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

Elfin Forest Videos

I have put together a couple of videos of Elfin Forest. One is of going down the “The Way Up” trail and the other is the rest of the trails.

After futzing with the footage a while I decided that “The Way Up” trail would be best shown as a single top to bottom video. I still don’t think it showcases the chunk as well as it good but I did not take the time to do some non-POV shots.

The other video showcases the rest of the trails as well as the trail off the back side down to the Los Cielos Preserve. It is know as “Collarbone” and “The Way Down” trail.

Iron Mountain Video

Chunkage at Iron Mountain

Some fresh video content from Iron Mountain. I also got the related page on my site cut over to the mobile friendly format. That new format project is taking on a life of its own. I have not be doing too much blog posting as of late other than the video updates. I will probably catch that up at some point but hey, ride bikes or slap code on key board?

But for now, enjoy the video. It was a good ride even if I did roll out of there with slight case of PTSD from from the chunk!

Sweetwater Bike Park

The Sweetwater Bike Park has been around for a few years now but I had yet to make my way down there to check it out. I was interested hitting up some the trails in area so this was a good fit.

Ran into Jose out at the park.  This guy has an amazing eye behind a camera lens.

I have say this Park is quite a bit of fun. There are a couple of jump lines, a couple of flow lines, a couple of walls and some other assorted MTB skills development bits. It is quite a nice asset for the community.

A fun park

After getting my fill of the place and chatting up some of the locals I headed out to the Sweetwater trails.

Jose making me look like I know what I’m doing

I primarily worked my way up to the top of Rockhouse from the backside. (The front side trail was eat up with hikers). After the

The back side route up.
The top of Rockhouse

From the summit I dropped down into main trails area and a few loops before making my way back to the park where I had started.

The tiki hut

I had forgotten that this area (outside of the trails up to rockhouse) have a lot more climbing to them than the layout would lead you to believe. I did about 14 miles with 2,200ft of climbing. It was a mighty fun day on the bike.

Mt Gower Snooping

This another one of the places that has been on my check out list for quite some time. Typically whenever I had interest it was in the heat of summer which this area has been known to be mighty toasty.

Was I going to get rain on?

That was not the case on this day when I set out to do some snooping. I started off heading up a forest service road that good lists as Eagle Peak road which I’m pretty sure is not right.

At the “end” of the forest service road.

I really enjoyed the views on the way up the climb. Eagle Peak as well the north end of El Captian Reservoir visible and the “new” angles to them were very cool.

Solid Advice

I found a single track just past the end of the forest service road. Well I should say the boundary of the Forest Service land. The road was kinda deconstructed at that point. A short bit beyond that spot I picked up a downhill singletrack that quickly dropped back onto Forest Service land. This singletrack mighty fun.

I soon came to the junction of a route known as the Mt Gower transverse. It appears to see little use from the east end of it that I was at. I hear there are some high quality rock slabs to play on but getting up to the requires a lot of work. I was starting to get rained in so nixed any thoughts hike-a-biking up to those the mountain.

I did indeed get rained on quite decently on the trail back down into the community that I started in. It however stopped raining just as I came off trail so I decided to do some more wandering in the are. More goodies of questionable status were found. I’m looking forward to getting back out there to snoop around some more.

ATT Playtime Videos

It had been quite a while since I was last on Anderson Truck Trail. Last week I got back out on it while my long time riding partner in grime, Steve. It has rained a few days earlier which made for some really nice dirt out there. Here some video from the bits we rode.

Also worth noting that I have re-encoded the 2009 video I did out here. This video is hosted on Vimeo as the music has issues on YouTube.

Big Laguna Camping

Over the July 4th weekend, we did some camping up in the Laguna Mountains.   We were there for a long weekend so several rides were had between chilling at camp. Here are some random thoughts and pics from the weekend.

Climbing up Aqua Dulce

One of the many nice things about camping there is you can roll right out camp so there is no pressure to try and get it all in as you did not do a big drive to get here.  You can a short loop around the meadow, have lunch and go back out for some more.   Or take a nap 🙂

Big Laguna Meadow

It got pretty toasty during the day so some dawn patrol rides were in order.

Nichol eyeing up the line 🙂
Fresh new stickers on trailhead markers.

