Day 8: Woodfords over Carson Pass to Placerville
75.6 miles -- 6 hours 36 minutes in the saddle

When I got up and looked out my window, I was shocked to see wind in the trees! I mentally castigated myself for not doing doing more riding yesterday when it was calm. It was also very cold.

Nonetheless, I got ready and ate an apple for breakfast. There are no restaurants in Woodfords. I had to get to Sorenson's, a resort 6 miles up the road, to eat a real meal.

I wanted to get an early start, I was up and out by 8am, as it was 15 miles to the pass and I figured it would take me 3 hours to do that, plus 1 hour for breakfast. Plus, I still had to do the 40 miles from Carson Pass to Pollock Pines. Even with all the downhill, I knew it would be a long day in the saddle. In addition to the climb to the pass, roughly 3000 feet, there was the climb out of the Silver Lake valley and the upgrade from Jenkinson Lake, at the end of the day.

My original plan was to spend Sunday at Sorenson's to avoid the end of week-end traffic going over the pass. Then, on Monday I would get out early before any traffic got up there. But, I decided that some cars would be no worse than large trucks, which would be out on Monday.

As I was getting underway, I looked around at the quiet, deserted landscape and took some pictures. Here is the view looking north.

This vista is looking southwest, toward Carson Pass, which can't be seen from here.

On my way back to Highway 88, I passed over a bridge spanning the Carson River. Note that the sun is just starting to stream through the trees.

It was a clear, crisp morning with a slight breeze blowing right in my face. I was concerned that it would strengthed as the day progressed and I got closer to the pass. I doubt it made much difference in the speed I was going, which was in the low single digits. The pass is somewhere off to the right.

The trip to Sorenson's was only 6 miles but they were tough miles. I was reduced to walking short distances just to keep my legs fresh. It didn't make much difference in my speed. It took over an hour to get to Sorenson's. This is the view I had from my breakfast table, chosen so I could keep an eye on my bike.

This is the view just past Sorenson's on the other side of the road.

Just after Sorenson's and the junction of Highways 88 and 89 (the turn-off to South Lake Tahoe), the Hope valley opens up. What's more, the wind had completely died away and the temperature had heated up. I took off all my warmers and slathered on sun cream.

It was hard not to stop every few minutes and take another picture of the scenary. I'm sure this peak has a name but I don't know what it is.

I kept trying to guess where the pass was and I too several pictures of where I though it might be. I doubt I ever got it right but the pictures are nice in any case. Note the different color greens in the trees. That was the main inspiration for this picture. You can also see some flowering sage on the side of the road. The scent here was a very strong combination of pine and sage.

Here's is yet another grand vista across the valley.

Again, I couldn't get over the different greens I was seeing. There is even a bit of yellow as some of the trees are just beginning to sense fall is coming.

At the end of the Hope Valley, the road kinks up pretty good. I knew from my downhill coast that it was about 4 miles of uphill to get to the pass. Here is the view of the pass. If you look closely, you can see the road cut diagonally in the center of the picture.

Whlie the upgrade was slow going, it wasn't all that bad. I even got out of my lowest gear for some of it. In addition to stopping to rest or eat something, I often had to stop to get a picture of the view.

The last mile or so is a straight shot up to the pass.

The view of Red Lake helped to remind me just how lucky I was to be riding a bike through the Sierra Nevada mountains on a calm clear day in September.

And, then it was around a turn and into the pass itself. It was before noon and I had made in less time than I thought. I leaned my bike against the elevation sign and walked around the pass for about 5 minutes just soaking in the feeling of accomplishment I had. I had bike though the pass twice in three days!

I went by Caples Lake and stopped at the Kirkwood Inn for a vegi-burger with a ton of french fries. I talked with two older guys who were driving back to Oklahoma City from the SF Bay Area, where they had attended a family reunion. It was interesting to ask about their driving route and sharing my biking route. We were all long distance travellers of one kind or another. Here is Caples lake, one last time.

Once past Kirkwood, the road angles up or about a mile to Carson Spur, elevation 7990.

The view from here was panoramic. Here are vistas looking in two different directions.

The route descends from Carson Spur into the valley that holds Silver Lake. It is a steep downhill that has to be immediately recaptured on the other side of the lake.

It's another hard slog up to regain the 700 feet or so that is lost to get to the lake. Again, the views at the top of the grade (elevation 8000 feet) are stunning. This view is looking east out past the lake.

This is the view looking south.

It was now coasting downhill for most of the next 30 miles. I didn't remember any downhill when I had ridden up this road a few days earlier. But, there was just enough uphill to remind me that my legs had been doing alot of bike riding. Here is a typical view as I coasted down the Emigrant Trail.

I probably took a picture of this panorama on the way up. But, it seemed so much grander on the way down!

A lunch stop.

It didn't take long to do the 30 miles to Jenkinson Lake, about 90 minutes. Once I got there, I had to decide between going the way I had came or following the Western Express route and riding up to Pollock Pines. I was getting a bit tired but wanted to do the listed route just to see what it was like. It went uphill for about 3 miles and then parallelled Highway 50 from Pollock Pines (a tiny town), through Cedar Grove (about 10 buildings) and on into Placerville. I was able to coast virtually the entire way, about 15 miles. It would be a tough uphill and I am glad that I didn't follow this route on the way up. It would have made a hard day worse.

Once in Placerville, I went to one of the other motels I had seen on my way out of town a few days earlier. I got a room, albeit on the second floor, for $55. I walked to a Chinese place, had my usual broccoli dish, returned to the room, and went to sleep.

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Description of Day 8 ride