started moving up the trail around 9 or 10, and it was already warming up fast.
It quickly became clear that the "rock gardens" i had been warned about were real, and that this was turning out to be pretty gnarly terrain. i was already 4 miles or so in, so I figured I'd just keep pushing instead of bailing for the road far below.
amazing views around every corner
you can see the trail traversing the slope in this frame
then it went to this entirely...
see the wagon ruts!
atlantis perched in said ruts.
getting hotter still, it became a head down bike push for the last mile or so before the ruins of
helm's hold: situated in the strategically important saddle of the mountain pass. i stopped for lunch.
lots of friends about
turned out that the palisades trail involved even more bouldering--not fun with a loaded bicycle on your shoulder--so i turned around and decided to complete the traverse by staying on oat hill road which appeared to be ridable. it would mean more road riding after that, but at this point i wanted to just ride instead of carry/push.
looking down onto pope valley road near aetna springs road, my new destination.
lots of pretty rock formations
slick rock riding at times,
spring stream riding at times,
and occasionally hefting my bicycle over boulder fields,
i finally made it onto aetna springs road, which dropped a couple thousand feet on gravel, much fun.
the remainder of the ride was some twenty miles of non-serviced riding climbing out of pope valley via butts canyon road and reaching middletown.
Oat hill near the outset (just barely enough light for photos). I could ride this with some effort, but it only got rockier from here. The atlantis and 40mm schwalbe tires gave no issues (as always), which is nice (as always).
expansive views kept me moving while the sun set.
camped high enough to get the last bit of sunset.
easily one of the best night skies within a day's ride