Pine Valley, CA

I woke up before 5, actually, and tried to go back to sleep, but finally got up at 5:10. The frog serenade from the previous night had given way to bird song. I had a leisurely breakfast, and toured the RV park. Apparently, there’s some history to the site, and there’s a famous windmill house on the property. I left at 8:45 am.

climbing to Alpine
It was almost constant UP to Alpine, but not too steep. Note that the sky was overcast, meaning it was not hot.

Alpine is a larger town, with shopping centers. When I pulled in at 10, it was too early for lunch, but I decided to eat anyway, since I had more climbing ahead.

Brunch at Franco’s Flapjacks in Alpine. The combo consisted of 3 eggs, 2 sausage, and 2 huge pancakes. I finished it all, in spite of having eaten a breakfast sandwich, banana, croissant, and 2 cups of coffee a little over an hour earlier.
Hwy 8 near hwy 79
Some of the riding was on Interstate 8. The map directed me to get onto highway 8 at a certain place, but there was a sign that said NO BICYCLES. It probably would have been all right, as the shoulder was wide, clean, and traffic not heavy. But I took the bike route on Willow Road instead. That was steep in places, and I switched to the granny gear near the summit. I actually got off the bike and started walking that last 100 yards. I could see Highway 8 down below, which would have bypassed some of the climbing. At the next Hwy 8 entrance, there was only a NO PEDESTRIANS sign, so I entered. This picture was taken just before I exited onto Highway 79, Japatul Valley Road.
Descanso
I stopped at the general store in Descanso for my favorite popsicle.
John Elliot
It was not busy, and it was not yet 2 pm, so I was able to talk for about 20 minutes with one of the proprietors, John Elliot, and some locals. They talked about Quartzite, a town with a population of 5000, that can swell to 1.5 million when the right RV gathering is happening. John told me that the section that I just did was the hardest on the whole southern tier, and it’s where people do a lot of soul-searching and consider tapping out. They have allowed many an exhausted cyclist to camp out behind their store. One retired banker offered to pay $50 for someone to transport him to the next stop. (I don’t think John took the money.) But John tells them that the worst is over. On behalf of all riders, thank you, John. That little bit of encouragement might have made the difference between someone quitting and finishing.
As John had advised me, a small hill, then a downhill, then Pine Valley within an hour. He was right. It’s a small town, with just a few stores on a main street.

I checked into the Pine Valley Inn at 3 pm. Lucky I went there first – I got the last available room.

God bless and keep you
I wasn’t planning to go in at first, but had to see what was inside after seeing this sign. I got a malt at Frosty’s.

On the way back to my room, I met a backpacker.

Seamus Weston
Seamus (SHAY-mus) was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which comes very near the Southern Tier Route in this area, He had major equipment failures, so was looking for a way back to San Diego. He was also looking for Frosty’s, so I pointed him in the right direction.

When I got back to my room, I realized that the San Diego Bus might stop here, and take him right back. I turned around and caught up with him at Frosty’s, where he was buying dinner. I passed along the information, and also asked where he was staying. He said that he planned to check in to the Inn. Realizing that the Inn was probably full, I told him he could share my room if he wanted to. Same price for 1-2 people, so it would cost him nothing. He accepted. Hallelujah! A chance to return a portion of the kindness shown to me on the road.

I was able to hear some of his stories of the trail, such as how he likes to hike at night when it’s cooler, broke his headlight, and since he had misplaced his duct tape, fixed it with band aids. He carries a lot more water than me at times, depending on how far it is to the next water. He relies on an app to tell him this, but he dropped his phone down a ravine, and it partially broke. He also lost some of his gear due to a backpack malfunction – including critical items like sleeping pad and rain fly. It gets cold in the mountains.

I hadn’t eaten, so walked out. It had suddenly turned cold and foggy in those few minutes. I went to Calvin’s Family Restaurant and Sports Bar (Family side).

spaghetti at Calvin's
I went to Calvin’s Family Restaurant for dinner. Got the spaghetti, which was good size, and came with a salad and garlic bread. I ate all except some of the garlic bread. Note: the server was much more friendly and cheerful than she appears in this picture. I didn’t check the picture until later. Sorry, Sarah!
painting night
The restaurant hosts a painting night every few weeks. I happened to be there on one of those nights.

When I got back to the room, I found that Seamus was able to book an Uber back to San Diego for just $50. His phone was at 9%, and something was wrong with the charging, so he just barely was able to arrange it. His ride picked him up at about 8 pm. I recommended the Beach Bungalow Hostel to him in San Diego.

Miles today: 27.8, 4300′ of climbing

(Visited 7 times, 1 visit(s) today)
  1. Wow, I had to reset my password in order to comment on your blog. People might wonder why your wife doesn’t write to you. It has been good to read about your adventures, if I had been with you you might not have got lost so often, but then I might not have been able to handle some of those hills. I liked the paint night picture. Glad you were able to help out Seamus.

    1. Hi, Sweetheart!
      I could have used your navigation skills around UCSD, definitely. The day of this post was straightforward, pretty much all on one highway. I’m glad to be out of the city.
      Glad you were able to reset your password. The “Merrianne” login is the same one that was created for our 2010 trip. I also noticed a new one called “TheArtTeacher”, which should work, too.
      I took the Paint Night picture especially with you in mind.
      Seamus was able to call an Uber with the last remaining 9% of charge on his phone. Something had broken, and he was not able to charge, even plugged into an outlet. For $50, the Uber took him all the way back to San Diego, where he will re-provision himself to continue his trek.

  2. Wow, I’d say that Seamus was having a worse time of it than you are thus far (not to make light of your various misadventures). Glad you were able to help him out.

    1. Although hikers tend to walk alone on the PCT, they always meet up at campgrounds, and help each other out. In this era of cell phones and apps, another person found his rain fly and put it in the box at a certain mile marker (they have these boxes spaced along the trail). The question is how he will retrieve it, now. Another Uber? Losing his sleeping pad was really bad. He had a 30-degree bag, but that assumes a pad underneath to keep you off the cold, hard ground. Also, a 30-degree bag in 30-degree weather means survival, not comfort. When I checked out the next morning, the cleaner told me there was an iPod in the bathroom, and it wasn’t mine (I don’t carry music, other than the kind in my head). I texted Seamus that it would be in Lost and Found if he wanted it

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