The Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849 - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

February 21, 2021

The Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849

Today’s ride is an out and back covering a section S-2, a county highway that follows the historical route through the desert between Warner Springs and Ocotillo.  Dating back to its use by the Spaniards in the 1700’s, it was later used as a Mexican mail route and then a stage route.  It’s worth stopping to follow the link and read up on its colorful history as background for today’s ride.

Today I’m riding just the section between the small settlement of Shelter Valley (population 320) to just past Agua Caliente Park - just enough to get my daily 42 in.  I should have shown this article to Rocky before the ride, because I’m sure she would have found its romantic lure irresistable.  Instead, I showed her a route map for an organized group ride through here, with one spot labeled as ‘Very Steep Hill’.  She looked at that, at the overall profile for the day’s ride, and the windy weather forecast, and decided she’d be fine with me going it alone while she stayed in the valley and rode out toward the Salton Sea and back again.  She’ll wait to read about it in the blog, she said.

So, here’s the report.  It’s a very nice ride, worth repeating some day.  Southbound, it stair-steps its way south through a series of southward dipped valleys separated by steepish inclines.  The road surface is a bit rough, but no more so than most of the roads down in Borrego Valley really.  There’s no shoulder, but there’s not much traffic either - even on a Sunday afternoon, when campers and RVers make their way back to the coast from their weekend frolicking in the desert.

And it looks like this, Rocky:

Looking back north as I ride south from the village of Shelter Valley.
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We’re up over 2,500’ here, and it’s considerably greener than down in Borrego Valley.
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The road trends upwards at the south end of Earthquake Valley, gaining a few hundred feet in a few miles before dropping into the next valley south.
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At the high point of the ride the vegetation is considerably denser still - a cholla forest.
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From the summit it’s a steepish drop through Box Canyon to the upper end of Mason Valley and Vallecito Wash, which we’ll follow for the rest of the ride south.
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Crossing Mason Valley.
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Vallecito Creek must provide a bit of water to the valley, as there are a few scattered homes about.
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Another one! Actually, I saw three today, all at about the same elevation. It must be open season for desert agaves.
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Wild cucumber?
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Bill ShaneyfeltMost often called coyote gourds. We used to like to throw them... Just the right size.

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/sd-no-cowan-column-20181012-story.html
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltThrowing looks perfect, really. About the size of a baseball.
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1 week ago
At the south end of Mason Valley I come to the drop-off I wondered about - the Campbell Grade, describe on one map I saw as ‘Very Steep Hill’. We’ll see how it feels on the return ride.
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The southern end of Vallecito Valley, and near to Agua Caliente Park. We’ll turn back a few miles south of here.
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All you could ask for in a lunch stop: a leaning post, a granite boulder, and a view.
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This old veteran stands tall above his relatives, reaching to perhaps five or six feet. He’s likely even older than I am.
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Bill ShaneyfeltYou don't see many barrel cacti that big!
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1 week ago
A friend, indeed. Always nice when it’s blowing uphill.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Looking up at Campbell Grade. Steep, but not terrible - 200 feet in a half mile, with the worst of it about 12%. Feels about like climbing up the west face of Gates Pass.
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Looking back across Vallecito Valley from near the summmit of the Campbell Grade. Not bad after all, especially with today’s wind.
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Recrossing Mason Valley, northbound this time. We exit by climbing through Box Canyon at the far left.
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One final lift before dropping back into Earthquake Valley.
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The home stretch.
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Yup. The road was a bit rough today, come to think of it.
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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 2,500’; for the tour: 2,912 miles, 112,400’; for the year:  38 riding days, 1,649 miles, 55,400’, and 2 flat tires

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 2,913 miles (4,688 km)

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