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 Post subject: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 1:01 am 
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I remember seeing a ride report on this ride a couple years ago, long before I ever met DFT, and thinking he was a bit crazy to do this. OK, its more of a hike than a ride. But he has been talking it up so much that I couldn't turn down an invite to join him on this year's return visit. My apprehension was mainly due to the huge amount of vert up, followed by the huge descent, with the hardest most technical part toward the end of the ride. It seemed like a bad idea yet at the same time a great idea, and the relief map I saw from last year's ride only inspired me to go along.

Yes I stole this from someone else's RR!
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The plan was to HAB up from the valley floor (~500ft) to 6,250 to a place called flat rock. DT has been above it once and actually got a few hundred feet from the top, but that will probably not to be attempted again. Our planned ascent would yield more than enough pain and suffering.

Getting ready 6am
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Group shot...Maxwell, danlorek, DFT, me. You may notice there are no pedals on our bikes. Did I not mention that's why the ride down is so challenging? (j/k! :hello: )
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Just barely beat the sun up as we started
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Peaceful palm springs
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It begins
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Into the sun
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Warning
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1/2 hr in, still 5.5 hrs to go
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About 800ft up
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Another warning...yeah we don't have most of that stuff
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Maxwell, the HAB master, has a built in HAB pad on his downtube to make this less painful
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View about 1500 ft up
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Flowers in bloom
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To give you an idea how steep some parts were
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It was fun watching the city fade away below. In a sick way this was the only real way to guage our progression up the mountain. Let me tell you progress was slow!
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You'll notice most of my pics are of maxwell. Dan & DT were long gone up the hill ahead of us
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Hard to see in the pic but we were getting high enough up I could start to make out the sand wash on palm canyon by this point. Toro peak and Santa rosa mtn are top right, and about 30mi south.
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Nice color combo
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Our goal for the day is somewhere over those hills
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Still going up....
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Yes we would be climbing up and over that hill too
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You can see the sand wash in this one. A new perspective on a hated section of trail...
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Finally, 6250!!! DFT was already snoozing when we got there. Said he'd been up an hour. It took Maxwell and I just over 6 to get up there. It was now 12:15.
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We took a good hour to rest here. Everyone was beat especially Maxwell, who was getting into survival mode and was worried about remaining water. He had contemplated stopping about a mile / 1000ft earlier but fortunately pulled it out and kept going, making it up to here with me. This HAB is no joke. Its only 8 miles to this point but it just beats you down. We were constantly climbing up rocks, edging around trail side yuccas, and fighting through sections that were completely overgrown, usually while hauling the bike up and over rock drops. I was definitely exhausted but also pumped to get on the bike and do some riding!
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Still another 2500 to the tram. You can see the cables clearly from here
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We suited up and prepared for battle. Stopping at a nice lookout
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San jacinto in the background
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The top part alternated between steep, loose rock, and tight corners overgrown with yucca/manzanita/other prickly woody bushes
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Loose corners kept us on our toes
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There was some decent flow in spots
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And amazing views. It seemed to take forever for us to get closer to the valley floor. You don't realize how far down it really is when you start 6000 ft up!
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Pano shot
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Pads were a must on this ride...we were constantly busting through sections that were overgrown. Often these were on the apex of tight switchbacks, with a drop in the middle of the bush, and loose rocks kicked out by DT and Dan. This one was wide open by comparison.
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High up a lot of stuff was still in bloom
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Maxwell and I were going our own pace. This trail really wears you down on the descent too and we're only about 2500ft down
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The purple-blue flowers don't really show well, but they were everywhere
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Getting onto a bit of a plateau the trail levels off a little
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Nice rock roll
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City still far below us
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Once down off the plateau things get serious. It starts with some tricky switchbacks, and then things get steeper, the switchbacks tighter, the brush closes in at the worst places, and the trail gets chunkier. On a good day I would have a chance at many of these but being as tired as we were, there were many I just gave up on.
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Case in point- "DFT's corners of death". Taking the pic I'm standing on the trail a switchback above. The corner is maybe 6ft to my right. My back tire is pretty much on the apex of the next corner. You go down where the shadow is, an immidiate >90 degree left, then an immediate >90 degree right where you see the shadow from the sage-colored bush. And there's a good 15ft sheer drop above a steep slope if you miss the bottom turn. The pic doesn't really show how steep those bottom turns are, either. I think DFT made this section...huge props!!! :bang:
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The only feasible line here is to ride the spine. The steep dropoff on the left side says "come get some, asshole"
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We stashed some water at around 2800ft. Getting over to the east facing slope the chunk and switchbacks continue. You can see the trail and car 2000ft below (this pic is zoomed in 3x).
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By this point I was done...beat...pretty much useless. And sections like this weren't helping. I could barely carry the bike down this stuff
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I tried to ride what I could but my mental capacity, strength and balance were very much diminished. I walked a lot of stuff I would normally not hesitate to ride. It just wasn't safe for me to ride....I knew what I had to do and could see the line, but then I'd steer right into a rock at the side of the trail.

