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  1. #1
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    Whiting Ranch photo essay -- picture intensive

    I spent some time on my road bike today just getting a good look at the damage.


    This is taken from Glenn Ranch road just north of Portola, about a quarter to half mile up the trail from gate 5. I've always enjoyed this big old oak tree; it demarcates the border between city noise and no city noise. Yesterday it still had smoke and the occasional tongue of flame coming out ot it.


    A little further north on Glenn Ranch. Looking northwest toward Dreaded hill.


    Same spot, looking down onto Raptor road.


    Same spot, looking north to the fire burning in the Clevelands, a few miles west of Santiago peak.

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    This is from the little park above Borrego trail. It's the one with the white gazebo you can see if you look up to your right while heading uphill. The view is of Vista Lookout.


    Same spot, looking down onto Borrego trail. Note the game trails wandering all over the hillside.


    Same spot, looking at the east face of Lookout. There's a single turkey vulture in the shot; there were at least a dozen floating around. Must be a raptor BBQ going on down there.
    Last edited by Six jours; 10-28-07 at 07:13 PM.

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    This is from the same park, but now looking south toward the mouth of Borrego Canyon. The entrance (I forget the gate number, but it's the west entrance from Portola, with the little parking lot and the rusty sculpture) is unburned for a few hundred yards, but you can see that the rest of it is moonscape. The fire burned right up to the edge of the little park.

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    Okay, now we're in the park at the northeast corner of Whiting Ranch, off of Ridgeline road. (And after a week with no exercise, that was an unpleasant little ride!) The trail on the low ridge is either Sage Scrub or Upper Cattle Pond. I know Cactus Hill intersects it and is the demarcator, but with the landscape so radically altered, I have a hard time getting my bearings. You can see the cutout for Upper Cattle Pond in the upper right. Behind that ridge lies Santiago Canyon road, which is mostly still closed.


    Same spot, panned to the left. Four Corners, Whiting road, Dreaded Hill.


    Same spot, panned further left. Dreaded Hill road on the left, Whiting road right. I'm hoping that the draw with the healthy trees is the lovely Sleepy Hollow, but can't tell for sure.

    And that's all, folks.

  5. #5
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    give it a good winter and it will be green again in spring. I remember when Sycamore Canyon was like that after the Cedar Fire.
    ...mad as a box of frogs

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    I talked to several people, most of whom were mountain bikers. I was surprised at how many were deeply upset; one lady even burst into tears while talking to me. Thoughts of the folks who lost their homes aside, I'm excited to get back into the park and see how it's changed. I don't really see the fire in Whiting as a bad thing, let alone a disaster or tragedy.

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    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Yah locals take ALOT of pride in thier trails, some are even trail builders themselves. I'm suprised the park is open so soon though. I'm sure the deep valleys still have the ash smell lingering.
    ...mad as a box of frogs

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    Senior Member summoner12's Avatar
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    I added some lines to point out the trails. These may not be exactly the names on the map... don't have a map handy.

    The Orange line at the top right goes from Four Coners to where Santiago Canyon rd and Sage Scrub meet just above the horse stables. I think its called Sage Scrub?


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    Senior Member summoner12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    Yah locals take ALOT of pride in thier trails, some are even trail builders themselves. I'm suprised the park is open so soon though. I'm sure the deep valleys still have the ash smell lingering.
    I don't think its open... or is it? if so im riding tomorrow!

    I have a lot of pride in Whiting... I've clocked over 700 miles there in about 4-5 months. I know all of the trails and have met some cool people. I can ride there from my apt. The Borrego cyn. entrance is just over 3 miles from me and the Serrano gate is only 1.5 miles..... I take the Serrano Creek trail to portola and then ride to the Borrego entrance.

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    Senior Member summoner12's Avatar
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    Oh BTW I found a map of the park... I am not 100% correct with my labels, I'll redo my pictures.

    Edit: looking at the map I am not far off.

    What I called "Cactus Ridge" is a continuation of Sage Scrub, Cactus Terminates into Sage Scrub. Sage Scrub continues down to where Whiting Rd. and Edison Rd. meet

    And the Orange line is Upper Pond Trail.
    Last edited by summoner12; 10-28-07 at 07:49 PM.

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    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    I've yet to ride Whiting, I've done Aliso a few times and only been up SST once.
    ...mad as a box of frogs

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    Senior Member summoner12's Avatar
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    STT is great. I've only done Aliso once myself... Until they open Whiting I think I am going to get pretty familiar with Aliso woods.

    Has anyone heard about way to help clean up or help get Whiting open again? I wouldn't mind doing some trail work if it is needed. Maybe get some BFers together?

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    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Aliso is GREAT, spend ALOT of time there, climb then DH, climb back up then DH back down a differnt route, climb back up and DH again!! process goes on and on and LOVE it there. SST is freaking AWESOME just because the DH to the flag is about 3-4 miles and wonderness LOL

    we gotta do a group ride at whiting though. I like riding on new trails
    ...mad as a box of frogs

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    Thanks for marking the trails, Summoner.

    FWIW, it's not open yet. Estimates are weeks to months. All the pictures I took are from outside the park.

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    I am so surprised you were able to ride around Whiting so close, in Foothill Ranch. I tried to ride up that way and as soon as I crested Bake towards Foothill Ranch, the smoke made me sick. I did make it to Portola but had to turn back down Lake Forest and get out of the area as soon as possible. I could barely breath; the smoke was that thick!

