What'cha Got? Palm Canyon!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by Faust29, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    A Newbs Perspective of the Desert

    Well... I asked in the forum the other day what everyone was doing this weekend, and I got some really great replies. I initially thought that I might head north to see Mikie and Berni in Kern County. That was going to be a loooong drive from South OC, but it would have been worth it. And, the Kern River Trail looks like one that needs to go on the "To Do" list. :thumbsup:

    Mtnbikej offered something a little closer which I had also never done... Palm Canyon! I have been reading ride reports and watching videos of this since I used to lurk on STR, and could barely ride 5 miles around O'Neill. I jumped at the chance... The group would include two friends of Jason's (Dave and Rich), who had done the ride quite a few times before and were both strong riders. They were on full suspension bikes with gears!

    A couple days before the ride, I was still debating whether to run the 27.5+ tires, the 29ers, or 29 rear and 27.5+ in the front. In the end, I decided that I would go plain 29er, with a brand new Ikon in the rear and the Mountain King up front. I was worried that the higher sidewalls would be a rock cutting magnet on the 27.5+ tires, and I'm faster on the 29ers. I didn't want to be the guy who held the group up. Other than tire choice, the only difference in equipment was the hydration pack. I haven't worn one in over a year... In the end, though, it didn't bother me at all, and it was nice to have 80 ounces of Tailwind, and a bottle... Next time, I'll fill it to 100 ounces and pack 2 bottles anyway... Just in case. I still had a few ounces of Tailwind at the end, but mtnbikej topped off my bottle at mile 22ish with ice cold water from his pack. :thumbsup:

    Mtnbikej's advice before the ride was pretty straightforward. Everything in the desert either wants to cut you or stab you. Good advice... And I followed it for the most part. A few scrapes on the arms and legs, and some cactus spikes in the hand were the only issues of the day.

    We started the ride at the Pinyon Flats campground. I expected it to be a lot colder, but the starting temp was about 60 degrees! Absolutely perfect, and no extra clothing required. It took about 200 yards to figure out why this is the Palm Canyon Epic. It's freaking amazing right off the bat! :D Maybe it's because it was my first real desert ride, but the scenery is amazing, the trails are amazing, and the little features seem to be everywhere... rocks, drops, rollers, switchbacks, short climbs, short descents, flowing single track, and you can't lose focus at any point.

    Tight switchback near the beginning of the ride:
    GOPR0839.jpg


    These guys don't play around
    IMG_0002.jpg

    The desert is anything but barren of scenery
    IMG_0004.jpg

    I can see why small groups of similarly matched riders are a plus out here. The four of us managed to stay pretty close throughout the day. Mtnbikej was at the front for the entire ride, but the other three changed positions here and there, depending on the type of terrain.

    Regroup at mile 10ish...
    IMG_0003.jpg

    IMG_0005.jpg

    At mile 14, we hit the dreaded Sand Wash of Death. The guys explained that there was the main "road" and a single track(ish) option to the right. Either way it was between 3-4 miles of sand and elevation gain. We all started off on the road, but Dave switched to the single track and I followed along. Jason kept getting smaller and smaller in the distance. I felt good at this point, so I had to chase the rabbit! Afterwards, the guys all agreed that the sand wash was the best that they had ever seen it... I'm ok with that, and don't feel cheated in any way. If the sand had been any softer, I wouldn't have managed the sprint to catch J before the top.


    Rock pile at the top of the Sand Wash of Death (mile 17ish)
    IMG_0010.jpg

    IMG_0011.jpg

    I knew we were climbing the whole time up the wash, but it doesn't seem steep, because you are more concerned with the sand. Looking down from the top is a "wow" moment.
    IMG_0013.jpg

    IMG_0014.jpg

    From the top of the wash to the "oasis" is a short 5 minute ride uphill. I expected palm trees, dancing girls and umbrella drinks. We found a few picnic tables and some old earth moving equipment... No shade, and the temp was hovering around 90 by this point. I can't imagine being out here in August.

    IMG_0017.jpg

    IMG_0018.jpg


    The oasis is the trailhead for a few different routes to finish the ride. The guys wanted to try the Art Smith Trail for the first time. I had watched YouTube videos of the trail. The uploader, however, failed to include the many HAB sections that were steep! The beginning of the trail starts off mild and is pretty fast and flowy. That changes.
    IMG_0022.jpg

    Art Smith has lots of this...
    IMG_0023.jpg

    I was able to hold my own for most of the day, but the last few miles of Art Smith are pretty technical. Steep, rocky, loose, and lots of exposure. Absolutely amazing scenery, and I'm glad I did it, but I would have to think twice about that one again. As bikers we talk about payout and reward. It seemed like we were constantly paying for most of the trail, and the rewards only lasted a few seconds...

