The mountains are calling. It was 90+ degrees in Calimesa and a change in elevation was what I needed to beat the heat.
I headed up highway 38 towards Angelus Oaks. As I rode through the Mill Creek Canyon before making the climb into the San Bernardino Mountains, I noticed no change. The late morning sun brightened the tans and yellows of the mountain slopes.
As I climbed up Highway 38, I passed by pockets of purple and yellow wildflowers that dotted the mountain sides, contrasting with the grays and browns. Their blossoms left a fruity aroma in the air, something you might not notice in a car.
After passing Angelus Oaks proper, I turned onto Glass Road and dropped down into the Santa Ana River Canyon. The Santa Ana River starts not far away in the upper areas of the San Bernardino Mountains and flows 96 miles to its mouth near Huntington Beach. Once the river leaves the mountains, most of it is a dry wash. Up here in the mountains, the river is a small stream twisting through the Seven Oaks area.
I turned onto Seven Oaks Road, a dirt Forest Service road that follows the north bank of the Santa Ana. Several group campgrounds dotted the road and the river banks. The road was packed hard with small patches of river rock; the Strom handled it with ease.
After about 5 miles, I reached Highway 38 and headed back down toward home. I took a side road to Jenks Lake. The lake, which covers about 9 acres, is a popular spot for fishing and hiking. Even a lake as small as Jenks is not immune to the effects of the ongoing drought in California; the lake was surrounded by a 50 feet of “bathtub ring” due to its low water level.
Even next to the lake, the temperature was still up in the 90s – elevation wasn’t helping today. It was time for some of that natural air conditioning by hitting the road again.
As I left Jenks Lake, I could see patches of snow still sitting on the 10,000+ foot north face of Anderson Peak. It’s still cool somewhere … just go higher.