Sunday, October 2, 2011

Striking East: Highway to the Danger Zone

As you may have noticed we were treated wonderfully in San Francisco and were sad to say good-bye, but all good things must come to an end. After all how else would we find out about all the other good things to come?

We kinda cheated and took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) as far out of San Francisco as it would take us. It was still a tangle of suburbia and construction zones for a half day until we were back on the open road.

Ghost town near Sonora
Sometimes open road can mean ghost towns where you expect to find services

After three days we reached our next big destination for the trip, Yosemite National Park. That third day was a real test of strength, taking us up about 6000' into the park to the Crane Flat camping area.

More than 5000 feet elevation gain today!
We made it!

The next day we cycled through some very beautiful scenery to reach Tuolumne Meadows at 8800'. The spectacular vistas were indicative of what we would find on our two-day planned hike ("rest days") down in to Yosemite Valley.

Riding in front of Clouds Rest, Yosemite.
Cycling past Tenaya Lake, almost at the Meadows

Due to the limited size and weight of our belongings, our little packs were stuffed like sausages.

Sausage backpacks in Yosemite.

Our wilderness campsite (appropriately named "Sunrise") was on the edge of alpine meadow bliss.


Sunset at Sunrise Campsite, Yosemite.

That night we had our first big scare of the trip. Our bear locker was visited by just that; a bear. Normally this would not be a big deal, but we were doubtful of it's less than ideal securing mechanism and EVERYTHING was in one pack, including the food, all our money, ID and headlamps. We had to do the only reasonable thing, bumble our way down the trail in the dark, back to the locker, yelling and clapping as we went. The whole time hoping the ranger who told us no one in Yosemite has ever been attacked by a black bear was right. Sure enough we heard some gruff snorting less than 50' off that slowly disappeared into the distance without ever seeing a thing... Phew. I don't know if I would have been more scared if I could see it or not.

Happily back on the trail the next day.

Hiking the John Muir Trail in Yosemite.

Walking stick and feather in the cap, Yosemite.
A feather in my cap and a sweet walking stick

Almost in the valley, at Vernal Falls.

Vernal Falls, Yosemite

After spending a night in the Valley we hitched a ride back to Tuolumne Meadows with the lovely Janelle and Jenn from San Diego and finished our climb to the Tioga Pass Summit and park exit.

All this from sea level ... oooph!

The next few days went by slowly but surely riding down Highway 395 against a growing head wind and iffier weather. It took us through the beautiful Eastern Sierras and the towns of Bishop and Lone Pine.

Near Bishop, CA
Near Bishop, CA
Swimming in Lone Pine, CA

Then it was in to the desert.

Looking down into Panamint Valley, Death Valley, CA
Just before this photo we were at our summit of the day going through a cleft in the rock when I literally thought the apocalypse was upon us. The air was being ripped apart, I thought this must be what you hear when you get hit by lightning. I didn't even have time to plug my ears before a fighter jet ripped right overhead at less than 40ft and banked hard left before he disappeared into the mountains. Funny thing is three days before we had watched "Top Gun" in a motel on AMC, hence the inspiration for this post.

The head wind, and a bladder infection I had to go to the hospital for in Lone Pine, had us a day or so behind, so we hitched another ride, through part of Death Valley. We were picked up by a couple of airline pilots. The awesome Eric, Nance and their dog Sammy. They even stopped to let us take pictures!
Entering Death Valley, CA
Death Valley, CA
With their help we're now in Nevada, one day away from climbing (hopefully, see the picture below for the latest current weather) and Las Vegas. We still haven't been rained on yet (fingers crossed), but I don't know if it counts because we did get sprinkler-ed this morning after pitching our tent in a city park.

Bad headwinds in Pahrump, NV ... we were headed to the right :(


  1. Awesome guys!!!! Happy to hear all your stories and that you're both doing well (minus the hospital visit, but hey what's an adventure without one). Happy climbing and happy thanksgiving!

  2. Hi Folks, A bear and a fighter jet in one post, not bad (and no rain improves things as well). We're expecting snow tomorrow at the higher elevations (flag is 7,000 ft, but the foothills near us will get hit at around 8,000 ft.) so hopefully the weather will be cleared up by the time you get to Flag. Thanks for the posts! JPP

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  4. I hope you're feeling better! That's an awesome sunset it!

  5. Wow, crazy adventures! and beauuuuutiful photos, totally different landscapes, but so beautiful. Hope you're feeling better, and stay safe!! xoxox

  6. Thanks for keeping the posts coming.
    As a spectator on my hilltop perch in Pennsylvania, I anxiously await your updates.
    Stay safe!

  7. Great pictures you two. Looks like you're having the time of your lives.