Bikepacking overnighter Siberia Creek

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by CarlS, Jul 20, 2016.



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  1. CarlS

    CarlS Member

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    Name:
    Carl
    Current Bike:
    Walmart $50 special
    I'm going to start this tread with a disclaimer: This route is NOT recommended! Especially in the warm summer months. The trail is crumbling off the mountain in places where a fall could cause serious injury or death in a very remote and isolated area that sees little use. Do not go alone. The climb up camp creek trail is incredibly steep and rugged and very difficult to drag a loaded bike up. Not only that but it is south facing and gets incredibly hot early in the day. So in other words if you want to try it, ride at your own risk!

    This trip happened because I have been trying to plan a ride around Big Bear lake. Was hoping that maybe Siberia creek camp could be used to link the north and south sides together. I had heard stories, found a little on the internet, but found nothing about anyone riding it. So I talked a friend (hopefully still my friend) into going with me. I tried to explain that it could be quite horrible, but he agreed to go anyhow. So here is the report: the trail is there. It is hard to flow in a few places but no problem if you have a GPS route. We found out that the Kodiak runners have been doing this route, so we downloaded a gpx file and we definitely needed it at one point, more on that later. here are the day one and two screen shots.

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    On the drive up we made a water stash off HWY 18 where camp creek comes out and then parked a car in Fawnskin. Parked the other car off the road near Aspen Glen and the started on our adventure. We cruised up Pineknot to Skyine to Champion Lodgepole Pine and then started our descent into siberia creek. The meadows and flowers at Champion were lush and beautiful. The beginning of Sibera past the gunsights was not too bad and rideable in most sections. Several trees down but we expected that.

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    SO... here is that deal: if you see a chain laying in the middle of the trail in a remote area. DO NOT TOUCH IT!!! A very BAD omen. I was cursed. About an hour after touching the witches chain, I lost my derailleur in a field of branches and punji sticks. And the worst part was that this section must have been someones unfinished trail work for the trail runners. They should have marked this section off with a branch, but instead it looked like the correct way to go and we would have been lost without our GPS track. I actually just removed my chain at this point because I no longer needed to pedal. When not bushwacking, we were basically doing the one leg scooter push with the uphill leg as we tried our best not to fall off the mountain as the trail crumbled out from under us. This continued for miles of switchbacks with so many numerous down trees, I lost count. Maybe 20-30? The trail was over grown in some places but no so bad that you couldn't find it.

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    SO did I mention the BUGS??? yeah... lots of bugs. ...lots of bugs. So just when I thought I was going to choke on gnats and loose my mind clambering over another tree just so I could do the one leg scooter another 100 yards before the next one... we finally found ourselves at camp. Camp was awesome. I mean really, really awesome. If it wasn't for the bugs it would have been like heaven. We had the place to ourselves. There are fish in the creek. big enough to eat if you caught one. The creek is ice cold spring water and it numbed my bloody legs as I bathed in it. My buddy, Dan packed in steak tacos. Yes, real steak tacos and a frying pan to cook them on. Dan is awesome. We had whiskey. I forgot all about the broken derailleur and HAB hell we had. Eventually, I slid into my hammock and light down bag and slept incredibly well as the temps fell into the 50's as the bugs went away. It seemed well worth the work getting there, but it was all downhill going in of course. DAY TWO report coming next... the climb back out...

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  2. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Location:
    Castaic
    Name:
    Tom Kokkinakis
    Current Bike:
    Mango one, blue one, black one
    Wow @CarlS what an awesome report. You got my full attention with the disclaimers in the first paragraph. I need to do something like this.
     
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  3. CarlS

    CarlS Member

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    Name:
    Carl
    Current Bike:
    Walmart $50 special
    DAY TWO: the climb back out...

    We got up fresh and early, had coffee and Dan cooked breakfast burritos. Did I mention Dan is awesome? We packed camp, but may have taken a little too long to get going. By 9:00am the temps were starting to climb into the 80s as the hillside is south facing and gets full sun. We crossed Bear Creek which has a much bigger flow and larger swimming holes. However the water here is not as clear and cool as in Siberia. Large fish also seen here and if I ever do somehow forget the pain and do a repeat, I will be sure to bring a line n bait. Immediately after crossing bear creek the trail goes straight up switchbacks. Now you should look back up at that elevation profile on the top of this page, a 1000 feet a mile. The trail is just overgrown enough to be a real pain when trying to HAB that. I removed my bar ends, they just hook onto branches and make it even worse. Sweat filled my eyes and the bugs were back in full force. Can't think of anything more miserable than trying to push a 50+ lbs bike up crumbling switchbacks in these conditions only to have the front tire blocked by rocks that you cant see through the grass and bushes and any forward momentum stops and you almost go backwards.

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    Just as I was having bad thoughts about having to ditch the bikes and just hike up without them to the water stash before we collapsed from heat exhaustion, it got a little better. And then we actually saw some hikers coming down, so we were feeling a little more positive that we could make it. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. My legs became just bloody with scratches. Just miserable really. We pushed on and on, not knowing if it was ever going to get better and then finally... we crested to the ridge and found our water stash which we used completely. An extra 6 liters of water. We would have been doomed without it. This climb was just BRUTAL. If you read all this and choose to still try this route yourself, I would recommend May or June after most of the snow melts. Temps for Big Bear were forcasted to be a high of 82. However, this valley gets much, much hotter.

