A trail exists that haunts me. A tight corridor covered by a canopy of spooky Scrub Oak and Manzanita trees weaves down the northern end of Delmar Mesa. A natural tunnel, riders tell tales of ducking their heads to avoid being close-lined and the raw beauty of this phenomenon. I often find myself analyzing their Strava maps to see if they rode it.
Tunnel 4 in Los Peńasquitos Canyon is somewhat famous in the area, but actually, my little brother and I named it For-Tress when we were kids. We grew up exploring this canyon as children and we spoke to a homeless man one day in For-Tress. I wondered why he was there and questioned him. He seemed taken aback by my audacity. Things were very different in the 80s. This was OUR fort!
Apparently, according to Head Ranger Gina Washington, this trail does not belong to me or my brother, but was an old migrant path. Decades ago, Mexican nationals used it to trek northward from the border. Now its an MTB icon in San Diego.
Also, rare vernal pools along the Mesa house a unique order of crustacean called Fairy Shrimp. These tiny creatures are why the trails in the area are so protected. When the pools dry up, mountain bikers ride through them, collecting microscopic eggs on their tires and distributing them to places where they will not survive.
This area is obviously very special and this trail became one of those things i just had to do. I had to get back to For-Tress! I did try it once and it took a looooong time to get down, getting lifted through trees and supported along cambered sections. Fun for the adventure of it, but too much work to do on a regular basis. Obviously not something i could surmount on my own.
As part of my trails project, my goal is to construct a loop (not just an out and back) which includes some trail (not just fire road) that is safely navigated by adaptive riders in each mountain biking area. I thought, how cool would it be to include the coolest trail in THIS area! So i contacted Washington, and to my surprise, she was all for checking it out with me.
After a lot of back n forth, the day finally came for us to meet in the canyon and "walk" the trail together. Turns out, it wasn't going to take much at all to make the trail suitable for me and hopefully other adaptive riders. In Episode 4 of Weekly Ride, my YouTube series, i tell the story...