Paicines-Idria-Paicines

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jobst....@stanfordalumni.org

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Apr 29, 2003, 1:42:06 PM4/29/03
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Paicines-Idria-Paicines ride

On Sunday, 27 April 2003, Ray Hosler, Brian Cox and I drove south from
Palo Alto to Hollister and down HWY25 to the Paicines grocery store
(680ft), to start our ride. We headed south on HWY25, appropriately
named the "Airline Highway" past The Pinnacles State Park and to the
junction with Coalinga Rd.

Although the sky was not cloudy, a thin haze muted the sun so that our
shadows looked more like those of vampires (transparent) and the
profuse but sensitive California poppies remained mostly closed. The
road gradually climbs from Paicines along the west side of an
agricultural valley, the San Andreas Rift Zone, of lush greenery and
wildflowers, including All colors of Lupine, Owls Clover, Paintbrush,
Buttercups, California Poppies and orange Sanddune Wallflower.

We first passed finely manicured vineyards with vines so perfectly
trimmed on support wires, it seemed like computer art, all vines being
nearly identical and in the same stage of growth. High deer fences
kept browsing wildlife from pruning the crop. Clusters of bee hives
with two or more honey supers were in the fields every few miles.
Where these bees were collecting honey was not apparent from the crops
we saw, this being primarily grassland.

We passed herds of grazing cattle, some entirely bulls others mostly
cows, but to our surprise about a mile and a half past San Benito, we
saw six Prong Horned Antelope off by themselves foraging in rich green
grass in a large dry lake. A farmer told us they had been imported
many years ago and have survived poaching until now. The road,
although not open range, has many cattle guards that oddly are
announced by "One Lane Bridge" signs. Later in the ride we were
surprised to see such a sign actually followed by a one lane bridge.
Besides wildflowers we saw Magpies, Acorn Woodpeckers, Orioles,
Meadowlarks, Bluebirds, Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures,
and many Kingbirds in the Panoche Valley.

On two occasions, as we continued up Rabbit Valley, all part of the
San Andreas rift zone, we noticed sets of zig-zag ladder-like cracks
running diagonally at about 15 degrees across the road, from
earthquake shear. At the next junction we turned southeast onto
Coalinga road and headed into the hills crossing a divide at 2115ft
from which we descended into Lorenzo Vasquez Canyon (2000ft). We
climbed up this narrow lush green canyon finally making a few steep
hairpin turns to cross another divide at 2907ft before descending to
Hernandez Reservoir, whose waters were so low that we saw only a green
grassy expanse where its upper end (2400ft) should have been.
Meanwhile the sky became bright blue as we rolled into the valley.

A mile or so farther, we crossed the San Benito river through one of
the many well paved concrete fords on Clear Creek County Rd109 that
heads east into Clear Creek off road vehicle area. Although the fords
are paved, the road is not and it is about as rough as unpaved mining
roads can get except that the rock is not loose. The road climbs in
fits and jerks to a junction at 3400ft from which it climbs steeply to
the summit above Idria. We met a couple of MTB riders dashing down to
their truck who had some rude things to yell about roadies as they
went by. Other than that, we saw no bikies.

The terrain is unusual and striking, with warnings about asbestos in
the soil (and dust) and mercury, which is what was mined at the New
Idria mine in Idria, San Benito County, the original Idria being in
Slovenia where mercury was mined from 1850 to recent times. Some of
the slopes above Clear Creek are barren domes of what looks like
greyish brown gravel, but they are fairly solid, so much so that
motorcycle tracks going straight up in M/C hillclimb fashion do not
leave more than a trace and these form no gullies from rainwater.

The road gradually levels off as it approaches the 4400ft summit where
Roads head north and south while the main route, down to Idria, is
open only to motorcycles and bicycles. BLM considers it too hazardous
so it is closed to cars. We rode around the gate and realized that
this would be tough in the other direction, the road being steeper and
looser and with tighter curves. The view into San Carlos Creek is
striking for the steep canyon and its depth, with mine tailings here
and there. The first view of the Idria is shocking. The rusting hulk
of a factory and all the buildings in town along with a huge junk yard
of machinery make this an obvious toxic waste site of grand
proportions, much more so than the New Almaden mines in Santa Clara
County. Almaden is in Spain and also started mercury production in
1850.

http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?z=10&n=4030523&e=708381&s=25&size=l

We descended into town skirting a second gate to get on the paved main
street of Idria (2500ft) County Rd119. The boarding hose and general
store looked untouched for more than forty years, the pavement
likewise. Lack of heavy traffic the weathered and rough pavement was
without holes. Next to the factory, a large cinnabar red (Chinese
red) pond drains into Carlos Creek making it a stream of tomato soup
for many miles. Huge piles of cinnabar (mercury sulfide) ore surround
the town.

