Exploring California - Journey of a Noob

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by KennyBooBear, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. black 8

    black 8 coddiwompling motographer

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    In and welcome to SoCal...
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  2. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Haven't had the Himalayan out in the dirt for a few weeks now.

    I missed last week's Hump Day ride up Red Mountain due to a lack of skills and my poor choice in choosing to wear brand new MX boots, and the week prior's ride to Margarita Peak as I was working late on some things in my company's data center.

    I've had the itch though and chose this morning as the day to head up Margarita Peak as all I had read indicated that it was a fairly tame ride - and it was.

    My better half made strawberry crepes for breakfast, and after a walk with the pup down in the Temecula Creek wash, I saddled up the Himalayan and headed toward Clinton Keith Road. Once there, you ride a few miles before turning onto Tenaja Road which takes you straight into Margarita Road, the latter of which is unpaved.

    On the way I passed the turn off for Tenaja Falls. At the end of my ride and on the way home I turned down this way, but realizing I was lowish on fuel and more importantly that I wanted to spend some time with the lady before it got too late, I decided I'd leave the falls for another day. Still, I'll start my photos there to give an idea of the local terrain.

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    Beyond there, Tenaja Road continues on for another mile and a half before turning into the unpaved Margarita Road. Within the first few hundred yards you find yourself beside a rather picturesque ranch and it's accompanying pond. A few ducks were on it, enjoying the nice morning temps.

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    A bit farther up and I found myself beside an even more picturesque ranch.

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    At this point I knew if I stopped every time I saw something cool, I'd be on this relatively short out and back trail all day - so I soldiered on.

    The road starts as an even, gently graded hard pack dirt road with some small, loose stones on top. The latter make you skirt around a bit, but it's otherwise not much different than being on pavement. I made short work of it but as I continued, the quality of the road slowly deteriorated.

    It climbs slowly and through numerous twists and turns (and a single road encompassing pond of murky water) the road slowly makes it's way toward Camp Pendleton. In the early stages I passed someone on a 990 Adventure coming down - and following a bit further behind was his friend on a new CRF250L Rally. Through various degrees of separation later, the 990 rider later found me on Facebook. Small world.

    After a few miles with a number of winding turns and after the track hard largely turned into a few inches of loose sand with random rocks thrown in between, I stopped to enjoy the views toward LA, San Bernardino and San Jacinto peaks. I was taking my time, but the track wasn't particularly difficult. The sandy bits definitely required standing up on the pegs in order to keep up a decent pace, but it was otherwise a simple yet satisfying ride.

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    After a minute or two, I saddled back up and continued on through a few more miles of windy, sandy tracks to reach the base of the top. Apparently it was recently closed off, so you can't ride all the way up top. If I was able to though, this would have hands down been the best part of the ride as the photos of the track up to where the lookout used to be will show.

    I took my time enjoying the views of the Pacific and back East after the hike to the top. If I had to guess, it's about a half mile each way, but a steep rocky trail in motorcycle boots instantly feels like 2-3x the trek it otherwise would have been.

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    At the top, a lone flag pole remains. The stone where the flag pole is mounted had a lone sticker pressed up against it. "Flying Monkey Adventure Riders."

    I'm clearly not the first of my kind to venture here.

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    That's all for now - though I should have more come Wednesday night as I intend (unless work gets in the way again) to get back out with the group for another Hump Day adventure.

    Cheers.
  3. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    So not exactly a trip, but last weekend I acquired a 2013 KLR 650. The PO bought it off a guy who had used it as a commuter, and then done an Eagle Mike 685 kit. When re-assembling everything, one of the final bolts was slightly cross-threaded and torqued down resulting in a cracked bottom end.

    It came with a second (and third if needed) bottom end, with less miles than the current engine.

    I began tearing into it all last night and more tonight to transplant the good top end over to the good bottom end I have.

    In the coming weeks, I aim to have a kick-ass KLR and will ultimately be selling the KTM.

    Much as I love the latter, it's just not for me. More about that later though, as this is about the KLR. Without any further adieu, here she is.

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    Not much to look at currently but it does fire up/run. She just spurts a bit of oil.

    With the help of a lost Lego man, I started work on pulling the engine.

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    Found a good way to save about 100lbs on a KLR.

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    More to come in the coming days and weeks as I get this thing rebuilt and kicking ass.
  4. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Well drat - missed another outing with the FMARs. Was stuck in the office in Carlsbad until 5:30 - having 1300 bluescreened computers will do that.

    On the plus though, I scored a pair of Forma Adventure Boots! Now I'll be ready to not go again next week :rofl
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  5. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Missed last Wednesday's ride with the Monkeys as I ended up in the office a good bit later than desired. Plus is I picked up a pair of Forma Adv boots from a gent on the board who had bought a pair for an event that didn't come in time. He ended up buying a second pair and had these new in box. Got a fair deal and decided I'd start trying to break them in today.

