Every time I pull into the parking area at the Noble Canyon trail head in Pine Valley, I get a feeling of peace and adventure. The peace comes from the natural beauty that surrounds the lot. The adventure comes from what’s in front of me, especially when riding solo: a lot of pedaling on remote trails and not knowing what is to come.
Time: 8:02 a.m. Temp: 51 degrees F.
The ride up to the tree was less strenuous than previous times. “Hmm? Is it all the swimming that has made it so? I don’t know.”
Up at the tree, I stopped to take off my vest, getting back on my bike quickly and continuing on to Indian Creek trail, one of my favorites. At the hike-a-bike waterfall, I came upon the first person of the day. He was taking a rest, pleased to hear that someone else had climbed up from Pine Valley, offering that most people like to shuttle so they can “yahoo their way down.”
I didn’t disagree.
“Have a good day,” I said, passing by him and continuing the climb to Champagne Pass.
I stopped at Champagne to eat an apple. For whatever reason, I thought about the fact that I hadn’t yet had my first rattlesnake encounter of the season. Descending off the pass, that thought continued, going along the lines of something like this: that Outside Magazine article about the rattlesnake bite in Yosemite was scary, what would I do if that happens, I have my SPOT device, are the batteries good, what about cell phone service out here, keep your eyes on the trail, scan …
And then, ooooohhh shit.
I marveled at how beautiful it was, though wanting it to move on. Suddenly, to my right, I heard movement. It was another rattlesnake in the brush. Two rattlers were within a few feet of me. Am I near a den? Look behind me. Nothing. To my left, I saw a hole. Maybe?
Then the one to my right and the one in front of me appeared to be converging behind a rock. Silence. I could still see the last 10-12 inches of the one on the trail, knowing that it could turn quick and strike if it wanted to, should I try to pass by. I waited. Perhaps 5 minutes passed.
Have you ever heard 2 rattlesnakes race down the side of ravine/hill/mountain? That quick, they were gone, shadows seemingly lunging through the chaparral.
I got back on my bike and pedaled on, eventually connecting into Noble and then went down.
It wasn’t my best day, technically, with dabs here and there and a few dismounts. Ugh. Nevertheless, at the oak forest, I had no cares.
How great that ferns are along the trail too!
From there, the trail goes out into the desert eco-zone, the variety keeping the riding experience fresh.
I took “extra-credit” back to the car, not yet understanding why it is called that. I mean, it is the Noble Canyon trail. Why would you not finish it and why would it be extra-credit to ride the trail to its end? Maybe the bail-out should be called: Incomplete.
Indian Paint Brush lit my way, bringing cheer to the air.
I was looking forward to the manzanita, knowing that after it, one of the best finishes to a trail was in front of me.
However, I did not have my best game on, as I goofed several sections. It didn’t matter, though, as I knew there’d be more times when I’d likely run better lines.
Getting back to the car, unscathed, is what mattered most.