Panoche/Tumey Hills - before April 15th

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by meat popsicle, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. wrk2surf

    wrk2surf on the gas or brakes

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    Any photos of New Idra ? I hear most buildings are torn or burned down..
  2. dman

    dman Been here awhile

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    I rode just past the last houses and then turned around. I was on my VStrom and alone, and I'm not as skilled or as strong as I was 25 years ago when I rode my BMW K100 way into the hills there - two-up, so I played it safe especially as it was about 95 degrees and I was in black leathers. But the buildings are in pretty sad shape and many are fenced off; it looks very different than the last time i was there in '88 or '89. There's a sign at the north end stating that trespassing, loitering and even stopping are prohibited but I didn't see any signs of the old caretaker's home or belongings. It's pretty dead.

    -dman
  3. goldentaco

    goldentaco Been here awhile

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    Someone has recently set up residence at the North end of town a few years ago. The rest hasn't changed in a few years. There has been some remediation of the leech pond near the old processing plant but no new buildings.

    The road up and through Clear Creek is passable by any DS/Adv bike. It's easier to ride West to East. The trickiest part is a steep rutted section before you approach New Idria from the West. SO going up that is a little challenge.


    J
  4. meat popsicle

    meat popsicle Ignostic

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    Yeah, I've seen those signs, and asked the BLM, who states its in their approved use plan. But they haven't a leg to stand on, excluding some street legal vehicles but not others. Besides, last I heard they had one law enforcement person to cover the entire region - Bakersfield to the Pacific Ocean, millions of acres - he only has time for real problems.

    Damn it if they want to protect the resources then don't use sheep for grazing! Last time I was out there the county fire marshal was doing a tour (Tumey) and said there was so little "fuel" (plants) that a wildfire was impossible. To me that says overgrazing.

    New Idria note: the Mayor had moved away years ago, and last I saw it there was a superfund cleanup ongoing (the creek drainage is probably not KTM Orange any longer). Its a neat old ghost town, which I hope doesn't get burned down by some yahoos. But my biggest fear with the Panoche Valley is I hear they want to fill it with solar panels.
  5. dman

    dman Been here awhile

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    The creek seemed to be running clear or green, not the colors I remember from 25 years ago. But there wasn't much water ....

    As for Panoche Valley, I saw a few hand-written signs proclaiming that Ag land is for farming and ranching, not solar. Frankly, whether sheep or cattle, a lot of the region looks over-grazed to my uneducated eyes. Very little grass in the fenced areas ... and lots of worn cattle trails across the hills. At this time of year I would have expected more grass/weeds/shrubs even if already brown. Not really pretty in any conventional sense, and definitely not as natural looking as the Carrizo Plain, but still deeply satisfying that there's such open space so close to Silicon Valley and I-5.

    -dman
  6. meat popsicle

    meat popsicle Ignostic

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    Definitely a dry spring, which in that arid area means less plants. I read much of the Diablo Mountains were "barrens" in summers, like the San Joaquin Valley. There'a great history book called "California's Fading Wildflowers" by Minnich (UC Riverside). He went back and re-translated the Spanish explorer and other accounts from the mission period.

    Fascinating to read, from the LA Times "flower reports" (folks used to spend their weekend days in the hills picnicking with the wildflowers before it was all developed) to the explorers not finding any natives in the Livermore valley (must have been too arid).

