San Diego Flume Trail

I have a new video up for the San Diego Flume Trail as well as new page on my site. This is nice little gem of a trail tucked away in El Monte valley where you might find a nice serving of Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB Soul this time of year.

Nice scenery along the San Diego Flume Trail

I spent a few a more hours out in the El Monte Valley area this past week refreshing my memory on a couple of trails in the area. While out on the flume trail east of El Monte Park out I came across of leftover Kittle snacks.

I have added a page to my site for this trail. In the course of making the page I also added the trails in that area to the Trailforks database as well as mirroring my recommended route discussed on that site as well. I will be doing some more of that in future but that is for another day.

I also finished up a video from Nichol and I riding this trail during our camping outing at Lake Jennings.

and maybe even a find a nice serving of Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB soul.

If you have not done the San Diego Flume trail before, it is worth taking a checking out this time of year when its exceptionally green out there. It really is an nice little gem tucked away near Lakeside.

You can get in 10 miles or so, a climb or two, a quick a hike-a-bike or two and maybe even find a nice serving of Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB soul.

Historic San Diego Flume Trail

This past weekend, I did a “nearcation” at the Lake Jennings Campground in Lakeside. While enjoying the weekend I checked out the nearby Flume Trail. It is called the “Historic Flume Trail” in many sources the west end of it is referred to as the Helix Flume Trail. To further complicate matters there is another trail out of El Monte Park to west that is called the flume trail that only crosses over the actual Flume trail.

Sprocket surveying his “Kingdom” overlooking Lake Jennings

All of the naming up-bub aside, The Flume Trail follows along the route of the a 35-mile long wooden water flume that was completed in 1889 that brought water from Lake Cuyamaca in San Diego’s East County into the La Mesa area and beyond. The flume employed numerous cuts, several tunnels, and more than 300 wooden trestles wood to maintain a uniform fall of 4 feet, 8 inches to the mile. Two of the tunnels can be seen from along the segment of the trail we rode.

There are plenty of kiosks along the trail to provide some history of the route

The completion and filling of El Capitan Reservoir in the 1930s put an end to the flume’s usefulness, but it was plagued with issues well before that such as a trestle collapse in 1919 and just not enough water moving and evaporation. The nine million board-feet of lumber used for the flume itself and the trestles were scavenged a long time ago.

One of the ravine dips along the flume trail

If you are not staying at Lake Jennings campground like we were you will have to put in some work to get up to the flume. Wither you start at the Helix Water district end or the El Monte Park end you will have a relentless set of switchback to climb up to get the the Flume trail proper. 10-16% grade and around 400 feet of elevation to gain. Here is a route I did that involved using both the El Monte and Helix switchbacks. (I don’t recommend this route, use one or the other and do an out and back on the flume) Once up on the flume things are pretty flat except where there were trestles in those spots you will have to descend down and then back up the other side of the small ravines. There are a couple of spots that will be hike-a-bike for most folks, but they are very short.

One of the spots that most folks might do some hike-a-bike

Our effort started from the campground was easy with four miles and change from and camp out and the same back. We turned around at the Cape Horn Tunnel.

One of the Ravine Dips
Little bits like this are worth the price of admission

This section of the flume was not shown on Trailforks so I added it. This was my first time adding a trail to the site and the GPS track could use a little cleaning up but you can find it on there now. There are some other trails that need to be added as well.

El Monte Valley from along the Flume Trail

Back in the Saddle!

This has been a pretty awesome week. Sunday I did my first MTB ride since my heart valve replacement surgery in November. The big litmus test was having enough upper body strength to lift the bike up onto my over the bed truck rack on my truck. I had also been doing some tooling around on the bike on the street and curbs and not being jostled so it was time to give the sternum (along with its titanium wire reinforcements) some mild strength tests.

Orosco Ridge and Pamo Valley
Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail Area

The climb up onto the ridge was good and it was so nice to be doing some huffing and puffing on a real bike out in the sunshine. I also checked out the Lower San Ysabel truck trail. All of which was in good shape. My sternum felt pretty good but there was mild discomfort over some of the chatterish stuff. None of the discomfort rose to the level of a sneeze! All together about I did 15 miles and change with about 1,400 feet of climbing.

South side of Lake Hodges

Wednesday, I went out to South Lake Hodges. Well I actually parked on the North Side and took the bridge over. My tenure at riding this place predates the bridge so I still refer to them as two separate places. But I did the typical Southside stuff and then made my way over to the Highland Valley trail. At this point it was pretty obvious that most of my workouts have been no longer than 60 minutes so I took bit of a break. After that I was back at it and the Highland Valley trail was a fun as I remembered it. I decided to do a touch of road connection and made my way over to Raptor Ridge. I was pretty tired after climbing Raptor Ridge and I was going to close out day with a return back via Mule Hill.

