Category Archives: hike

JPL Red Box shuttle ride

I got the idea for this adventure in the Spring when we rode out and back on Gabrielino. Lots of guys ‘shuttle ride’ this route. They meet at the bottom, pile into one truck, drive to the top, ride down and then drive back to the top for the first truck. Four additional motor vehicle trips on the narrow and windy Angeles Crest highway. Could we do this human powered without being irritatingly self-righteous?

(Cole took this photo. If you look close you can see the shadow from his mustache)

Easy. A group rides road 30 miles up Angeles Crest to Red Box (about 5000 ft elevation) towing mountain bikes. Another group trail runs 15 miles to Red Box. At the top group one passes the mountain bikes to group two who then ride the 15 miles of single track down to JPL.

To start I was up from 3am on 2 hours sleep and Max had stayed up the entire night. Brian rode out from El Segundo on his mountain bike (30 miles) and we met at JPL at 8am. I had posted the ride to Midnight Ridazz so we did not know who would show up. Our original plan was for Jack to ride road pulling the bikes with some sort of Rock Lobster rack, but that didn’t work out and Jack didn’t make it. Now Max is no slack rider, but he hasn’t been riding too much beyond commuting. Could he take 50 pounds of mountain bikes on the Big Dummy? Yes he can. With Michael on as support Max did an epic road ride with 50 pounds of cargo.

Brian and I set off on foot along the Arroyo-Seco to the Gabrielino. It’s a beautiful trail with stream crossings, boulders, canyons with full cover and exposed, dry ridges. I love it. Below Brian is picking some wild berries as the mountains we are about to run up loom in the distance. Yes, he is wearing his bike helmet. Said it was the easiest way to carry it.

Some switchbacks that we would soon be descending down.

Brian and I ran together the first 5 or so miles and then inevitably he dropped me. I ran almost all of the first 9 miles to Switzer Falls. There I begged some picnicing folk for water as I had run out about 45 minutes previous. The last 4 miles up were quite difficult, as expected. I hiked most of this section at a good clip and ended up at the top only 30 minutes or so after Brian; about four hours after we set off.

Brutal blister. I also rolled my foot as I was wearing some light weight running shoes. Duh.

Gabrielino is not an easy trail to ride down. For a number of miles the trail is between 1 or 2 feet wide with the mountain to one side and a huge drop to the other. Some sections are a little washed out (I like to bunnyhop them cause it’s easier than having to unclip and get off your bike).

We were back and forth with a group of three mountain bikers who were all really cool. They told us about a sweet swimming hole only a 1/4 mile off the main trail.

Brian and I were super tired and it was a tough decision. I think we made the right one. Cold cold water is a great remedy for aching muscles.

After 8 hours in the wilderness (just like a 9-5, only fun) we headed over to Pasadena to take the Gold Line to Chinatown. From here I had a short ride home and Brian, after buying some durian fruit, took the train back to El Segundo.

Max getting his well-deserved AdventureSnore.

Next time: I’d like to film this. It is so gorgeous back there and so accessible from Los Angeles. In my mind Sunday was a beautiful combination of DIY, adventure and wtf? Sure, there is an environmental component, but that is a secondary benefit to some friends getting together and thinking about new ways of exploring an amazing area and what is possible.


Filed under hike, off-road, public trans, road, run

2007 Furnace Creek update

Jack DNF’d on Townes Pass, about 200 miles into the race. Brian finished in 36 hours and was elated just to have finished! This is a photo with Jack holding a secret message for the Swarm! racers from Morgan. He just finished hiking the Pacific Crest Trail last week(!!), but when it crossed the 508 course back in July he had left a message under a rock in a strategic location. Amazing!

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Holy Jim Trail from Trabuco Creek Rd

(stolen photo from wikipedia)

This is me not riding to San Diego. The original plan was to leave at 230am on Saturday morning, and ride 80 miles down the coast to meet up with the Organic Athlete San Diego chapter for a run. Good training for night riding and Norseman. But at 1130 the night before- far from having my shit ready- I decided against it. Slept in instead. Then finally got around to looking up info about that peak that sticks out of the Saddleback mountains that is visible from all over south county.
Around 330pm I was out of the house for the 6.5-mile run down a dirt road to the Holy Jim Trailhead. I had some aspirations of summiting, but that would of put my total mileage over 30. I fast hiked up to the fire road, probably only 500 feet or so below the top (and 2.5 hiking miles) and turned around. I read that on a clear day you can see into five counties from the top (hope to run the whole thing and summit soon).

