I am a frequent flyer to the Mount Laguna Area. Here is a clip of one of my recent runs down that trail.
The Laguna Mountains are one of my happy places. Nichol and I spent the July 4th holiday weekend (and then some) at the Laguna Meadow campground.
We really love this area not only for cool trails right from camp but also for it just being an awesome place to just to chill outdoors. One of the things we like about it during the July 4th weekend is the lack of fireworks. Within hearing distance of our home are several annual fireworks events that pretty much keeps are dogs traumatized for the bulk of the Independence Day evening. Life is just better for our dogs (and us) up here away from the boomage.
Did I mention trails? I already posted up about checking out Garnet Peak, but I hit most of the stuff in the area over the course of the trip.
The nice thing about camping here is that you don’t have to try and hit everything at once. Some trails in the morning. Some in the afternoon. Hell, why not a post-2nd breakfast ride?
Then of course there is hammock time. Yeah we had a great time!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is the video from this outing
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have been working on remastering some of my older videos to bring them up to new standards. My videos range from ancient lip-stick camera and 8mm camcorders to GoPros. All of various eras of equipment will have their own challenges to remastering and some of them I’m just not going to make the time for the effort required. But I am going to make an effort.
The video above is from 2007 where some of the usual suspects of the time rode from the Cuyamaca mountains over to the Lagunas by way of the Deer Springs and Indian Creek trails. It was about a 40 mile day of great fun!
This video was shot with a 1080i Canon HDV camcorder. It shot good video with the exception of the image stabilization. It used optical image stabilization which was consider really good for the time. However it was optimized for handheld work and not for the rapid bouncing around that occurs during use as a helmet camera work. I’m pretty sure that the optical image stabilization often made things worse not better. It certainly did not work as well as the electronic image stabilization that was on my previous standard definition camcorder setup.
I had previously remastered my Galbraith Mountain video from 2009 but did not try to do any software stabilization of the video. Many moons ago I tried software stabilization and did not like all the artifacts it created in the video.
For the Cuyamaca – Laguna video I gave the software stabilization another shot. I’m using Adobe Premiere CC 2018 and it has warp stabilizer effect/filter built in. After a bit of trail and error I found some setting that work well enough. There is a balancing act that has to be done with with the 1080i footage between smoothness and clarity. The filter will do a good job of stabilization but at the cost of cropping the footage. When the footage is cropped the clarity of the footage is decreased. I found that trying to keep the crop below 125% typical kept thing looking good. Some scenes I did not stabilize at all. Overall I’m satisfied enough with it as it is better than the windows media format stuff I was previously using. There will be some more of this coming in the future.
I had a really nice time up in the Laguna Mountains this past weekend. The San Diego Mountain Biking Association was putting on the 2nd Annual Laguana Trailfest. It was a Friday-Sunday event that included lots of organized rides, demo, food, music clinics and much more. You know, A Festival! The event was being held and the El Prado group tent camping sites and I wanted to have the comforts of our traveler trail. So I went up on Wednesday and got spot in the adjacent Meadow Loop campsites.
With the campsite acquired and setup it was time for a late afternoon spin through the area. I had a good time and I used up all of the day.
I ended up spending the night up in the trailer and headed off to work the next morning and was back on Friday for a weekend of festival.
Trailfest was an exceptionally well put on event and I had a great time. I’m already looking forward to it again next year. One thing I did not manage to do was take any pictures. Instead take a look at the SDMBA Photo Album of Trail fest.
I ran into Bengt with whom I worked with for a period of time in Bahrain. We did the bulk of the Poker Ride together. Here is his video that as well as some bonus footage of the upper section of Noble Canyon.
I got the campsite through Sunday night so we I would not feel rushed to get out of there on Sunday, so as the festival wound down I went out for another loop that included a climb up to Red Tail Roost down to and then up Aqua Dulce, a run down Gatos and a loop around the meadow with a diversion up to the kiosk.
After a post-ride refreshment it was time to pack up and move on out. It was a nice weekend to be out on a bike!
MTB Life has mostly been about getting out on the local goods as of late. Recently I back out in the Laguna Mountains. We spent sometime playing on a few few rocks around the meadow. Later in the ride, while trying a tight little squeeze I managed to crunch up my derailleur a bit. I was able to get the thing aligned back enough to get the shifting back in order. Later on on the same trail, I have a rock kick up in a pretty freakish manner and get caught between my spokes, frame, cassette and derailleur. While I was able to get the bike back rolling again, I was pretty much stuck with a few gears in the middle of the cassettes range. Basically it was really easy to spin out on the flats and painful work on the climbs. The climb up Wooded Hills was brutal.
After that ride it was shopping time. I was running a one by 11 speed setup with a 11-46 tooth cassette in the rear and a 32 tooth cog in the front. With that setup there were two compromises I dealt with. The first was that the easiest gear was not as easy as the 2×10 setup I have on another bike. The other was the jump between the two largest cogs in the rear. The old cassette went from 46 to 37 and I often found myself in the one is to easy and the other is too hard situation.
The new setup is still an 11 speed setup with an 11-50 cassette and a 30 tooth chain ring in the front. It was a bit finicky to get setup on the bench but things came together.
To flesh things out on the trail, I decided Daley Ranch would be the proving grounds. There is plenty of varying degrees of climbing to see how the new gearing feels. I had to do some very slight tweaking on the trail to get things fully dialed when under load. I certainly enjoy the easier gearing and the better stepping of the gears through the larger cogs.
Surprised to see so much water in the ponds out at Daley.
Life has been busy. In a good way. Busy enough that I have been living life and not carving out time to share it in this format. I go throgh these spells. I have come to realize that this blog is just as much a sanitized log of my life on two wheels for myself as much as it is for sharing with others. So I’m going to fill in the historical gap from my last ride until present with a handful of ride stories and pics to tell the story. It is currently the later half of August but this post is going to be date back to middle of May. I will close the gap until the posts about the amazing times on the bike I am currently having in Washington state.
—— Now onto the catchup ——
So I bought a new toy. A 19-foot travel trailer. Its has a queen size murphy bed for my sweetie and I. Along with that he has two bunks so it could also support MTB roadtrip with the broz. After a very close to home shake down outing we took it up to Laguna Meadow for our first real outing.
I did not have a reservation but the campgroup has a number of sites that are not part of the reservation system. So I went up midweek grabbed a spot for the remainder of the week and the weekend. After setting up the trailer I went for a spin around the meadow, up Chico ravine and down Los Gatos.
There was plenty of springtime going off on the meadow. I have to say it was very cool to have a baby house waiting for me at the end of the ride. I ended up spending the night there and going straight into work in the morning.
I have been off the bike for quite a chunk of time with lots of competing interests taking up my time. I have a slew of home projects, a long overdue visit from my parents, some difficult work in town as well as some work travel.
It was not bad, just not mountain biking. I worked in Hawaii for a month which included having my wife out for a week.
I did not doing any mountainbiking in Hawaii on this trip but I did do quite a bit of hiking.
It was however quite nice to get back to San Diego and hit up some hometown dirt again.
What is not to like about this kind of trail action.
I spent most of January working in Jacksonville, Florida. Below is a picture from the commute out to the jobsite that seemed out in the sticks.
Once back in town it was time up one my old reliable trails, the Lguna Mountains.
The skys were super clear and we could see Point Loma and the downtown skyline some 40 miles away as a crow files.
We did not do a particularly good job of chasing the sun and pretty much finish the last minutes of the day. There are worse things to be bad at.