It's been a long time since I've been out on a mountain bike. For me it was first school, and then the fires ravaging the Angeles Crest that kept me off the bike. So Sunday was a great day, getting on my 29er again. I didn't know what to expect, given last month's fires.
Heading up Lower Sam Merrill trail, it started out same as always: every hiker never failing to obey their subconscious compulsion to "graciously" stop exactly in the middle of the most ridable line on only the most technical sections of the trail. But despite their ignorant "politeness" I was really happy to find that the trail wasn't touched by the fire the whole way up, and even happier to discover that my legs were still completely capable of taking me up that trail!
As a side note, mountain biking is amazing: even if you are already in good spirits, going out for a ride never fails to bring those spirits up even more!
Anyways, cresting Lower Sam and crossing Mt Lowe Toll Rd, I decided to head down Sunset. Apparently the Toll Rd acted as a fire break because the mountains were stark and desolate beyond that point. Everything was black and dead and brushless. There were two black crows perching in the most perfectly sinister position on a fire-blackened leafless tree, I was almost positive they worked for Sauron himself. Sunset Ridge Trail was covered in debris: dead branches, rocks, gravel, leaves and sand. But still somewhat rideable in sections.
And then I encountered the landslide just before the half-way exit point. SCARY AS HELL! I was in quite a dilemma as to whether I should hike my bike all the way back up the trail, which would mean I'd be up in the mountains by myself after dark without any sort of light or phone or... Or whether I should risk crossing the landslide to the paved road just on the other side. It didn't appeal to me to be the only living animal left up there at night with the dinner-less mountain lions, so I chose the latter. With each step I took across that sand, I spent about 30 seconds of moving one muscle fiber at a time and trying to shift my weight imperceptibly to minimize moving the sand under my feet. If I started sliding, I knew wouldn't stop until I was 1/2 mile straight down the steep canyon buried in rocks. After about 5-6 steps like this I get across to solid ground, only to find there is another, steeper slide just ahead. Now I'm between 2 slides, no safe way out. So I cross this one too, SLOWLY, SLOWLY, SLOWLY! Some sand is sliding a bit above and below me, and so I leap the last two steps quickly to get off. Whew! Just writing about it gets my heart beating. Sorry I have no pictures to illustrate my point!
I decided not to bother continuing on to El Prieto (my original plan) until I got some more trail condition info from someone...(Might I risk hoping that anyone is reading this thing??? Any current info?) I headed out Chaney Trail Rd, and lo and behold THERE are the forrest closure notices! Why didn't they put up signs for people coming from the other direction! Apparently the infraction I just committed is worthy of 6 months imprisonment and $5000 that I don't have...AND possible death by burying in the bottom of a ravine by a landslide. Hmm. It would have been nice if they'd made it clear not to go down Sunset Trail, just like they made it clear not to go up it. (Okay, okay, I know it is my responsibility to check trail conditions and access...and I can't guarantee I would've followed the rules anyway [sheepish grin] ;).
So that was my fun for the weekend. And fun it was! Thanks to my fabulous and trusty Gary Fisher 29er!