Maybe the Lost Hills Trail Should Stay Lost

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by Yardstick, May 25, 2011.

  1. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    It was supposed to be a leisurely Tuesday trail ride. It was anything but. The trail name must be a play on words. It's not the Lost Hills Trail. It's the Lost... Hills Trail. And maybe that's the way it should stay.

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    #1
  2. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Disclaimer: I had no idea what I was getting us into. I knew there was a trail to the east side of Bartlett Lake. It is visible on Google Earth. I didn't know it was the hardest route possible -excepting a straight line belly crawl through the cactus, rocks and "hills".

    This was a leisurely trail ride the way a swim with the Polar Bear Club is a brisk dip. The way a massage at an Arisan Bath in Kazakhstan is a relaxing rubdown. This is the kind of trail you might enjoy if you count the breaks you take in dabs. It takes a special kind of sick, twisted individual to enjoy this trail.

    And first you have to get there. :evil


    Jrproper joined me for what I expressed to be, 'a nice, Tuesday singletrack ride to check out this new trail I found.' See how unsuspecting he is here:
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    We crossed Sycamore Creek with little drama to get on the first section of singletrack of the day.
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    I was having too much fun to bust out the camera on the singletrack -which is enough to get your attention, but not too scary for most. At the other end we dropped into one of many sand wash transport sections.
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    Another short section of singletrack leads us to the sweatercactus.
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    And more wide trail.
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    Followed by more wide trail transport section.
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    #2
  3. jub jub

    jub jub frumiousbandersnatch

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    Life can be a real bitch sometimes! :rofl
    #3
  4. Spartandude

    Spartandude Been here awhile

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    Cool, that looks fun.:clap.....so far.
    #4
  5. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    More sections of singletrack, like this:
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    And more transport sections, like this:
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    Stopped for a quick break at the bottom of a hill we spot the vultures circling already.
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    Do they know something we don't?
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    #5
  6. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    This area has tons of singletrack linked together with sand washes. Sometimes the two ideas get combined and peppered with rocks to form a special kind of challenge.

    <object width="640" height="390"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/2yB-yONfzSs?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/2yB-yONfzSs?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="390" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

    <object width="640" height="390"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/3zMuVCgDooA?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/3zMuVCgDooA?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="390" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

    Several hills in the area have short run-ups to steep climbs. This isn't one of them, but it does intimidate a lot of people for some reason. :dunno
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    I ride a lot of the singletrack to this point on my own. It's not the easiest stuff around, but it's doable and not terribly intimidating or dangerous for someone familiar with riding moderately technical singletrack. It does not prepare you for what is beyond this point.
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    #6
  7. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    The Lost Hills Trail starts off by lulling you into a false sense of security. Come on in... I'm a nice trail... No challenge at all!
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    The first little drop-off followed by a hard left down a steep hill turned me around when I was on my own checking this trail out for the first time. It probably wouldn't be that bad to get back up, but being on my own I didn't want to risk it on an unknown trail. Jrproper comments, "we might have to come back up this?"
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    Maybe. I am trying to recover from having tendonitis in my left arm (wearing a strap to ride) and haven't ridden anything really hard in a while. I didn't want to get into anything *TOO* difficult.
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    The trail keeps going. So far so good. And it looks well traveled. The lure to continue is strong.
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    Until this point... There is no way to describe how steep this looks in person. "Hills" or mountains really, all around skew your perception so you lose any horizontal reference. You know it's "down" because gravity is pulling hard against the firmly applied brakes. The foot-deep rut on the left promises to suck you in and it looks like an ankle/knee/leg breaker if you get out of shape and need to put a foot down. The Cholla at the bottom on the right would turn you into a human pin cushion if you screw up in its general direction. Jrproper asks if I want him to go first. Yes please! At the edge he understands my hesitation.
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    #7
  8. BackRoadNomad

    BackRoadNomad Wandering around

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    Enjoying your RR so far; your pics and videos are fun to watch and look at.

    ThunderDog
    #8
  9. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

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    :huh

    Hmm, my guess is, most are intimidated by that big spikey cactus. When I fell on the Carrizo Plain, there were nice soft bushes and nice soft sand, not big spikey cacti that looked like they were raising a hand to swat me.
    :huh

