A stormy crossing

San Diego Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 7 › view all entries
Wind whips Lake Cuyamaca in the mountains between San Diego and the desert.
There are some big mountains between San Diego and the desert. It's only a two hour drive, but a climb from sea level to 5000 feet and back to below sea level in a few short miles. I had decided to take the winding, "scenic route", straight across, instead of the normal interstate freeway that skirts the mountains to the south. I had until morning so was in no hurry.

As I climbed out of the city, the sky became that impossible deep blue it gets only at high elevation. The atmosphere had decided to shift, and as the pressure dropped on the coast the wind was howling over the mountains to fill the void. The wind was dead steady, so instead of rocking the truck, it moved silently by, thin strands of storm clouds forming as they ripped by eerily low overhead, like in a time-lapse movie.
Burned remains of the oak-pine forrest - the giant fire that burned most of western San Diego County in 2007 ran all the way from almost the coast into the mountains!
The normally placid Lake Cuyamaca was whipped into a froth, and spray spattered the windows as I crossed the road by the low dam.

At the summit, near the little community of Julian, the jet steam dropped and the temperatures plunged, though the sky remained blue. I barely recognized the area - firestorms in the fall had blackened most the trees, turning the mountain into a pincushion of burned trunks.

Dropping down the back of the ridge, a view of the golden, open desert begins open up below, in contrast to the oak and pine forest along the winding road. Banner Grade zigzags down the back of the slope in just 8 miles, with a vertical drop of nearly a mile. Near the top, geese (brants) were sitting on the road. Some had been hit by cars, some were wandering in the lanes dazed. The migrating birds had become exhausted fighting the wind and had landed on the black "river" which turned out to be the highway. They were so tired that I was able to gather them up and carry some off of the road into the forest as the sun dropped below the horizon. What a shortcut I'd picked today!

Minutes later on the desert floor the air was again still and crickets were beginning to call. I could see the clouds still roaring over the pass, now near ground level.
barduini says:
I'm glad you took care of the geese. What a great thing to do!

Had a bit of an adventure getting to work, hmm? =D
Posted on: Apr 22, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Wind whips Lake Cuyamaca in the mo…
Wind whips Lake Cuyamaca in the m…
Burned remains of the oak-pine for…
Burned remains of the oak-pine fo…
Clouds skim low over conifers on t…
Clouds skim low over conifers on …
The last of the brants is herded o…
The last of the brants is herded …
Twilight on the desert floor - thi…
Twilight on the desert floor - th…
Long shadow
Long shadow
Ocotillo cactus blooming
Ocotillo cactus blooming
Sunsets as I head the last two hou…
Sunsets as I head the last two ho…
San Diego
photo by: Sunflower300