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Grant - November 9, 2008

Distance: 9.69 miles Ascent: 1,772 ft, Moving time: 1:29 hours

We went to Joseph D. Grant county park today because these fire roads are usually pretty good after a rain and it came down a bit last night. It was a nice day at my house, but it looked ominous over by Grant.

Things started out well as we saw a deer, a fox, and a flock of turkeys before we even started riding. We were also pleasantly surprised to be told that we didn't have to pay for parking if we parked in the Lake or Twin Gates parking areas. The new policy is to charge only for the picnic area. This was an easy choice, especially since the trails on the south side were temporarily closed due to the rains. This is the first time any of us could remember that use fees have been eliminated or reduced, but we aren't complaining!

We rode up Halls Valley trail. This was nice with a bit of forest. It was cool, but this made the climbing much easier. Unlike hot summer days, we didn't need any rest stops except for a short mechanical repair. We continued up Canada de Pala and Pala Seca trails to Antler Point. Along the way we passed a few horse riders and one hiker with a dog. We were at the high point at Antler Point for only a few minutes when the dog came running up. We ended up talking with the hiker who was interested in getting a new mountain bike. After a few more pictures and talk, we decided to head down before we got chilled (it was cold and windy at the top).

We were having a good ride down the fire road when we detoured on a singletrack shortcut. I was paying attention and notice a large hawk sitting on the ground about 50 feet from the trail. We stopped and watched him for a few moments. I got a picture of it on the ground and two more as it flew by. I thought it was gone, but it landed on a fence post just over a small crest from us. I very slowly approached it, taking more pictures. I ended up getting about 15 feet from it and got several good pictures. I took one more as it flew a little ways off and then we left.

We continued along Canada de Pala down to the next junction. The rest of us were surprised when Ken suggested that we go down Los Huecos trail instead of continuing on up the hill to Yerba Buena trail. This turned out to be a pretty reasonable decision as Los Huecos was in perhaps the best shape we have ever seen it. The dirt was tacky and the gravel was under control. This made descending some of the steeper parts much easier than when things are bone dry and the gravel is like a layer of marbles over the hard dirt.

This was a good ride for all of us. We all seemed to be able to climb pretty well and did not take any breaks other than at Antler Point. The highlight was clearly all of the wildlife we saw, especially the large hawk.

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