More than two years ago, Silverado Motorway (AKA Silverado Trail, Bedford Trail) was set aflame by a local resident who apparently was attempting to keep wild animals out of his yard. The fire burned about a thousand acres, all mainly up the Motorway. But the Silverado Motorway trailhead is just about fifty yards into Maple Springs Road. Thus, the fire closed down Maple Springs Road in its entirety. That was the first year I coordinated volunteers for Chimera. The 100 mile course had to be altered, which was a minor inconvenience. More importantly, Maple Springs Road, which zig-zags up Silverado Canyon to “Four Corners,” where The Main Divide in two directions, as well as, Harding Truck Trail meet, was completely and totally closed to all traffic. CLOSED. More than TWO years. I cannot tell you how much this weighed on my heart, as it seemed the longer they kept that gate locked and closed signs posted, the more Maple Springs became the only place I ever wanted to be. Go figure.
For a while there, I telephoned the ranger station to inquire when they’d open up the road again. First it was in September they’d open, then in the spring, then the following fall, etc. Eventually, I gave up hope and stopped calling. Part of me wondered if the powers-that-be wanted to keep the road closed for good, perhaps to preserve the land from us trompers.
Last week, I received the glorious news via a Facebook post from a fellow trail runner who lives in Silverado Canyon (perhaps you know him, Greg Hardesty), that Maple Springs is now open.
Be still, my beating heart!
And so it was, last Sunday (9/11), pretty late in the morning, I drove one hour from my seaside town to the tiny, yet wonderful town of Silverado in the Saddleback Mountains. The parking lot at the Maple Springs trailhead was full which was not a surprise -- I’m sure lots of people have longed for Maple Springs over the past two years. But I drove on past that, winding my way up a single lane paved road, relatively crowded with hikers, mountain bikers, bikers and runners. Three and ½ miles in, I rested my truck in a small dirt turnout, just where the paved road ends. And then I strapped on my hydration pack, and made my way up Maple Springs Road to “Four Corners.”
The climb up this truck trail was steep. The sun was hot. But it was all worth it. Surprisingly, not much had changed -- I remembered the same huge boulders, the same fallen trees as I traveled up the rocky road. Maple leaves were just beginning to yellow. A dozen or so four-wheel drivers passed me by, some going up, others down. Not a single person was rude along the way -- everyone either smiled or gave a little wave.
I hiked much of that incline which totaled a little over 4 miles. I also snapped a lot of photos, as if I didn’t already have hundreds of them back at home on hard drives, sd cards, and flash drives (which by the way are scattered all over the place, in plastic baggies, in my book bags, etc). I also scoured the dirt floor for cat tracks, any animal tracks for that matter. I didn’t see any, though the road was so covered with bike tracks that cat tracks could have easily been obliterated. Still, I felt safe, as the mountain was more active than I’ve ever seen it (except for of course, during races).. There have been times that I’d ventured up Maple Springs and didn’t see a single other soul. It was good to have the company my first time out in over two years.
It was good, so good to be back.