Ride Report San Sevaine Strikes Back

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by jeff^d, May 16, 2011.

  1. jeff^d

    jeff^d Active Member

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    Towering above the streets of Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga lay the remains of a forgotten 4WD road. The road has several aliases; San Sevaine, Big Tree Truck Trail, Cucamonga Truck Trail, 1N34 -- they all refer to the ribbon of dirt that hugs the eastern terminus of the San Gabriel Mountains and snakes westward throughout its many canyons. The road is advertised as 24 miles in length, narrow, steep, winding, and subject to washouts. I can attest to the accuracy of that description.

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    Rewind about 2.5 years and I’m lost in thought, gazing up at the foothills of the San Gabes from my desk at work. San Sevaine literally stares down at me every day, smirking at me from above, tempting me into its canyons. A little map research and some fresh sealant in the tires and it isn’t long before we’re pedaling up San Sevaine, ill prepared for the mess we would encounter. We emerged in the streets of Rancho looking like we’d been attacked by rabid cats.

    October 2008: RR: San Sevaine/Big Tree Truck Road

    After that trip, San Sevaine nestled itself into a cranny in the back of my mind. I described it to friends and coworkers as “the one that got away”, but nobody really understood the isolation, loneliness, almost eerie feeling San Sevaine gave me. I returned several times, preferring the emptiness and gentle grade of the eastern 12 miles for interval work and training. The western half, however, remained elusive and off limits.

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    Much to my surprise, I received an email a few weeks ago from Scouts West, the 4WD club who adopted the eastern 12 miles in 1997. They had read my report from 2008 and were looking for a mountain bike club who might adopt the trail from Sapphire in Rancho Cucamonga east, up to Joe Elliott campground, and maintain it for hiking and biking. The wheels started turning and I grew excited. I admit I felt a rush of adrenaline simply at hearing someone else mention 1N34.

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  2. jeff^d

    jeff^d Active Member

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    I awoke to a damp and foggy Saturday morning, the coffee machine gurgling in the kitchen and my bike gear spread all over the floor and counter. I packed slowly and methodically, drowning out the nagging feeling that something was wrong by focusing on routine. This is a bike ride, I’ve done this before – nothing is wrong, I just didn’t get enough sleep.

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    It was 6:00AM and we were at the end of San Sevaine, loading the shuttle vehicle. Sol realized he’d left his pack and armor in his garage back in Orange County. He had the critical gear – bike, shoes, helmet, food – and a quick assessment determined that between three of us and two packs, we’d have enough to complete the ride. San Sevaine was above and behind us, and although it was cloudy, I felt it staring down at us with a sense of satisfaction at how the day was starting. I chose not to return its gaze.

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    We grinded up the 4000’ fireroad climb to Joe Elliott campground, playing tag with blue skies and sunshine. The three of us rode close on a fairly mellow section of fireroad, when without warning we heard the dreaded blast of air resulting from a sidewall tear. Before my eyes had a chance to follow the sound, I heard Matt’s rear tire flopping against the ground.

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    We booted the tire as Cucamonga Peak hovered above… once again, I didn’t look at San Sevaine but felt it smile in smug contentment. We hadn’t even started the rough part.

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    Past Joe Elliott campground, San Sevaine is no longer maintained. We armored up past a white gate at the 6000’ elevation mark, except for Sol who resorted to a jacket and leg warmers to fend off the whitethorn.

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    Lest I become monotonous, suffice it to say we spent the next 8 hours struggling through neck high whitethorn, hiking over boulders the size of small cars, picking ticks out of our hair, and attempting to ride an area that has been the subject of many, many rockslides over the years. We had a machete but it was useless.

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    Matt had another sidewall tear, this time on the front, and we again booted and put a tube in. However, it wasn’t long before he was flat again, both front and rear, and had used up all our 26” tubes.

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    We reached the Haven wash that was my ending point in 2008 and pushed on. Sol made a comment that we needed to finish what we started, and I found myself silently agreeing with him while hoping that San Sevaine hadn’t heard what he said.

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    Less than ½ mile past the wash, however, our journey ended. Landslide upon landslide had rendered the trail through Calamity Canyon impassable, at least in our state of fatigue and disgust. The fog didn't help in revealing what little of the trail was left.

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    We had little choice but to return to Deer Canyon and bail down the same Haven Ave wash that had seen me pass in 2008. While we had abandoned San Sevaine, it was still over an hour before we reached rideable terrain hiking through the boulder filled wash, bikes slung over our shoulders, ignoring how one misstep could result in a sprained ankle, or worse.

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  3. jeff^d

    jeff^d Active Member

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    The day ended with pizza, beer, and 25 miles clocked on the GPS. 25 miles… and 10+ hours moving time. I drove home with my back turned on San Sevaine, who had shed its fog and revealed itself in its entirety. I couldn’t help but wonder if the beast was showing itself as a peace gesture, inviting me back once again, urging me to experience firsthand the dynamic nature of southern California’s terrain. I don’t know much, but I do know this won’t be the last time my path crosses with 1N34.

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  4. Chewyeti

    Chewyeti Circus Bear

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    pretty darn close. You guys are my heros! I've always wondered about the slides you could see on google earth... rough is an understatement!

    Good on ya guys!
     
