Mountains And Waters Without End

The next wedding on my docket, after the recent pair, was one initially discussed last summer; the bride-to-be, as a graduate student, knew she wanted to get everything lined up before she got too busy. The couple had family names I recognised as having roots from different Eastern European countries that are now adjacent to the war in Ukraine, but they loved – and spent all their free time on –  the mountains and the oceans of California. The initial plan to hold the ceremony deep in the woods of King’s Mountain had to change after one of the parents became too sick to hike any distance.

Plan B was a beach wedding on Saturday afternoon. I decided it was a great opportunity to treat myself to a weekend away (having not managed to do that in almost eighteen months). I found a sweet little Airbnb cabin just off Skyline at King’s Mountain, and started thinking about fitting in rides on Friday afternoon, and Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The forecast intervened though, as rain loomed for Saturday. The couple inquired if it would be possible to have the ceremony on Friday afternoon. I had a teaching session in the morning, was due to pick up the rental car at noon, so I said sure, I could make it by three. In the end the teaching session was postponed, so I had plenty of time to get everything ready and motor down – and the Airbnb host was happy for me to arrive earlier than I was supposed to.

It was such a clear and sunny afternoon, it seemed hard to believe that rain was on the horizon. Conditions on the beach could not have been better, and we had a very sweet ceremony featuring some very expansive vows, with just immediate family present.

After I had driven back up into the hills, I wasted no time in getting out on my bike to make the most of the good weather, even though I was starting to feel tired – I had slept badly, perhaps from a combination of the full moon and the anticipation of everything I had to get done. Luckily traffic was sparse on Skyline – I could usually hear cars coming from a long way off, and judge how fast they were travelling. There were a few people who seemed to be letting off steam after work, but nothing that especially worried me.

The cabin was just north of the intersection where the King’s Mountain Road crosses Skyline to become the Tunitas Creek road, so I was on fairly familiar territory from rides I took years ago. I rode down (or rather up and down – Skyline is always hard work – the flats seem like uphills, and the uphills, which don’t seem to be much, have me reaching for the lowest gear; it’s only when you start heading down that you realise what a slope there is), and turned west on the 84. Stretches of road and details were still clear in my mind, and I remember how fast I used to take the descent, when I was younger and a little more reckless, but I also remember how cold it would be going down into the hollows early in the morning. As I turned back up the peaceful narrow and winding Old La Honda Road, lush with wild flowers, the afternoon sun was still extremely pleasant. Back up in the redwoods, it was naturally a little cooler, and the road home was just a little further than expected.

If it does rain today, I might still have a chance to get out first thing. Otherwise I will explore some of the amazing hiking trails all around me, and hope to get in a decent ride first thing on Sunday (when it will be cold) before heading back to the city for the roam.

A great location, and great afternoon, for a wedding
The photographer gets his shot
Old La Honda folds back on itself
It’s a gentle and quiet climb
… with views
This was downhill on Skyline, but it’s hard to tell sometimes.

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