    I dig these types of recent history books, like Cadillac Desert (at least the first part).
  7. slugdad

    slugdad Been here awhile

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  8. meat popsicle

    meat popsicle Ignostic

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  9. jwb

    jwb Local minimum

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    Went through this area today. As far as I can tell, there's neither legal nor physical obstacles to passing through it. Saw other D/S riders up there having fun. WTF I don't understand is where the water is coming from in that improved water crossing on east Panoche Rd. Totally bizarre.
  10. woodsxr

    woodsxr Been here awhile

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    Funny, I saw this and thought it would be a fun ride until I noticed I was 3 years too late.
    Maybe something will become of this:evil
  11. pcvance

    pcvance Walk Verplank

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    Why not do it again this year?:ear

    Clear creek is cool also...
  12. meat popsicle

    meat popsicle Ignostic

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    Staying at Mercey Hot Springs (camp, RV, cabin), and riding the roads in Panoche Valley to the various BLM sites (Panoche & Tumey Hills, Clear Creek) and exploring their open roads is a great weekend.
  13. woodsxr

    woodsxr Been here awhile

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    Sounds good to me
  14. pcvance

    pcvance Walk Verplank

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    Ok, are you instigating a ride?:ear

    Dates? Meat, you in?
  15. scottmac

    scottmac Long timer

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    A group of us have done that a few years back. Set up camp
    at Mercy Hot Springs, rode down to CC and had a blast then
    back up to camp, swim in the pool and soak. Beers at the Panoche
    Inn.

    A pretty darn sweet base camp.
  16. nomad guy

    nomad guy A legal alien

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    The impact of the drought on the area is scary. Most of Panoche Valley looks like part Mars. One large dust bowl. Still, a nice easy ride up the hills.
    To anyone going, please remember everywhere is at high risk of fire.
  17. scottmac

    scottmac Long timer

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    Spring is the only time of the year that place comes to life. And
    we're heading into a crappy spring.
  18. meat popsicle

    meat popsicle Ignostic

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    A few years back while riding through Tumey Hills I came across the fire marshal doing a survey. He said there was no fuel for a fire and I doubt the BLM's grazing policy has changed so I'm guessing the fire risks will be preter-low, especially now that its started raining.

    The last trip we did to Mercey was the year the Quicksilver Enduro was cancelled because Clear Creek was full of snow (it snowed on the beach in Monterrey that year!). COLD trip... I'd rather not repeat that one and wait a bit.

    BLM closes the roads from mid-April to mid-October:
    http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/hollister/recreation/tumey.html
  19. Mikengrace

    Mikengrace Have KLR Go Anywhere

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    Some one set up this Clear Creek ride. I will be there. I know the area fairly well. The ride from New Idria to Coalinga Road thru Clear Creek is easily doable. Plenty of riding off that road. But I'm not sure of the technical legality of it all. I agree that people are using it all the time and there is virtually no patrolling of the area. If it is DS riding you want, there are great roads in and out. New Idria Rd. from Panoche Rd. is narrow and twisted, but paved. Clear Creek Rd. is all dirt, usually hard and dusty. It is wide and rutted with hundreds of paths going off forever in every direction. Coalinga Rd is a good road with nice views and fun to ride. This would be a good place for those wishing to head home to turn left towards Coalinga and HWY 5. If you chose to ride more going right takes you to the old Hernandez road which goes thru some great back country and drops out on HWY 25, not to far below the Pinnicles National Park. This would be a great side track if not pushed for time. You are then about 30 miles below Hollister. Stop at Johnnies Bar and Grill, for good food and a beer. A good days loop over all. Or there is much to see and ride if doing a weekender. So, some one set it up and let's ride. I would do it but, I live in Hollister and most of you are coming from the HWY 5 side. Don't know where it is best for you to meet up. Best for you to pick the spot and date. And I can't make promises because of my health. But, this is perfect for me if it happens. Please include me in any PM about it.
    MikeC.
  20. pcvance

    pcvance Walk Verplank

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    Ok, twist my arm Mike.

    I like the idea of staying at Mercy Hot Springs and making it a two day ride.
    We can stage from MHS and ride a different loop each day. Mike, since you know the area well, you can layout the tracks, I'll be on my 525 so Clear Creek is a must. Dates and reservations to be determined...
    Sometime in March or April is good, eh?
    We will need to check with the resort to see what's available.

    WHO'S IN?:deal
    Perry