    No question most of North Orange County was burned. You only have to ride along Irvine Blvd or Portola to see that. The fire burned both north and south of Santiago Canyon, south all the way over the hills, to Irvine Blvd and North... well it is still burning north. Several popular mountain biking areas were affected - Whiting, Limestone and Blackstar. It's sad 'cause Santiago Oaks and Weir Canyon have barely recovered from the Windy Ridge fire (March 2007) and Fremont from the Sierra Peak (February 2006). All areas will no doubt be open for winter riding (provided there are no mudslides from heavy rains) but everywhere will be like a moonscape - nothing pretty.

    So to everyone who rides down in Aliso, Laguna or up in Chino, keep an eye out. Those areas are the next targets for arsonist. If you see something suspecious call the authorities. We already have people doing Fire Watch around Bommer and Laguna, help is needed in Aliso and Chino/Carbon Canyon.

    Here's a photo I took once I crested Bake - as you can see, smoke was everywhere and the fires still burning:

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    BTW looking at Six's photos - you can see the amazing job the firefighters did keeping the flames from homes. If you see one out there make sure to thank them!

    I regularly eat dinner Friday nights at John's a locals restaurant at Chapman and Jamboree. It's right near Irvine Park which is being used as a staging area for the fire departments. A steady stream of fire fighters came in for dinner. It was very interesting to talk with each - most coming from all over. I spoke with one young fireman. Monday he was in Malibu fighting that fire and now he's down here in Orange being used as needed and he suspects he will be moved to San Diego. He's camping at the park. He misses his family. He works long hours and its hard work. What they do is amazing. God bless them all and keep them safe!

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    Me and the cat... Pamestique's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by summoner12 View Post
    STT is great. I've only done Aliso once myself... Until they open Whiting I think I am going to get pretty familiar with Aliso woods.

    Has anyone heard about way to help clean up or help get Whiting open again? I wouldn't mind doing some trail work if it is needed. Maybe get some BFers together?
    Check with SHARE - they will probably be in charge with cleanup and trail rebuilds.

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    I am so surprised you were able to ride around Whiting so close, in Foothill Ranch. I tried to ride up that way and as soon as I crested Bake towards Foothill Ranch, the smoke made me sick. I did make it to Portola but had to turn back down Lake Forest and get out of the area as soon as possible. I could barely breath; the smoke was that thick!
    I suspect that I have adapted a bit, as I live right here. For the most part, I didn't notice any smell, except for when I was right above the burned areas. That may or may not be a good thing; my lungs were a bit tight after the ride. I was going completely bonkers after having spent a week on the couch, though, so...

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    Me and the cat... Pamestique's Avatar
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    Me too which is why I got out and did my ride on Sunday but I should have been smart and like everyone else stayed along the coast. I'm still coughing from yesterday.

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    The air here in Foothill Ranch is still really bad. I commute by bicycle _every_ single day, rain or shine, but have been forced to drive to work the last several days.

    The air quality is so bad that my family and I went to Ventura for the weekend just to find some decent air to breathe.

    I have several pictures of Whiting Ranch after the fires but they pretty much look like the ones you guys have posted. The most dramatic view, I think, is the view of Borrego Canyon from Overlook Park. It just looks empty compared to the way it used to look.

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    The most dramatic view, I think, is the view of Borrego Canyon from Overlook Park. It just looks empty compared to the way it used to look.
    I took a few shots from Overlook, facing north/nothwest, and was about to leave when I decided to walk over to the southern area of the park. That view into Borrego took my breath away for a moment. Like a scene from a movie or something.

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    And it's funny how I didn't think the air was too bad. Maybe having grown up in L.A. at a time when smog controls were essentially non-existent has something to do with it...

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    Senior Member 1955's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by summoner12 View Post
    I added some lines to point out the trails. These may not be exactly the names on the map... don't have a map handy.

    The Orange line at the top right goes from Four Coners to where Santiago Canyon rd and Sage Scrub meet just above the horse stables. I think its called Sage Scrub?

    Here are some pics I took of my daughter at that park a few years ago, in fact these pics were taken only a few weeks after the park opened.

    Before Photoshop.


    After Photoshot.


    From this view, if you look to the right, there's is one of the houses that back up to that park...they must have been scared sihtless.
    Ralph (not Ralphie) on a Roubaix in
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    & Iron Horse Maverick 5.5

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    Just an update for anyone interested -- I rode around this same area last Saturday, and Santiago/Modjeska as well. Lots of rangers running around at the time; they were dumping millions of gallons of hydromulch on the hillsides, hoping to keep them out of people yards and houses. (Locals may have noticed a certain "golf course" patchwork appearance of the Clevelands lately...)

    At any rate, I talked to several rangers and they all agreed that the burned areas were going to remain off-limits for approximately 12 months. I presume that includes Whiting too.

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    Senior Member summoner12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    Just an update for anyone interested -- I rode around this same area last Saturday, and Santiago/Modjeska as well. Lots of rangers running around at the time; they were dumping millions of gallons of hydromulch on the hillsides, hoping to keep them out of people yards and houses. (Locals may have noticed a certain "golf course" patchwork appearance of the Clevelands lately...)

    At any rate, I talked to several rangers and they all agreed that the burned areas were going to remain off-limits for approximately 12 months. I presume that includes Whiting too.
    DANGIT! I haven't been on my MTB since the fires. Drew and I rode Sunday before the fires started. Damn was it windy! I can't wait till whiting opens again!

    My coworker tells me he sees people running in and out of Gate 3 of whiting... i don't wanna go riding and get in trouble so i just keep out of the park.

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