Hill beater

I finally made it up and over Old State Road after being here since January. The snow had melted and I was able to take the left and get over the pass at Wagy Flat Road. It’s an amazing feeling to climb a hill numerous times, always fail, and then finally get over the top.

The vista was a reminder that if you want to have a good story with a beautiful view, it always, always, always comes with a price.

In this case there was the obvious price of climbing, and the not-so-obvious surtax of the descent. Downhill wasn’t especially technical, just sandy and a constant braking action for about an hour. The final paved couple of miles down Sawmill Road were on the steepest asphalt, easily twenty percent if not more.

So enamored was I of the climb that the next day Kristie and I put on our packs and planned an overnight camp up near the pass. “What’s the climb like?” she asked.

“We’re going up the reverse way, so I’ve never climbed it, but from the looks of it, it’s going to be the hardest climb I’ve ever done.”

And it was. The backpacks and fully loaded bikes made it The Hardest +1. I had to stop at one point because a water bottle fell out, but the several stops we both made to take photos were a big relief to legs that could barely turn the pedals over.

This is perhaps the best thing about being a wanker Freddie tourist: You can shamelessly stop because you are tired and weak and don’t even need an excuse. The total climb was about four miles, the last two on soft sand. At the fork we went right and climbed another three miles til we found a hidden spring down in the redwoods.

We carried our bikes down the steep drop, and nestled under the boughs, put up the summer tent. Did I mention that it’s still the middle of winter at 6,000 feet?

As soon as the sun went over the treetops it got very cold. By 4:00 we were in our sleeping bags, chattering. Quick dinner of eggs, bacon, and onions, more hot coffee, and back into our survival bags. Fact: However cold it is at 4:00 PM, it’s a lot colder at 2:00 AM. Sometime late at night it started snowing.

Did I mention we’d brought the summer tent to “save weight”?

Note: Saving weight is less important than not freezing to death.

Daylight came, we scarfed the coffee and oatmeal, packed up frozen to the bone, climbed another mile, got all lathered up, then began the 1-hour freezing descent which was rocky, sandy, steep in parts, and bordering on “technical” which is what I call descents where every second you fear for your life. The day before going up it had seemed so much easier …

At the bottom all was sunny. We parked the bikes, unloaded, and began the day at 9:00 AM. Not a bad way to conquer a hill, if “conquer” is what you call “getting your ass kicked.”


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3 thoughts on “Hill beater”

  1. Speaking as a nerd, one of the great revelations in life was that there were actually women out there that would sleep with you. Now, if you are a nerd that loves the outdoors, and backpacking or bikepacking, and you find a wooman that will do that with you? Well, I don’t think there are a lot out there. They’re out there, I just don’t think there are a lot of them, and the fact that you found one, well, that alone is a gold strike.

  2. I’m trying to find where you are on Google maps, but not doing well. Similarly on your trip north, more cartography would have been nice. Nonetheless, good reads.

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