    Back to the car and off to lunch for a well deserved burger... :thumbsup:


    The stats... I can't believe we only did 2600 feet of climbing. The Art Smith climbs felt like more than that.
    palm canyon.jpg
     
  2. Cougar

    Cougar Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Washington City, UT (near St. George)
    Name:
    Craig
    Current Bike:
    '14 Turner Burner
    I saw these hit Strava yesterday and was waiting for this report! Great pictures.
     
  3. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    You would love this one... It's not a downhiller's dream, as there is a lot of climbing (mostly short and quick), but the entire ride offers some level of "technical". You're either dodging cactus plants, trying to keep your sidewalls from getting sliced open, or avoiding the edge of the cliff. It was epic from beginning to end! :thumbsup:
     
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  4. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS
    Ok....I waited for @Faust29 to write up his RR. I always like to read 1st timers viewpoints of Palm Canyon. Plus I knew he took more pics than I did. ;)

    My take.....

    We do an annual trip to Palm Canyon. Usually we do it in late January, early February....around the time the temps are cool and recent rains. However, this year seems to be flying by much quicker, and we all had plans that booked up a lot of our weekends. Here we are the 1st weekend in April and the safe riding window out there was starting to close. So we went for it.

    I like to keep the group small for 2 reasons:
    1. So much easier to handle the shuttle....only 2 vehicles needed
    2. The group stays together and it takes so much less time

    So myself and 2 friends were in(Rich and Dave.....non IMTBT riders) a fourth rider couldn't make it. Saw Faust's post about wanting to do a big ride this weekend, so threw it out there. He bit and was in. Gave him some instructions about how to be prepared. :thumbsup: I warned him that I have seen this trail make strong riders turn into babies, and temper tantrums were not out of the possibility. :cry::mad::cry::gag:

    I have a lot of experience out in Palm Canyon and have done a couple of different routes out there.....but as the creature of habit that I am, we tend to do the same route...it's long, fun, and painful. However I have always wondered about Art Smith Trail. This would be the day we checked it out. 7.5 miles of the unknown. :eek:

    Saw that temps in Palm Desert were going to top out about 90* . Not horrible, but still toasty. Dropped a truck off at the AS Trailhead and enjoyed the much shorter shuttle up to Pinyon Pine Campground. We easily knocked 20 mins off our normal shuttle. :thumbsup: Temps were warm at Pinyon Pines and a breeze was blowing....no arm warmers were needed today. Geared up we headed off.

    The pace always starts off fast....I try not to push, but it always happens. It kinda just rolls and flows and makes it so easy to go fast. After the first gate crossing the lineup changed and Rich was out front....he ended up washing out the front tire in a powder puff soft turn...best place on the whole ride to crash....no harm, no foul. The first couple of miles seemed to be a bit more torn up than usual. More rock fall in the trail. Still fun, just a little more work. Before we knew it, we crossed into the creek bed where the upper trail meets up. The cactus was a bit more overgrown than I have seen in the past. All the brush and trees were cut worn back, but still overhanging enough to slice and dice.

    Few regroups here and there....but we did a good job of keeping us all together. The wildflowers were in bloom and we were treated to patches of color out in the desert. Palm Canyon is normally a pretty ride, escpecially for being in the desert. :Barefoot:

    We took the bypass around Indian Portrero...the sandy sections weren't that bad this time, but it did seem a little longer.

    Before we knew it, we reached the Dry Wash....er, the Sand Wash of Death. It was about 11:00 and normally hot, dry and exposed. Now it usually starts off pretty hard packed, lullying you into that false sense that it could actually be quite pleasant to ride that day. However today, the beginning was a little on the soft side. A few minutes up the wash, we wiggled onto the singletrack that snakes up the island in between the 2 sides of the wash. It was still a little soft and Rich and I got bogged down. We headed over to the left side of the wash, while Dave and Steve headed right. Left side of the wash wasn't too bad, but eventually I merged back onto the singletrack. I know how long it takes, so I generally just put my head down and pedal. The singletrack was packed down....alot. I kept waiting for it to turn to :poop: but to my surprise it never did. At one point I looked back and the other 3 seemed a ways back. A couple minutes later, I heard a bike behind me....I got chased down. Before we knew it, we had reached Dunn Road. A nice breeze had been blowing the whole way...it actually made the wash pleasant for once. Had there been no breeze, it would have been pretty miserable. It was in such great shape, I PR'd the wash by nearly 10 minutes. :eek:
    We were a few minutes ahead of the other 2.

