Pacific Coast Sierra Cascades Bike Trip Day 30 – Pines to Desert to Pines

Last night, at 5,500 feet in elevation, I felt cool near dawn. On the Sunrise Highway at 6:45 heading north and mostly downhill with long-distance views of chaparral near the highway and desert 5,000 feet below (see photo). I passed by a spot where I camped near the highway on my PCT trip. I stopped in Julian after 17 miles for more breakfast. Julian sees itself as a pie town, but I abstained. The highway descended through oak woodlands that ended 7 miles later at Santa Ysabel. In 7 more miles near Lake Henshaw, the route turned northwest toward Warner Springs and crossed an expanse of dry grassland. I stopped in town for a cold drink then gained a bit of elevation through oak woodlands to Sunrise Summit where I bought dinner. The highway lost elevation to Oak Grove where I contemplated staying at the US Forest Service Campground. It was full and unattractive so I continued downhill to Aguanga, leaving the oaks behind in favor of granite boulders and low desert-type shrubs. The ensuing 11-mile hot, shadeless climb along a busy, shoulderless highway with plenty of irate motorists wore me out. I revived at the Coahuila Indian casino minimart by drinking nearly 2 liters of cold liquids. Happily, the route sprouted a shoulder for 4 miles to Anza (more water) and to the Pines to Palms Highway. The restaurant at the junction where I ate lunch on my PCT hike was closed. The road turned north through a delightful landscape of pines. In 6 miles, I stopped at a CalFire station to see about camping there. No luck with that but the guys gave me ice water and mentioned that Forest Service land bordered the highway. In a mile, I found a fine camp site 100 yards west of the highway under tall pines and called it good. Not that much elevation gain today but 84 miles biked.

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