|The Danaides by John William Waterhouse circ 1903.|
|After a mile and a bit pavement ends on Nate Harrison Grade.|
|There are lots of view to see along the climb even on a misty day.|
|Old tarmac comes and goes, but the constant grind lasts (almost) forever.|
It took over two hours of constant grinding; about 20 minutes of which was spent in really-bugged-by-bugs purgatory, but I survived to the top and a bit (once you've endured the trial of Nate Harrison Grade Rd on a road bike, you might as well go another half mile up double digit gradient paved ramp to Boucher Hill fire lookout tower!). It is a very different climb from Palomar South Grade Rd. There are 5 or 6 ramps with gradients in the low teens, and there are false flats to catch your breath on. It's just a shame that the final mile of this thing is the steepest mile of the entire road.
|The last mile and a bit of Nate Harrison Grade is very steep forested lane.|
|The burnt elephant stump guarding the road to Boucher Hill.|
|Boucher Hill Fire Lookout Tower (May 2017).|
I thought about swinging down to visit Doane Pond when I got to the top, but the road was closed due to storm-downed trees. Come to think of it, the rangers probably should have closed down Nate Harrison as well (or at least put up signs about downed trees and trees that might soon be coming down as you drive/ride under them further up the slope). At any rate, my legs were moderately grateful that the Doane Pond option was closed off. They had had quite enough of insect infested double digit gradient slopes for the morning!
|Yes, there were still good patches of snow on Palomar Mountain!|
|A young doe crossed State Park Rd just ahead of me before stopping to give me a second look.|
|A glimpse of the snaky Palomar South Grade Rd from State Park Rd.|
Nate Harrison Grade is off my hit list until next winter, though. There are bugs waiting to ambush pesky cyclists along South Grade and East Grade Roads, too, but at least with those routes I would have the option to beat a retreat back down the hill if it gets too much. On Nate Harrison Grade, if you start up that on a road bike, you are committed to going all the way up in order to come down on the paved roads... unless you are a ninja bike handler on the level with Peter Sagan or his likes, I guess. But even if you can handle the super rough, steep, slippery, and snaky descent, you'll still likely need a couple of new tires and maybe spokes and brake pads by the time you level out again. That's just not quite worth it for me.