DAY 4: Our fourth day began with an absolutely MASSIVE breakfast that our new friend John was kind enough to treat us to (see the separate post about John). We each ate veggie-stuffed omelets, a stack of pancakes, and a giant pile of hash browns ~ the perfect chunk of calories for the 7300ft climb up to Onyx Peak (the high point before descending into Big Bear Lake)!
The ride out of Yucaipa was very casual and sort of desert-y, but soon we turned onto Highway 38. This began our brutal (but absolutely beautiful) 20 mile climb up to our campsite by the Santa Ana River. The road was seemingly endless and the temperatures were HOT, but we finally made it to our spot as golden hour was setting in.
Our morning started off with a quick climb up to Onyx Peak before a super fast & super fun drop into Big Bear Lake! We stopped for breakfast and coffee at a little cafe and sat around enjoying the first bit of cell service we’d had in a while.
Once we hydrated and caffeinated, we rode around Big Bear Lake (which has a sweet bike path around it) and continued towards Arrowhead Lake and the Rim of the World Highway! The afternoon ride was about 48 miles long - and as we were looking for a spot to camp, we rolled up to a Forest Service station in search of water. After telling them what we were up to, the guys working there filled up all of our water, brought out ice for us, and gave us tons of snacks to munch on and even more food for dinner. It was amazing seeing how kind and helpful these guys were to some smelly kids who just rolled up out of the woods.
We camped that night by a lake and slept amongst the sage brush and sand!
This day started with an easy cruise to Cajon Junction where we picked up some good old fashioned gas station “highly caffeinated” coffee. Once we fueled up, we started a hot & steamy climb up to Wrightwood (about 3000ft gained in 11 miles). We all got EXTREMELY sunburnt and were so happy to finally reach Wrightwood for some rest and a huge lunch.
We rested for a while, ate food, read some books under the trees, and then decided it was time to get going up the Angeles Crest Highway. The road was absolutely beautiful and the steep riding was completely worth the views.
At about 12 miles along the 52 mile Crest Highway, we saw a huge plume of smoke out in the distance. It looked like it could be in the Angeles National Forest (where we were) and luckily we had a wee bit of service to check the updates. It turned out that the fire had started fairly close to the point where the Angeles Crest Highway ended and exited the forest.
After much deliberation, the decision was made to turn around and leave the Forest via a dirt road that would hopefully bring us down to Palmdale within a few hours of riding! The road was rougher than anything we’d come upon yet but we still went for it - and it was SUPER sweet! We were all pretty gripped from braking for so long (the heavy bikes have quite a bit of momentum) and finally reached the pavement after a few miles. We decided we needed to cover more ground that day with our changed route and road about 18 more miles to Palmdale where we had to find a motel... sadly Palmdale isn’t very conducive to camping. The shower, bed, and outlets for charging were much needed though and we went into it with an open mind!