Bear Mountain is the ground zero of the Lick Fire. It’s also one of the steepest sufferfests of a climb in a place that is known for, well, its steep trails. It doesn’t hide its intentions and starts out with a 1 mile stretch raising you 1000 feet…
…followed by a number of steep ‘rollers’: euphemism for a series of walls where even the rotational inertia of niner wheels doesn’t get you anywhere. You need to do some work to get at the base of the climb; even in the middle of this unusually cool summer weekend day there wasn’t a soul around. Hardly any wildlife even, in contrast to the rest of the area that I’d traveled through. It was eerily calm, beautifully stark and desolate.
I hadn’t even planned on being here (Black Oak Springs / Rock House Ridge was the original plan), and I was questioning my sanity – light on food and water I had planned on Pacheco Camp as my resupply spot, and it was still a world away. There’d be of course plenty of water in Mississippi Lake, and I had my filter bottle with me in case. On one of the neverending staircase-steep pitches I told myself there is no reason to ever come back here – now, while typing this, I’m jonesing to get back there and beyond – funny how that works.
The Orestimba wilderness is recovering from the big fire – it now looks and feels a bit like I imagine the high desert does.
All that climbing did result in a fair payoff: downhill singletrack bliss, alternating between goat trail style (Heritage) and buff (Bowl/Lyman-Willson into Hunting Hollow).