    Looking back down the valley from the top of the Sand Wash
    IMG_1554.JPG




    When Dave showed up, he told Steve & I we were moving pretty quick.....Steve replied "chasing rabbits". Dave said "experience has taught me not to chase J" :laugh:

    Looking up Dunn Road toward Mike's Desert Oasis
    IMG_1555.JPG


    Short break up at the Oasis....Rich was suffering a bit by this point. To this point we had only seen 1 other person out there....a hiker just before the start of the Sand Wash.

    I was happy to take my pack off at this point....I really hate wearing it, and today it was no different.

    Your's truely :Barefoot:
    IMG_1556.JPG
    IMG_1557.JPG

    We headed onto Art Smith Trail. Now I looked at the Strava segment for the trail, knew there were a few uphill spikes and that there was about 1500' of ascent on the descent. o_O
    The trail started out promising, kinda narrow and flowing and smooth. Then we began to reach those 2 elevation spikes. Tight uphill switchbacks, lots of baby heads in the trail, and it was getting hot. My HR was out of control....eventually I found myself walking some of it. Fortunately the breeze would blow and once again made it comfortable. Rich kept fading farther back on the climbs, but kept going. There were some spots in the middle that were fun in between the crappy climbing.

    Art Smith doesn't look like the rest of Palm Canyon
    IMG_1558.JPG


    Up to this point, I wasn't sold on the trail. Just seemed like a whole lotta work for no payoff. Finally we reached the final 3 miles or so and things changed. We were finally getting that payoff. The trail turned tighter, steeper, through the rocks, over the steps, tight switchbacks....really fun. But it ended all too quick. We were back at the truck. Art Smith was a fun trail...but it seems as though it is one of those trails that goes uphill in both directions. :eek:o_O

    I'm glad we did it.....new dirt is always a bonus, but I think I will got back to my normal route next time.

    We made it through with zero mechanicals, no injuries and no tantrums. Successful ride if you ask me.:cool::thumbsup:

    Screenshot (242).png
    Screenshot (243).png
     
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  5. hill^billy

    hill^billy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Acton
    Name:
    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66
    This is a good day for ride reports. Keep em coming. :thumbsup:
     
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  6. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Location:
    Castaic
    Name:
    Tom
    Current Bike:
    Pick one, got a few
    Oh man I am oh so jealous. Great pics and great RR's guys. I've got to go do this.
     
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  7. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    Thanks for the TR! I was hoping to get back to PC before the heat but that is looking doubtful now.

    Art Smith is a pretty fun trail. Used to be more technical, which made it more worthwhile but it got sanitized 5-6 years ago. In the past when we knew we'd exit AS we would split off the sand wash 1/4 way up and climb Hahn. Thats actually a nice climb for the most part.

    Lately when we've ridden Art Smith we have climbed up it. You may have noticed a trail that splits off AS near the bottom - that is Hopalong Cassidy. It goes all the way down to near the 74/111 intersection. Well, down/up/down/up/down/up to that intersection. If you start at 74/111 take Hopalong to AS to Hahn to Wildhorse and Goats you've got an awesome ride of 25mi and +/- 6k with no long shuttle required, or flat 7mi to close the loop.
     
  8. hill^billy

    hill^billy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Acton
    Name:
    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66

    Thanks! This is the information I have been wanting! I've always known there HAD TO BE so much more to ride in this awesome desert area! I love this sport, the dirt just never ends and the quest is on going.:thumbsup:
     
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  9. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    I saw that trail, and wondered where it went, as I didn't see any signage!
     
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  10. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    Nothing special, and I didn't add any sound effects, so you can hear the sound of the tires, and the brake cables hitting the side of the GoPro housing... If you've never been out there, this is what it looks like. :thumbsup:

    Palm Canyon Epic lasts until the 4:44 mark, and Art Smith is everything after that...

     
  11. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS

    Very cool. :cool: :thumbsup:
     
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  12. bvader

    bvader Well-Known Member

    Location:
    HB
    Name:
    Stephen
    Nice job gents...
    J your looking a bit scraggly ... But of course that is post-wash. Looks like fun day!
     
