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The Adventures of the "Lost Boys"

Story by Chris Vargas

Well as many of you know two of our club members, Ned Reynolds and Mark Wilson along with Jim O'Connell and Brian Stockdale decided they'd enjoyed their evening ride in the Santa Ana's so much they'd turn their ride into a campout.

Well, that's not entirely true. It seems a ride that was intended to go up Blackstar across the Main Divide and down the Silverado Motorway was changed when Ned Reynolds suggested they go down "Smash Face," a very primitive trail that was built by Edison over 3 years ago to access the power lines that run up Ladd Canyon and into Riverside.

The Warrior's Society found out about the trail when many residents reported chain saw noise coming from Ladd. We decided to investigate and I led a group of about 8 riders, including Ned, up to Pleasents Peak where people had reported people working (I later found out after reporting to the trail to the Forest Service that it was built under permit by Edison).

The reason we named the Edison Trail "Smash Face" is right at the start of the ride as we rode up the Motorway to the Main Divide Daryl King took and unfortunate spill jumping a jump right before we reached the Main Divide. He took a direct hit to the face and was a bloody mess. Despite looking like crap and being all bloodied up with a "smash face" Daryl continued on the ride.

We found the "trail Head" on Pleasents Peak and descended the trail. As I said, it was a very primitive trail that basically went straight down. If you intended to ride it you had to have your seat way down and your butt almost dragging on the ground behind your back tire. Only a few of us were able to ride it with most of the group walking most of it.

Once you reached the bottom of Ladd Canyon and got to Ladd Creek you had to take great care not to get into the poison oak. We basically had to enter the creek and carry our bikes through the mud and poison oak until we found the exit downstream that allowed us to hike out.

That was the last time any of us rode down it and it has never been maintained since, a fact that Ned did not know before he decided to lead Mark, Jim and Brian on this adventure. It was a bad enough trail when we rode it 3 years ago; you can imagine what it was like for our "lost boys" when they went down it.

Well, I can't say that they were "lost boys," foolish maybe, but not "lost." They knew where they were and the way out, but just ran out of light. If you've ever been down deep in the canyons after dark you just can't see your hand in front of your face; they did the right thing, they did not panic, they hunkered down for the night. Unfortunately, a panicked wife, despite pleas from her husband, called the Sheriff to go "rescue" them.

Ned's Club name is "Lone Wolf." I think his partners on this ride would have preferred "Lone Wolf" had done this ride "alone." Brian Ephraim suggested we have a contest to see who can come up with the best name for Ned Reynolds. Perhaps the award could be a t-shirt or something.

Here are Brian's entries:

Ned "Lost on Trail" Reynolds
Ned "Magellan" Reynolds
Ned "GPS" (Gone Past Sundown) Reynolds

I am sure others can come up with some winners. He deserves a suitable name for his new found celebrity.

Well here are some do's and don'ts:


Scratched and tired
Bikers chagrined but OK after trail detour they now regret.

by Robin Bryson
The Orange County Register, Thursday, August 25, 2005


SILVERADO - Four experienced mountain bikers left late Tuesday for a three-hour ride in the Santa Ana Mountains and wound up with a 17-hour adventure friends will never let them forget.

Orange County residents Ned Reynolds, Mark Wilson, Brian Stockdale and Jim O'Connell planned a standard 20-mile, single-track loop up Black Star Canyon and down the Silverado Motorway.

Then came the chance to ride down a primitive, technically challenging wilderness trail known as Smash Face.

"It's barely passable as it is, and that's kind of the excitement about the trail," Reynolds said. "It was fun up until about 8 p.m. and then it wasn't so much anymore."

The four decided to turn off the trail to take on Smash Face, a little-known Southern California Edison access route that runs down Ladd Canyon.

But the route had become overgrown due to last winter's heavy rains. An already tricky exit from Ladd Canyon Creek became impossible to find with night falling.

The men - clad in short-sleeved shirts, bike shorts and soaked shoes - decided to hole up for the night and work their way out after daybreak.

O'Connell called his wife, Heidi, on his cell phone to tell her the plan.

But she was unwilling to wait out the night. About 11 p.m., she called in the Orange County Sheriff's Department, which initiated a rescue effort.

A Sheriff's Department helicopter made visual contact with the men. The four walked out of the canyon and were taken to the department's command post at about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

"Sometimes we go in the canyons on lost hiker and lost biker calls and many times the story ends tragically," sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said. "This time it had a happy ending, so everybody felt good."

The men carried their bikes up a deer trail to reach warmer air, and dug holes to keep off the breeze.

"We joked around, told stories and teased each other," Wilson said. "We just tried to make the best of it."

Other than being tired, and scratched from a little trailblazing, the men came through the night in good shape. Most picked up medication for poison oak. Wilson headed into the office.

Still, the men are chagrined about the rescue effort, and a bit embarrassed about the attention it's generated.

"The thing that's the most upsetting to these guys is they didn't need a rescue," Chris Vargas, executive director of the Warrior Society, said.

Both Reynolds and Wilson belong to the society of adventurers who bike and hike trails that they keep cleared for the U.S. Forest Service.

Vargas said the four made a big mistake by tackling an unfamiliar trail so late.

"The ordeal is the least of their worries, because when their friends find out that they are the mountain bikers that got lost, they're not going to hear the end of it," he said.

But the unexpected campout hasn't deterred them.

"We have a ride scheduled for Saturday in the San Gabriel Mountains," Wilson said.

Copyright 2005 The Orange County Register


4 Mountain Bikers Get Much More Than a 3-Hour Tour
After a wrong turn, the men spend the night in an east Orange County canyon. "Great bonding experience," says one.

By Mai Tran
Times Staff Writer, Thursday, August 25, 2005


Four Orange County bicyclists emerged safe Wednesday after being stranded overnight in Black Star Canyon while following a deer trail, the Orange County Sheriff's Department reported.

The men found their way out of the steep terrain about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday after following a stream that led to a house where they were fed breakfast, department spokesman Jim Amormino said.

The men said they were generally familiar with the area because they frequently spent their weekends clearing mountain-bike trails in the Santa Ana Mountains. On Tuesday, they said, they decided to explore a new path.

The men headed out about 4:30 p.m. for what was expected to be a three-hour ride along Smash Face Trail, which begins at Silverado Canyon Road.

But at dusk, a wrong turn led to a 16-hour ordeal. One of the men called his wife on his cell phone and she notified police. "We knew how to get out, but it was pretty dark even after the moon came out," said Mark Wilson, 41.

The men ate power bars and, with temperatures in the 60s, dug holes and squeezed into them for warmth while they slept.

A volunteer search-and-rescue team in a helicopter spotted the group's bicycle reflectors but was unable to get to the men, Amormino said.

"The area was too remote and had no access and there were too many hanging power lines for our helicopters to land," he said.

About 4 a.m. Wednesday, rescue crews resumed their search but the men had left their location, following a creek.

They hiked about two miles, carrying their bikes above their heads and avoiding patches of poison oak before they reached a house where a woman gave them bagels and water.

They resumed their hike to their cars when they were spotted by rescuers, who took them to a nearby church.

"I'm just glad everyone is OK," said Jim O'Connell, 30, of Capistrano Beach, who had scrapes and cuts on his legs. "It wasn't that bad. If there was a time to get lost, it was last night. It was not cold. We had fun. It was a great bonding experience."

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times


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