Today I planned to ride the SART (Santa Ana River Trail) well at least the first 27 miles from Huntingdon Beach to the top of Yorba Linda. The SART in Orange County Ca, is a trial built alongside a man made concrete drainage channel, over a 100m wide in places. It was build to diver flood waters from the mountains out to sea, instead of filling the flood plain that Orange County is built on. That in turn gives a nice 50ish mile ride, with the option of riding a lot of gravel if you pick the opposite side to the main paved trail.
Well that idea quickly vaporized at the first blockage, only 3 miles from the beach. Not from debris from the recent storms, or construction (they're in the middle of dragging out tons of silt from the concrete flood channel - if you like watching Cat D9 bulldozers run in a meter of water, you know where to go! The issue came from the homeless encampment that was sprawled across the trail. I'm not going to blame the homeless for changing my ride plans, but it does seem like the encampments along the drainage channel have exploded in size sine I last rode it, not long after a Facebook acquaintance Dennis Ordaway wrote about the issues here
I've no idea what the solution is as people in hard places need to live somewhere. The OC Register reported about the locking of the gates along the bike path last August to stop people camping out, and in October they reported on the new shelter in Santa Ana Oh and if you have a little time you can read the County's 10 year plan for ending homelessness in the OC here - but the thing is there seem to be more people sleeping rough, I felt guilty for feeling put out that I couldn't ride a small section of trail. As someone who considers them self an adventurer and a traveller I can choose to sleep outside, I can choose to worry about wether I will be able to stay warm and dry tonight. But in the end I can come home to my wife and my dog, take a hot shower, eat a nice meal and sleep in a warm dry bed.
I need to put my thinking cap on and see if there's something we can do, if you have some ideas please comment, but in the meantime lets give a thought to those who are sleeping rough tonight not by choice.