Sunday, April 20, 2014

4/20/14 Desert Creosote, Trucks, Winds, and More Creosote

After a fairly restful night in the Inyokern park, broken only by the squeaking barks of local small dogs, we set off again on our bikes.  Traveling through the desert is not the most exciting of activities.  Battling a vicious headwind, we biked through miles upon miles of sagebrush and creosote. Our journey was brightened by beautiful desert wildflowers that had managed to push their way up through the roadside dirt, small towns with abandoned buildings, the occasional functioning gas station, and a giant snake in the middle of the road which was promptly run over by a car.  When we reached our destination, Kramer Junction, we ate giant and delicious veggie burgers at a roadside joint called Astroburger. Realizing that we couldn't camp at this giant intersection of highways rushing with rumbling trucks, we biked back into the desert and camped among the creosote.

The next day was possibly the most epic of our entire trip. We started off on Helendale Road, finally off the main highway. Unfortunately, our road of choice had been paved many, many years ago and was now filled with pits, rocks, and sand.
That Terrible Road, Helendale In the Distance
We followed this road (probably the worst I have ever biked on) through bumping, rolling hills for 13 miles to the town of Helendale.  And what a strange town it was.  In the middle of desert wasteland we found picture perfect suburbia, fountains and lakes. Was it real? Back on pavement and again facing a grueling headwind, we continued through abandoned ranches and mines bustling with trains, trucks and odd machinery. In Apple Valley we found a piece of paradise, a small rectangle of green grass with trees, picnic tables, and trash cans-a perfect little park! It was here that we rested happily and ate lunch (round 1). 16 miles down the road we had lunch round 2 at our favorite Mexican place in Lucerne Valley: Adelita's.  Burritos the size of your head for $5- how can you beat that? Our day culminated with an ascent from the desert to Big Bear Lake.  This road is pretty grueling, 16 miles uphill of consistent 8% grade with sections up to 16%. Despite fatigue, with the help of some sour gummy worms and lots of positive encouragement we made it to the top of the pass just as twilight turned to night.

That night and the next day we spent resting at a friend's house next to Baldwin Lake and today we made the final bike ride over Onynx Summit, back to our home in the mountains.  It was a picture perfect day, and the ride was a piece of cake compared to the rest of our trip. As we rolled in, our friends gave us a round of applause and some hugs- a much appreciated welcome home.

Our one week journey contained more surprises and challenges than either of us could have expected, and I'm glad it did.  What a glorious adventure it was.  I feel much better prepared, both mentally and physically for our trip. Who knows what awaits us in Alaska.

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