Ride Report Fill In The Blank

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by Beowulf Shaeffer, Aug 29, 2019.

  1. Beowulf Shaeffer

    Beowulf Shaeffer Titanium reinforced!

    Jan 8, 2006
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    Bugs are bad, m'kay?

    In a misguided attempt to reach elevations at which the current infestation of flying micro-sharks wasn't so dang bad, I failed to evade the bugs but succeeded in filling in some blanks in my San Gabriel riding experience.

    At twenty minutes after twelve, I'm chuffing my flatlander arse up the Little Jimmy CG access road. The air is sweet, perfect temps. The 'warm-up lap' to the camp unfolds grandly. I've done a lot of hiking in this part of the range, but only a couple bike outings to Windy Gap, usually from the Crystal Lake side.

    The trail up from Little Jimmy CG to Islip Summit is mostly in very good condition, steep but not very technical. It is quite overgrown in 2 spots on the summit ridge, and I chose to walk a bit to avoid the buckthorn/manzanita 'car wash'. I caught a quick glimpse of the horns and back of a bighorn sheep in this section.

    Views on approach to the summit are spectacular, since this is an isolated peak at the end of a big ridge (Baden-Powell, Burnham, Throop, Hawkins, Islip). Once you're on top, there are nearly unobstructed views, but a couple trees and an old stone house break up the scene a bit.


    This would be my second recent outing to Islip Ridge. The first outing was a complete run from the summit of Mt Islip all the way to Crystal Lake's - ahem - picturesque shores, receiving a buckthorn exfoliation treatment on the way. Today I would detour on the Cienega Mirth Trail, and follow the road to South Mt Hawkins.

    The trail down Islip Ridge is a great mix of d.g., forest buff, rock gardens, some small slabs, some switchbacks, exposure, etc etc etc. It's really a Grand Tour of San Gabriel ridge- and mountain-top riding. About halfway down the ridge, the Cienega Mirth Trail splits to the east and drops down, crossing a good swath of mountainside, eventually intersecting the Windy Gap Trail and then the South Hawkins Road.

    I assumed the South Hawkins Road would be a mellow climb, and so forged ahead when I reached the junction. I was quickly disabused of any notion of smooth travel. The road is basically in 'abandoned' status, with bad rockslides everywhere, and a few rather permanent-looking washouts. Most of the road is OK, but a discouragingly high percent requires portage.

    As with Islip, the views on approach to South Hawkins are expansive, but the summit has a few trees. The old lookout burned and has vanished, to be outlived by one of the highest open-air toilets in the state. Also, there's a new communications module (prefab box on a sled, with antennae) downhill from the lookout site.


    After a pleasant rest on the summit, I returned on the super-effed-up gone-feral road, then cruised down to CA-39 for the easy pave return to Islip Saddle. Though the riding was easy, there was no wind whatsoever. The bugs swarmed, and I struggled to keep my 15kg shite-wagon rolling fast enough to evade them. As you can see in the Google Maps image below, my progress was less than stellar the last few km. I really wanted a nice rest, but every attempt to stop resulted in a bout of 'blackfly badminton'...hardly what I'd call a rest.

    I returned to the trailhead just after sunset, just in time for the blackflies to end their shift and the mosquitoes to begin theirs. I think Frank Herbert was right to incorporate the ghafra (gadfly) into his novel, Dune. Deadly distraction, indeed...


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