    Other than that, this looks fun.
    #9
  10. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    I hang back and watch Jrproper descend the hill while still thinking "it's not so bad going back from here..."
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    Zoomed in a bit to catch the action.
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    So far it doesn't look too bad. But pay attention to the hill in front of him.
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    The one he just ascended here.
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    Now the progress slows a bit.
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    And the outriggers are deployed.
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    #10
  11. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    More zoom.
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    Still moving!
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    But this hill requires a lot more momentum.
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    Later he would comment that we have been stopped for three hours according to the GPS. This is what "stopped" time looks like on this trail.
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    #11
  12. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Remember that hill I said to pay attention to? Here's what it looks like from the rider's perspective:
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    I started to weigh the options. In the background is 'the intimidator' that I just came down.
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    Further up the hill, jrproper is considering options too. Drawing straight lines to our options with the GPS, we were 1.0 miles from where we started the trail and 3.8 miles to what we assumed would be an established road or trail out of here. At least it showed up in the topo. :evil
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    For some reason we decided to continue forward. The camera got put away and a lot of energy was consumed to get us here:
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    #12
  13. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Here is what the trail in the distance of the last picture looks like up close. I'm convinced the trail designers looked at the hills and thought, "what's the steepest gradient we can find?"
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    Finally in a short section where I could just touch second gear I zipped past this almost perfectly formed bonsai tree at the edge of the trail.
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    The trail is back to its tricks of building up our confidence.
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    Only to take it away in an instant.
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    #13
  14. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Finally we reach a summit where we catch our first sight of Bartlett Lake!
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    But it is way down there. We have some serious elevation to lose.
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    I offer to video jrproper and then pan down to the lake. The pressures of video...
    <object width="640" height="390"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/5uTw35LPMd4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/5uTw35LPMd4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="390" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>


    Restarted, I get what I'm after. It is a long way down.
    <object width="640" height="390"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/7zFZN3EQEuc?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/7zFZN3EQEuc?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="390" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>
    #14
  15. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    The spot jrproper stopped in the video is where we got the first indication of a trail name. Are these the Lost Hills? Or is it the Hill Trail that is Lost? There's little doubt that it would be easy to get lost out here.
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    It's all downhill from here.
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    Down Hill! As in, start squeezing your seat with your cheeks!
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    #15
  16. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Once down the steepest sections we find where someone spent some time on the trail. What's a more ominous sign? The vultures? The search and rescue helicopter we saw flying over? Or that someone had to build a campfire on the trail?
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    And the trail doesn't even look that bad in this spot.
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    Further on I take a quick break to snap a picture of yet another oddly formed chunk of granite out here.
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    The trail is still challenging, but back to something I would call fun!
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    And then I come around a corner and give the classic quizzical dog look with fully tilted head. :huh WTF is with this trail?
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    #16
  17. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Here is the nickel tour of the Lost Hills Trail. We got to this spot:
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    Then we dropped down to here-ish.
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    And finally, we end up here.
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    More riding, some even in second gear with my 14:48, 100mph gearing, lead us to an old, abandoned cattle pen and dry tanks.
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    The road in the background of the last pic shows up as a dashed line on my GPS going toward a crossing south of the Bartlett Dam. It is tempting, but if we cross the river (if we CAN cross the river), it is a long ride back to where we parked. The trail we were on didn't look so bad, so we kept going. Will we ever learn?
    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    The trail from the old cattle pen and tanks started off as a wash and quickly turned into this:
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    Out of the bushes and into another small wash. The trail crisscrossed little washes countless times.
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    I stopped in the wrong position to really show what's going on here. Jrproper just climbed up a short hill and to his left is about a six foot straight drop off into the wash below. You don't want to make a mistake here.
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    Another drop into the wash and back out to climb up a hill where I needed more momentum than I could generate. I got stuck on the rock/ledge, as it seems many people do, and had to repeat a sequence of rolling back slightly then pushing while applying power to the rear wheel, gaining inches of ground with each effort.
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    Four feet of hard, level ground at the top of the hill and then we drop down into another wash.
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    #18
  19. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    My bike had been cranking slower with each restart all day. Finally at the bottom of the last hill it failed to start at all with the button. The Trail Tech high output stator couldn't keep up with the constant restarts, fan running and failing battery. Kicking the 530 for the first time had me wondering if somehow they slipped a 2008 cam with the backward decompression system into the 2010 model I got. It was hard to kick! The technique for an RFS motor (and most four strokes) is to use the decompression lever to move the motor just beyond TDC, then kick like you mean it. The new bikes didn't get a decompression lever. And this bike makes a lot of pressure at TDC.

    Finally restarted I tried hard not to kill it through stuff like this.
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    The trail and wash are now joined and we can pick and choose our lines. I chose wrong. Jrproper chose right.
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    My line would have been worse!
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    See the bit of orange hiding in the bushes to the right? No reverse. Deep sand. It was work to get lined up right. And then I had to kick...
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    #19
  20. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Eventually the trail dumped out in a random spot on a service road. We contemplated going straight back to the highway and back to the parking area, but we came this far. We needed to get to Bartlett!
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    This is either people making really bad decisions and there are quads and trucks under that water, or this place sees other off road traffic when the water is low.
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    Pinhole effect:
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    The marina on the other side of the lake.
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    And the more modern view.
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    #20