I open my eyes. It's still dark out. There is a small foot in my face and what feels like fingers in my ear. Piper. Wonder what time she crawled into bed? As quietly and gently as possible, I get her repositioned on my pillow and make my way out of bed. In the dark, I find my clothes, keys and grab the cooler. Everything else is in the garage waiting to be packed in the truck. Gas. No gas in the truck.
I stop for gas and start making my way east.
Coming down Banner Grade, the land begins to open up. The sky opens up. Clouds are rolling off the mountain tops down in the valley. It is going to be a beautiful blue bird day and I am looking forward to leaving pavement behind for a few hours.
We drop off the S2 at the trail head for Pinyon Mountain. Pinyon? Isn't there a section of that trail called 'The Squeeze'?
The trail is sandy and winds its way across the desert floor towards the mountain. Gradually we start climbing and the mountain closes in on us. We reach the first obstacle, The Squeeze. It is a narrow pass through two huge boulders. At first glance, it does not look like there is anyway a FJ could fit through. Carefully. Slowly. Mirrors folded. There is maybe an inch of clearance on either side.
Three things keep the trucks off the rocks. First is Wes and his beyond excellent spotting. Second is the tires, the trucks are literally riding on their sidewalls. Third is the rock rails. I'm still amazed we made it through.
From The Squeeze, the trail winds its way through the mountain. There's no one here. In the distance, the sound of motorcycles drifts up the mountain. We make our way up and down. Crawl over ledges. Then we get to it. The Drop Off. It is not like Diablo. Diablo was a cake walk compared to what I'm looking down. It's steep. It's slippery. And we have spectators. A family of hikers is standing at the top. A pair of motorcyclists are taking a break at the bottom.
One by one, we creep down. Wes again gives excellent spotting instructions. He knows these trucks and knows exactly where each wheel should be. The motorcyclists give each one of us a standing ovation for reaching the bottom.
We are now over the mountain. The landscape opens up again as we enter Fish Creek. Clouds are moving in. The wind is screaming. Weather is coming.
We are flying down the trail. Wes is on the radio giving me tips on how to keep up. He keeps telling me to flow. It becomes a mantra. Flow. It's just like the water but different. I stop fighting it, trying to control it. Something clicks and I gain some confidence. I still can't keep up with Wes but I'm pushing my envelope a bit and learning.
We turn off Fish Creek and head up to the Diablo Drop-Off. This area has changed tremendously with all the rain since I came through here a few months ago. Many sections of the canyon walls have come down. It'd be nice to take some time to explore but we're on a mission.
From the top of the Drop-Off, we make our way over to Canyon Sin Nombre which leads us back to the black ribbon of the S2.
We made our way through some very difficult sections of trail and covered close to 80 miles. It was an excellent day.