Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Friday, January 24, 2014

Riding the canyons of Santa Clarita January 5-10

Jan. 5-10 for the past five days we have really been laying low, just enjoying the 75 degree days and the 50 degree nights. It seems like we get rocked with the Santa Ana winds about every other day, but that's a small price to pay. Yesterday, we saw a couple of big, big planes drop water on a brush fire off in the distance as we ate lunch at a place called the Stonefire Inn, where we ate California food. Last night it had to be blowing 40 mph, so we put the slides in on the RV so the canvas slide toppers wouldn't tear. We've been spending some time with the California cousins, and generally doing a whole lot of nothing. A couple of days ago, Michael invited us to go to Santa Monica Beach and spend the afternoon in the sand. Pam didn't feel up to going, and Marina had work to do, so Michael, Joseph, Christopher, Rosie, and I piled in the minivan, and headed to the shore. We strolled the Santa Monica Pier, the Kids rode some rides,  we buried Christopher in the sand, we watched people on the gymnastic apparatus on the beach do the rings, rope climb, hula hoop, and one chick did the hula hoop while she climbed the rope! Never saw that act before. For all you east coasters, the hula hoop is making a comeback, so beat the crowd and buy yours now, before this Cali trend gets there! On the way home, I got to sit in LA rush hour traffic on the 405, which is infamous, so I can scratch that off the bucket list. I'm glad Michael was driving.

Chris and Joseph on the roller coaster on the Santa Monica Pier

Michael and Rosie

Cousin Marina's family - Rosie, Chris, Michael and Joesph

Joseph brought his guitar...

Chris chilling on the beach with the pier in the background

The family just hanging out at the beach

This is one way to deal with a brother!

Santa Monica Pier and Ferris wheel

The rings on the beach at Santa Monica

The total Santa Monica experience!

I've done three rides in the area, just so I don't forget how. The first was only 18.23 miles, on the bike trails and roads around town. Another ride was over to a bike shop to get a little maintenance on my derailleur, which they did for free, and I headed out Bouquet Canyon Road to see what it was like. I cut off before I got too far out of town, and rode by the Jarocki's and hung out for a while, before heading home. That ride covered 28 miles in about 2:18.
52 miles in 4:12.... A couple of my short rides have explored the entrances to the San Francisquito Canyon, and the Bouquet Canyon. I checked some maps, and talked to some people, and discovered that the two canyons connect out there in the Angeles National Forest somewhere. Today I connected them by using the Spunky Canyon Road, and it was an awesome ride. There is a longer loop which goes through the towns of Lancaster and/ or Palmdale, but I'm really not up for a century ride, just enough to keep me slightly fit, which today's half century did.  I started out on the bike trails to get to  Bouquet Canyon Rd, which has a really nice bike lane until you get out of town. I hit it early enough that there was really no traffic. No traffic on the whole trip actually, but if it gets later in the day I'm sure it gets worse. It's wasn't hard to tell when I left town, because the bike lane ended, and BAM, so did civilization. Actually, there was a few miles of really nice horse ranches, just like other canyons, just on the outskirts of town. The horse ranches were dry and dusty brown, with scrub trees and cacti, and when I entered the Angeles National Forest, it was more of the same dry brown. I was on a steady ascent, as you might expect while following a canyon, and I ended up climbing over 3300 feet in the first half of the ride, and my legs passed the test. I was pleasantly surprised riding out Bouquet Canyon, as there were lots of pullouts, and picnic areas, even most of them were closed, either because of winter, budget cuts, fire danger, or all of the above, but closed nonetheless. After about five miles of riding towards what I thought was an arid, high desert terrain, I suddenly heard the trickle of running water in the stream next to the road. With that water came huge green oak trees lining the road and stream, and also structures which looked like fancy camps or seasonal homes. Some were also obviously lived in full time. They were made of natural stone, and more to my surprise, some made of wood. With the fire situation out here over the recent past, they must have been older than the drought conditions that prevail here in the last 50 years. There was even a waterfall, which barely trickled, and it wasn't very high, but it was a waterfall, and I was glad to see it. As I climbed, the ascent was hardly noticeable for the first 20 miles, from the RV, but it was starting to get steeper. The temperature was getting up near 80, but the oaks and steep walls of the canyon provided nice shade in spots. At about the 22 mile mark on the ascent, the Bouquet Canyon Dam came into view. It is an earthen dam on one side, concrete on the water side, just like the one that failed in the San Francisquito Canyon in the 1920's. As a matter of fact, this dam replaced the failed one. It was about 60-80 feet shallower than it could have been, but a nice size lake. It was fenced off totally, no recreation here, just drinking water. After I passed the reservoir, Spunky Canyon  Rd. made a left and finished wrapping around the water, before the most severe climb of the ride. Spunky Canyon  Rd climbed almost  800 ft up the side of a mountain, before it crested, and descended very quickly and steeply into the town of Green Valley and intersected with San Francisquito Canyon Rd.  I had a headwind for all eight miles of Spunky Canyon, and it helped hold me back on the very steep descent, which was probably a good thing. San Francisquito Rd. was a nice ride, with not so much shoulder, but little traffic. It was also almost all down hill the way I was riding it. I went past the upper and the lower power plant, as well as the huge pipeline running from Bouquet Canyon Reservoir down into Santa Clarita, and possibly into LA. Bouquet Canyon is more scenic, in my opinion, because there are no oak trees, no running water, and it is much more wide open, with mostly the same dry, brown, scrub trees, and rocks along the San Francisquito.  There was also a pretty big section of one mountain that was burned in a brush fire in the not to distant past that I didn't see last time up the canyon, because I didn't ride far enough.  Next time I ride up there, I may take the longer loop, now that the days are starting to get longer. After the ride, Pam and I went over to Marina's for dinner and good company. Everyone was there except for Lane, who came in late from work.
Somehow I think it has to rain before the road floods!!  No rain in the forecast!

Bouquet Canyon Reservoir

You can see the exposed shoreline where the water has dropped dramatically!

Note how brown/gray the hillside is!  

Aqueduct pipeline going up the hillside

Part of the California Aqueduct system

Mike with his cousins Lane and Marina

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