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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    san diego
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    TR - Palm Canyon Mega Epic

    Palm Canyon Epic has become one of the must do rides in Socal. But with a shuttle service, a million wheels riding it and a lot of sanitizing it isn't as epic as it used to be. Broken parts, broken bikes, or broken bodies used to be regular occurrences but now you're more likely to encounter bro's claiming a 3 hour ride time, brah. To bring the epic back I climbed it from the bottom a couple times last year which made for an awesome, full day ride. But looming above has always been Santa Rosa Mountain, reaching a further 4,000ft above the top of PCE. I've ridden up Santa Rosa a couple times which is a beat down on its own, a 10mile fire road slog. In the back of my head the ultimate Palm Canyon Epic would have to go up and over Santa Rosa.

    I've actually planned to do this ride a couple times before but missed the weather window. It's an intimidating ride making it easy to find excuses not to try. Spring is a no-go due to snow pack. By the time temps drop enough down low in fall there may have already been storms dumping snow up high. We had such a storm a few weeks ago but warm weather since then meant there shouldn't be much left. I didn't want to miss out again so I put self doubt aside and pulled the trigger last weekend.



    230am start time so I wouldn't be at the chilly high point at dark.

    Trailforks calls the trail I'm on here Creeping Bob Hope. That's the Hope Mansion on the hillside below.




    One of the coolest things was looking over towards the San Jacintos and seeing hiker's headlamps on Skyline trail. They are heading toward the peak or just to the tram, which is at the green light you can see up top. They'll be doing 10,000+ft too. Good to know I'm not the only crazy one out on the trails at this time of day....




    I opted to climb singletrack on Hahn instead of Dunn Road, and was soon at the top.




    The first hint of dawn appears while I have a snack




    Dropping down to the tractor at the Oasis




    And now for my fill of Dunn Road. Dunn Road has an interesting history, bulldozed in illegally in the 1960s by Mike Dunn, maintenance is now prohibited and it is only used by hikers, horses and bikes. https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/...Rd12-31-07.pdf




    Sunrise approaching, I checked out a side road I'd never noticed before that went to a cool lookout




    First rays hit the San Jacintos




    Looking down to the east over the Salton Sea




    Onward.... I was starting to feel twinges of cramps in the back of one leg and bit of knee pain in the other. The latter is my bigger fear, I've been having bad knee pain after 20miles or so on rides lately. Fortunately it came and went sporadically rather than getting worse.




    I reached the top around 830 and stopped to eat half my breakfast burrito at the campground.

    That's Santa Rosa peak up there, doesn't look far but it's another 3,800ft higher.




    I was starting to feel some warmth in the sun so any bit of shade was welcome. I was in survival mode, stopping every 100-150ft gain to give legs and butt a quick rest.




    Whoever painted these messages was ahead of their time




    Thankfully Santa Rosa hasn't burned recently, hopefully people are paying attention






    And....finally the summit. There was an old lodge up here that did burn, all that remains is the chimney. Makes for a good fire pit these days




    The view looking south over Anza Borrego. That's Toro Peak on the left, which is about 500ft higher than Santa Rosa but is off limits being on Tribal land




    Appropriate summit beer selection




    There are a bunch of dispersed camping sites on the mountain, all shut down at the moment. This one at the top is very nice




    Time to go, I back-tracked a mile down the road and picked up Sawmill trail, which drops about 1,300ft in a couple miles on super raw singletrack




    Nice views open up, that's Asbestos Mtn on the right which I navigated around earlier




    Most patches of snow on the trail showed I had first tracks. Something beat me to this one




    Back in the day the DH crowd caught wind of this trail and a bunch shuttled up here with their big bikes. But they were sorely disappointed to find there was some climbing involved. Judging by how little traffic this trail sees they didn't find it worthy of a return trip lol




    Sawmill kiln at the end of Sawmill trail




    Looking down at Hidden Palm Canyon, a view not many people get to see




    I got back to the campground right at 4:30. 20min til sunset, so I grabbed some water and headed out.

    50mi and 11,000ft into the ride, and now I just have to ride the Palm Canyon Epic to get back to the truck


    Not a great view down here but sunset was still nice.




    Last light as I drop into Palm Canyon proper




    I made decent time down canyon. Temps were perfect, just a bit cool with the breeze. Super quiet. And dark, with just a sliver of moon. With the descent and some easier pedaling, my legs were feeling better than they had all day. Perfect


    Final stretch on Wildhorse




    Finished around 830, feeling tired but good. I had wondered if I'd pass 12,000ft gain on this ride. GPS stats looked impressive but are overstated. Computer showed 71.5 miles and +/-12,500ft when I got home. Big day, either way




    Great day on the bike, one of my best ever. Things really couldn't have gone better except it would have been nice to finish faster : ) Temps were perfect all day. High in Palm Springs was supposed to be 84. But the early start meant I got cool temps as I climbed higher throughout the day so I probably didn't see anything higher than 70 all day. At the same time it was never cold. There was a bit of residual snow on the road climb and on Sawmill trail but no ice. I think if I did this again I'd try to do it in the weeks before the time change so I'd have more afternoon light, and do it on a full moon, with start time to optimize moonlight.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    15,407
    Nice!
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    1,074
    Holt crap that’s a monster day. Well done!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    inpdx
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    14,392

    TR - Palm Canyon Mega Epic

    My glutes are seizing having finished reading that

    Solid day outing

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Three-O-Three
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    14,439

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Tahoe-ish
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    1,140
    Superb way to cap off the season, evdog. Thanks for doing a TR!
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Cruzing
    Posts
    10,482
    My crotch hurts reading this. Nice work. Iíve been reading up on some of those trails as my parents enjoy visiting Palm Desert. Iíve hiked, skied and surfed (longer drive) while visiting them there. But never brought the bike. Maybe next time.

