Pacific Coast Sierra Cascades Bike Trip Day 31 – Hot Weather, Hitchhiking

I slept well last night, with all my sleeping clothes on. Off at 6:30 through forest with scenic views in the peaks to the east. The two campgrounds at Hemet Lake had plenty of visitors. After a climb and descent to Mountain Center, I ate another breakfast. There I left the official route to Idyllwild to avoid 1,800 feet of elevation gain. Instead, I roared down Hwy 74 for many miles from pines to what looked like desert with lots of bare ground and knee-high shrubs. Much hotter here than at breakfast. I cycled to the town of Hemet along a strip of tire shops and such. Then I headed north toward Beaumont, gaining elevation over a ridge in the process. Even more challenging was a steep, 1,000 vertical foot climb in my lowest gear after Cherry Valley. The route turned left and descended steeply to Yucaipa. I missed my turn and had to backtrack. Finally, I rode through downtown and traded in my Bill Bryson book for a Tony Hillerman mystery. Off to Stater Bros. grocery store to buy food and eat lunch. I called the local regional park to see if I could get a camp site. Yes! When I got there, the entrance station person said there were no spaces plus I could only get a space online. At 2:00 pm, my only possibility seemed to start a 3,000-foot climb. I doubted that I had the energy to reach the top in the 90-degree day. I started up the canyon hoping I could find something. I almost stealth camped in a closed picnic area but went on. In spite of the heat and my thirst, the scenery kept my interest (see photo). I got too close to a curb and fell, skinning my left knee and elbow. My only solution to getting to the top of the climb was hitchhiking. Good Samaritan Shawn picked me up and squeezed my bike in the back of his old Bronco. He kindly drove me 8 miles up a steep climb and dropped me off at Angeles Oaks. First water then info on where to camp. Happily, the Cleveland National Forest managed the land along the highway. I biked 6 miles to a flat area near the road and set up camp, dead tired. After I set up camp and ate, a forest ranger came by to say I shouldn’t have camped here-but he let me stay. 59 hard miles on the bike and 8 miles hitching.

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