Los Padres National Forest…

June 19, 2010

After some flat miles across the plains and some stops throughout a few towns for water, I was finally getting closer to the mountains I had eyed so curiously on my map.  I took a crucial midday hideout under a lone tree I found and started the afternoon late heading up into the hills of the Los Padres National Forest.  After consulting my map and Kurt, and with a big desire to avoid LA, I decided it would be best to head up into the forest and skirt around the backside of the entire LA area.  This proved to be the most rewarding decision of the trip so far!  Hills oh glorious hills!  The climb lasted more or less for about 3o miles, some mountain grade, just some steep, steep thigh burning forward motion.  Either way, it was great to be up in a bit of elevation (my guess was around 6000 ft) and amongst the pine trees again.  I camped towards the summit that evening (I really do love sleeping in high windy spots) and watched the tiny lights of nearby towns twinkle below me.  I have yet to feel unsafe at any point on the trip thus far, but this night I could say I really felt extra safe that not a single person was going to be passing through the area and I could really spread out and get cozy.  I shared my view with the many pinch bugs that were seemingly after my food and even had the opportunity to flip an ant over that was stuck on his back.  Can’t say I have done that before.  My sleeping bag is rated at 15 degrees (Women’s Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15..Thanks D5000!), which will be great in colder weather, but currently I am tossed in between either getting eaten alive as I sleep (I do not have a tent right now) or waking up covered in a sweat.  Sleeping in such elevation was a treat as it was much cooler that evening.  The morning even got to start as other Sundays do… scurrying out for a pee and then hustling back to my bed to get warm under the covers again.

The next day, the hills continued and I climbed up and up until finally being rewarded with a great descent that sent my through the towns of Lake of the Pines and New Frazier, dropping me right next to the 5.  I took my midday rest outside a gas station and then continued on frontage roads and the famous ridge line, heading towards Lake Elizabeth.  The roads and towns I passed through were cavity inducing in their sweetness.  I spent the night next to Lake Elizabeth, camping on a sandy cove and listening to the stray dogs whimper in the night.  The next morning I awoke to them rustling around in the bushes.  There was about 6 of them and man were they cute.  They kept their distance, as did I, and we both took care of our own morning routines before I headed back out to the road and towards Palmdale.

A stop along the way for supplies...

What once was...

Amber waves of grain...

Hitchhiker...

A midday stretch, from my perspective...

Heading up into the hills...

My buddy, the horizontal electrapenguin...

Spectacular continuous climbing in the Los Padres...

Marty, fresh from riding outside Bishop, who stopped to give me some Gatorade...

Just one of the amazing roads I got to ride on my way. Bay Area folk, put down that Lagunitas (you know who you are!) and get out here to ride these roads!!

Lake Elizabeth

Necessary fashion if you like camping next to water like I do...

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