Riding through January weather, in June

Mitchell Creek’s logging road, former mill site that prompted building Tunitas Creek Road.


Is this going to be another lost summer, like the one we had in 2009? Not that I’m complaining. Well, just a little after my ride.

Headed down Alpine Road into a pea-soup fog, relative humidity 105 percent, what do I see? Dew drops sloughed off the redwoods lining the narrow road, coating it with that wet stuff — rain.

At Pescadero Creek Road it didn’t get any better. In fact, it looked like a January morning during a rainstorm. Road splatter became a reality.

A bail-out occupied my thoughts, like riding up Hwy 84, but as I did so, the road got dry away from the trees. I carried on to San Gregorio under cloudy skies.

Curious about learning the history of an old segment of Hwy 84, long since abandoned, pictures were taken. More later…

At the coast I saw blue sky and regained some composure climbing Stage Road to Hwy 1. The weather turned for the better.

On Tunitas Creek Road I searched for the exact location where Jobst Brandt took a photo during a ride in the early 1960s. I don’t know the exact year, but Gary Fisher (b. 1950) joined the ride, and he looks to be about 14. He’s just behind the rider in the blue jersey.

Tunitas Creek Road in 1965 and today. Just past the Biker Hut. (Jobst Brandt photo)


The weather turned out to be about as mild as I could hope for on a gloomy day. The redwoods dazzled, tucked away in the deep canyon with its bewitching creek, whose waters tumble over jumbled logs and sandstone boulders on the way to the blue Pacific.

Tunitas Creek Road is meant to be climbed.

I stopped at Mitchell Creek to reflect on past adventure rides that took us up a steep fire road to Star Hill Road. And so close to home.

When all seemed right with the world, here comes the intrusive sound of chainsaws chewing through redwood. The horror.

At the always welcome sight of Shingle Mill Road, marking the end of 10 percent climbing, I saw a Big Creek Lumber truck and tractor parked.

Down below along the road lay many severed redwoods, which will soon be cut into boards for houses, fences and decks.

Big Creek Lumber logging operation underway.


I’m not complaining about today’s logging operations in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They’re about as responsibly logged as you could ask for. Redwoods grow back, crazy fast.

Skyline Boulevard offers the usual Jekyll and Hyde personality with drivers blasting past, ignoring California’s laughable three-foot rule, on their way to an important meeting.

And then there’s a minute or two of pleasant car-free riding on the scenic road that rolls up and down the spine of the Coast Range.

Fog blew across the road once I reached Windy Hill, and why not? It’s Windy Hill after all. I managed to stay warm enough that the ride didn’t turn into a suffer-fest. So much for this rainy May.

4 Responses to “Riding through January weather, in June”

  1. jamesRides Says:

    Rode Sonoma County Backroad Challenge two weeks ago. Got drenched and frozen. Hadn’t ridden in Sonoma/Marin before. Rain washed off some arrows and I missed a turn. Thank goodness for SAG! A great ride even with all of that.

    Rode Old La Honda west to La Honda and West Alpine on Monday. Cold and foggy at the top (50s), though not too bad in the valley where might normally be freezing, Nice cool ascent of West Alpine. Funny though: coming back on 35, dense fog and cold near the fire station, and cold down 9, but pretty nice once down the mountain. Santa Cruz mountains always makes your ride interesting.

    Weekend/holiday afternoons the traffic heading south on Skyline from Page Mill to 9 isn’t near as crazy as the traffic going in the other direction, and seems less hurried than weekday commute traffic. Though still some drivers don’t give you a lot of room.

    Which one is Gary Fisher?

  2. Richard Allen Smith Says:

    You mentioned a fire rd to star hill. Where can I find that? 🙂

    • Ray Hosler Says:

      It’s shown in the photo of the bridge spanning Tunitas Creek. However, the road/trail had a huge landslide years ago, I’m told. You’re on your own, if you go up that way. I don’t know what you’ll find. The fire road section started out really steep, then leveled off. At some point we went off to the right up a trail to get to Star Hill Rd, or maybe it was Native Sons Rd. It was covered with leaves. Jobst Brandt knew the way, otherwise we never would have found it.

    • Richard Mlynarik Says:

      In Jobsting days I knew this route as the “Native Sons Cutoff”.

      It ends up on Native Sons at the apex of the tight ridgetop hairpin curve.

      It would have been easy enough to follow downhill to Tunitas (I never went that way) but uphill was a bit more confusing with several logging roads branching off, and of course always keeping an ear out for the less friendly Mountain Men types. A steep hustle, without much scenery.

      Taking (non-cutoff) Native Sons Road from lower down Tunitas was more common and more rewarding.

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