May 29th, 2004



As usual, I lay in bed hoping by just being still I'd get rid of the headache. But that did not happen. So I finally got up and took migraine pills, the tylenol kind. No good so far.

(no subject)

Well, fellow travelers, I have come to tell of a journey. I lived to tell the
tale and so I shall.

I set out this morning to go on a hike I had not taken before. I was
prepared: I copied the hike directions on my scanner. I had a camera,
lots of water, a backpack. I wore my hiking boots.

Last night I pored over the hiking book Mary gave me for Mother's Day
and picked out this hike. I read hiking books like I read cookbooks.
When I read a recipe I visualize the ingredients, the processes. I
imagine the difficulty, the ultimate appearance of the dish, and the
taste. When I read hiking books I visualize the terrain, the distance,
the trip in the car to the trailhead. If it is a relatively flat hike I figure it
can be longer. This one goes along a creek, so I figure it will be pretty
flat and I won't get lost that easily.

In this case, the trip to the trailhead is on one of the back roads, one I
had not taken before. The instructions say to take the paved road for
about 7 miles, then turn onto the dirt road for another 3.7 miles,
crossing the creek 13 times.

Well, in one of my other hiking books there are warnings about getting
to this trailhead because of these creeks. They say take a four-wheel
drive vehicle because you'll be getting wet. I figured it's May, it's dry,
it's been dry, maybe I don't need to worry.

On the paved road there are many dips where the creeks cross. All of
them were, in fact, dry. So I figured good, we're fine. I wound around
on this narrow mountainy road to the end, where I came to the dirt
road. Just ahead of this road is a "conference center", the Lopez
Canyon Conference Center. There are large buildings, a large
swimming pool, and a parking area. It appeared that some kind of
retreat was going on today, by the sound of music and the sight of
vehicles there.

I headed down the dirt road and it wasn't long before i hit water. Water
crossing the road. I could see the pebbles and rocks on the bottom
and it didn't look terribly deep, yet it did give me pause. Finally I
thought, well, let's see how deep it is.

It was pretty deep. My car has signs on it up maybe 18". There is dirt
that got under the door. It was scary driving across that creek,
because I wasn't at all sure Hildy would make it. She did, but I wasn't
sure what I'd done to her. I decided to go on. I came to the second
creek crossing. I looked at it. It looked about like the last. I looked at
the hike description: 13 creek crossings. That was it. I turned around,
crossed the creek again, and got the hell out.

But it doesn't end there.

Stay tuned for part II.

The hike that wasn't...part II

I drove back toward Lopez Road, the road where the back road
begins. Shortly after leaving the dirt road, though, I passed a truck.
The man driving the truck waved at me to stop. I did. He asked if the
road went through. I said no, but that there is a dirt road off the paved
one that takes you to two trails. I said my car wasn't up for the water in
that road but his truck obviously is. So he turned around, headed
toward the dirt road. A few minutes later it occurred to me that I might
have asked for a ride to the trailhead...but...roads not taken, that
would be one.

I continued to the intersection, where there is a sign: Arroyo Grande
11 miles, one direction; Pozo, 15 miles, the other direction.

I thought, here's my chance to try out the actual road to Pozo. The last
time I tried this I was with Paul and we were trying to find it from the
other end, from Pozo. We had seen Los Lobos at the Pozo Saloon
and thought it would be cool to take this back road home. That was a
really bad idea, because we took the wrong road and were on
mountain roads forever before we ended up back on highway 58
heading toward Bakersfield. Not quite the right direction.

Fifteen miles separate the beautiful Lopez Lake from the backwoodsy
Pozo. Pozo, for those of you who haven't been there, is just what it
sounds like. You might say, "He doesn't know anything. he's from
Pozo." Or make some comment on cowboys from Pozo or maybe

Pozo is a tiny place, not a real town, but it has a saloon. The saloon is
somehow famous. They host some good musicians in their wide open
fields, providing barbecued foods and mucho drinkos. They can't
bother anyone because just about nobody lives anywhere near.

So I was thinking, take the road to Pozo. I could have lunch at the
saloon. They have a good Sunday brunch there, I'm sure they could
rustle up lunch, maybe a beer. Not only that, but I'm thinking my car is
low on gas. Maybe I can buy some from someone at the saloon. Fer
sure there is no gas station there.Fifteen miles isn't that far.

The road started out well. Paved, smooth. I was sailing along, thinking
I'd make good time. Then I hit the dirt. Still, not bad, well-maintained.
Just a little slower. Then, pretty much at a point where I didn't so
much feel like turning around, I hit ruts and rocks and gullies. An awful
road. How long could it go on like this, I asked myself?

