Garnet Peak

I have been talking about doing Garnet Peak with a couple of my buds off and on for years.  The themes of the conversations have usually included phrases like ” Its worth checking out”, “Oh yeah it chunky” and “You will probably like it”.   So while camping in the Lagunas over the July 4th weekend, I decided to give Garnet  Peak a go. This is a short (2.4 miles out-and-bike) hiking trail that bikes are allowed on.   The trail is accessed right from Sunrise Highway if you are on a bike.  Hikers can additionally access it via the PCT trailheads at Penny Pines or Pioneer Mail.   

Unassuming Trailhead.  Garnet Peak in view.

The trail starts off easy enough and appears to be an old road bed.  The trail supposedly gets lots of use but it was not too apparent on this day.  The trail narrows way down and steepened up just before it crosses the Perfect Cycling Pacific Crest Trail.  The raw chunk factor steps up as well. I do enjoy this type of slow tech climbing…for a while.   At some point I was “Yeah, I know how to climb this stuff but hiking it is easier.  I feel I did climb a solid amount of this trail but with plenty of stops. Often times it was stop and eyeball the line for the descent.  Sometimes I just told myself that knowing the real reason was I just did have the willpower to keep throwing down the grunt. 

The chunk of the trail often dictated a climbing line not dead center of the trail.  This is where the chapparral brush took its toll.  I had some good exfoliation going on by the 2/3rds mark up.   I highly recommend some knee/shin guards or pants for this alone.

Views to the North-Northwest.  A side scramble on that rock outcroppings is kinda cool

The views expanded as a I neared the peak.  First it was to the North and Northwest.  The Palomar Observatory was easily seen in the distance.  Closer is a prominent reddish rock formation that you can’t help but wonder what is out there.  There is a barely discernable path out to it from the trail when the formation is right off your left shoulder. (Thats Port Beam for you Navy Schallywags).  It’s worth a scramble around.

Just about at the top. Where the trail goes out of sight is where I started my descent.

The last 50 feet to the summit are not what I call doable unless you are a trials rider.  The juxtaposition of the Anza-Borrego Desert and Mount Laguna made for some impressive views.  It was clear enough on this day to see the Salton Sea and beyond.  This peak is known for being one of the windiest spots in the county and that certainly seemed to be the case on this day.

Garnet Peak

The descent was challenging with a high requirement for precision.  Boy the exfoliation factor was climbing rapidly and becoming uncomfortable to distractingly painful everytime a brush touched already “treated” skin.  I did not ride everything I put on my “ride list” while on the uphill scouting climb.  The common theme with everyone of these balks was I would have to take an off center line than ensured more lower leg treatments.  

Green does not mean soft

This trail was fun, with momentary hints of Type II fun.  The trail is really too short breech into full blown in the moment misery.    Garnet Peak might end up as an annual affair but next time I will bring some lower leg protection.  I would not come out to the Lagunas just to do this trail but if you are a regular you might want to spice up one of your loops by adding this trail.

Cuyamaca Dawn Patrol

It was not planned but I found myself awake at four something this morning. (Thats O-damn:Early for this retired military guy) After determining that getting back to sleep was probably not going to happen I managed to shuffle to the coffee machine without stumping a toe. Somewhere along the ensuing journey to coherencency the MTB gear managed to get loaded in the truck. The destination was not decided until I had to pick a freeway on ramp.

I pulled into the staging area for the Upper La Cima and Lucky 5 trails about 30 mins after sunrise. I was doing a switchup on one of my favorite routes in this area. I normally start down near the bottom of the mountains and climb up to here. I wanted to enjoy the mostly downhill half of this route in the early morning light.

CA Riding and Hiking Trail

Boy was I rewarded with some fantastic light as well as nice temps for this late June morning. I always enjoy these trails but this was something special. Some of it could have been my own low expectations of muted summer “brown” but the early morning light put a nice pop of color on the landscape.

Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB soul

As I worked my way to Soapstone Grade and then Stonewall Creek fireroad I was pleasantly surprised to still have the good light holding on. The Cold Spring and Cold Streams singletracks were just glorious. It was not until I was heading down the Westside singletrack did the last remnants of the morning glory relent to the rest of the day.

I was stoked to have seen some my “old” favorites literally in a new light. It was now time to eat my vegetables after enjoying dessert first. The temps were climbing quickly and it was pretty much all climbing back to my truck. The price of admission was well worth it as I closed out the loop using Green Valley fireroads followed by Upper Green Valley singletrack. This will not be the last time I do this dawn patrol ride.

If you are interested in doing this route here is my ridelog. https://www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/40240741/

What a great day to be on a bike!

UPDATE: Here is the video from that outing

Early Morning Goodness!

Lusardi Truck Trail

So I have been eyeballing up checking out Lusardi Truck Trail for quite some time. I heard that it was “just” a dead end but I wanted to see for myself. I know I could have drove my truck this forest service road, but I wanted to investigate with two wheels.

Some nice views along the way.

It is mostly a climb over six-miles until it does indeed dead-end at a locked gate to some private property. I can’t really say this is much of a trail but if you want to see this back corner of the Cleveland National Forest it is well worth a visit. In the near term I have added this to Trailforks and I will probably add this to my site as well.

Escondido Exploration

The is more to Escondido than Daley Ranch. Valley Center is its next door neighbor and I did some snooping around along the seams near Daley Ranch. Not all of the route I did turn out to be fully legit but it sure was interesting. Moral of the story, don’t be afraid to get almost lost.

True Dat!
I have been on worse Fireroads
If you find this you are someplace you should not be

The Archipelago Ride

The 14th edition of the Archipelago Ride is in the books. My has this ride grown since the first one I was a part of when it was very much an exploration ride. With a capped field of 750 riders this year this is a major fund raiser for the San Diego Mountain Biking Association that helps keeps projects going year round. There was a gaggle of volunteers and supports who made this awesome event happen. If you get a chance you should give it a go at least one.

My view from along the 2022 Archipelago Ridge

https://archride.sdmba.com/#

East Mesa – Champagne Pass

I had a mighty fine time futzing around in the Cuyamaca Mountains that included a ramble up to Champagne Pass. I started out heading south on the Eastside singletrack and then up East Mesa Fireroad.

East Mesa Fireroad

East Mesa was quite pretty, but I could tell it was a little past the prime of spring color.

East Mesa

On my way eastward on the Deer Park trail I came up a couple of the folks doing the Stagecoach 400 bikepacking event/race. So impressive the kind of mileage this folks are knocking one of the fellows (Mateo Paez) ended up finishing 3rd.

Working up Indian Creek
Decisions Decisions

The climb up to Champagne Pass on the Indian Creek trail was a bit of work. From there I took the Pine Mountain trail over to Sunrise Highway at the Pioneer Mail trailhead. From there I made my way over to the Lucky 5 trail. From there I was on one of my favorite routes that included the Upper La Cima, CRHT, Cold Spring, Cold Stream and the Westside trails to close out the loop.

The day turned out to be around 32 miles long with around 4,600′ of climbing.

Black Mountain and Lusardi

I am doing the Archipelago Ride in a few weeks and I need to continue toughening up the “leather” in strategic locations. I did a Black Mountain loop that I do on a regular basic and then added on the Santa Luz/Lusardi Loop.

Out getting in some miles

For my Black Mountain Loop I started from Black Mountain Park and work my way up to the peak via the main fireroad. I then dropped Black Widow and then took the fireroad back up and cut over to the east ridge trails that included Manzanita, Little Black Loop and Nighthawk trails.

I then connector over to Miner’s Ridge Loop, then Lilac and Ahwee back to Black Mountain Park. I was feeling pretty good when I rolled out for the Lusardi Loop but main was I dragging on the final climb to finish that loop off. I did 23 miles and 3,600 feet for day. Beer:30