California Mountains MTB

Pine Valley to Champagne Pass to Noble Canyon, with a Rattlesnake(s) Crossing

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.

view from indian creek trail

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.

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