I took my time descending and then ran the 6.5 miles back, most of it in the dark, which gave me the opportunity to use my new headlamp.

Tree tunnel!

Looking west out of the canyon on Holy Jim Canyon Road before it hits Trabuco Creek Rd.


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Morgan leaves for the Pacific Crest trail

And I thought I was busy. Morgan, long time housemate and friend, had quite a couple weeks. He defended his PhD dissertation, prepared for the 4-month 2600-mile PCT, sued the woman who hit him last year in small claims court (no lawyer), moved out and started hanging out with a girl he’s had a crush on for awhile (should I be making that public?). Adventure in many forms. Hi hike will require over 20 mail drops of food; he painstakingly measured out his food needs, packed, dated and addressed all the boxes and delivered them to his closest friends for mailing. He’s got a close friend from England with him who has a blog here. They started hiking June 3rd.

6th/Valencia dinner. Where else?

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Yosemite and Half Dome

A crew of us, organized by Morgan, headed up to Yosemite National Park to hike up half dome. It’s only four days after getting back from the Great Divide, but we wanted to do it before the weather got too cold up there. We all piled into Brian’s old van and drove up Friday night. We camped outside the valley and then did the day hike pretty much all day on Saturday, as it’s 17 miles return. Was super packed with people, which I did not mind so much, but bothered some others who were hoping for some the usual solitude that accompanies good hikes.

When we got the section just before the ropes, the image of hordes of people trapped together on the ropes to the very hop was scary. It is beyond me that no one fell off while we were there. If you look closely at the photo on the left, you can see everyone lined up between the waist high cables designed to get you up the steepest section. We heard it took an hour and a half. Some of our group skipped going entirely and some took rockclimber Brian’s lead and went on the outside of the ropes, only holding on to one. I think this was safer. The view from the top was great; you can walk right to the edge of the valley side (I’m equally amazed that no one fell off here either. Statistically it was bound to happen).
After chillin a bit outside the restaurant area in valley and eating a free meal, we decided to head back to camp and cook a proper meal.

The next day we tried swimming at Hetch Hetchy, which apparently is not feasible. The guy working gave us directions to Rainbow Falls, located just outside the park and conveniently on the way back to LA. The water was super cold, probably the coldest I’ve ever swam in, but Morgan said it wasn’t shit. The panorama Chris took gives a pretty good idea of the place. If you look closely you can see me jumping off of two cliffs at the same time. Thanks for the pics, Chris. And thanks Brian for driving!

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The hike of bike to hike San Gorgonio

The night at approx 8000ft was chilly, but I slept well in my zero degree bag. I slept well, that is, until the pack of boy scouts came tramping in super loud around 12am. These little brats decided to set-up camp practically on top of my tent. I was still up early; I wanted to summit and get back down and be on my bike back to the train before dark.

I got packed up and was on the trail before the OC guys. The weight of my pack was wearing on me and I was starting to feel the altitude. It was not affecting my head yet, but the thin air was making it hard to breath. Being a Saturday morning each viewpoint was (nearly) filled with day hikers and the rest of us who had camped at one of the three campsites. The sites were beautiful and the effort needed to keep climbing was extraordinary; both of which I was looking forward to. But, I really don’t like hiking that much. It is so slow! On a bike you can coast or speed up with minimal effort. Not so with hiking! About 6 years ago I was talking about hiking the Appalacian Trail. Boy am I glad I am over that nonsense.

Near the top my pace is slowing considerably. I am being passed constantly. At a fork about 300 vertical feet from the summit I decide to leave my pack. My head is aching a bit and I know it is going to get worse the longer I stay up. Picking up my pace, I soon arrive at the busy summit. Maybe hiking is more about the destination than the journey? I was happy to be there and look down in every direction.

Going downhill is not much easier than going up AND it is harder on your knees. I am going slow, being passed, etc and then I took a long break at one of the viewpoints. The OC guys ask me if I am feeling okay and I respond honestly. They say I should hike with them just to be safe. It ends up they are training for a climb up Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in California. We are chatting away about gear, etc and they tease me about my antiquated water purification method (iodine tablets). I should also mention that my feet are destroyed! Hiking in cycling socks is not a good idea. By the time I am back in LA I’ll have 6 blisters, some of which are quarter size.