One of the loops I did included Red-tailed Roost.   I was pretty stoked with the effort I did on the climb up to the top.   It was the best I have ever done. I knew that eBikes were not authorized on USFS lands, but seeing the new stickers on the trailhead signs drove home that I would have a tough time having an eBike as my only bike as I would not want to give up riding out here.

Upper bit of Noble Canyon

As much as I have ridden out here I have never gone up to the SDSU observatories.   Instead of doing my usual of climbing up Wooded Hills I continued up the old county road and crossed sunrise highway to the paved road that goes to the observatories.   Shortly thereafter I picked up a single-track that avoided the road.  It was nice bit of trail.  There is another trail off of this one that connects to Thing Valley road that I will be checking out soon as well.

The view from one of the observatories

Altogether I got in a handful of rides and really enjoyed ourselves.

Cuyamaca Big Loop

Off to an early start on the West Side Trail

I was ready to get in a sizable ride, but when record highs projected I decided a mighty early start with plenty of water was in order for my outing up in the Cuyamaca Mountains. I was at the trail-head at sunrise and was rolling shortly thereafter. The temps were nice at that time of the morning but I knew it would not last.

Upper Green Valley Singletrack

I made good time up the West Side trail and the Green Valley Fireroad and was on the Upper Green Valley Singletrack before things started really warming up.

Lucky Five Trail

I really enjoy the La Cima trail along with the Lucky 5 trail so at the top the Upper Green Valley singltrack I did the out and back on those two trails. I “imagine” that someday when MTB access to the PCT is restored you could make a good loop with it and the Pedro Fages Trail. Even if you could do a legal loop with those trails I would have a hard time passing up the downhill section of the La Cima trail over the the California Riding and Hiking Trail.

California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT)

The CHRT is mighty nice through here. While on this section I saw a pair of Coyotes and one of them had a rabbit in his mouth. I really wish I had my real camera (DSLR with some quality glass on it) with me. My phone has a really good camera on it suitable for a lot of situations, but it is no match for a DSLR with a quality lens on it.

Marty Minshall trail going by Lake Cuyamaca

It was plenty toasty at this point. I started with a three liters in my bladder and 750ml in a separate water bottle with a couple of electrolyte tablets in it. By this point in the ride I had killed the water bottle and refreshed the tablets and filled with water from my bladder. I connected up with the Marty Minshall trail which skirts near Lake Cuyamaca before coming out across from Milk Ranch Road.

Middle Peak and the tombstones of the forest

It has been a while since I had been up Middle Peak and I was interesting in seeing how things are progressing since the fires back in 2003. Without the trees on the mountain, there was little respite from the sun which was cooking things at this point. I was pretty stoked at how well I was handling the heat compared to how things were pre-surgery but the climb was still plenty taxing. After a water check at the top, I decided that it would be unwise to try and complete the ride without restocking up on water. The descent down Black Oak was fun but the descent down Milk Ranch Ranch Road seemed like wasted elevation loss.

Water Stop with bonus items

Once back at HWY79, I diverted off the planned route over to the general store at Lake Cuyamaca to resupply my water. While there I found a giant frozen ice stick that I simply could not live without. I enjoyed it along with nice cold Gatorade. I completely refilled water bladder even through I doubted I would need to all of that to get back to the truck. Better to be safe that sorry in these conditions. If I had a mechanical in a bad spot I could end up being out here a lot longer than planned. I also figured that if I came across someone in distress I could help.

Good to see some of you out on the trail

After enjoying my treat and the shade on the porch of the store I made my way back to the Marty Minshall trail where I retraced my route back to the top of the Soapstone Creek Fireroad. I descend this fireroad and picked up the Cold Spring Trail. I was feeling tired at this point but was still stoked at the fact I was not destroyed by the heat.

Team Cow was Moooooving Today!

As I descended down the trail you could felt the temperature climbing. By the time I connected back up with the West Side trail it was roasting. No more stopping for pictures at this point, I was ready to be done. When I got back to the truck it was was 103 degrees. My truck reads a little high after sitting so I think 98 or 99 is closer to legit. The difference being DAMN HOT and REAL HOT! Either way it was a new milestone for me in dealing with the heat. I went through 5.0 liters of liquids on the day along with six electrolyte tablets (Nuun brand).

You can download my current recommended route or the Old School Classic Grand Loop for this area here or get the exact route I did on this day over at Trailforks.