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    Oh, and those are Deet wipes that
    Dan is sporting for headdress feathers by the way. They sort of helped. Here is the single speed setup that almost got me to the top of 2N13 behind butler peak. almost.

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    We crossed the highway and said hello to the guys at Rim Nordic who thought we were crazy. Then climbed up a few trails linking Rim Nordic to Green Valley area. and dang, I really need to get back to rim nordic and check it out. The single track trails we saw looked really good. Just may have to try a race there someday. Unfortunately we were climbing these trails and ended up doing more HAB... Dan wasn't smiling anymore.

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    After some more bushwacking we found our way to Green Valley Campground and then up 2N13. I was glad to have open fire road and be able to spin the pedals finally. I believe that last over those last 10 miles, about 75-80% was HAB. Some false summits left us quite demoralized as we climbed and then went back down loosing our elevation as 2N13 rolled across the backside of butler peak. This side of the mountain had some nice views to the west including Arrowhead lake.

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    At one point I pulled off to look at a campsite and Dan passed me. He didn't hear me yell and he pedaled off into the distance. I jumped back on and chased after him and this is where disaster stuck. He thought I was in front of him and he was trying to catch me. I tried to hammer and catch up to him and then BANG...

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    At this point a little more HAB didn't really phase me anymore. I couldn't be that far from the summit. HOWEVER, my garmin was almost dead and Dan had the route. I got really lucky and was able to nurse the battery along enough to find my way through some key intersections. Finally got reunited with Dan and made it to the car. We had the best tasting cold beer ever and a fantastic meal at the North Shore Cafe in fawnskin. This place is really worth a visit if you are passing through fawnskin. sorry no foodie pics.

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  4. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    Unholy! I appreciate your passion for adventure and enthusiasm. Way to get out there :thumbsup:

    I also think you are crazy...for not reconning this stuff without a load to see if it's worth packing on.

    TFPU!
     
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  5. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    You could have asked me! I did a big loop using part of that route a couple years ago. But I started at the top of Camp Creek and went down, and followed it all the way down to the end near bottom of Clark's grade, up that, down Castle Creek Tr, around to Fawnskin, up Coxey Rd, and then back around to Rim Nordic via fire roads. My maps showed a road that *nearly* connected to a Rim nordic singletrack and I figured I'd have to bushwack a few hundred feet. Turned out an ultra running route had gone through that same spot and made the same connection so I followed their ribbons. Which was good, because it was pitch dark by then and I only had a camping headlamp. I did this ride in October so temps and bugs were not a problem.

    Nice job on a tough route, and overcoming some adversity!

    Camp Creek was ok going down, mostly rideable to the creek at the bottom. Then it was on again off again, with lots of downed trees and some sketchy landslide areas to cross. I had heard the Big Bear Valley Trails Alliance was going to work on Siberia Creek last summer. Never heard about any trail days though.
     
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  6. Cougar

    Cougar Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Washington City, UT (near St. George)
    Name:
    Craig
    Current Bike:
    '14 Turner Burner
    Wow, that sounds like an adventure to remember for YEARS to come.

    An adventure I might not want to have myself mind you, nor may you want to do again, but damn - great write up and pictures, thanks for sharing!
     
    Mikie likes this.
  7. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    Wowtch! I could see a day of that since I do a lot of wilderness adventure myself, but going to sleep and waking back up to it???? Hmmmmmmm.... Uh, no.
    That was quite an adventure @CarlS !
    You and Dan are Manly Men!
    Thanks for the "Dreadamentory!"
     
  8. Marty657

    Marty657 Member

    Location:
    Upland
    Name:
    Marty
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz TB2C
    Wow . killer adventure and report, way to go. You guys are nuts though! One thing I have not figured out is how do you recharge your GPS on multi day rides with no electricity?
     
  9. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    Some people bring a portable USB charger that can recharge something like a GPS or phone several times. I've heard mixed success using those with GPS units because you generally need to leave them overnight to charge, and sometimes they also drain the battery if not turned off when done.

    I use a Garmin Oregon that takes AA's, so I just bring extra batteries and change out as needed. Works well for up to 3-4 day trips.

    Some riders who do longer trips use a hub dynamo, which generates a charge as the wheel spins. You can run lights and charge electronics off this system. Requires special hub and wheel build. Not sure if this will work with GPS units that run on AA's.

    Or, just navigate off maps. It's an important skill because GPS can die or malfunction and if you don't have paper maps as a backup you can be SOL. I normally carry them, and use the GPS just to confirm where I am.
     
    Marty657 likes this.
  10. CarlS

    CarlS Member

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    Name:
    Carl
    Current Bike:
    Walmart $50 special
    I have had good luck with those USB recharge units only this time I brought the wrong cable for it by accident so it didn't do me any good. I also have a folding solar panel that works well for charging but it is a little bulky. I have seen people strap them on their camel back or backback.

    the backup recharger I got was less than $20 and is the size of a lipstick canister. It will completely charge my garmin and my phone both on one charge... if I rememebr to bring the correct cables anyhow!
     
    Marty657 likes this.
  11. Marty657

    Marty657 Member

    Location:
    Upland
    Name:
    Marty
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz TB2C
    Thank you Carl and evdog
     
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