I left Mammoth Lake early in the morning, and headed North toward Lee Vining and the Eastern entrance to Yosemite. From here I’d gain about 2000 feet in 10 miles hitting my highest elevation right at the entrance to the park. I hoped that the dense cold morning air would make the bike run a bit leaner and help with the altitude related rich bog I’d seen in the Kaibab forest. I gained altitude quickly through a beautiful mountain road, and before I knew it I was at a small shack that was labeled “Tioga Pass”.
This checkpoint was the highest altitude I’d hit for the trip at just under 10,000 feet. The bike was definitely exhibiting the same issues it had at the Grand Canyon, but I think the cold air helped because it wasn’t quite as bad and was easy to ride around.
Tioga Pass Road had been one of the areas I’d been really looking forward to riding. It looked really twisty on a map with tons of elevation change (and by that I mean nearly all downhill) . I figured it would be a fun riding road, but didn’t end up doing much fast riding with all the sights.
I’m pretty sure I stopped about every half mile to look around.
I’m not sure if it was just really early morning, or the eastern edge of the park isn’t very popular, but I pretty much had free reign away from any crowds.
The park itself is huge, I could easily spend a week or more just here. All over the eastern side of the park there are trail heads leading to some of the more beautiful sights. Unfortunately, I’d come ill prepared for intense hiking, so I mostly stuck to the vehicle accessible areas. The first 20 miles had huge walls of granite on both sides of the road, truly an awesome sight.
Eventually, I made it to dense forest and was able to enjoy the road a bit. I missed my turn at some point and ended up at the western park entrance on 120. After back tracking a bit, I headed in to Yosemite Valley.
When I got there it had just been reopened after wildfires closed it down for a while. There was still a lot of smoke hanging about that hampered long range visibility.
I also picked the wrong time of day, and a lot of features had backlighting from the sun, not great for pictures, but it looked a lot cooler in person.
There were definitely a LOT more people here in the Valley than there were up top, but due to the wildfires and the smoke it was apparently much less crowded than usual.
Yosemite has to be seen in person to be appreciated, the size of all these rock faces if hard to capture in a photo. The above is the best I cold do, notice the line of cars at the bottom for scale.
After spending a few hours in the park, I headed Southwest on 140. This ended up being the best road of the day, high quality pavement, good scenery... but not so good that I had to stop and take photos :)
I ended the day in Atwater Ca. I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the Air Force base where I’d been born. It had been closed down for years, but there was a cool little air museum there now (they have a Blackbird!). Unfortunately, my phone battery died at this point so I didn’t take any photos the rest of the day.
The day ended visiting family I hadn’t seen in far too long. It was great to have a home cooked meal and see some familiar faces after a week on the road.
Total Miles: 2207
Total Miles for the Day: 215
Highest Elevation: 9899
Lowest Elevation: 32
Killer Piece of Gear: Layers, it was 35 in the morning then 90 in the afternoon
Best part of the day: The Polly Dome
Worst part of the day: Smoke in the Valley