Maxwell was suffering along with me....
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Its downhill-what are you doing off the bike? :lol:
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We stopped so much on the way down I think it took us 4 hrs. Everyone was out of water, and nothing left in the tank. We wasted no time packing up and bolting over to the store to replenish. Then back to the hotel and straight in the jacuzzi to ease sore muscles!

I have to say this is one of the longest most brutal days I've had on the bike. Apparently no one who's done this ride with DFT has ever come back to do it again. I might consider it if temps are a good 15 degrees cooler and in a year when the trail isn't so overgrown. I'll be glad I did it once my muscles stop burning in a few days. Doing it again? We'll see....

Huge thanks to DFT for setting it up and to Dan and Maxwell for a great ride!


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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 5:28 am 
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I read this report "somewhere else" :D WOW! that is a sick ride. Reminded me that I wanted to do that hike this month, up to teh top and down to the tram. When do you think it is too hot?

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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 6:14 am 
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8 hours up 1 hour down! Great pics I would have had to pull over and wait like an hour or two in lol


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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 7:23 am 
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Awesome TR. I did the hike last year to the tram and it kicked my ass. I can't even begin to think about draggin' a bike along side of me. You guys are nuts. Great job. That trail is steep steep steep.

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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 8:05 am 
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Amazing stuff Evan. My legs are hurting just reading the TR.


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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 8:13 am 
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Evan, you just went from seriously hardcore to certifiably insane. Nice Work!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 9:10 am 
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Matt hit the nail on the head with "certifiable". Another great TR, but I take back the comment I made about wanting to ride with you after reading the Ramona Trail TR -- you're nuts. Beast ride. Very well done.

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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 12:21 pm 
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Thanks guys, my legs still feel a little noodly, and my shoulders still hurt from all the lifting of bike over rock! But DT is the crazy one...this was his 6th time on this one!

EMFC wrote:
I read this report "somewhere else" :D WOW! that is a sick ride. Reminded me that I wanted to do that hike this month, up to teh top and down to the tram. When do you think it is too hot?


Probably pretty soon....the snow has stuck around late this year from what I've read so the hiking window will be short this year. I think there is still a few weeks til it gets too hot, just keep an eye on the temps. You can always just start earlier ie in darkness. Sounds like the snow will be gone in a week or two. But for now you'll still want crampons.


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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Awesome TR Evan! I think the last picture tells it all - would not have thought I'd ever see you or other riders of your skill level walk a trail you could be riding.


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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 12:35 pm 
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nice work, looks crazy.

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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 2:03 pm 
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always a wild one!! yea, year number 6 for me.
its the most overgrown i have ever seen it (fall seems to be alittle better as the brush gets burned away some). no joke, the brush (my arms and legs are raw) makes it ALOT harder than normal. you are mashing your bike through it on the hike up and then on the way down. if i lived out there, i'd head up on a weekday with a gas powered wacker and goto town.

as far as technical, take iron mountian on massive steriods and stack 6-8 of them on top of each other. it was hot and everyone finished with no warter. you start by drinking so much water you are almost burping it up before the ride, then i think the amount of water people took was 125, 150,150,160 ounzes. (it was probably 90 or so for the high temp).

after 6 years, (seen snow, 100+ degrees, flats, etc) i'll be doing a more mellow version of it in the future going forward, like 4000 up max (and only in the fall). that way i can concentrate more on the descent and try to clean the hardest parts.


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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 11:48 pm 
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Doing this trail is quite an accomplishment Evan.

Sans altitude, for frame of reference a trail with similar elevation gain (but less steep) that some people are familiar with is the Whitney trail (to climb the highest peak in the continental US at 14497'). I cannot picture pushing a 30+ pound bike plus water from Whitney Portal (8300) to Trail Crest(13660), and then onto the top of Mt Whitney on nice groomed trail......ugh, and that is 6000 vertical feet. Then turn around and descend said trail?

Add in the bushwhacking, heat, sharp pointy jabbing plants, lack of water, lack of cute girls in hiking shorts, and steepness.....damn!


Last edited by sierragoldens on Fri May 14, 2010 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Cactus to clouds
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 6:53 pm 
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Unbelievable. This trip and the TR are beyond epic.


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