12.26.2014

Gold³

The day after Christmas was a bonus vacation day for me, why not Pulverize myself all over again? Sounds logical...in my mind anyway. There had been some discussion after this year's AES Picketpost Pulverizer to change up the course a bit, make it less rugged, a more bike friendly route. per se. Don't get me wrong, it will still be a brute, but not the constant bone-jarring experience.

Anyway, I had the free day and was looking to pre-ride the route for next year's event. I packed everything up the night before and aimed for a dark start at 6am the following morning.

On the drive over to Picketpost Friday morning I watched the temp gauge in my car steadily drop into the low 30's, then the upper 20's after clearing the summit of Gonzales Pass. At the trailhead it was 27º, brrrr!! We only get a couple of cold snaps here in the PHX and we were in the midst of one. Unfortunately for me, I forgot my lobster mitts at home, the ones that performed so well in the snow of the Highline trail earlier in the month. All I had were my half-finger desert gloves, so I waited until sunrise to roll out.
I wasn't prepared for that kind of cold.
Sun rays absent after sunrise.
That too didn't help. I no longer needed lights to see, but the towering Picketpost Mtn. was casting a cold shadow over the Arizona Trail. It was still reading 27º. I made an honest go at it anyway, but I didn't last 1 mile from the trailhead before turning my bike around in defeat. Hands were already numb and after a few minutes back inside my warm car, they began to burn like crazy. Yeow!!

I still had my hall pass for the day, so I concocted a plan B and made my way over to Gold Canyon for some wandering. It was now a balmy 39º and I had this notion of riding west & north to First Water rd for some exploration, return via Jacob Crosscut & the uber techy W.Lost Goldmine trail with hopes of bagging a ton of trails in the Gold Canyon network. So there it was: Gold Canyon, Lost Goldmine trail & the Goldfield Mtns (Near First Water rd.) = Gold³. I'm sure someone was wondering!!
Silly Mtn. singletrack.
I made a beeline through the neighborhood pavement over to a 2-track connector leading towards Silly Mtn. The 2-track briefly turns singletrack then I dropped down and out of the park. More pavement followed with a couple of iffy dirt connectors, but soon I was on the rubbly ascent to Jacob Crosscut trail. This section of the JC is moderately technical with superbly contoured lines. The views aren't half bad either.
Stunning morning view of Flat Iron from the Jacob Crosscut trail.
Jacob Crosscut trail.
As I neared the popular hiking trails I recalled hearing about a couple of new trails at Lost Dutchman State Park. The main trail, aptly named: Mountain Bike Trail circumnavigates the camping area. There are two short spur loops along the route. The trails are fun, nothing overwhelming, but for tourists camping at the park I'm sure it's nice to have the option on hand. In total I think all three trails were 4 miles.
Mountain bike trail.
Treasure Loop trail, exiting Lost Dutchman SP.
Back up on the Jacob Crosscut trail, I continued heading north out to First Water rd then picked up the Massacre Grounds trail. This was my first time out in this specific area while riding, very rugged & beautiful. The trail had some really nice sections as it wrapped around the northern flanks of the Superstition Mtns. I knew it would be short lived due to the encroaching Wilderness boundary.

My track guided me along a fall-line fence 'trail' and it began to get increasingly vague as I approached the First Water rd. crossing. I had enough and found a more direct route to the graded road. It was time to make my way back to the Gold Canyon trails.
Massacre Grounds trail.
Clear view of Four Peaks. The rock outcropping on the right caught my attention...
The morning shadows created a face, protruding eyes on top, What do you see?
I took the entire Jacob Crosscut trail back towards Gold Canyon, this trail has really grown on me. It gets progressively more difficult near the end with the final downhill 1/2 mile a chunk-a-licious rock surfing shindig. I can't say I'm a fan of the final bit, but at least it's rideable in the downhill direction.

At the signed junction with West Lost Goldmine the tech factor gets amped up. Better bring your A-game bike handling skillz for this one. i had my B-game rolling and ended up walking a bit here & there. I began to notice a large number of neon ribbons & flags all over. It appears the W.Lost Goldmine is slated for some well overdue trailwork.
Plenty of opportunities to make improvements.
Newly re-worked switchback coming out of a drainage crossing.
Mt. Lemmon clearly visible on the distant horizon.
The afternoon shadows grew long and I knew I wouldn't be able to knock out a ton of trails in the network before sunset. I set my sights on a couple of the new additions on the eastside as a mostly outer loop.
Best golden hour ride in Phoenix.
Wall St. of the Sonoran desert.
View from a new trail: TD.
I enjoyed the layout of this new trail: Outer Limits.
Snowbird / TD junction.
It's hard to believe we get to ride HERE.
I left the top of Secret making a beeline for the trailhead. I arrived back at the car just before needing my lights. Not a bad Plan B ride if I say so myself.

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