By Mayor Dave Harrington
The call; “Unit 148 priority one.” “148.” “148 medical aide/AOA Fire reference a bicyclist down in Aliso Wood Canyon Wilderness area of Car Wreck trail – unknown extent of injuries at this time.” “148 copy responding code 3.” “148 10-4 Fire has been notified.”
This call and response is common for hikers and bikers in many of the County’s parks and trails for people who are lost or have crashed. Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park is no exception. Boasting 4,500 acres of pristine wilderness park area, the Canyon is home to trails for both hikers and bikers with names like Cholla, West Ridge, Coyote Run, Lynx, Alwut Trail, Rock-It and Mathis, just to list a few. They range from wide fire roads to single-track mountain bike trails not intended for the faint of heart. We are lucky to have this amenity in our backyard. The land was once owned by Don Juan Avila, Louis Moulton and then the Mission Viejo Company before being made a park and is home to a variety of species including snakes, but more on that later.
For a week in August of 2004 and another the following summer, I completed the John Muir Trail, which stretches 210 miles from the peak of Mt. Whitney to Yosemite’s Happy Isles trailhead. This required a rather intense training regimen of hiking many trails with varying difficulty but always with safety in mind. Some rules are not meant to be broken. Like, take water – more than you think you need. Know where you are going and how to get back. Knowledge is power and can save your life. Make sure to notify someone, anyone, about where you are going and when you’re coming back. I know, this sounds so basic, but if it’s so basic WHY do people continue to violate these simple rules? Pay attention, this cannot be said enough and applies to everyone. If you want to listen to music, make sure you only have one bud in your ear so you can hear what is coming up the hill behind you or, more importantly, down the hill in front of you. Trust me, the bike coming at speed down the hill will win. It’s physics.
Many of these rules also apply to mountain bikers with a few extras. For example, know your limitations. If you are a beginner rider and have never head down Rock-It, then pick a less challenging trail to try out for the U.S. Cycle Team. As for equipment, wear a helmet and other pads. Treat others with respect; this goes for everyone. It’s a public space and should be enjoyed by everyone.
This is also a wilderness area where animals live. Be aware, not scared, just aware. There are snakes around the trails in the shrubs, so stay on the trails. If you see a snake, stay away from it. For some good info about snakes, read this.
The gem known as the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is an amenity we in Aliso should get out and enjoy. Be prepared, aware and respectful of each other and the park.