    Having missed out on the last ride, I decided to head East on 79 to Aguanga and take High Point Trail over to Warner Springs. Let me tell you, finding the beginning of the trail is a massive pain in the ass. Evidently it used to route through what is now an RV resort but numerous properties have since chained up gates that would otherwise lead right up to it. After spending about 30 minutes riding in circles and checking GPS as well as asking a local which way to go, I just about given up. I began riding back out when I noticed a path I had previously disregarded due to some No Trespassing signs. As it turns out, those signs indicated the land around the trail were private but the trail itself was right where I had ridden past. D'oh!

    I began riding up right around 11am despite having set off a full hour earlier - immediately the stress and annoyance of having ridden in numerous circles went away as I started to ascend Palomar Mountain. I'd consider the trail to be relatively easy, albeit slightly technical at times due to a lot of tight turns that have you going back and forth as you climb. In the first few miles you're often on a shelf, winding back and forth through numerous slightly sandy washes, a few rocks and occasional ruts. There's very little sand and what little exists is hardly enough to get you out of order.

    I passed a gent in those first few miles who had stopped to take a breather alongside the trail with his KLR. My first stop on the way up (admittedly because I had to take a leak) was a couple of miles after I had passed the KLR, and while taking in the sights and snapping off a few photos of the surrounding area I heard the distinct sound of a thumper come chugging up the mountain. As he rode by, I took a moment to take a few action shots of him - so if you happen to be someone on this board, you're welcome haha

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    Once I had gotten over the views back down into Temecula Valley, I hopped back onto the trusty Himalayan and began tractoring up the rest of the way.

    Toward the top and above 5000 foot, you approach a fork in the road - the right fork takes you to the top of Palomar Mountain - an area aptly named High Point. To go left takes you onto Palomar Divide Road down toward Warner Springs. I went right since I felt it would be a waste for me to have ridden all the way up there and not taken a few minutes to reach the top.

    And the views were so very worth it.

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    In one direction you look toward Temecula Valley and Mount San Jacinto. The other points you toward Pauma Valley and more visibly, the Observatories atop Palomar Mountain. Palomar Divide Trail continues in this direction down into Pauma Valley which I'll take next time I'm up here.

    After socializing for a few with a group of women out for a Mother's Day hike, I packed up and rode back down to the fork, and on towards Warner Springs. There's a spot along the way where the scenery very quickly transitions into what you'd expect in a desert. I jumped off the bike for a few to take a few more photos before continuing on. Lake Henshaw down near Warner Springs was clearly visible in the distance.

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    That last one should be a stock photo from RE - but I'm biased haha

    A few more miles and the track strangely changes into a paved-ish road. I said paved-ish as it seems like someone poured pavement for many miles directly over the trail; right over the rocks and everything. This makes things a bit sketchier since you go from being in a substrate your tires can bite into to suddenly being on a very hard surface, covered in lots of loose sand and gravel.

    This alone makes me recommend against going this way in the future. It's not that it makes the ride any more difficult, it's just frankly boring to be on. As stated previously, next time I'll just continue over the summit into Pauma Valley. It'll make the trip quite a bit shorter too.

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    Thankfully though, the area still delivered in the scenery department.

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    To be continued...
  6. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Down at the bottom the road empties out right onto 79 after changing for the last couple miles into a very nicely graded gravel road.

    I took 79 through Warner Springs and turned off briefly at Warner's Ranch just to check it out. I've passed it numerous times but never stopped. Obviously with the COVID thing it's not currently open to tours but it was still nice to take a look at and briefly read some of the history attached to it.

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    A few miles later and I finally (after having passed by it a half dozen or so times over the past couple months) stopped at Josie's Hideout Saloon. I grabbed a bottle of water to fill up my thermos and continued on though, as the better half had dinner on the stove.

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    One last stop on the way home in front of Henshaw Lake so as not to break tradition.

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    And near enough to 2 dozen more miles had me home.

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    Until next time - cheers y'all and happy Mother's Day.
  7. GonzoMD

    GonzoMD Adventurer

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    I could be wrong (cuz it’s been a while) but I don’t think you can go over the top and down. I assume you were talking about taking Palomar divide to the observatory and down Nate Harrison. I think you’ll run into gates and or private property before you can go all the way thru. Now if you go up Nate Harrison it’ll dump you into the state park parking lot and you can go out but being the state park is closed I don’t know how securely they have blocked the entrance. Please let us know what you find if you attempt it.
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  8. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Accurate about Nate Harrison. I'm not sure if it's closed somewhere at the bottom but coming in from the top of Palomar is blocked and patrolled currently (last time I was up there a few weeks back anyways.)

    I was thinking more along the lines of Palomar Divide all the way across and down, but I'll have to see. Part of an adventure is hitting gates and turning around to find another way out haha.