The bottom of Raptor Ridge. I ran out of gears shortly after those rocks 🙂

I was almost back to the kiosk area of Mule Hill when I was stopped by an SDGE crew who had the trail closed for some pipeline work. There was no detour so I had to backtrack about 2 miles to get back onto Highland Valley road to get then work my way back around. The trail should have been close at the last trail junction where people could divert around. While this was inconvenience for my tired legs. There was a hiker who got turned around that was really bummed. I did make them aware of this and hopefully they apply some common sense on where they close at for the remainder of their workdays.

All together I got in about 25miles and 1,200 feet of climbing. It was more than I had planned and I was well whooped. It is so good to be back on the dirt and certainly better to be on the dirt than in the dirt!

60-day Recovery Status

So it has been 60-days since I had heart surgery to replace my Aortic Valve which was deteriorating and was going to cause some kind of emergency event in my relatively near future if it was not replaced. Here is my initial post on that. All of of the phases so far with my recovery have been going well. That certainly does not mean they do not suck. There is plenty of suck to be had in all of this.

This is how I think my bike looks at me from it storage stand while I peloton.

During my first follow up visit with my heart surgeon cleared me for some very light work on my peloton. Right after Thanksgiving, I did my first gingerly workout on the peloton. I this point I could not even put my hands on the bars at that stage. Over the the next weeks the output levels climbed a lot quicker than my perceived effort did. By the time I had my follow up appointment with my cardiologist in Mid-December, I was definitely holding back. I was quite excited when my cardiologist cleared me to do more.

Tears of joy or sweat? Maybe some of both? It does not matter

After this is when some real improvements started to happen. One thing that was pretty clear when geeking out on pre vs post-surgery numbers was how much better my heart rate recovered when I “let off the gas”. It was not long until I was back in the range of my typical peloton workouts.

How I felt dropping a pre-surgery personal best

I was bit emotional, stoked and certainly whooped after a very special workout on January 2nd. I beat my personal best at a 60min effort set pre-surgery. The peloton allows you to basically race your best effort if you like. 20 minutes in I noticed I was neck and neck with my personal record and I was feeling good. The picture above is how I felt when I decided to go for it. I did not just edge out my best either, but pretty much dropped it. Boy did it feel great to have concrete evidence that I am going to be better and not just survive with aftermarket heart parts. That 60 minute was one of my “softer” personal records and I have a couple that are not going to go down easy.

Over the last few weeks I have been able to use the handlebars more and more. The sternum however is still not 100%. I am so over waiting for that thing to fully heal. The constant awareness of it and the routine degrees of discomfort has turned into a mental drag in addition to the physical discomfort. It is way better than it was and I know I’m over the hump on it healing but C’mon Man!

I should be back out my real bike within a month and it can’t come soon enough. I’m already thinking about which of the local tame trails will be best for the re-intro/shakedown ride.

Downieville 2007 – Remastered

I finally got around to remastering this video from playtime in Downieville.

Downieville 2007 – What an awesome trip!

Got through this footage, I am very thankful for the modern era of tiny GoPro cameras and gimbals. I did some stabilization work on some of the clips, but it is a balancing act between cropping and smoothing out the video. Crop too much and the field of view gets to narrow and quality goes down. Clearly I need to get back up to Downieville and get some modern footage!

Futzing at La Costa

I recently upgraded by GoPro cameras and replaced a gimbal I retired. I finally broke them out at to tinker around with the setups. La Costa is pretty much a local trail for me so that was where the tinkerfest was held.

While I managed to goon up some of the footage with the gimbal in wrong mode or the mounting positions not best for all conditions I did get some usable stuff. I put most some of that together here.

I moved from Hero 5s to Hero 8s and I am quite happy with the audio in in Protune mode vs what I had to deal with on the 5s. I have added wind mufflers over the mics in addition to setting changes.

The hypersmooth of the GoPro 8s is really good, almost gimbal quality. So why the GoPro 8 and not the 9? Well quite simply the 9 was not out yet and I got a screaming deal on the GoPro 8 while working on a military base overseas. All told, I got two GoPro 8s for $425 out the door which is almost Buy One Get One Free compared to MSRP.

For those of you you ride at La Costa you will most notice there are a couple of scenes where things look amiss. When I had the gimbal in the inverter mounted position, if I leaned over a certain about in a turn, the gimbal would flip and lock on to stabilizing in that inverted position. I flipped the vertically in post, but forgot to also flip in horizontally as well. I did not notice this until after the video was published.

Wildhorse – SART

It has been a while since I had been on the Wildhorse and Santa Ana River Trails so it was time to fix that.

I meet my long-time friend Bill (aka MrMountainHop) at bottom of Middle Control. We left one lockable beer container here and took another to top of the Wildhorse. We have often included an out and back effort up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (9,952ft) but for today we just started with smiles on the opening descent of Wildhorse.

Happy Bikes

There is a climb to be done on Wildhorse and he is always a fair bit of work. I could tell the additional riding, weight loss and time on the Peloton is paying off. While I was no speed demon I’m pretty sure that was my quickest effort to date. The views from the top of this pretty awesome today. We had to just chill for a while and enjoy it.

Hate we have to resort to putting in a tube

The run down Wildhorse was pretty awesome but we did take an extended break for Bill to sort a pesky puncture in his sidewall right at the bead. It ultimately required dropping in a tube.