A gradual descent on Idria Road took us to the Vallecitos valley along
Tres Pinos Creek at about 1600ft. We realized that the weather
forecast for southerly winds did not come true as we rode into the
usual northwest wind blowing directly at us. Over here, summer had
already set in with dry grass but at least the air was cool. The road
climbs ever so gradually to 2000ft through a broad valley with sparse
vegetation. That doesn't seem to bother cattle ranchers whose herds
roam these grazed off fields.

Besides Aermotor windmills dotting the landscape, a few oil wells were
slowly pumping their wealth into tanks not far from the road.
Gradually descending along Griswold Creek, the road turns north into
Griswold Canyon where we finally got a tailwind and could sit up no
hands coasting down to the Panoche valley (1200ft). The road turns
west and climbs gradually past the Panoche School and on to Llanda
(1420ft) where we stopped at the first opportunity to get food and
drink. Because we were prepared to do this ride without finding a
store, we didn't need much but it was nice to sit on the bench and
drink a cold drink with the stuff we brought.

A few miles up the road enters Payne Canyon along Panoche Creek and
climbs to Panoche Pass (2100ft), a broad summit in Antelope Valley.
With the wind, the descent was hard to detect at first but it beat
climbing into the wind. We were getting into greener landscape as we
rode down along Tres Pinos Creek. The narrows of the canyon required
that the road make a few climbs on the way to the main valley. These
were opportunities to check whether there was and short hill sprint
left in the legs. We did alright and rolled into Paicines at about
18:30 for a drive home. As we drove north we could see rain coming in
from the coast with the first showers as we reaches San Jose.

This was an interesting ride, that for me was mainly the Clear Creek
and Idria experience. The total of 7620ft of climbing in 112mi does
not reveal the effort.

Jobst Brandt
jobst....@stanfordalumni.org
Palo Alto CA

jobst....@stanfordalumni.org

unread,
Apr 29, 2003, 2:38:27 PM4/29/03
to
Paicines-Idria-Paicines ride

On Sunday, 27 April 2003, Ray Hosler, Brian Cox and I drove south from
Palo Alto to Hollister and down HWY25 to the Paicines grocery store
(680ft), to start our ride. We headed south on HWY25, appropriately
named the "Airline Highway" past The Pinnacles State Park and to the
junction with Coalinga Rd.

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?savedMap=1051641242

jobst....@stanfordalumni.org

unread,
Apr 29, 2003, 7:04:04 PM4/29/03
to
Paicines-Idria-Paicines ride

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?savedMap=1051641242

http://www.pinnaclenews.com/oldsite/cont05_30_02/svlife1.html
http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?z=10&n=4030523&e=708381&s=25&size=l

We descended into town skirting a second gate to get on the paved main

street of Idria (2500ft) County Rd119. The New Idria mine began
operations in 1854 and closed in 1971. Today the boarding house and
general store look untouched since the mine shut down. With lack of
heavy traffic the weathered and rough pavement of the main street was
without holes. Next to the factory, a large cinnabar-red (Chinese


red) pond drains into Carlos Creek making it a stream of tomato soup
for many miles. Huge piles of cinnabar (mercury sulfide) ore surround
the town.

A gradual descent on Idria Road took us to the Vallecitos valley along
Tres Pinos Creek at about 1600ft. We realized that the weather
forecast for southerly winds did not come true as we rode into the
usual northwest wind blowing directly at us. Over here, summer had
already set in with dry grass but at least the air was cool. The road
climbs ever so gradually to 2000ft through a broad valley with sparse
vegetation. That doesn't seem to bother cattle ranchers whose herds
roam these grazed off fields.