    Solid solid work.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,858
    Badass. Thanks for posting. Itís inspiring.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Access to Granlibakken
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    8,447
    Dayum. As someone who has ridden PC, and Santa Rosa, I can’t imagine combining them in a day.

    Wasn’t that ‘DH’ trail called the Shimano trail back in the day? I wish the local mtb crew would develop the potential of that area.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    NAZ
    Posts
    498
    Hell yeah EV! Your reports are always inspiring.
    It sucks to suck.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    bestcoast
    Posts
    1,706
    strong effort, that's awesome!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    none
    Posts
    6,917
    Wow! I enjoy your TRís,

    Iím a ride from home, a couple of hours and your the antithesis.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Access to Granlibakken
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    8,447
    Evdog, what’s your water strategy? When I do longer rides in NorCal I make use of creeks/springs/lakes for refills, but seems like most of your rides don’t have that option.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    cordova,AK
    Posts
    2,944
    enjoy your TR's as they are always something different. Much respect for you ability to put down those kind of miles and vert.
    off your knees Louie

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Tahoe-ish
    Posts
    1,140
    I can't speak for Evdog, but on 8+h desert rides without water resupply I can carry 3L on my back and 2.25L on the bike (1 bike bottle and 1 big aquafina type bottle ski strapped to the top tube in front of the seatpost). It's super lame for the first few hours but is better than being thirsty.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    An Anheuser-Busch Barley Field
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    4,886
    Impressive ride! Thanks for the writeup.

    Having the piece of mind to take good pictures like you did on an outing such as this is an understated achievement in and of itself

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Eugenio Oregůn
    Posts
    7,564
    Awesome! That sawmill trail looks glorious.
    _______________________________________________
    "Strapping myself to a sitski built with 30lb of metal and fibreglass then trying to water ski in it sounds like a stupid idea to me.

    I'll be there."
    ... Andy Campbell

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Paper St. Soap Co.
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    2,608
    Seems like a lot of work just to avoid setting up a shuttle :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by frorider View Post
    Dayum. As someone who has ridden PC, and Santa Rosa, I can’t imagine combining them in a day.

    Wasn’t that ‘DH’ trail called the Shimano trail back in the day? I wish the local mtb crew would develop the potential of that area.
    I recall an old guide book saying the trail was built using funds from a shimano grant. Too bad it ends on an old mining road, if trail went all the way down I bet it would be more popular.

  19. #19
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    Oct 2003
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    slc
    Posts
    13,238
    Hell yeah!

  20. #20
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    Jul 2007
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    93108
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    2,470
    Mega is right. Nice work.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    san diego
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    2,244
    Thanks everyone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ottime View Post
    My crotch hurts reading this. Nice work. I’ve been reading up on some of those trails as my parents enjoy visiting Palm Desert. I’ve hiked, skied and surfed (longer drive) while visiting them there. But never brought the bike. Maybe next time.
    Do it, there is a ton of great trail in the area. Goat trails right above Vons and then you can climb up higher if you want to start from town. Or shuttle or climb up like I did and ride PCE which has a ton of options on how to finish the ride. Lots of options. Trailforks is better than MTB project here but neither is complete. For maps check out mountainbikebill.com. A lot of people still go by his original naming of the trails. You'll see the same names applied to different trails on apps vs land manager maps too.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    san diego
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    2,244
    Quote Originally Posted by frorider View Post
    Evdog, what’s your water strategy? When I do longer rides in NorCal I make use of creeks/springs/lakes for refills, but seems like most of your rides don’t have that option.
    On this one it is easy, as there are water spigots at the campground which I rode thru twice. It was cool enough I probably didn't need to fill up, but did anyways. Near the top of Santa Rosa there is a piped spring you can fill up from. There were also a couple streams flowing from snowmelt on Sawmill trail. These were dry in June when I climbed up Santa Rosa. In Palm Canyon there are some streams that flow in winter/spring. They were all dry this time. I usually don't need to fill from them but I almost always carry a water filter just in case. I bring a filter on most of my rides. It's great in places like the Sierras as I can carry less water and filter from streams along the way. On this ride I had 80oz in my camelback plus a bottle. And a beer for the summit.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    san diego
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    Quote Originally Posted by 406 View Post
    Seems like a lot of work just to avoid setting up a shuttle :-)

    I recall an old guide book saying the trail was built using funds from a shimano grant. Too bad it ends on an old mining road, if trail went all the way down I bet it would be more popular.
    LOL. You're right. I'll just ride my e-bike next time!

    Yeah Sawmill wasn't built that long ago, early 90s? As it is now it's a ton of work to get to for only about 2miles of trail. Makes for a good adventure ride but not something I'll do very often. The amount of time it takes to drive up and retrieve shuttle also makes it not worth shuttling. The DH crowd caught wind of it 10 yrs ago and some shuttles were set up. They were bummed that Sawmill required pedaling and had lots of tight switchbacks. And the road up was so rough a few bikes had dented down tubes even with a shuttle pad. Needless to say it didn't catch on as a shuttle ride.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    36
    Truely epic Evan!! I could do rides like maybe 10 years ago, but just don't have the uphill ability anymore for that length.
    its been probably 15+ years since I have ridden sawmill. might be time to check out jo pond again!

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    CA
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    2,198
    We're not worthy! We're not worthy!

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Size:  45.3 KB

    That was radical. Kudos.

    Nice Spur/rig set-up. Can you share what you have on the bike, other than the lights?
    sproing!

    FS: Scarpa Maestrale RS 2, size 29. Cheep! https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/...RS-2-0-size-29

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