Meanwhile I am being challenged to stay on pace. When I am cycling it is hard to push myself to where I am uncomfortable. But I was at this point hiking down this mountain. Crazy thoughts start to go through your head about motivation. ‘Why would anyone do this?’ ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ Looking back I understand better the importance of mental preparation. When this type of situation arises I bet most people talk themselves out of things they are capable of. Amazing!

Eventually we get down to the parking lot. I am stoked that my bike is still there. I hadn’t mentioned that I had ridden my bike there. Suddenly these guys thought I was the macho one doing ridiculous feats. I laughed and told them how riding was the easy part. Then they laughed at me when I unloaded my pack and panniers, bike shoes, and a pump came out.

I cruised the 25 mile downhill at dusk and then into dark. I went back to Jen’s since I missed the last train to LA, but it was probably for the better. We cooked some food and I crashed out. Next day back to LA and then back to work…..

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Ride from LA to hike San Gorgonio

After two months of having a real job and working regular hours I was itching to get away. I finally was able to do the 120-mile, 11,500ft bike to hike trip I been sleepin on for about 2 years.

After the usual pack till 3am the night before routine, I left Los Angeles at about 1130am, heading east. I had put on a front rack with panniers and I strapped my hiking pack to my rear rack. Unfortunately the 70 miles from LA to Loma Linda are not very interesting. Basically flat and easy and not much to look at. When people say LA is ugly with strip malls and industry they are really talking about the suburbs east of the city that span the whole 70 miles I rode. My neighborhood in downtown is much greener and nicer! I ended up in Loma Linda at my friend Jen Heine’s house in about 6.5 hours (5 hours pedaling).

When bike touring a 3-day trip requires almost the same amount of stuff as a 30 day trip! All of the bike and camp basics plus I needed my hiking pack and boots. At night we sessioned the Redlands market which was a regular event for me when I lived out there before I crashed out on her floor.

Friday I woke up early, got some coffee and started on my 20 mile, 5200 foot climb to the mountain town of Forest Falls. If you live in the so cal area please go visit the San Bernardino Mountains. Fantastic scenery! This unrelenting climb is one of the hardest I have ever done. It parallels the hardest climbs we did in Mexico two years ago. At the edge of town is the trailhead for the Vivian Creek trail to the summit of San Gorgonio mountain. A 7.2 mile hike that gains 5300 feet (up to 11,500 ft).

Why this hike? Two years ago my friends, Jen Heine (same one) and Tim Radak, and I decided to climb this in one day. I was set on riding to it then, despite my ill preparation. I read that to summit you need to leave the trailhead by 7am to make it back before dark. Realizing I would have to leave at 330am to ride there in time I decided against it. That trip was a nightmare anyway! We ended up not leaving the parking lot till 10am or so and racing up to the summit. Jen and I soon started falling behind Tim. Then we both began showing symptoms of altitude sickness: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, disorientation, suppressed analytical skills, and blurred vision. We were in bad shape! I had thrown up everything I had eaten and Jen’s vision was blurry. Then she hurt her knee!

This story is so ridiculous it is almost embarrassing. It was starting to get dark, Tim was no where to be found and then I lost the map. The batteries in Jen’s flashlight dies. We lose the trail. I go and look for help and cannot find the people I swore I just saw. Jen is mumbling about setting a fire so the helicopters can see us. My head is pounding from the elevation. Eventually we find the trail and I help her walk on her hurt knee. After hours of stumbling in near darkness (I had a headlamp) we make our way back to the trailhead. Where is Tim? There is a note from him that he left to go let his dog out (1 hour away) and that he would be back at midnight to see if we were still there. What time was it? 1230am. We could not believe it. By this time it is freezing out and we were not prepared for the night. We ended up making a bed of leaves in the women’s bathroom and spooning all night to stay warm. Got a ride back in the morning to end our disastrous trip. So I wanted to do this climb right.

Chillin in the parking lot I unpack my panniers and load EVERYTHING into my hiking pack. I reluctantly lock up my bike to a gate and start hiking. The first mile of the trail is out of a valley and is STEEP. I am stumbling with my heavy ass pack. When was the last time I hiked with so much stuff? I could not remember. It took me 3 hours to go the 2. 5 miles to halfway camp. I set-up camp and was hanging out with a couple of guys from OC who hike often. They volunteered to hang my food with theirs, giving me the opportunity to go to sleep around 930pm. Exhausted!

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