I was going to do the north side of Mt. Ord today....but the 5,000vf gained in 7.3 miles made me worry about my badly bruised left quad.....the excuses started early last night. Upon waking.....I instantly felt guilty and set about planning how I would make up for this lapse in judgment. "Hrmmmmmmm.......I've yet to do Toms Thumb......13.5 miles with ~4,000vf gained....95 degree temps.....10am start time....3 liters of water should be enough....and if I run out....I just turn around and bomb back hill!". Hook, Line and Sinker....that's how it goes.
At 10:05, I pushed from the car and started the climb up. Thoughts of water began immediately, doubts crept in.....but 5 minutes later when the climb began in earnest (or so I thought), the next 10 feet became the only focus. Stopping for a breather, I noticed how quickly the desert had dried out from our spring.
More climbing and another breather, I peer over my shoulder down canyon.
Rounding a corner, the smell of water in the desert filled my nose.....before I could realize it, I rolled upon the spring.... completely spacing that there was a spring on this trail.....I assumed it would be dry by now....not so, said the crickets, dragonflies and frogs which lined this very cool oasis on such a hot day.
Having soaked up the cool water on my clothes and head, I pushed off again....stopping to shoot some sun-red ocotillo blooms against the cool granite skyline.......
I could not help my self........
Hike-A-Bike became a common occurrence on the many steep and very tight switchbacks up the trail....the real climb was here....that stuff below was just a grind.
The yellow of the yucca blossoms captured my eye, even above the fading yellow flowers and crisp-dry winter grasses.....
Topping out on the saddle, I take one last pano shot of the upper crags of the McDowell's before my long, steep, sketchy descent.
The descent was just as promised....so much that I did not break out my camera for the rest of the ride. The descent left my knuckles white and my forearms sore with more than a few dismounts on some of the freakiest switches I've seen in a while. The climb back up the east side of Bell at mile 9 was a hot, calm wind slog.....finishing with strong winds from the west, taunting me to fall over on the last 200vf of the ascent to the saddle. However....the reward came in the end with the last 3.3 miles being pure bliss; orchestrated by gravity, flow and the frictional capacity of my brake pads.