What's the opposite of an Iron Butt Rider?
It's what I was this last weekend. Three days and only 1000 miles, but wow did I see a LOT. Not only see things but I had time to become a part of the landscape myself. I've been waiting for Fall to spend a little time in the Eastern Sierras looking for the changing colors, I also like riding in the cooler weather. My plan was to ride South to Lone Pine and explore the Alabama Hills and Mt. Whitney area and then just cruise back North and ride in to a lot of the dead end roads that lead to some high sierra lakes that litter the Eastern Sierra. Many of which I'm ashamed that I've never been to because I was always in such a hurry riding right by them to get somewhere "Better"
So once again my ride starts by crossing the Sierras through Yosemite. Just outside the park on the East side is a road to Saddlebag Lake. Never been up it and been going by it for decades. I caught myself thinking I've got miles to go today, don't stop, but then I couldn't think of a BETTER way to start this particular ride then something new in my backyard. Half dirt and half paved the road makes you feel glad to be off the beaten path and instantly rewards you with incredible views. A few turns before the lake I see a PERFECT turnout for my morning coffee break. Even has a perfect stone to sit on and enjoy the moment.
When I ran out of coffee I realized I was still in no hurry so out came a cheap cigar and more chill time. I was there at least an hour. Not a good way to make time, but a great way to make the most of my time. Finally I rode the last few corners and down to the lake.
looking out at the dam.
I know most of you who ride out west here have done Tioga Pass many times. If you've never been to Saddlbag Lake it's only a few miles off of Tioga road.....just do it.
For some reason Ellery Lake looked better than usual, probably because I now know what lies in those hills in the background . Yeah, I've got time to stop.
So now I put the hammer down for a few minutes down to Lone Pine. Fast forward to the Alabama Hills. If you've never heard of this before it's been used to shoot many films ,mostly Westerns, particularly well known are the Roy Rodgers and John Wayne flicks. All of that dramatic scenery with the High Sierra and Mt. Whitney in the background.
More on the Alabama Hills in a minute, right now it's getting hot in the desert and climbing up Whitney Portal rd to higher elevations and cooler weather seems like a grand idea.
The small valley between the Alabama Hills and and Mt. Whitney. You can see the road switchback up the side.
Right before the dead end the road turns for a dramatic view of the mountain, about as close as I'm going to get.
Much cooler and a great place for an early dinner. This is where the Mt. Whitney hikers make base camp (if they come from the East) If you're reading this report from some other part of the world, Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the continental U.S. at 14,500 feet. Ironically you can see it from the lowest point in the U.S. (Badwater, Death Valley @ 280 feet below sea level), but that is another ride report.
As evening draws and the desert cools I decide to ride back down and play in the Alabama Hills for awhile, and scout a spot for where I want to be at sunrise. Heading back down the mountain it's crazy how fast the terrain changes from mountain to desert.
A look North over the Owens Valley with late day shadows taking over.
Back to the Alabama Hills
How can you not feel small in terrain like this?
After pretending I was on a smaller bike for awhile exploring the main road and numerous spurs I settled down to watch the sunset. To bad I couldn't capture all of the little Bats coming out like butterflys as they just added to the mood of the place.
A quick ride back to Lone Pine for the night and early to bed as I was looking forward to a pre-dawn ride back out here to watch sunrise. Want to feel like a real adventurer? Getting a Tenere sideways at highway speeds while the Baja lights illuminate the desert before sun up is just way to much fun.
The first rays of light to hit the mountain are almost surreal with color.
Standing still in the silence, watching as the light exposes more of the foreground is hard to describe with words...that's why I bring a camera.
And of course a glamor shot for the boys in the Tenere photo thread
As the sun starts to do it's job I decide to beat the heat and ride north to Bishop and explore the mountains east of there. First stop, Lake Sabrina. More coffee and amazing views. I love these high Sierra lakes. last few miles had temps in the low 40s, no heat problem here.
I spent the rest of the day enjoying the Fall colors in the canyons.
I don't know where the day goes, a few short walks, a nap by the river and a photo or two and it's getting late. Another ride back into the desert and north to Mammoth for the night.
Day three already?! I wanted to see Convict Lake, and thought first light would be worthy, but screw it, I slept in. Even with an 8 am start the lake was only a few miles away and I arrived before the light crested the mountains above the lake. While waiting for the light I was looking for, I stumbled upon this abandoned rescue helicopter. Appears to be damaged.
It wasn't long until I had the scene I wanted
Now it was time to ride.
A quick detour on the June Lake loop, with a photo of June Lake just because I don't have one yet.
North of Lee Vining is the turnoff for Lundy Lake. I'm now in day ride territory and thought this would make a good spot to come back to, but it's so close and I'm right here so why not look. The colors were changing but I decided another week or so of cool weather will make for some incredible photo oppurtunities and I'd come back. I predict an update in this thread in short order but here's one shot to tide you over until then...
Seems almost every ride east of the Sierras has me coming home on Sonora Pass, and for good reason, it's one of my favorite roads. Period. After a few days of touring mode it's good to do the full tilt boogie on familiar tarmac. This IS my local road. I've photographed it to death but with the colors popping here to, I just couldn't help but walk off the road into the Aspens for a few final color shots of the weekend.