Views from the forest service road that goes up to the top of Wildhorse.

Both Bill and I were on our game and were really enjoying. Woots and hollers could be heard through the canyons on many parts the ride. There were a couple of sections were I started see plaid in my peripheral vision as we approached the lower boundary of ludicrous speed. The Swartz was with us. I did not take many pictures.

After coming off the SART we had maybe a quarter mile of downhill fireroad back to Bill’s lockable beer container. We were just cruising at this point when Bill got caught up in some loose stuff on the edge of the fireroad while setting up for a turn.

He went down hard and immediately knew he was good and hurt. After a bit of assessment it was clear he had broken his collarbone. I soon went down to the bottom and drove his vehicle up to where he was at. I fashioned a sling out a flannel shirt and a bandana.

It was not a comfortable ride for Bill back up the dirt roads to the top of Wildhorse where my truck was at. Things were actually easier for Bill driving back down the mountain as having a steering wheel to hold onto helped keep his upper body more stable. His awesome girlfriend and a posse meet us in Redlands to takeover the driving back to LA.

We both agreed we had a killer time minus the whole collarbone snafu at the end!

Big Laguna Camping

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.

Noble Canyon Fun (Kinda)

I finished off my riding during our camping trip up in the Laguna Mountains with a run down Redtail Roost, Los Gatos, the Meadow and then onto Noble Canyon.

Upper portion of Noble Canyon

What an awesome day it was with the exception of a total of 345 milliseconds. I clocked myself pretty good on Stairway to Hell and banged up wrist and arm pretty good. (It my defense I was on the original line and not the new lower easier line). I was pretty thumped but shook it off and kept going. I managed to do another endo on the Extra Credit and that was pretty much me for the day.

I banged up my other wrist, gave a little extra smack down to the rest of my upper body and broken my derailleur hanger. The cause of the second endo was pretty easy to understand, I was riding a bit timid which is not a good idea in that section of trail. If I would have been smart I would have skipped that last climb (aka Whore) and extra credit and bailed off for a road finisher. I only had a couple hundred yards of trail left of Noble at this point, but not only was my bike broken, my will to ride was broken. I can’t think of the last time that has happened.

Recovery Mode

So for the rest of the day, I enjoyed the hammock and settled in for some Motrin and bourbon therapy. The following day I was already feeling more beat up than the day before.

The Prefect Cycling Trail

That next morning we did a hike from Camp. I must say that it felt exceptionally odd to be hiking on the Perfect Cycling Trail.

Kitchen Creek – Fred Canyon Area

So I have been behind the power curve on making reservations ahead of time for excursions.   I had to go the route of finding a first come first serve site for this outing.   I was looking to hit up our favorite spot, the Laguna Meadow Campground, but it is currently closed for maintenance.   Burnt Rancheria was the other campgroup on the list but they were all booked up so I headed up mid-week to find an spot.    Most of the first come first serve sites are tent camping sized sites.  I was not the only person who had this mid-week idea as when I arrived most of the larger sites that would accommodate an average or larger RV were already occupied.   One of the reasons we went with the size trailer we did was to be able to get into more places and spots.    Lucky for me there were half a dozen spots that were large enough for our setup.   The spot I got had just enough of a parking spot to use but it made the door face away from the site itself.   No big deal as the site itself was huge.

Grabbing a Spot

The following morning I decided to do some snooping around on some trails/routes that I had never been or or I had been quite some time ago.   My boundaries for the day were Sunrise Highway, Kitchen Creek Rd, Fred Canyon Rd and and Thing Valley Road.

Kinda a trail here

Dispersed camping is allowed on the National Forest land off of Kitchen Creek Road and Thing Valley Road so I had an eye out for accessing those options on a later visit.

Top Quality Social Distancing

The more I snooped around the further east and down the mountain range I traveled.    Evidently I found myself by Cibbets Flats campground thinking I had done a good chunk of descending so it about time to head back uphill.   I decided to make a loop using Fred Canyon Road and Thing Valley Road to get back up on top of the Lagunas.

Taking a much needed shade break while climbing up Fred Canyon.

The climb up Fred Canyon Road was not too terribly difficult but it had some steeper spots and there was little shade along the way.    I evidently made it to the junction of Thing Valley Road and continued climbing.  Thing Valley Road takes you up through the Ewiiaapaayp Indian Reservation (Stay on the road) for a ways before you are back in the National Forest.   As you approach the northern border of the reservation the flora transitions from desert scrub to  pine trees.    Evidently gnats love this kinda forest as once I was under the trees the gnats got thick.   I realized I have my bug net in my truck and not in my pack.  The remainder of the climb was a bit of extra work as there was some additional calories expended swooshing at those little bastards.   I heard once that the the Southern California Gnat can fly at up to 6.7 mph.   My top climbing speed on Thing Valley Road was apparently 6.6 mph.

Hammock:45 (15 minutes past Beer:30)

I felt pretty good about the effort I put in for the day but I was certainly ready for a siesta.   It was a very good day to be out on a bike.