In this region, so near to the Pacific Ocean, there is a lot of moisture in the air. At night, it settles. You may recall descriptions of heavily dewed camp-outs in blogposts past. This 1st night out we experienced a driving mist. Having an inkling of what would ("maybe", we thought) come, we rigged our waterproofing as best we could. I simply laid my bike on it's side and strapped my tarp to and over it in a low A-frame. T_dd got busy (Byzantine) lashing together a series of downed limbs to each other and his bike and secured his midget pancho over the top.
I find that every time I head out, there is some crucial piece of gear that is forgotten or fails. Aside from the tents, they were left out...intentionally. This round, I had forgotten that my sleeping bag's top zipper slider had gotten ripped off over Xmas, leaving only the bottom slider- which mean that I could only fasten the zipper by "opening" (pulling the slider all the way to the top) the bag, safety pinning that point, and then crawling in and zipping the bag closed on the way down. It took a couple tries to get it right. I maintained my cool collectedness.
Shortly, soon after conversation faded hazily into drowsing, the 1st drops hit. There was the usual mad scramble to assess and re-rig. I ended up stuffing my sleeping bag swaddled lower legs and feet into my pack and calling it waterproof. My sad companion curled up like a little bug and called that waterproof. His sad sack was too tiny to accommodate.
We dozed and awoke. There were intermittent and constant noises.
Upon awakening, I discovered that T_dd had gotten up in the middle of the 2nd (and sustained) shower and abandoned his tiny shelter for the trees...
We got our act together. Coffee 1st. Breakfast 2nd. Poo 3rd. The Kelly Kettle performed well. I think I will get the larger size. The small model I have is bulky enough that the weight difference (never that big a deal for me, truthfully) is negligible. It already takes up the space, I may as well have the extra hot water. The small boils 19fl oz (eh, I'd call that optimistic- more like 15fl oz) in 5 minutes the 1st go-round, and as little as 1 minute by the 3rd, when the coals are really going. Anyhow, it is a good product if you mainly need hot water, which is my style if it ain't cooking on a grill over the fire.
Just down the hill from camp was a spring, and we used T_dd's "Freedom" SteriPEN to kill the nasties. I carry the Potable Aqua tablets (ready in 30 minutes) if I'm feeling pinched on weight or space, versus a filter, cuz I'm low tech like that. The SteriPENs I have been associated with in the past have proved extremely temperamental, though the USB rechargeable "Freedom" was more friendly. The iodine tabs do not protect against cryptosporidium, but that's a fairly benign gut bomb. Words you never thought you'd say...
We rolled North, up the Narrows, looking for Bear Mountain Rd for some exploring. This HardCOEre 100 route listing Bear Mtn inspired us to head up and see if it was cool.
It is NOT cool.
I became very upset that someone would recommend it. T_dd attempted to devishly advocate it on the basis that it could be required so as to not duplicate any sections in such a long event, to which I replied and reply: fuuuuuuuuck that. Only the most pedanticated, mindlessly adherent judge-head would pick that ridgeline fire-break to hike with your bicycle.
I don't even know how steep it is. Steep enough to make you holler. I enjoy suffering on my bike, but this was just not...fun. At all.
After the hellish climbs and the substantial bushwack of Bear Mountain Spring Trail, we reached Mississippi Lake and were stoked. We felt we were back on track for fun and heading in the right direction to reach the (needed) whiskey cached at
Having dealt with Willow Ridge Road's vicious ups and downs before, we felt we could outsmart ourselfs and take Heritage Trail down to sweet Pacheco Creek Trail for the win.
This was not to be. I think we blew the turn shortly after dropping like stones to a knob at which the "trail" could be perceived as equally possibly West or South. We checked the map. The vegetation is capable of closing trails up like in the Ventana, and we were guessing South as it looked more established. It ended definitively about 40ft above the creek bed. Being very reluctant to hike back up and then to face the vicious ups and downs of Willow Ridge Rd, we figured we could bull our way through, around that knob, and we'd be at the Pacheco Creek drainage and golden. We checked the map.
That creek bed was the 2nd most hateful experience aboard a bicycle I have ever had. We were a drainage further East than we'd reckoned. The poison oak closed in, the manzanita closed in, the walls closed in. I felt like I was in an ant lion trap, the sides were so steep and ready to slip. At times, it was preferable to haul our loaded bikes up the rotten sides to get over particularly thick thickets of poison oak. We traded leads. Procedure became: curse, lean your bike, break (literally- smash branches, most of which were rotted and thankfully easy) trail, curse, return for your bike, curse, move forward until the next impasse, repeat. Really tough.
Eventually, we broke out into the Pacheco drainage, but there was no celebration. We were tired and concerned about the amount of oak we'd come through. That stuff is really uncomfortable. It's now been 4 days with no symptoms, so I'm hopeful. We were covered pretty well- I had gaps between my socks and knickers (the American kind, thank you) and sometimes my sleeves rode up from my wrists, but it was my face I was worried about. The brush was so tight I was very glad to have large French sunglasses for style and protection.
We rode (how novel!) down the creekside singletrack and, after a bit, it lifted our spirits. Sadly, my spirits were broken when we reached Pacheco and I found some jackass had discovered and taken the whiskey. I can write no more tonight.