Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Coach Whipped! -Part 3 The Final Push!

I know, three parts to this story, your probably bored to tears right now, my epic ride has become a saga. Let's continue. Where were we? Oh yes the crew was just settling down for the night and everything was good. I awoke a couple of times only to find out that our nice clear night had turned incredibly foggy, I could now barely see more than 20 feet and upon sticking a hand out of my warm cocoon I realized everything was soaking wet. I choose to ignore it and went back to sleep. I would deal with that crap later. Early morning came, I wanted to keep sleeping but the constant drip, drip, drip was making it hard, I had turned over on my side just in time for a single well placed water droplet to detach from it's high tree perch and descend down and into my ear canal with a wet splook sound. Fine, whatever, I'm up, lets go. We quickly started shoving wet gear into bags and beat a hasty retreat from our nights accommodations.

We made our way towards Lake Hodges and familiar territory for me. Another rider joined us briefly then disappeared into the fog just as quickly. Quietly and effectively we moved up the valley, we were now moving as a unit, where one went the others followed. A quick stop for breakfast and a fuel up as more well wishers came by for a chat and 'atta-boys. The fog had dissipated and the sun shone down on us once again. We took the opportunity to dry our gear out at the base of Raptor Ridge, looked like a garage sale and as we baked ourselves in the sun like a lizard on a cold day we answered more queries from various trail users. It was fine I knew as soon as we left this spot there would be no one left to ask questions we would again be on our own.

Ghosts in the trees. 

We settled in for the climb out of San Pasqual Valley followed by Upper and Lower Santa Ysabel truck trails and lastly Black Canyon. The sun beat down us once again and I thought back to the coolness and wetness of just a few hours before. What a strange play in weather, I guess the longer you stay out here, the more you get to experience. I zig-zagged my way up the canyon, not necessarily because the terrain was hard but to seek the shade of any tree or structure that would afford me such a luxury. The more I rode the more I kept seeing the footprints of the lonely midnight marchers that wanted to get back to Idyllwild that much faster. It didn't matter, there was no reason nor want to chase, I applauded their effort, hit the chill gear and steadily climbed. We reached the top and took in the views of the valleys on both sides, from here it would be a downhill plunge towards the resort of Lake Henshaw. It was a quick ride down Mesa Grande grade and before we knew it we had rooms for the night and an hour left before the restaurant closed. We talked and drank into the night and I fell asleep excited and hesitant at the same time, I was now having fun and did not necessarily want it to end.

We woke up early-ish to get started, loaded up on the remaining supplies we would need to get back to Idy and set off retracing our steps to get back on course. It was a nice brisk morning kinda like the one we had started with soooo long ago. It was only day five but it had felt like a month since I left Idyllwild, at one point I even forgot what day it was, nice! I felt good and pulled most of the way into Warner Springs. There was once again rumor of hot coffee and breakfast at a PCT stop in the area so of coarse we stopped to investigate but again we were denied. How's that song go "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad". The box of chicken noodle soup I had just bought at Lake Hensaw would have to suffice for now.

Towards Lost Valley and the land of false summits we climbed, with the weather being nicer than expected we made quick work of a lot of sections we thought were gonna be tough. Everyone was in good spirits and my bike even seemed a bit lighter. That last part was bullshit, my bike was still as heavy as ever I think I had just gotten use to it somehow. Brendan lead the push through the valley of the lost and beyond, I happily followed his pace and before I knew it we had closed the lollipop loop and we were now on the final push home. 

We revisited Sunshine Market, got a quick snack, a beer and an extra tall boy for celebrating at the top of Jim Truck trail. We crept our way up trail, unfortunately it had seen a lot of horse action since we had passed through a few days earlier so riding up any of it was out of the question. One last push and we were over and into the mountains again. The pine smells, cool air and of course that tall boy of coors was just the right motivation to keep on keepin on.

With less than 20 miles to go I wondered if I really even wanted to get back. I mean I had been on this journey for five days now and was just starting to feel acclimated to the whole process. I asked the group if we should just keep rolling on to some other destination, maybe camp out another night, keep the feeling going. Alas it was not to be, the last two climbs into Idy were upon us as we went back to the task at hand and easily motored up and over. We decided to jump on some kind Idy single track to heighten our stoke level that much more before we entered into town. There was not much fan fair as we rode ourselves through town, all the hoopla had died down since all the front runners of this so called race had finished days before. Brendan's wife Mary was on hand with a nice ice chest of cold beers and an order of pizza was in to the local pizzeria. All in all it was a most excellent adventure. Will I do it again next year, who knows, I didn't even fully commit to doing the ride this time around but it happened. If I do I would probably change a few things as it pertains to the bike. Although the Surly ECR is an excellent platform to go bike packing with it does not necessarily play nice over the long haul. A front shock might help for starters, less weight maybe. But that's for another time and another day on another adventure. Huge shout out to Brendan and his lunatic brain for coming up with such a fun bike packing event and for keep me on the straight and narrow, and to Tyrel for being a great riding partner and all around good guy. This is definitely one trip that I can call EPIC! Till next time Team Keeping It Real!

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