The Yaqui Pass loop - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

February 17, 2021

The Yaqui Pass loop

The great toe is more of a mottled mauve this morning than plum.  It continues to progress, and gives me no reason to favor it any longer.  I’ll hold off taking a hike for a few more days but otherwise I feel ready to resume normal activity.  Luckier than I deserve, as usual.

And speaking of being lucky, Team Anderson feels almost embarrassed by our good fortune when we see this map of recent weather conditions in our country.  We’re in one of the few corners that hasn’t seen freezing temperatures in the past week.  Thinking back, we realize what a stroke of luck it was for us that we were unable to travel to New Mexico as our plan had been just over a week ago.  

We think we’ll hang out in this corner of the world a bit longer, thanks.
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Today is just like yesterday here - sunny and warm all day - except even better, because the wind has quiesced considerably.  We’ll experience quite manageable maximum winds of about 10 mph today.  It’s in the sixties when we leave our motel at 10, and by the time we return it will have warmed up enough that we’ll wish we had gotten started earlier.

Heading north toward Christmas Circle again. Just like yesterday, but without the headwinds.
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The view west. These mountains are even more striking in the early hours of the day, giving us a reason to get out the door earlier. We’ll do better tomorrow.
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The view south across the desert.
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The ride plan for today is a triangular loop to the south: leaving the basin to the southeast out Borrego Springs Road, crossing west for about ten miles on Route 78, and then dropping back to town over Yaqui Pass.   The road is very quiet today as we leave town on the nearly empty road.  Nearly as many bikes on the road this morning as cars, it seems like.

Save for this one slight dip through a wash, it’s a steady but very gradual ascent as we climb out of the basin. A very painless way to gain elevation. The road is empty most of the time, except for my traveling companion far ahead.
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A last look back before rounding the bend.
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Another look south, zooming in more on the mountains and the Borrego Badlands that front them. We’ll bike out that direction for a closer look one of these days.
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I was a bit concerned about how the ten miles on Route 78 would go.  It’s a highway, and one of the primary routes from the California Coast to Salton Sea and points east.  When we drove along this highway on the ride to Borrego Springs from Ajo two days ago the road was busy with huge campers towing their ATV’s behind them, weekenders returning back home after laying waste to the desert.  

Today though it’s very quiet, still enough that we can appreciate the ride and the scenery as we climb further into the hills.  Road signs indicate the distances to Julian and Oceanside, making me long for the time when we’re on a real tour again.  Soon, I’m sure.

Eastbound on Route 78, continuing our gradual ascent. A shoulderless highway, but quiet enough on this weekday morning that the occasional car or truck is no concern.
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This part of Route 78 is more dramatic than I’d expected.
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Rachael has gotten a bit ahead of me when I stop for another photo, which is too bad for her because soon afterwards I’m startled to see a Desert Agave beside the road in full bloom.  I’ve never seen this before, which I see is no surprise when I read up on this plant:

This common agave grows in dense clumps on rocky hillsides below 6,000 feet. The plant has an elusive flower, it only appears after approximately 20 years of growth. The parent plant then dies once the flower appears.

I’m just lucky.  It’s all in the timing.

What luck, to see a Desert Agave in bloom, having its final fling before dying off.
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Jen GrumbyWow! Good luck all around!
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1 week ago
As long as I’m stopped looking at the blooming agave, I might as well look at its colorful neighbor too: a chuparosa (Justicia californica), I presume. Rachael won’t mind waiting a few minutes longer, once she hears that it was for a worthy cause.
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Coming to our turnoff, we look across the basin and see the road through Yaqui Pass angling up the opposite slope. Doesn’t look too scary.
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Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanI’m thinking you’re not getting enough sun in your life, Mr. Lellman. Maybe we should have our next coffee date down here rather than in your icy back yard.
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanYou are absolutely right. The past week in particular has been kind of rough here. It sure would be fun to have coffee with you down there.
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1 week ago
Jen GrumbyTo Bruce LellmanCan we go with you?
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen GrumbyOK, my car is a two seater and has a range of 75 miles so it will take awhile to get there. There is room in the back for you guys to roll around in. The other problem is that by the time we get there Scott and Rachael will probably be in Portland.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanSo practical! What a buzzkill.
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1 week ago

Leaving the highway, we stop briefly at Tamarisk Grove Campground for a loo and snack break before the short, scenic climb up Yaqui Pass.  It’s not much of a climb, but it gives a lot back for the modest effort.  Views back south as we climb to the summit are impressive, and the five mile drop down the north side back into Borrego basin is exhilarating, watching the desert open up before us in a broad panorama backed by a semicircle of dramatic, colorful peaks.  A ride worth repeating.

The short, sweet ascent to Yaqui Pass.
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The southern slope of the pass is a forest of barrel cacti.
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The view south from the summit. If you look closely enough, you can see Route 78 splitting the frame.
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Patrick O'HaraLooks like an immense lava field.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraIt does look like that, doesn’t it? I don’t think so though. I think it’s a large alluvial fan, like much of the terrain beneath the mountains here. It’s easier to see looking at it from a satellite view.
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1 week ago
The descent begins.
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Five miles like this. Wonderful.
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Partway down from the summit we can see the Salton Sea far off to the east.
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Dropping to Borrego Springs. At the far left you can see the orange groves out by Coyote Canyon.
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Gregory GarceauI believe the beautiful desert sings,
In the vicinity of Borrego Springs.
The awesome views
Are all the news
They're the views of desert kings.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauYet another gem for the collection, from the Cycle365 Poet Laureate.
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1 week ago

Video sound track: You are the Sunshine of My Life, by Stevie Wonder

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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 2,100’; for the tour: 2,802 miles, 106,400’; for the year:  35 riding days, 1,539 miles, 49,400’, and 2 flat tires

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 2,803 miles (4,511 km)

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