Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Over the Notch In Search of Autumn Ride...

Good to my word, I did indeed ride Manker Flat to Stockton Flat, and back to Manker Flat yesterday morning. It was a beautiful morning for it, with the sky a most brilliant blue, and the temperatures in the very comfortable range. For those not familiar with the route, it is ridden entirely on dirt service roads in the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests. The road from Manker Flat up to Baldy Notch serves the ski area up there, and so for the most part is pretty well compacted, with just enough loose stuff to keep you focused. The road on the other side, between the Notch and Stockton Flat, is a different daemon altogether. It is only infrequently used and so is littered with loose material - rocks, pine cones, branches, and the occasional boulder. Maintain some momentum headed down this side and it is entirely rideable. It is that long climb back up where you run into complications; you're going fairly slow to begin with and trying to stay upright as you slip and slide over the loose rock. It definitely wears you down. As a result I end up hiking considerable portions of this side of the mountain, pushing my bike beside me. I expect it by now, and it's all good. Just a part of the adventure, though it does add some time to the journey. 

So did I find Autumn? There were clear signs of it: The cooler temperatures, great mounds and swaths of newly fallen or well chewed pine cones, chunky squirrels with big, bushy tails, yellow colors - in the willow leaves and rabbitbrush flowers. It was mostly evident at the beginning of the ride, at Manker Flat, where the Maples were vivid, especially set against the dark green of the pines. Sadly, speaking of pines, many of the ones growing at Stockton Flat had a sickly yellow pallor in their needles. I finished the ride foot-sore, hiking in cycling shoes, even those made of mountain biking, is just not ideal, but it was well worth the effort.

I didn't leave quite a early as I had wanted, but early enough that 
long shadows were being cast down the slopes as I neared the Notch

That's Stockton Flat on the North Fork Lytle Creek whose boulder-strewn
wash cuts a wide swath through, completely obliterating the road in places

Taking a bit of a rest at campsite #12, Big Horn Campground, Stockton Flat

Rabbitbrush and pines at Stockton Flat

This wash coming down from Mt. Harwood had strewn boulders across the road,
making it impassible the last time I was here. The road was clear and rideable
this time, so someone has done some work.

Ghost trees, remnants of the Grand Prix Fire of 2003

I always liked this view of the road cut headed back up to Baldy Notch
from Stockton Flat - the blue sky and pines on the edge

Maples at Manker Flat


  1. Sounds like a great ride. I love the pictures you took. Especially the Rabbitbush.

  2. Sounds like I should try this one...

  3. Great pictures! also walked/rode end of pavement Lytle creek 2 the ski lodge up a rib of Devil's backbone Look for postings of my jpegs @ facebook
    Harold Barnes bikin.lizard@yahoo.com

  4. Hey Harold, thanks. We've met before. Never knew where to see your photos until now. That one of the red-tail being chased by the mockingbird is amazing, timing couldn't have been better.


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