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Unread 06-26-2010, 09:35 PM   #1
afromullet
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Default Clear Creek 6/26/2010 (part 1)

Hi Everyone. This is my report of my first trip to Clear Creek, and the first trip for a lot of folks since the area has been reopened (partially).

This will be a long post, and this is my first part. I will take a picture of my map and upload it. I will also post some garmin GPS coordinates once I get them from a friend I was traveling with.

http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/holli...ment_area.html

Where is Clear Creek?
Ball park: 40 miles south of Hollister, in mountains between King City (Salinas Valley) and Coalinga (Central Valley). If you have read Steinbeck's East of Eden (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_of_Eden_%28novel%29) -- it is the "Barren Hills" to the east of King City, I assume, where the character Samuel Hamilton lives.

Is it really open?
As of today, YES YES YES. Its not very public though. Even with what I read on the web, I was still prepared to be bummed out, turn around and go to Hollister Hills for the day. The camping areas are fenced off but the trails are open. There is no charge to enter. It was closed from 2008-April 2010 because of worries of asbestos. The area is rich in the mineral serpintine and, thus, has asbestos mines. The BLM shut down Clear Creek, in my opinion, because of all those late night Mesotheliaoma lawyer ads. I really doubt the asbestos here is harmful (unless you work in a mine), but I can see where a financial case can be made for closing it for risk management; who wants to defend lawsuits even if you can win? The BLM found it easier to close it. In April, San Benito County (who has the rights to the roads (these roads are black diamond Jeep Trails I found out today)) voted to open the roads (4-0).

What is the difficulty?
First off, I must announce that, as of when I write this, I am inexperienced. I can only compare this to Hollister Hills. I went on two "roads" (R001 and R002) and a trail to the top of a mountain with a tower (I'll post more details later). It was challenging. Terrain was steep, rutty, and rocky. It was more challenging than Fremontia Drive in Hollister Hills (black diamond), but not as challenging as truck hill/ravine. I really think I would have damaged my stock 4R -- both clearance and tire durability would have been an issue. I really think I would have gotten a flat with non AT/MT tires. The difficulty is maginfied by the remoteness. The closest gas station has to be easily an hour away from an entrance and we saw only two other people all day (close to an entrance) -- we never saw a ranger or sheriff.

Attendees:

Scott with my 4R -- lift with 32.4s
Jeff's with his Explorer (rear locker with 33s) and
Nick with his Dakota (rear locker with 32s) at 7am. Nick is a clear creek veteran and was our guide along with his passenger, Kevin.

Details:
Start
We met in Morgan Hill at ~7am. Jeff got a flat before we even started (he just mounted 33 MT/Rs and one of them was defective and had a bubble on it's sidewall). We got some fix-a-flat and we headed to wait for America's Tire in Gilroy to open. They didn't have a tire on hand, so we pumped slime into his tire and pumped it to 50psi and put a tire on order for Monday -- we still embarked on our mission to Clear Creek.

We picked up a friend in Hollister at ~9, after the tire fiasco and left Hollister around 9:30, headed down highway 25 South (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,0.088148&z=14). BEAUTIFUL road. God's country.

We took a left at Coalinga Road after about 40 minutes (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,0.176296&z=13). A bit twisty -- 20 minutes then took a left on Clear Creak road (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...44074&t=h&z=15)

Clear Creak Road is San Benito County Road "R001". Here is us at the entrance:

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Unread 06-26-2010, 09:39 PM   #2
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From there we headed in mile or two and took a left on R002 at the campgrounds. This started the advanced driving. I was not expecting this. I had to stop to lock the center diff and put it in 4Lo, and immediately was thankful for my ol' friend ATRAC.
The campgrounds are crazy....wonderful with new bathrooms, picnic tables...but FENCED OFF. wierd. here is where we went left: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...05509&t=h&z=18

We continued up R002 and my adrenaline was pumping as I was seeing beautiful sites and wondering what was next around the corner. We finally came to a ridge and stopped and took some pictures. I think we were here, but not sure: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...02755&t=h&z=19



After deciding to follow that fence line for 100 ft and take the hardway to the trail (fun,challenging) we cam to a "Play Area". Seriously -- there are marked "Open Play Areas" where you almost cant spot the road and you can go cross country:


We followed the road some more -- it was pretty steep:


There were many other roads that were marked that you could take to veer off of R002, we took one that led us to a tower on the top of what I think was San Carlos Peak. We hiked about 10 minutes to the tower.