  5. F.A.D.

    F.A.D. POWERED BY MUSUBIS

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    Dang, now there's an EPIC day for ya! I've been meaning to traverse the same route in the other direction ( I live 1/4mile from the sapphire traihead).

    I need to hit this soon.
     
  6. Sherpa DRider

    Sherpa DRider One finger tappy tap!

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    Wow! Amazing to see how Mother Nature takes backs what Man refuses to maintain. Thanks for the great pics and RR.
     
  7. solo_rider

    solo_rider New Member

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    Killer ride! 'Er hike-slash-ride. That was about as arduous of a hike I've ever done, with or without a bike. The bike with 2 perpetual flats felt like an anchor for the last 8 or 10 miles of "Thornchunk" (the name we coined for the trail from all the chunky rock and thorny brush). The rocks are sharp and cut my sidewalls on both the front & rear tires, and then the thorns quickly punctured my remaining two tubes.

    One thing is for sure, that trail needs some serious heavy equipment and bridge builders to make it 100% ridable. Rock slides are to this trail as fallen trees are to singletrack in Oregon. Ankle snapping, pole-vaulting OTB chunk is scattered everywhere, and like the recent winter slide at the Motoway hairpin, complete sections of the trail are washed out. Many of the slide outs are dangerous because there are 100lb+ rocks that aren't cemented in, and give way to loose sediment and gravity when you step on them or dislodge smaller supporting rocks beneath them. Traversing these washings is precarious at best. A few times I felt my feet give out from underneath me only to have rocks sent tumbling.

    That said I think this trail does have potential. It has very little exposure because of the old wide path cut, and not too many trees limiting visibility, so the trail could be built for high speeds, swooping around wide corners with great vistas. Single track could be cleared by removing the chunk and brush. It would be a perfect single track climb too because the grade is very mellow. The difficulty IMO is breaching the rock slides and washes, which would be dangerous to work on. I think blazing a second trail up Haven wash would be a good idea because it would improve the trailhead accessibility for volunteers and users. Plus it gives you the bailout option.

    Overall a day to remember!

    Disclaimer: Do not ride this trail alone!
     
  8. SDstumpy

    SDstumpy New Member

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    Nice RR Jeff. Bummer I forgot my pack. Fortunately it was not our limiting factor that day. Even though we spent the majority of our day boulder hopping and bushwacking I still enjoyed the adventure. Looking forward to trying the route from the other side so long as we don't have to exit through the same wash.
     
  9. evdog

    evdog Member

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    Nice job guys! Can't say it looked like fun, but definitely an adventure!
     
  10. nailknot

    nailknot Member

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    Nice ride report Jeff. I say put some miniblinds on your window and keep the blinds closed for at least the next five months. Once October rolls around open the blinds and heed the beckoning call of San Sevaine Truck Trail.

    I wondered about that last Wed. Night when you mentioned about doing this ride.
     
  11. JSD

    JSD Member

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    Great ride report, awesome pictures. That ride just looks great. Way to go.
     
  12. onlyontwo

    onlyontwo Not smart enough to shift

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    Good on you gentlemen. That is one adventure that I'm almost glad I missed out on.

    -A
     
  13. Rumpled

    Rumpled Longtime Newb

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    For probably near 20 years I've wanted to take a 4x4 or MTB up San Sevaine. Yet, I've never done anything about it. I've taken 4x4 trips up Lytle and environs because they were always "deeper" into the forest. From reading your reports and some others I've found over the years - I'm still wanting; kinda.
     
  14. dstepper

    dstepper Over the hill

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    Good stuff, thanks for the RR. Rode it once with PainFreak years back back we did not go as far as you all did. Good work.

    Dean
     
  15. KonaDawgDeluxe

    KonaDawgDeluxe REKE/DMC

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    I live in Fontana. Let's start fixing this thing up!! :bang: :bang: IMBA can help out, too. :-k
     
  16. psyclerider

    psyclerider Member

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    I've always wanted to do this ride, especially because I can leave from my house but I know it needs a lot of work. Nice job you guys!
     
  17. stevers51

    stevers51 New Member

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    Years ago we rode all over that country on motorcycles. I grew up near deer cyn. ("haven wash") and many times rode from Cucamonga cyn. to Lytle Cr. (then Neelys corner, before the I 15). Later, I rode a mt. bike from cuca. cyn. to Lytle cr. the route was in better shape than it is now but still a challenging ride. There's a fun road/ trail that drops down from San Sevain flats to Etiwanda. There's a road that goes from cuca. cyn. to Baldy village via Barrett cyn. For those with sand there's a loop that starts at Cuca. cyn. and features,San Sevain road North fork Lytle cr., Baldy notch, and back to cuca. cyn.
     
  18. boyfester

    boyfester New Member

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    Resurrecting an old thread. Thank you so much for these great pictures. I've always wondered what the western end looks like past Joe Elliott CG. We're planning a 4X4 trip up there in October since the road is only open to motor vehicles from Labor Day to March 1 (or the first snow). Is the Big Tree there anymore or was that burned up in the 2003 fire which closed the western end of the trail system?
     
  19. da big hills

    da big hills happy night trails

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    I was thinking about riding this area on the single trac from Lytle to Joe then up the trail to the wilderness area. I was by myself so I brought my road bike and did the SART between soccer games. Go Locomotion.
    happy rugged mtn trails
     

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