El Paso Mountains & Coyote Creek Trail

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LavaBull, May 13, 2006.

  1. LavaBull

    LavaBull Been here awhile

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    Monday, May 8th.
    Location: the El Paso Mountains north of Kohen Dry lake and east of Jawbone & Dove Springs in southern California.

    Mission: A Tour de Force; traversing some steep hills on the way to Bickel Camp, and working our way back through Last Chance Canyon and Nightmare Gulch:

    The next day, Tuesday May 9th, I rode Coyote Creek [7S10] southwest of Bishop, Ca. Unfortunately; Greg could'nt join me for this ride as he had to go back to work... so I rode solo and it was spectacular...pics and report will be added as soon as I finish the El Paso ride.

    We staged at Randsburg and headed northwest to the El Pasos...
    My riding buddy, Greg.
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    Myself, LavaBull:
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    It was a little on the warm side, so we moved at a moderately fast pace, and if it was'nt for Greg's quick action, this precious Desert Tortoise could've ended being a roadkill...
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    It was a healthy Tortoise, we decided to check this fella out...
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    Greg decided to give it a hand and carry it into a more secure area...
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    Big fella, probably at least a couple of pounders... heck I almost rear ended Greg as he hit the breakes hard and swirved trying to avoid running over it... we're gonna make sure he's far and out...
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    Greg is on a mission taking the Tortoise to a safe distance from the trail...
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    Talk about responsible trail riding... I think the Tortoise is safe there... hope it doesn't track back!!
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    On to the El Paso mountains, sections of the trail we're about to take is visible to the left... we took a small break on this hilltop discussing the loop and inspecting the bikes...
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    Your's truly with a very dusty jersy...
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    We saw another desert critter further into the ride in Last Chance Canyon...yep, I have pics of that too coming up later in the report.
    That vantage point was really awesome and you could see further into the Sierras, here's Greg pointing towards Dove Springs and Mc Ivers cabin up in the Sequoia National Forest:
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    We had the whole place to ourselves... another pics showing the trail head in the distance... these hills were steep and long, some had massive rutts with loose soft sand and gravel... they had to be carefully negotiated...
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    Greg knows the area well, but it was his first time on this section of the hilly terrain... at this point we're about an hour into the ride at 5800 ft elevation...
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    After a few grueling hill climbs and descents, we came across this mother of all hill descents ... it was loooong, super steep and full of rutts... I picked the wrong line, lost control and crashed...
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    The hand guard and front fender took the bulk of the impact, I landed on the loose gravel part as I got loped over the handelbars...
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    It was so steep, I had a hard time standing up to lift the bike... I should've kept a close watch on Greg and followed his line... one of (many) reasons why I like to ride with Greg is I learn so much just by watching him go!!!!... he picked the perfect line of descent...
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    Our ultimate destination was Bickel Camp, a historic mining site at Last Chance Canyon, bordering Red Rock Canyon State Park.... We also wanted to visit some abandoned mining sites on our way to Bickel...
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    Our next stop was the Burro Schmidt Tunnel... Burro Schmidt hand dug a half mile tunnel through the mountain, it took him 38 years to finish it! We heard that the site is in distress and wanted to see for ourselves...
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    They were'nt kidding, it was in terrible shape and the site suffers from major neglect... at the Tunnels entrance:
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    Here are some more pics by the amazing Burro Schmidt Tunnel...
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    The plaque at the entrance of the tunnel...
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    Inside the tunnel, it was about 85 degrees outside, but it felt like someone turned the AC on as soon as we entered the tunnel, the temps were a cool 65 degrees...
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    Always watch your head as you walk through... these edges were jagged and sharp...
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    We moved on to Bickel Camp, an important historic site in that region with significant contribution to several minning operations.... the entrance to the camp was closed with a warning sign...
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    Before long; the camp's caretaker showed up and was very welcoming and hospitable...
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    To learn more about the unique history of this camp, visit:
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    There were machines all over, the likes of which I've never seen! Obviously, each had a unique purpose and was put to good service back in its hay day...

    To some, this may seem like a junk yard full of useless stuff, but make no mistake about it; virtually everything here is well cared for and preserved for its unique contribution to the minning history of the region.
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    We explored with the caretaker who was anxious to show us around and explain the history behind the camp...
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    More RR & pics later....
    #1
  2. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    Nice pics. I was riding in that area a month or so ago. Loved it. Some great hill climibing and amazing views. Last Chance Canyon is very cool and the rock formations at the top end of the canyon are really gorgeous.

    I visited Burro Schmidt's tunnel a couple of years back and was really dismayed to see what has happened to the place since then. The woman that lived in the cabin next to the tunnel and who looked after the place died a couple of years ago and vandals have taken the place apart since then. Really a shame. Would be great if someone could pick up where she left off and put things right again.

    Looking forward to the rest of your pics. :freaky
    #2
  3. PackMule

    PackMule love what you do Super Moderator

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    Awesome! :thumb Keep 'em coming! :lurk
    #3
  4. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Another great ride report! Great pics!
    #4
  5. canpile

    canpile Trail User

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    Great report Lavabull!! I love the trails high up in them thar hills!!
    #5
  6. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Nice! :thumb
    #6
  7. Stinez

    Stinez Rhymes with Heinz :D

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    :lurk

    :D
    #7
  8. LavaBull

    LavaBull Been here awhile

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    Thanks all for the kind words, yep; I love riding that area... but Coyote Creek was really awesome too... that's coming up next..

    It got really warm that day, we're about two hours into our ride and I think the temp was about 90 degrees... could'nt resist dreaming about a cold one out of this... :huh

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    The caretaker was kind enough to offer us some cold water... it was cooled by a solar panel that powered his rv... really neat!... We chatted a bit about the interesting machinery and the history of the place...