Looking towards the Central Valley:


Looking towards Salinas Valley:


We had lunch here and the talk was 30 minutes about how awesome Clear Creek was. We then headed to the Ghost Town of New Idria. We went back down to R002 and from the tower, it intersected with R001 which we followed. We decided to take it fast (about 15-20mph) and were doing some bouncing and sliding. We were being safe, but it was challenging and I was confident riding on my new OW 2.0 suspension and MT/Rs.

New Idiria Mining Town (uninhabited) was a TRIP. Wierd place, can't wait to explore it more. http://www.new-idria.org/
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...h&z=17&iwloc=A




Close to here, we saw the only other 2 people we saw the entire trip -- two dirt bike riders.

After New Idria on R001, the road becomes semi-paved and then turns into a beautiful drive back to highway 25. The terrain almost reminds me of the way back from the Road To Hana in Maui -- the dirt road side. Very odd terrain. Very satisfying.

This leads up through the town of Panoche and intersects back with 25 near Hollister, making almost a loop. Close to the intersection, Jeff's tire finally gave out and we had to put on the spare on the side of a PAVED road.


Just FYI -- dont use a small spare on a detroit style locked rear -- it doesnt work. We had to move the spare to the front after limping for a few miles. This made me happy I spent the extra $$ on my full-sized spare.

After limping back to Morgan Hill, we made it to Sinaloa's Cafe by 4:15 and were drinking Cadillac Margi's on rocks before heading home to wifies and kiddies.

Clear Creak is AWESOME. Seriously -- we maybe cruised through 15% of the 80k acres? I can't wait to go back, and I want to go with some 120ers. I can't believe we have a day trip place from Silicon Valley that is this awesome. I'm going to dream about it tonight.

-Scott
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Unread 06-27-2010, 12:09 AM   #3
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Ok looks like the tower is on San Benito Mountain at ~5300 feet: http://www.americantower.com/OASISPu...&lngTowerid=-1

Look at their documentation with pics -- its a great view of Clear Creek: http://www.americantower.com/OASISPu...jectSubTypeId=

Wow -- American Tower impressed me with this info. (before it was only their stock price that impressed me).
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Unread 06-27-2010, 10:35 AM   #4
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What happened to those Kevlars??? Curious cuz I heard they were really strong
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Unread 06-27-2010, 10:51 AM   #5
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Great report. I have not been out there in ages and only once. Should probably swing it at some point.
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Unread 06-27-2010, 03:04 PM   #6
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The tire was defective from the Mold at the factory the American Tire guy said and was going to replace it without a doubt but didnt have my size in stock in the store and the closest store that had the 33' was in Fremont, so I took the gamble and drove on it. You could actually see the cord of the tire thru the bubble and it was hissing air the whole day. The good thing is it made it all thru the park and then blew out on the paved road on the way home.

Thank gosh for me I roll with a 120 that carries a Hi Lift
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Unread 06-27-2010, 08:23 PM   #7
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Here's a pic near one of the open play areas:
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Unread 06-27-2010, 08:26 PM   #8
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Clear Creek Map -- I don't know if you can still get these so I'm posting a pic.



Click here for full size: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4074/...46760b5c_o.jpg
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Unread 06-27-2010, 08:39 PM   #9
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Very nice detailed report, thank you Scot for taking the time

Looks like a good spot for a NorCal 120 meet so go ahead and plan a run

Are there any references on the maps you found of trails running up to Pichacho Peak running west to east via Goat Mount, I am referencing Wells Nocal 4WD trails page 181?
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Unread 06-27-2010, 09:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewdays View Post
The tire was defective from the Mold at the factory the American Tire guy said and was going to replace it without a doubt but didnt have my size in stock in the store and the closest store that had the 33' was in Fremont, so I took the gamble and drove on it. You could actually see the cord of the tire thru the bubble and it was hissing air the whole day. The good thing is it made it all thru the park and then blew out on the paved road on the way home.

Thank gosh for me I roll with a 120 that carries a Hi Lift
Ok.... I was very sceptical of this tire pattern, but after seeing the tire at a 37 and 40" Ive been considering them as a next tire..... depends on how I like my BFG's. I havent got to really wheel them yet so well see.... Its gonna b 38's or 40's for my next meats
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Unread 07-17-2010, 07:46 PM   #11
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great trip report.
glad you got those FJ wheels on and lovin the tire choice. looking great
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Unread 07-17-2010, 10:21 PM   #12
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Great report! I'd be down for a day run.
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Unread 10-04-2010, 07:57 PM   #13
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just came across this nice report, thanks! i was happy to hear the news about the re-opening, but hadn't really heard anyone talking about it so i'm glad to have found this discussion. has anyone been out there since July? may have to plan a trip soon.
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Unread 10-04-2010, 10:30 PM   #14
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.....

Last edited by shuly; 05-16-2012 at 07:48 PM.
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