That time has come again to pack up everything and move on. I like it here and could easily spend another day here up at 4000 feet, but the nearest available drinking water is 12 miles downhill at Kelso Depot.
Sand on the lower road from Arrowweed Spring
I bump and skid my way down the rugged little hill that I dragged the bike up yesterday evening. This is definitely mountain biking, and it's called "technical" in mountain-bike speak because evasive action is required here and there due to sand, rocks and ruts.
The bike jumps and rattles, and I start thinking about the long and satisfying ride over Tecopa Pass a few days ago on similarly rough roads.
On my way down, I pass the lower campsite and notice that there's an SUV parked there. Hmmm... When did it arrive?
Did it come in late last night after I was asleep, or perhaps during the earlier part of the evening when it was so windy that I might not have been able to hear it navigating the rough road? Or maybe it arrived early this morning while I was still sleeping?
Out of the Arrowweed Spring Wash, a half-mile of solid ground remains along the road before reaching the pavement of Kelbaker Road
I doubt they were able to see me up on the hill from their lower campsite. Perhaps they didn't drive all the way up to my site simply because, like me last night, they thought they were at the end of the road when they reached the lower campsite.
My short but fun, bumpy downhill comes to an end when I reach the wash at the bottom of the hill.
The road forks here. I decide to try the low road that follows the wash, instead of the high road that I came in on, which would require a bit of climbing. It's only a mile or so to Kelbaker Road from here, whichever road I choose.
Well, the low road turns out to be mostly level, but it stays in the wash for a while. That means sand. I think this is the difficult part of the road that the park staffwoman at Kelso Depot was telling me about.
I can't get any traction here, so I just walk. After about a half mile, the two tire tracks that constitute this road finally veer out of the wash onto firmer ground.
Descending into the Kelso Valley to Kelso Depot on Kelbaker Road from Arrowweed Spring area
I get back on the bike and ride the last half mile across creosote-bush scrub to Kelbaker Road's blacktop. Ah, back at pavement again!
I start rolling down the 12-mile slope to Kelso Depot at 2123 feet. I'm the resident Kelbaker Road cyclist now, going back and forth on this road's long downhills and its equally long uphills.
I watch the view of Kelso Dunes off in the distance to my left pass by as I glide down, down.