Bushwhacking Through the Semi-Wild

Two weeks in the past, on a Monday morning I woke with knee pain. The Sunday previous was not an unusual day so, and unless the mrs. had given me a quick kick to the knee cap during the night I was dumbfounded as to where the pain came from. Riding that evening was fine, yet the pain (more like a pressure under the knee cap really, the kind that can be relieved by cracking a joint, just not this time) persisted over the next couple days until my Wednesday evening ride, when rising out of the saddle I was, out of nowhere, stabbed at the right side of the cap. In excruciating pain I dropped like a stone onto the saddle and finished that ride one-legged, deciding that a little time off the bike was in order.

Which brings me to this morning and the ride I have been looking forward to all week. Before setting out I knew this day would involve as much hike as it would bike, but I didn't know a machete would be recommended equipment. The plan was to bring the Ibis and explore some of the trackless area in the basin of the Santa Fe Dam; the specific goal was to "discover" the stone walls along the San Gabriel River channel. Back in the olden days early farmers and small water companies built long stone walls running perpendicular to the regions rivers and streams below the mountains and canyons. These efforts were meant to slow the water, contain it, and even redirect it. Remains of these walls can be found all along the open areas along the base of the San Gabriel Mountains - in particular I have seen them along Day Creek, Cucamonga Creek, and now the San Gabriel River (the best way to see them is from above, try Google Earth).

The knee is still not right, but the morning was a good one:

At the spot where this custom bike trailer rested I left the dirt path, hefted my bike to my shoulder, and struck out cross-country. With no trail to follow, moving from clearing to clearing meant pushing through walls of underbrush, choosing between being clawed and scratched by the dead branches of this shrub, or being poked and stabbed by that yucca.

Some spots of vibrant color out there.

The closer I got to the river channel the more I came upon wood posts and poles washed down from who knows where.

Standing atop one of the low stone walls running perpendicular to the river, with a second just out of view to the right. There are two sets of walls: These smaller ones are on higher ground, away from the rivers current channel, and probably older. I imagine they were build by hand. Lower down, and in the current channel are higher, more massive walls built by machinery.

Eventually all that bushwhacking brought me out to the remains of a disused road. Still clearly defined, it made moving about much quicker and easier.

The rusting scoop of some giant digger.

A palm oasis has sprouted in the river bed. Given time it might become pretty awesome.

There were some interesting yellow flowers down there too.

With the dam in view, someones campsite.