Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Into the Mountains

Our elevation profile for today:

We woke up early in our desert campsite.  It was light by 6, and we left shortly after. The road took us up into the hills switchback after switchback, until we could see the desert far below.  Tam and I were unbelievably excited to be back in the mountains.  Up we climbed, up and up and up some more.  The sagebrush and creosote shrubs turned to pine and oak forest, and we enjoyed watching the vegetation change without traffic to worry about.
Mom climbing the mountain

My mom did a great job with the climbing.  There aren't any hills like this in Georgia!  We topped out around 7,000 feet at the Angeles Crest, having ascended almost 4,000 feet.

We stopped around noon to eat lunch in the little town of Wrightwood, then set off again.  Now we would descend all the way back down to the desert, almost 10 continuous, amazing miles of downhill.  Back where we started, on the desert floor, we picked up highway 138.  It was heavily trafficked for a few miles, but after we crossed highway 15, a wide gray ribbon of belching trucks, we had the road mostly to ourselves.  Back up we went.  If anything, this riding was more difficult than the morning.  The hills were short but very steep, and the cars, driving way too fast for the twisty road, didn't give us much space.  But we continued, as always, then reached the top and headed back down.  A long, straight downhill brought us to Silverwood Lake, a bright blue jewel in the desert, and as we passed it, we picked up a tailwind for the first time in days.  It felt sooo good to be able to get some speed on flat ground, and we took full advantage by riding fast.

It was almost 3:00 at this point and would be getting dark around 5.  Only 10 miles to go to our destination.  No problem, right?  The first few miles were what I call good uphill, with only a moderate declivity, but soon it got steep.  Really steep, with the steepest sections being between 12% and 18%, and the not-so-steep sections being pretty fearsome, too.  This awfulness was sustained for probably about four miles, and we were quite happy when we saw the grade lessen.  
Our home forest!

The hard part was over, and we were confident at this point that we would make it to Crestline before dark.  Unfortunately, we had been warned that the last part up to our warmshowers host Bill's house was all uphill.  It wasn't as steep as before, but I worked up a good sweat in the cool air.  As we were ascending one of the last hills, Bill drove up in his truck and took my mom the rest of the way up.  He knows just how bad the hill can be, and it was so nice of him to come down to see if we wanted a ride.  Tam and I biked.
The view from the top was beautiful, and powering ourselves up on our own power made it worth that much more.

Our evening at Bill's house could not have been better: great food and conversation, and an early bedtime!  Many thanks to Bill and Katie for having us!

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