August 2003, Virginia

NAXJA SoCal Fest 2011

May brings NAXJA’s SoCal Fest 2011 event around in beautiful Big Bear, California.  As usual the event includes both some fun time and trail maintenance work.

Please see below for more:To start with, as usual click on any of the photos for a larger view.

This year’s SoCal Fest was slightly different than usual for me. This was my first SoCal fest with my son Sebastian and my little Jeep, the Ninty Six, because of this I had no plans to do anything particularly difficult and am glad to say that both Sebastian and my Jeep enjoyed the event!

We started by getting the trailer loaded up and hooked up to the Jeep Thursday afternoon to begin our 130 mile drive from home to the Serrano.

Sebastian and I arrived in camp around 9:00 PM, set camp, ate, then tucked in tight to guard against the slightly above freezing night. We then woke up Friday morning, tended to breakfast and such, and heading over to the Discovery Center to kick off the event.

After a brief drivers’ meeting we split into two groups. One tackled Gold Mountain / John Bull under Avery’s slightly perverse leadership while my group decided to run down 2N02 and do some exploration, ultimately deciding to have lunch in Pioneertown. Due to a missed turn I ended up tailgunning while Kelly lead the group down 2N02. Here are a few photos of the trip.

Carol and Karen driving along 2N02.

Most of the group along 2N02.

Burnt brush along the low lands of 2N02.

Lunch next to the Pioneertown Bowl.

Western Sebastian.

On the way back I returned to point with Garret running ahead on his DRZ400. He spent some of the trail out of sight of us keeping in contact via ham radio if he had direction questions or issues as it can be tough to keep a motorcycle at slow speeds on dirt/rocks.

While roaming around Pioneertown Carols dog Eddie found some unidentified excrement to roll around in, because of this we decided to take a break at the Arrastra Creek crossing for an emergency dog bath.

While waiting Sebastian made sure to get as dirty as possible

Once the dog bath was over it was time to continue, water crossings are always enjoyable.

I can do it!

Karen hit the deep spot a touch fast.

The distributor got flooded and out went the engine.

The Ninety Six saves the day. After taking Karen’s distributor apart and giving it some time to dry she was able to continue on.

Garret got wet.

Quite wet

Max makes a dramatic entrance

Tyler tests his door seals.

Carol makes a nicely formed bow wake.

Kelly grins.

We headed back out 2N02 to Serrano, had a few drinks, had some dinner, and went to bed. All told Friday’s run was 31 pavement miles and 39 dirt miles for a total of 70 miles start to finish.

As usual Saturday morning we saw a lot more vehicles at the Discovery Center. We split up into three official groups, the largest group going to the difficult run; Gold Mountain / John Bull under Avery and ultimately John’s leadership, the second group going on the moderate Deep Creek / Dishpan Springs run, and the smaller group of nine cages, two motorcycles going with me on my Holcomb Valley historical tour. I’d done some research ahead of time so I could make the stocker run a bit special buy telling some stories of the wild mining days in the Holcomb Valley.

Holcomb Valley Tour group lined up.

Between leading the trail run, guiding the motorcycles via radio, and watching Sebastian I did not take very many photos of this run. I even failed to get a good group shot. Hopefully one of the other people on the run got some good ones.

We started the tour by taking Polique Canyon up into the Holcomb Valley. We then took 3N16 and some spurs to hit Wilbur’s Grave, Two Gun Bill’s Saloon, The Hangman’s Tree, The Pygmy Cabin, Ross’s Grave, and the 1900 Gold Mountain Stamp Mill remains. I also called out a few other features and stories along the way. After visiting the Stamp Mill we left 3N16 to take the USFS Moderate Rated Jacoby Canyon trail to get to Highway 18.

Heading down Jacoby. Jacoby Canyon is a nice little trail that leads you down a somewhat steep rocky decent. It’s a great way to show somebody new what they can do without getting them into anything too nerve racking.

We stopped for lunch about three quarters of the way down Jacoby Canyon. Since we were making such good time I decided to extend the run further East than planned so after we packed up we went a quarter mile down Highway 18 and got back to dirt on 3N03 toward Cactus Flats. We took 3N03 back to 2N02 and stopped at an interesting mine just North of Rose Mine. After a good twenty-five minute break we turned back down 2N02 to 2N01 and wound our way up toward ‘s adopted trail, 2N04, and pre-ran for our maintenance day on Sunday. Between the decent of Jacoby Canyon and the rocky climb of 2N04 we really gave Garret and Todd a workout on the dual sport motorcycles. They had a couple of no-injury get downs but made it through with no trouble. After 2N04 we took the highway back to Serrano.

I really enjoyed the leading the Holcomb Valley historical tour and am pretty sure that’s going to become a something I do every year. I have more to learn about the area and will enjoy sharing it. Saturday we racked up 13 paved miles and 31 unpaved miles for a total of 44 miles.

Saturday night we had our great Carne Asada dinner cooked by John X. and his crew then a very fun and profitable raffle. After the raffle we all went to various campfires to have our own form of fun, I ended up crashing out with Sebastian early since I’m lame like that.

Sunday after packing up it was time to hit 2N04 to kick off our 2011 trail maintenance plan. While we had a emergency maintenance run in February to clear a landslide our real kick off is always after the winter snow runoff and rains are complete. We found 2N04 in great shape with only a few erosion issues to tackle and very little, if any, garbage.

While clearing the trail for some traffic I had the fun of driving down a very rutted out spur with my trailer. The M416 lunette ring is articulated so ruts aren’t a problem, instead they’re quite fun

Stephan documents some erosion.

In the meantime I pose.

After we completed 2N04 we headed over to Juniper Springs group camp for our traditional group shot and raffle. This was a good day on the trail with a size-able group. One day perhaps we’ll get a very large group to show up for maintenance but for now I’m happy with the turnout we had. Plus that means more raffle loot for us!

Sunday’s maintenance run saw us run 11 paved miles as a group and 9 unpaved miles.  Afterward I took the 126 mile drive home.

One of my favorite stretches of Highway 38.

All said it was a great event and I can’t wait to do it again next year. Count me in for helping coordinating the event again! To view the rest of the photos I took this weekend simply click this link.