    Greg kicking back under the shade...

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    It was time to move on further into Last Chance canyon and Nightmare Gulch... the caretaker was a great host, very informative and insisted that we alert others about how fragile this important peice of history is...

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    We took a stop by this wash at Nightmare Gulch...

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    Did some exploring on foot...
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    I rested under this nice tree shade...
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    Greg screamed 'look out, snake by your foot'... :huh

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    That bugger was literally a couple of feet away from me... and I did'nt even know it was there... !! Greg said it was the harmless type, yeah; right!
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    The snake disappeared and we strolled around enjoying the rugged beauty of the canyon...
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    We rode in the canyon wash, which consisted of deep and loose sand with some tight rocky section... it was a blast to ride... we crossed into the Kohen dray lake area and rode east to Randsburg... 50 miles and four hours later... a much needed rest and nourishment at the Miners Union...

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    Greg had to bail back to civilization, I geared up for my next day trip to Bishop and Coyote Creek. I sat down for a cold one with Cowboy Bob at the Randsburg Inn and listened as he told me the story of the mysterious cloud that appears out of nowhere everyday right on top of the hill facing the inn...:rofl .... this was fun to listen to to say the least...

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    Coyote Creek is coming up next!



    ......
    #8
  9. Deano955

    Deano955 Insatiable

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    :lurk
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  10. LavaBull

    LavaBull Been here awhile

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    Coyote Creek [7S10] runs southwest of Bishop and into the Inyo national forest. The trail starts as a sandy jeep trail that narrows significantly with elevation and becomes very twisty and rocky with some ruts and exposed roots. Lots of switchbacks with dramatic elevation change... from 3800 ft to 10000 ft in about 14 miles... it was certainly one of the most scenic and fun trails I've ever ridden... the pics will speak for themselves...

    Starting the climb, Coyote Creek trail...
    In the distance, the Owen's Valley and Bishop with the White Mountains visible in the background...
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    Part of the trail are visible in this shot, further back (reddish soil) is the Volcanic Tabel Land north of Bishop and Casa Diablo mountain..
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    After countless switchbacks... a slight opening... elevation 9180 ft..
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    A quick rest by the side of the creek...
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    Coyote Creek cuts into the trail...I have pics of the crossing on my way back...
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    It was long, deep and full of gushing water.... but it was a blast to cross...
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    At mile 14, I came across this...
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    I was bummed, I kept looking for ways to loop this massive snow patch... I was able to find a way around it and then after another 300 yards... I came to this...
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    This was a massive wall of snow... the trail and the terrain was blocked... it was a no go! I could'nt make it to the lake, one of the interesting destinations at Coyote Flat!...
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    I strolled around enjoying the scenary and the very cool temps, 65 degrees... awesome climate....
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    I found many bike tracks, some were fresh, leading me to believe that Coyote Creek trail is a popular destination for locals and others... here are some in sync pictures of the creek crossing on the way back...
    The approach; 'preparing to dive in, captain'...
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    Getting ready, keeping the front light and on the gas...
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    Yeeehaaaa going in captain....
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    AAAyyyyeeeeehhaaayyyy....the water is cold captain..!!!...
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    Ahhhyyyyyeeeehhhaaaaa....periscope depth...permission to surface captain...
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    .... permission granted... thanks captain....yeeeeehhaaaaa....
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    The scenary was spectacular, truly stunning...
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    In the far distance, the zebra hills...where I just rode...
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    A peak into the valley below....
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    What an awesome place...
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    Almost done, a few more pics later.
    #10
  11. dwrads

    dwrads Right Wristed

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    Hey nice photos and text. I have ridden through out those areas. Coyote flats is one of my favorite places.

    Just a note about tortises, picking them up can literaly scare the piss out of them. This can lead to a loss of precious fluids and often they will die because of it. best to just leave them alone.
    #11
  12. wachs

    wachs just passin' through

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    spectacular shots and what a great area.
    #12
  13. ErrinV

    ErrinV D Boon!

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    Great pics as always LavaBull. How did you get those pics of the water crossing? I know it's a self timer, but how does it go off in succession?

    Errin
    #13
  14. LavaBull

    LavaBull Been here awhile

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    Wow!
    We had no idea! I hope the Tortoise is ok!
    That trail is often busy with ohv traffic and we thought some may not see the Tortoise and run it down.
    I'll keep your advise in mind if we see another on the trail and just leave it be! Thanks for the heads up!
    #14
  15. LavaBull

    LavaBull Been here awhile

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    Wachs & Errin, thanks for the compliments; as for the multiple shots, the Canon SD450 has a continuous shooting mode with the self-timer setting... kinda neat, and one of the reason I choose it to replace my older SD200.


    Here are the rest of pics from Coyote Creek and my Bishop trip.


    Looking eastward towards the Owen's Valley, Bishop and the White Mountains...
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    Some of the snow patches by peaks at 11~12000 ft...
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    Rugged slopes...
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    Terrific adventure, looking to go back and ride the whole loop once the snow melts! Can't wait...

    You can find Roll Charts, GPS routes (Garmin Mapsource files) and detailed describtion of Coyote Creek at the Sneakers MC website:
    Coyote Creek Trail

    That website also has the Black Canyon loop, which is gnarly and has many single tracks... here are some pics from my excursion into black canyon a few weeks ago:

    I was riding my two stroke, and it was ideal for the terrain because of its light weight:
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    The spring... yep I did dive in...and it was bone chilling cold!
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    Till the next one... :1drink
    #15
  16. canpile

    canpile Trail User

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    Awesome!! I can't wait to get up there this year!
    #16