After a stressful busy season at work, I set out to try an end 2015 on a solid note.
The first stop was in Joshua Tree for a quick overnight stay. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, and I was camping with someone who hadn’t really camped before. We immediately set out for a quick hike before the sun went down, and the setting was surreal! It was almost like a movie set. I would like to spend a few more days exploring the trails this year.
The sun quickly set and we had a few hours of calm to take in the night sky. It was the clearest I’ve ever seen it. The milky way was fully visible! Then out of nowhere the wind picked up and the temperature plummeted. The tent cover un-staked at like, 2am. I could barely keep my eyes open because of the dust being pushed through the camp site. Long story short, we pretty much held onto each other for dear life until the sun rose and woke covered in dust anyway. Still. ZERO complaints.
If you ever go, bring extra layers. ha
STOP 2: The Sequoia National Forest
So to start, I had no idea what to expect coming into this trip. It was really poorly planned, but damn. It will forever bee one of my favorite destinations now. Fuck Disneyworld... This was magical. I digress. My brother and I pulled into the park around noon and started to drive up the mountain. As you got higher in elevation you went through each of the seasons. It was sunny and 60 at the base.
We eventually entered into “winter”, and it was incredibly foggy. At this point we were pretty much looking for somewhere to ditch the car so we could start hiking. The first trailhead we spotted was framed up by two of the biggest trees I’ve ever seen, so we parked and started down the first trail to Moro Rock. The fog was so thick, you could only see a few rows deep. We were both sort of waiting for a bear to come through the fog. ha. We ended up turning around because the fog would have ruined the look-out point.
From there we headed up to General Sherman (BIG SHERM). The largest tree in the world, mass wise. The entire trail was lined with trees that looked equally big. Sherm was legit though! After that we wandered down Congress Trail until the sun set. The fog ended up breaking up as we got further down the trail.
The next day we started back down the Morro Rock trail because the fog had lifted. It had snowed the night before, so the trails all had a solid foot of powder on them. We were both hiking in nike trail shoes with our socks in plastic bags, ha. When we finally got to Morro Rock, the signage for the staircase said “If icy or wet, stay off of the trail”, so we started the climb up. The entire path was this giant mess of ice and areas with and without hand rails. If you went over the edge, you could probably get through the ABCs before you hit the ground. At the top I read something written on the handrail that summed up the experience.
After Morro, we drove further up the mountain and started down the trail to the Tokopah Falls. Everything was covered in about a foot and a half of snow and the trail felt like we were just wandering off into the woods. ha. The trail paralleled a river and made it a little less sketchy for navigation. About three miles down the trail it started lightly snowing and quickly turned into a full on blizzard.. Shit got real when we started hearing thunder.
The falls were completely dry because of the drought, so we decided it would be safer to start heading back. Long story short, we had to hike back following the river because the snow had covered our old tracks already. When we got back to the car, we actually thought about how quickly that could have turned into a bad situation. But still.. No complaints.
NEXT STOP: Mammoth Mountain
This one is short because I was crashing too much to take photos.
We went out to Mammoth to spend Christmas in this dodgy cabin with a few other people. I suck at winter sports, so I spent the entire first day pretty much crashing down the mountain. It was dumping snow and extremely windy, so the conditions were almost white out.
The next two days were spent starting from about the middle of the mountain. The powder was surreal, and again, no complaints. We even ran into Walt Jr. from Breaking Bad. Ha! He was staying a few cabins over from us! Super down to earth and friendly dude.
NEXT STOP: Avondale / Sedone w/ GLENN10 (Mr. Jockey)
To end the year I made the drive out to Avondale to stay with my friend Glenn. Some of you know him from Pedal & Spoke back in the day! The drive out was pretty chill aside from almost running out of gas because of crazy spaced apart gas stations.
But I got there. The first day was spent riding local trails. We rode a system called FINS which was a bunch of super rocky technical ups and downs with the occasional mega techy uphill grinder. It was like SWK with longer climbs. It gave me the warm fuzzies and made me really miss those short rocky loops. 2015 ended with the biggest climb in that system. I forget the name, but damn... It felt like trials riding getting to the top. We packed a couple beers and some food before hand, so we chilled and enjoyed the view before heading home.
The next day we set off to Sedona. When we got there, we immediately hit the trails. I’ve never ridden anything with so many natural trail features. Everything seemed almost shaped. It’s like 40% slick rock, with the rest being assorted rocks and red dirt. It was also peppered with random drops that ranged from 1-2ft, to 4-5.. So you’d be pedaling along and have to just randomly huck to flat. It was too much fun. The first day was pretty brief, but again...no complaints.
Day two in Sedona started on Hiline Trail. The entire trail was pretty much a cliff drop if you fell the wrong way. That paired with super technical terrain had me walking certain sections. I never really understood the whole full face thing until I saw a few of the sections. Incredible steep rocky drops into hard turns that sent you down two more of the same thing. Either full commitment or a hospital visit. 80% of the trail was still manageable and some of the funnest riding I’ve done to date. I HIGHLY recommend making it out there at some point. (Bring a full suspension)
After we got through Hiline, we drove over to another trail head and rode a trail called Hogwash (linked with others) This was a lot of the same stuff that Hiline had offered. It seemed like there was way more slick rock on this trail though. If I had to choose between the two, I would go with Hogwash because pretty much every turn pointed you to another incredible view. I wish I could describe the trails better, but I recommend just pulling a youtube video up. It was surreal.
That night we ate at an iHop and both got pretty epic food poisoning. The next day was spent puking at pretty much every other exit from his house in Arizona, to my house near the coast in Costa Mesa, CA. An accident caused traffic to stop right over the California border and I was even forced to swing the door open and puke out of my car a few times.
But still...no complaints.
I hope 2016 has more epic trails and less food poisoning.
That would be rad.
Thanks for reading! Come visit and ride!