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Downhill To the Valley


10/29/12, Lucerne Valley, CA (Coord, N. 34 deg, 26.581 min; W. 116 deg, 57.041 min)

This was a nice day of travel, with the horses walking mostly downhill.  In the evening, I ended up camping in the town of Lucerne Valley.

With Doc and Bob hitched to the wagon, I started the day by climbing a fairly steep, 200 foot high hill to the summit, at 4148 feet above sea level. While I will make brief trips to higher elevations, this should be the highest elevation Iíll climb in several months.

With a couple of breaks, the lads made it to the top, pulling the last section at about a 10 to 12% slope. Reaching the top, I put some brake fluid in the master cylinders and started down the hill. It was a long descent, and I rode the brakes for the next three miles.

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A small turnout at the top of the hill. which was good for giving the guys a breather and checking my brakes.

When descending hills, I try and use the brakes as much as possible and save the horsesí legs.  If they arenít holding back the wagon, it also speeds the descent.  Two brake systems ends up being invaluable.  I found that out on this hill when the front brakes had air in the lines. While I was riding the rear brakes, I pumped the front brakes for about a 1/2 mile, until I worked out all the air.

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As I descended into the Lucerne Valley, the surrounding country had a raw, stark beauty about it.

The first half of the morning was spent riding the brakes downhill, while the second half was on a gentle downhill that required the lads to just walk along.  We made good time and stopped for lunch 10 miles further down the road.

After a nice lunch, I rehitched the team and started across the flat, dry lake bed for the town of Lucerne Valley.

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Crossing the dry lake bed.

My first stop on reaching town was at the feed store.  While there, the wagon and horses drew quite a crowd.  I bought a couple of bales of hay and a couple of sacks of grain to replace those used in the trek from Hinkley. It was nice meeting all of the great people that came to the store.

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Three of the many kids who got a chance to sit on Bill while I was at the grain store.

After loading on some water at the local gas station, I ended up settling up camp behind the gas station as a guest of Tommy, the owner of the property.

This was a great day.  It was an easy pull, great weather and a lot of really nice people along the way.