Day 42 • April 12, 2012 • Live Oak Springs to Seeley, CA • 51 miles
Weather reports were forecasting another big storm soon with snow level down to 5000 ft. At over 4000 ft, our mission today was to get out of the mountains and into the desert below. We were aided in this effort by strong tail winds and eventually a 3000 ft drop into the desert.
Near Jacumba we passed within a stone’s throw of the Mexican border and got a good look at the physical manifestation of our immigration policy. It was tempting to hike toward the fence for a better look but the preponderance of border patrol– on the roads, in the skies, no doubt peering at us from hidden places—kept us obediently on the road. We saw far more border patrol vehicles than civilian, I wouldn’t be surprised if border patrol agents outnumber local residents in this area. The fence was pretty fascinating and sparked a lot of discussion with Zoe: What is the fence for? Who is keeping out who? How far does it go? When we were at Imperial Beach I wanted to hike toward the border and see how we protect the border along the beach—does the fence run into the ocean all the way to the low tide mark?—but I didn’t get a chance.
We were delayed a bit by construction of a transmission line that will carry power from the San Onofre nuclear power plant we passed about a week ago. We watched helicopters string wires between the poles using long lines dangling below. Traffic was stopped to avoid impact with falling objects or long lines.
Interstate 8 is the only option for the descent into Ocotillo. Shoulders were wide and we screamed down seven miles of six percent grade. In Ocotillo we barely made the 3:00 closing time for the Old Highway Cafe, the only lunch option in town, where Brenda made us some excellent sandwiches that erased our disappointment in missing the Subway at the top of the hill.
We still had a 25 or so MPH tailwind directly down Old Highway 80 and camping options in Ocotillo are stark so we pressed on. Downhill and downwind we maintained around twenty MPH while being beaten up by the extremely rough road. I’ve been on the fence about the value of the new full-suspension trikes; this is the road that changed my mind. I’d love to see how full suspension performs on this stretch between Ocotillo and Plaster City.
On Brenda’s advice we stopped at Sunbeam Lake near Seeley. There is a really nice community park there but unfortunately the showers weren’t working yet for the season and they don’t allow camping. There is also an RV park there but it doesn’t accept tents. We played at the park until dusk and then moved to a nice spot in the trees alongside the southeast portion of the lake where the rules about camping are more ambiguous.