Tempestuous winter winds kicked up overnight at Sawtooth Canyon driving the few sprinkles sideways against the tent. After the necessary morning coffee ritual over the creosote bush powered twig stove, I packed and set out for Barstow. The tailwind was so strong I barely had to twist the throttle to maintain 30. A tumbleweed raced past me in a tornadic cloud dissapearing over a low hill. Suddenly a rainbow materialized on the horizon reminding me “You’ve gotta deal with rain to enjoy the rainbows”.
In Barstow I was surprised by the number of homeless and seemingly addicted individuals surrounding Town. Even the library had steel shutters and doors like a business establishment in a downtown. Parking near the police surveillance trailer, I ran into WalMart for water, beans and fruit then quickly shot back to camp. As the afternoon began to clear, I explored the boulders and canyons quite popular with climbers during the weekend.
Matt and I finally met up and camped at site 2 beneath the large central mountain in the above shot. The protection from wind was fleeting as the gusts seemed to blow from all directions. The following morning I was surprised to find Owen and Make from Boundfornowhere just over the rock! We enjoyed catching up in the rising morning sun and sharing travel stories and vehicle upgrades. It’s always good to meet up with fellow travelers after a few years.
They had been camping on the other side of Barstow and recommended a geologically unique area known as Rainbow Basin. Climbing up Fossil Bed Rd, I was immediately taken by the varied rock strata jumbled and thrust up millions of years ago. The errosion from both wind and water was quite evident in these striking cliffs. The ground here was nearly barren within the canyons on account of poor soils and low precipitation.
The serpentine ridge below was quite stunning with the same hardened layer twisting upward and over to form a sandy bowl.
Matt and I seared a poblano and 1.5 lb ribeye on the fire at sunset then added onions and garlic to a pan and ate like kings. The light breezes overnight and temps above freezing were a pleasant treat to the previous few days. Come morning, after a greasy and delicious steak and egg wraps, we bid farewell. I’m excited to hear how his Black Mountain loop goes while I sped westward toward LA on National Trails Hwy. Having thoroughly photographed this region years ago, I bypassed the Bottle Tree Ranch and quaint village of Oro Grande. White capped peaks loomed before the anemic scooter as I pointed up SR-2 Angeles Crest Hwy and began climbing. The ski resorts were beginning to open with pedestrian traffic and vehicles lining the road. Glancing down at the speedo, I was climbing at 16mph and hopeful no big trucks would fly up on me. Snow-banks along the shoulder formed patches of ice and meltwater dribbling precariously into the lane. Fortunately the road remained open to Los Angeles and the steady stream of oncoming cars was a good sign I wouldn’t have to turn around at a summit. Mt. Baldy was a winter wonderland in the distance and a notable warming occured on the south-facing slopes.
Cruising over 7000ft for a few hours, I was beginning to get a chill and quite readily passed the exotic supercars and sportbikes at Newcomes Ranch in favor of lower altitude warmth. Shedding layers and elevation, I cruised into Flintridge and down the familiar Arroyo Seco to Pasadena. The tropical warmth of LA hit me with the realization that again Tortuga has traversed this nation with a view of the Pacific and Channel Islands out to sea.
Total fuel consumed: 24.2 gallons or $61 . Take that budget airlines or Greyhound!