On Saturday three of us parked where Trabuco Creek crosses Live Oak and rode in ~4.6 miles to the Holy Jim trailhead for our first time ride (well, for two of us pictured here) on this trail. Total ride was ~19.7 miles. You can cut ~9.2 miles off this by driving the rough road to the trailhead. I think its faster to ride it, especially on the way out.
We left the cars at 7am and by 7:15 a warm breeze was already with us. The tree canopy on the first couple of miles of Holy Jim proper kept the temps down a bit but after several stream crossings we hit the sun proper in time for the switchbacks. I lost count of the switchbacks, but I think they numbered in the mid 'teens. For comparison's sake I'd say these switchbacks are easier than the ones on the San Juan Trail due to the lack of ruts at the apexes of the turns.
About 3 miles up Holy Jim (7.5 miles from the cars) one member of our group bailed after he felt the onset of heatstroke. Even in the sun the temps didn't seem to rise too much more so our jaunt to Main Divide was uneventful--except for the flies. If you stopped for more than a minute at the upper elevations you'd just get swarmed. That was incentive enough to skip the peak. The return was fun, beginning with the steep, loose, rocky section right at Main Divide. Since this was my first time on this trail I can't comment on its condition compared to previous years, but there's a lot of growth crowding the trail (and lots of poison oak lower down). The trail surface itself was in great shape. Despite the heat it was a great ride with some beautifully diverse scenery. Lots of hikers on the return leg, though.
Verm working the last, tough climb just before Main Divide. This sucker is steep.
After the hikers passed I clipped in to descend. One of them said, "Oh I gotta see this." I think I disappointed them by NOT crashing.
Verm and I working the switchbacks on the return.
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