Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lost and found

Greetings from Warner Springs, a very small place with a post office and a school, where we are staying. We are up on a plateau behind Mount Palomar and 5000 feet above Anza Borrego. This is my favorite place on the trip. The stars are amazing out here, and the school has plenty of room to spread out. Of course, I'm in a tent.

It's around 37 degrees and colder by the minute.

If I had to give a highlight and a lowlight of the day, that's not hard, not hard at all. The lowlight was a decision to head to Sunrise Highway, the high road, after rain overnight in Pine Valley and a low of 29 degrees there. Sunrise Highway, one of my favorite roads, one to revisit. For the first 4 1/2 miles, no problem.

Then we came on an inside curve still shaded by the hill. Riders were losing traction on the road. That's what happens when it's a sheet of ice. We started walking. I walked a half-mile without seeing any improvement, watching oncoming cars careen down the hill.

After taking a glorious photo of a tree it dawned on me that this winter wonderland is perhaps not the appropriate place for me on my bike. That maybe I should be listening to a few of the warning signals going off in my head. Like 'is this going to be the way that I die?'

Then a sag van pulls up and Gene from Chicago rolls down the window. He says "Have you considered turning around and taking the low road? Cars can't even get up to Mount Laguna from the other direction (we can't help you if something goes wrong)".

I took a few more steps, unhappy, thinking. Then crossed the road and began walking gingerly downhill the way I came. When it was safe, I and some others got back on bikes and headed to Pine Valley for the second time this morning. A 9-mile detour.

The highlight? After 15 miles on the oversubscribed low road we found a new alternate, Engineers Road, to bypass Julian. It was incredibly scenic, not as cold as Antartica, and completely deserted. Except for me, Chris and Jay from LA, and a number of happy, peaceful examples of avian species.

Actually, when we kind of needed directions a friendly local showed up. He rolled down the window and said "Lost? I've lived here 26 years, I know the look". This guy would probably have talked some sense into us this morning. But we'll take his guidance in the afternoon, no problem.

Time to hit the mummy bag.


  1. Wow. As was said to us once on a Christmas trip, "discretion is the better part of valor." Only today it was true. Sleep well.

  2. Glad to hear you made it back down okay! :) My fingers and toes feel cold just reading about it.