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El Corte de Madera Creek - June 7, 2009

Distance: 17.2 miles Ascent: 4084 feet Moving time: 2:41 hours

It looked like it would be a nice day, so we headed up to El Corte de Madera Creek (ECdM) for a look at the results of the recent trail construction. It was just the "Tres Hombres" since Anna is still nursing an injured ankle (incurred at ECdM with another group).

We got a late start (about 10:40) and the parking lot filled while we were there. Somehow, we saw few of these people on the the trail the rest of the day. We started with a pleasant warm-up along Sierra Morena before heading down Steam Donkey. This was pretty fun, but I noticed that I go slower down unknown or more difficult sections now. This may be the result of age (or wisdom) or too much riding by myself. Whatever...I still make it down in reasonable time.

We rode the length of Steam Donkey, intending to head to the bottom of the park on Gordon Mill. Unfortunately, we turned too soon and ended up riding up Blue Blossom. This was not a problem as we got to ride down Lawrence Creek. We had an enjoyable stop on the bridge to look for newts and anything else in the creek.

Now it was time to make our second mistake. We re-grouped at the junction and followed Ken for some reason on the connector to the bottom of Gordon Mill. When we figured out our error, we followed it with the third mistake when we accepted Ken's suggestion to take Timberview since he wanted to get over to Giant Salamander and it was "only a couple of hundred feet of climbing." We never learn! It was a long, tough climb up Timberview - much more than it appears on the map. There were a few spots where all of us resorted to hike-a-bike to get up the hill.

Giant Salamander was nice, but there were still several signs of the recent construction. These will heal up with time. Overall, I thought they did a pretty good job. From there, we headed down Methuselah and up the connector to the CM08 gate for a break. Just to change things up a bit, we rode south along Star Hill Road to the second unnamed gated and the end of South Leaf. The south to north direction turned out to be a tough, technical ride. There were lots of ups and downs, but it was the rocks, roots, drops and narrow cliff-side trails that made it interesting. We all survived and continued on to North Leaf. This was also a lot of fun.

We hit El Corte de Madera Creek and started our way back. We stopped briefly to offer opinions to two guys working on a bike at the junction with Resolution before hitting the single track part of ECdM Creek trail. This was a nice ride and we made good time. When we started riding east (up the hill), we quickly discovered that they had done a lot of work here. There were 3 new short bridges and lots of branches and other debris lining the side of the trail. I think the intent is to convert this fireroad to more of a singletrack width. This should be nice. We continued to climb. It seemed steeped than I recalled, especially near the top.

We all made it and we all agreed that was about the right amount of riding for today. It was great weather, we got to explore some new trails, and we met some challenges.

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