Last weekend I decided to roll up to Orange County and hit up the San Juan Trail which I have done in quite some time. It weather called for cloudy but I figured it might be different once I got away for the coast. It was a bit misty as I traveled up I-5 before turning inland on HWY 74. The misting stopped but it was indeed cloudy all the way to the trail head. After getting all the bike and clothes bits all setup I started up the six mile climb to the first decision point “Cocktail Rock”.
As I climbed I could see a soupy cloud layer in the mountains up and ahead of me. I knew that I would get some cloud riding but I wondered the ceiling of the cloud bank was going to be as riding above that clouds can be pretty awesome. As I worked my way up the trail the clouds got closer and closer.
I did not start this ride at the ass crack of dawn by a long shot (think leisurely brunch time roll out) so as expected and meet a handful of folks on their way down that mentioned that it was clear up top. As I continued my climb I soon entered the clouds and visibility go down to around 50-100 feet which was kinda cool to be riding through. Moisture in the air was collecting up on my arm hairs giving me what looked like a water droplet sweater. By the time I got up to cocktail rock the clouds had moved up higher in the mountains so there was not sunshine to be had for me at the top.
From Cocktail Rock I decided the “Lollipop” at the top which is comprised of the Old San Trail and the current or “new” San Juan trail. There are merits to doing the loop in either direction on this day I decided to do the counter-clockwise direction. The clouds settled in amongst the old groves along this route made for a ride that a very ethereal feel to it. The cloud riding continued for the remainder the loop as well as most of the descent of back down from Cocktail Rock. By the time I finished the loop I was quite ready for six mile return to the trail that was all downhill except for one “bump” near the top.
As I neared the bottom of trail the sun even decided to make an appearance which was a nice way to finish off the ride.