Besides "The Aermotor Chicago" windmills dotting the landscape, a few


oil wells were slowly pumping their wealth into tanks not far from the
road. Gradually descending along Griswold Creek, the road turns north
into Griswold Canyon where we finally got a tailwind and could sit up
no hands coasting down to the Panoche valley (1200ft). The road turns
west and climbs gradually past the Panoche School and on to Llanda
(1420ft) where we stopped at the first opportunity to get food and
drink. Because we were prepared to do this ride without finding a
store, we didn't need much but it was nice to sit on the bench and
drink a cold drink with the stuff we brought.

http://www.aermotorwindmills.com/aermotor-home.htm

Terry Morse

unread,
Apr 29, 2003, 7:23:38 PM4/29/03
to
Jobst Brandt wrote:

> http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?savedMap=1051641242

Jobst,

It looks like a nice ride, only the mapquest URL above produces only the
following HTML:

<script language=JavaScript>
document.cookie = "JSEnabled=1"
</script>

It would be nice to be able to see a map of the route.
--
terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://www.terrymorse.com/bike/

jobst....@stanfordalumni.org

unread,
Apr 29, 2003, 8:44:29 PM4/29/03
to
Terry Morse writes:

>> http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?savedMap=1051641242

> It looks like a nice ride, only the Mapquest URL above produces only the
> following HTML:

> <script language=JavaScript>
> document.cookie = "JSEnabled=1"
> </script>

> It would be nice to be able to see a map of the route.

I didn't realize that Mapquest allows you to save a map and recall
it... but only the person who saved it can fetch it apparently. How
stuuupid!

Goto: http://www.mapquest.com/

enter "Idria" and "CA" then "Get map" then click "BIG MAP" at
the upper right of the map frame, place the cursor in the middle
of the road loop (under [J1]) and click. The map will center.

Meanwhile I edited the report to have more links. Check it out.

jobst....@stanfordalumni.org

unread,
Apr 29, 2003, 8:45:55 PM4/29/03
to
Paicines-Idria-Paicines ride

On Sunday, 27 April 2003, Ray Hosler, Brian Cox and I drove south from
Palo Alto to Hollister and down HWY25 to the Paicines grocery store
(680ft), to start our ride. We headed south on HWY25, appropriately
named the "Airline Highway" past The Pinnacles State Park and to the
junction with Coalinga Rd.

http://tinyurl.com/alsr

http://www.pinnaclenews.com/oldsite/cont05_30_02/svlife1.html
http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?z=10&n=4030523&e=708381&s=25&size=l

http://www.aermotorwindmills.com/aermotor-home.htm

Jobst Brandt
jobst....@stanfordalumni.org
Palo Alto CA

mnor...@attbi.com

unread,
Apr 30, 2003, 12:22:06 AM4/30/03
to
In article <71Fra.9918$JX2.6...@typhoon.sonic.net>,
<jobst....@stanfordalumni.org> wrote:

> Paicines-Idria-Paicines ride

> The road gradually levels off as it approaches the 4400ft summit where
> Roads head north and south while the main route, down to Idria, is
> open only to motorcycles and bicycles. BLM considers it too hazardous
> so it is closed to cars. We rode around the gate and realized that
> this would be tough in the other direction, the road being steeper and
> looser and with tighter curves. The view into San Carlos Creek is
> striking for the steep canyon and its depth, with mine tailings here
> and there. The first view of the Idria is shocking. The rusting hulk
> of a factory and all the buildings in town along with a huge junk yard
> of machinery make this an obvious toxic waste site of grand
> proportions, much more so than the New Almaden mines in Santa Clara
> County. Almaden is in Spain and also started mercury production in
> 1850.
>
> http://www.pinnaclenews.com/oldsite/cont05_30_02/svlife1.html
> http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?z=10&n=4030523&e=708381&s=25&size=l
>
> We descended into town skirting a second gate to get on the paved main
> street of Idria (2500ft) County Rd119. The New Idria mine began
> operations in 1854 and closed in 1971. Today the boarding house and
> general store look untouched since the mine shut down. With lack of
> heavy traffic the weathered and rough pavement of the main street was
> without holes. Next to the factory, a large cinnabar-red (Chinese
> red) pond drains into Carlos Creek making it a stream of tomato soup
> for many miles. Huge piles of cinnabar (mercury sulfide) ore surround
> the town.
>

FWIW, the road from Clear Creek Off Road Recreational Area to
New Idria (while it's not clear from your posting) is, at times,
open to automobile traffic. I drove it in the opposite direction last
summer/fall in my Honda Civic - an exciting, if not foolhardy,
experience.

Also, while the buildings in New Idria do look rather untouched, I
don't know if you noticed the signage to the effect that exiting your
car in the area was accepting that you were being videotaped -- I
suspect the buildings were being kept "untouched".

- Mike

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