Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CHWP Today...

It had been a while since the Felt had seen the light of day, or direct sunlight anyway. So, this morning I braved the mass of dirt walkers, dogs, snakes and lizards, and rode on up into the canyons and hills of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. I got a later start, hoping that the heat would have thinned the crowd out by then, but no, they were still thick as flies on an old piece of salami. Back in April I posted about the Marshall Canyon / CHWP Loop; everything was nice and spring-green then. Now, the same hillsides have become sun-blasted into nice dull shades of brown. Many of the wildflowers that remain have had the color leached from their petals, although much of the monkeyflower and the mustard are still obliviously blooming. 

That long grind up Burbank Canyon always seems like something you have to suffer through in order to get to the good stuff. I like climbing for the simple sake of climbing; there does not have to be a downhill at the end of it all as reward (though I relish that reward as much as anyone), but the lack of shade, no stream crossings, and little of scenic note, make Burbank Canyon a kind of purgatory, somewhere between where you have been, and where you want to be. Maybe that's just how I felt today. Of course, I have done the climb who knows how many times, and no matter how many of those walkers, dogs, snakes and lizards you throw into the mix as obstacles, it never really changes. Someone who rarely rides, or has never ridden the canyon may see it with different eyes. Up at the top of the canyon there were a couple kids on bmx bikes - good job making up there on those; I made a quick left at the saddle for a fast ride over to Johnson's Pasture and La Verne summit. The shade provided by the big old pines along the way are always welcome. A little basking at the top of LV hill, and then back the way I came to the saddle, along the ridge to the Rotary (or is it Kiwanis) shelter, I can never remember which organization paid for it, and then the 'let 'er run' descent of Cobal Canyon. Water, ruts, rocks, transitions from bright light to deep shade - I love Cobal, even on days when you can't take it quite as fast. Back at the bottom, at the final stream crossing, a father and two daughters got a kick out of my splashing though at full speed. Before headed home, I turned off at the paved Thompson Creek Trail, and then took, what I call Powerline, which basically parallels the TCT. Powerline is a little dirt double-track (technically a dirt service road running beneath the mammoth power line towers); it is rarely used and is little more than two parallel singletrack trails. Eventually sometime this summer I imagine they will come through with a grader are ruin it for a while, for now there are some loose rocks, but mostly you can just go flat out - it's good handling practice.

white sage doesn't get the deep purple coloring of other sages,
but even its pale flowers seemed a bit washed out today.

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