dismounts for the rest of the ride and by the end of the day we had put in about 28 miles and a lot of smiles.
The last month or so has been pretty tough for me on the MTB front. Between a couple of injuries, illness and major work project here in San Diego I have not seen much bike action at all. Big projects at work are a whole lot easier when they involve travel as you don’t have to play the work-family balance game. A couple of weeks ago, I went out to Joshua Tree National Park to take a look see. I really did not know what to expect.
One thing for certain there is a lot of open space out here. Pinkham Canyon to Thermal Canyon and back was the route for the day. It was to be an all dirt road affair.
As far as dirt road goes, I have ridden far less interesting section of dirt in the past. It is certainly desert out here.
Out near the end fo the out and back we checked out the leftover bits on the Silver Cloud mine.
While looking at the maps, the thought of doing a multi-day MTB self-sustained camping loop would be cool.
Unfortunately, 75 percent of the park has been designated as wilderness so much of the cool bits would be off limits to bikes. I only cut through a small sliver of this place. I some point I’m going to get back here to check out the northern end of the place.