I worried Hildy through the ruts and gutters and over rocks and God
knows what else. It was the WORST road I have ever been on IN MY
LIFE. And it didn't let up. After I'd gone maybe five miles I was thinking
I would not take this road in my car again. But maybe it would be good
for bicycling. Just then two bicyclists came around the bend. As I
continued on, though, I got to thinking my dirt bike skills just may not
be up for this.

I was worried about gas. My tank was on empty, had been on empty
since I began this escapade at the sign or before. I have driven on
empty before and not run out. I have never run out of gas in that car,
did not know what it would take. I counted down the miles, again
thinking surely I could buy gas in Pozo somehow, and if not at least if I
run out there the auto club could find me.

To be continued...

Hike - final

There was one saving grace: I knew I was on the right road. Bad
enough to be worried about gas, bad enough to be worried that the
car's bottom might fall off or the exhaust pipe get clogged. At least I
was on the right road. If I could just hold out, one mile at a time, I'd be

Then I came to a fork.

There was a sign there. It was no help. The sign pointed to Lopez
Lake in one direction (from which I had come) and to "Hi Mountain
Campground" on another. There were no signs to the third leg. At first
I headed down the unnamed road a little way. Then I thought, what if
this is the wrong road. I pulled out all of my maps. I could find nothing
about these roads on any of them. I decided to hit the campground.
Maybe someone there would know something.

I headed uphill, found the campground. Maybe there'd be a map
there! Posted! well, no, there wasn't. There were a few trucks, some
tents, in the campground spaces. Such a remote campground, a very
basic one, just an outhouse and some spaces, so it's surprising
anyone knows it's here, much less actually camps here. I decide to
ask someone which is the right road to Pozo.

It was very quiet there. I had the eery feeling that there was actually
nobody there, that everyone had disappeared into the mist years ago.
But then I found someone. an old man, sitting at a picnic table in his
shorts, listening to music. I asked if he knew which was the right road
to Pozo.

I got the distinct impression that he had maybe been born there, had
never left. He said he'd "never been to Pozo. Don't know what's
there." He said he'd driven to the end of the road up the hill, saw the
sign, turned around, came back. I got the impression he had no idea
where he had come from himself. He told me, though, that if I
continued on the road I had taken to the camp, I would climb up to a
place where there would be two roads, one closed. The unclosed one
would have a sign to "Paws Road". That's what he said, though I can't
vouch for the spelling". He said it said three miles, and Pozo is about
three miles, so that was it.

I said thank you, headed out of the campground, got on the road. Just
as rutty, gully-ridden, rocky, and very narrow. I drove on up to a place
where there were two or three roads. None were closed and there
were no signs. On the way up to that point, I passed another truck. I
could have asked that guy where's the road to Pozo, but no, I thought
I knew.

After driving way too many miles in the wrong direction I turned
around again, jerkily sailed past the campground (faster going down,
poor Hildy), got back to that fine fork in the road, and took the other

After much more downhill bumping and flying I came to a small group
of persons on the side of the road, wearing earmuffs. I had no idea
what the hell they were doing there, with earmuffs. Paul knew, said
"hunting". yes, of course. I asked them, "does this road go to Pozo?"
and they said yes, it does. And so it did. Not without one more dip
through a wet stream, however, one I took as fast as I could, and
heaven knows how many rocks. I finally landed in Pozo, on Pozo
Road (maybe that's what the old man meant, "Pozo", not "Paws").
Right next to the saloon.

Which was closed. No lunch, nobody to ask about gas. I was seriously
worried about gas by then, but still thought the auto club could at least
find me,or maybe Paul.

Gritting my teeth, I headed for Santa Margarita. I don't know how far
santa Margarita is from Pozo, but it's a fer piece when you're worried
about gas. I tore down that road, not noticing, as I have before, the
beauty of the wilderness here. I finally hit the intersection with the
main drag of Santa Margarita. I was very relieved.

But there is no gas in Santa Margarita. My choice was to go toward
Atascadero, north, or to San Luis Obispo, south. Chose SLO, eight
miles. Come on Hildy, you can make it. You can get over Cuesta
Grade, all the way down, you can do it.

And she did. Dear little Hildy, who now thinks she's a mountain goat,
pulled into the first Chevron station in SLO. I did not care what the
price of gas was. I paid with good will, filled her up with 10.8 gallons. I
don't know how large my tank is, I have been guessing twelve gallons.
If so, well, heck, I coulda gone further, coulda made it to Los Osos...

But maybe it's only eleven.

From there, of course, all was well, all was right with the world,
everything was again beautiful. I stopped at Quizno's for a sandwich,
starving starving - for I did forget to bring a snack. And came home,
where I am now. Relieved. I'm not taking that road again, not in Hilda.
And she may even get to go to another car wash, because she's been
so wonderful. I am thinking maybe Honda, which makes motorcycles,
used some of that knowledge when it made cars. There is no reason
a Civic should have made that trip at all.

Signing off.