Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Irvine, Santiago Peak, Ortega Highway Ride Report


Sunday morning I woke up early and stepped outside the garage in my pajama pants and a sweatshirt at 0615, passing my motorcycle and gear on the way out. It was socked in fog but I was wide awake and wanted to go for a ride. I threw my Klim Latitude Pants on over my pajamas, strapped on my Gaerne Balance Oileds, put my Alpinestars textilejacket on over a fleece jacket and warmed up the motorcycle not really sure where I was actually headed. 

I headed west towards the beach before turning back around to the east to see if the local canyons were clearer as visibility was less than 75 yards in Irvine. Once I passed through Foothill Ranch it cleared up completely as the tires finally warmed up. Getting on Santiago Road, other than a few bicyclists here and there, was wide open but cool temperature-wise. Silverado Canyon came was coming up on the right and I decided I was going to ride to where the pavement ended when Silverado Canyon Road turns into Maple Springs, one of the access roads up into Cleveland National Forest. Once I reached this without passing any hikers and it still being so early I decided to head up to 4 Corners where Maple Springs, North Main Divide, and Modjeska Canyon all merge (Maple Springs turns into Main Divide where they meet hence the 4th corner). The Sun was just reaching the ridgelines below and to the west when I reached there. 

Looking north from 4 Corners

The trusty steed looking at 4 Corners



Still being early I decided to go for the top of Santiago Peak. The ride was nice and cool yet working the stock DR650SE over the loose rocks on the westward (weather facing) roads was causing me to work up a sweat so it was time to open up the vents on the Latitude pants. I was surprised that the entire way up I didn’t encounter any hikers or mountain bikers as sometimes they are around every corner. I was the only person up there that I saw to this point.


Santiago Peak, looking west

 

I made the top shortly after 0730 to a still foggy Orange County but nice views all around. No one was up there and it was a nice way to spend the morning. I thought I was going to turn around and then I started looking east towards Elsinore and Ortega Highway. I had driven the part of North Main Divide between Santiago Peak and Ortega many times but had not ridden it. 

Somewhere out there is Ortega

 

I took off after spending about a half hour at the top. It is a fun section of dirt with mostly compacted sand and a little bit longer straight-aways allowing the DR to stretch her legs a bit.


Looking back at Santiago Peak


 
Approximately half way to Ortega from the peak I came across the first vehicle who were scouting around for deer. I kept going after talking to them for a few minutes and passed another vehicle that just flew by when I waved him through. I reach Ortega Highway a little after 0900 and decided it was time to eat so I headed down into Lake Elsinore for breakfast. After airing up the tires a bit at a gas station I headed back through Ortega Highway and was sitting at home just after 1100. A great way to spend a Sunday morning in my opinion.


Found Ortega!

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