    Kinda like what happened this morning, except that it was just to find where the trail started so I rode in circles around a geriatric golf RV resort :rofl
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  9. Wierdrider

    Wierdrider Been here awhile

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    It sounds like you took Palomar Divide down? There’s another offshoot that might go down towards Sunshine Summit, but that might be gated also? Looked to be a great ride though. Nice photos :clap
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  10. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    I did, albeit in the direction of Warner Springs.

    Next time around I'll just take it in the direction of Pala. Even though it'll be a shorter ride, it'll have me off pavement for a longer stretch which I prefer.

    Edit: neglected to mention that yes, there's a branch that heads down toward Holcomb Village that originally I neglected to take as I thought it was a shorter route and would equate to less time on dirt. Ironically choosing not to go that way resulted in less time in the dirt due to the haphazardly paved section right after the split.

    I'll have to test that route at some point as well - if nothing else perhaps to go up from there and take Palomar Divide all the way across the mountain into Pala.

    On that note: I'm thinking Moto Camping sounds really good this coming weekend, but Anza-Borrego and Ocotillo Wells are still closed :(
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  11. GonzoMD

    GonzoMD Adventurer

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    I don’t think Nate Harrison has any gates till the state park at the top as there’s a lot of properties that use it for access. I think you can’t take Palomar divide even to the observatory. Satellite shows it going all the way thru but I no think so. The end thru pala is called Gomez trail but it is reservation land so if you do make it that far I wouldn’t linger as it’s definitely not legal. You should check the trail that goes from sunshine summit (Holcomb village) but as of last year part is washed out and definitely not vehicle friendly. That said I’m sure Himalayan could get thru there depending on how much your off-road skills have progressed.
    Disclaimer: I am in no way discouraging any of these routes and I truly hope you check em out and document. I currently only have time for rides I can plan total elapsed time so I’m stoked to watch this thread for current trail conditions. Thanks in advance for helping out a guy with small children and a half-understanding wife!
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  12. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Will most definitely keep that in mind!

    One thing I'll say about me as a rider - I do not cross locked gates, but passable gates I'm fine with but always ensure they're closed behind me. I'm also a big advocate for not venturing off trail etc. despite sometimes seeing things that are extremely tempting (namely the now blocked section to the top of Margarita Peak).

    In dry conditions I'm confident I can get the Himalayan just about anywhere at this point, as I've had it through some genuinely nasty places. In the mud, that's a slightly different story lol

    The Tusk DSports are a much better off road tire than even the Mitas E07s though, but that should come as no surprise as I'm sure they'll last half as long or less and they're inherently worse on pavement - but they definitely help a lot when the going get's tough.

    I was doing much harder trails in NorCal on a crap front MT60 and the Mitas E07 out back and did just fine, so i'm sure I'd be able to make short work of whatever is washed out unless it's massively off camber and in essence, impassable.

    Will definitely post up to let you all know the status once I make the trip (perhaps this coming weekend?)
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  13. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am. Supporter

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    Fantastic & very informative thread KBB!

    As I desperately scratch & claw my way up to below average intelligence, could you map or screen shot a pic of this route. I try to map on Gmaps, but total confusion sets in. I don't do GPS, just old style maps. Anything would help.

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to document & share!

    Hope you continue to search out the 'new' sites that SoCal has to offer!
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  14. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Sam - the route I took starts in Aguanga. Google says you should enter through Rancho RV Resort but that is actually incorrect. All of the access points through there are blocked off and chained up. The first image - point A is actually where it starts and you can see a bit further up it's strangely partly mapped as camero dr. The trail head runs right through that wash but it's unmapped on Google. Once you get there it's fairly obvious - I just kinda neglected to give it the necessary attention.

    After that I just headed up to the peak and back down/out toward Warner Springs.

    Alternately it appears you can go out through the Palomar Divide trail and ultimately exit through the Gomez trail but I'll need to check that out and see if it's a possibility.

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    Cheers.
  15. Wierdrider

    Wierdrider Been here awhile

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    My experience is there is a gate blocking the ability to go that last route, but it’s a good place to post a photo of " your bike at a dead end ":muutt
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  16. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Damn! Yea I was afraid of that - if nothing else I'll just go up Nate Harrison and play dumb to the ranger at the top who, if I use my gift of gab, will likely allow me to exit through the front so I can then access Palomar Divide to head back over High Point and down...

    That's the theory anyways haha

    Thanks for the heads up!
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  17. Wierdrider

    Wierdrider Been here awhile

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    Good luck, let us know what the secret pass word is!
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  18. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am. Supporter

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    Great info KBB!

    I do know exactly where that is, I see it now. After I posted that @eaglescan(steve)pm'd me with some info on the area also.

    Thanks again KBB for the terrific posts'. A tip of the hat to @Wierdrider also.

    :beer
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  19. Wierdrider

    Wierdrider Been here awhile

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    We should all get together for a ride sometime:beer:beer
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  20. black 8

    black 8 coddiwompling motographer

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    Jim,

    You probably have ridden this route before hanging out at Agua Caliente...

    The only problem is the gate at the Banner Grade side, it might be locked...

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    Attached Files:

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