  13. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Proud late-season plunder, guys. Way to rip it in some heat. In and out like a short di... disc is the way out there. Nice work.

    Nice vid action, Faust. 4:15 - love hitting that drop at speed. Makes ya forget about Indian Potrero for a sec. :)
     
  14. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS

    Considering you were on a HT with a 100mm fork....the video turned out pretty stable.

    Also sounds like you tagged your bar on the rock outcropping at :51. I have cracked my knuckle on it several times.
     
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  15. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    I had to go back and check the video... Yep, that't the one that claimed the end cap.
     
  16. Tom the Bomb

    Tom the Bomb Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Alta Loma, Ca.
    Name:
    Thomas Cosgrove
    Current Bike:
    Niner rip 9
    Saaaaaweeet! One of my fav's. You gotta be ready for AS. Butt kicker. Hoping for April showers so I can get one more ride out there. You guys were brave to hit that in 90 deg weather. I have gone through 150 oz. out there .
     
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  17. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS

    The breeze kept it really comfortable all day, save for about 1/2 hour on Art Smith. I'm a bit of a camel, I went through x2 24oz bottles and about 20oz in my pack.

    I've definitely been out there when it was much much warmer. :gag: :devilish: :eek:
     
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  18. riiz

    riiz Member

    Location:
    Redlands, CA
    Name:
    Eric
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Heckler/Killmaleon
    Great write ups, I've been once and took a different route, via Hahn to the Goat trails, much different end compared to that AS footage. This weekend will be great for the Palm Epic, the temps are dropping again.
     
  19. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    I was just thinking about the weather... this weekend my be the PERFECT time to get out to the desert!
     
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  20. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    Nice! Got to bag me some of that Art Smith! We have done most everything but! Great job guys!
     
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  21. ridinrox

    ridinrox Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Murrieta
    Name:
    Roxanne
    Current Bike:
    '16 Giant Trance Advance
    Good job Faust!! J introduced me to PCE too. Then it became my backyard for eight glorious months, although I would do out and back short versions being solo.

    Desert riding will always be my favorite kind of riding, maybe cuz I'm part lizard.
     
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  22. Luis

    Luis iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Sylmar
    Name:
    Luis
    Current Bike:
    Big Black 29er
    image.jpeg

    Speaking of desert lizards... I'm kinda partial to finishing through Art Smith even though it feels like a never ending series of climbs. I kinda think @ridinrox would think twice about that route. The only other way I've finished the ride is out through the super chunky Cindy Whitehead ST.
     
  23. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS

    I've done CW a few times....very fun trail, but seems like it makes the ride shorter than some of the other options out there.
     
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  24. ridinrox

    ridinrox Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Murrieta
    Name:
    Roxanne
    Current Bike:
    '16 Giant Trance Advance
    Ah-hem!!...who was cramping, crying and rolled up in a ball on AS where I had to pull out the Advil for?? Haha...ok ok, but you were cramping and I did pull out the Advil. I'm not a masher, never will be. I like to enjoy the scenery, know my limitations and stick to both. The Wash got me but it usually gets everybody; no surprise there. :thumbsup:
     
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  25. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    I liked the wash!








    But, the guys might have said something about it being the best that they'd ever seen it. :whistling:
     
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  26. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS
    I will agree......haven't experienced this "The Wash got me but it usually gets everybody; no surprise there".

    Plus this time it was over in 30 minutes....10 minutes quicker than usual.
     
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  27. ridinrox

    ridinrox Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Murrieta
    Name:
    Roxanne
    Current Bike:
    '16 Giant Trance Advance
    Key word: usually
     
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  28. levity

    levity Member

    Location:
    Irvine
    Name:
    Larry
    Current Bike:
    Stumpies (+/- e)
    Great photos and write-ups, guys!

    Faust - with a shuttle and all the downhill and sand it looks like it would be great with 27.5+ tires. Think you were better off with the "skinny" 29ers?
     
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  29. konakc

    konakc Well-Known Member

    Name:
    kc
    thanks for the great TR. Palm Canyon is a special place... just can't ever go there....too bad for me...
     
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  30. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    I was thinking about that during the ride... The plus tires would have been a nicer ride, certainly. My only real concern was the abundance of sharp rocks, and very large sidewalls. I don't have enough hours on the fat wheels, but it seems like they would be more susceptible to that type of issue. Maybe I'm being a little paranoid? Not sure...

    As it was, the 29ers were fine... I'm pretty conservative going down.
     
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