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Old 05-22-2010, 11:08 PM   #1
Jedi5150 OP
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Exploring the Eastern Sierras

Hello all, I just got back from a 4 day ride through the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains and I figured I'd share some pictures of our adventure. To begin I'll give you a little background on the mountain range for those who may not be too familiar with it. According to wikipedia (who are never wrong ), the Sierra Nevada range is 400 miles long, running north to south along the eastern edge of California. The peaks get gradually higher as you move south. The western slope of the range is a gradual incline, rising from the San Joaquin valley. The eastern edge of the range drops off abruptly into the Great Basin, near Nevada and the White Mountains.

Since I was a kid I've been to the Sierras many times, though almost entirely on the western slope...Yosemite, Shaver Lake, Tahoe, etc. I've never been futher south along the eastern slope than Carson City, NV. This trip was originally planned as a Death Valley ride but due to changing circumstances and flying by the seat of our pants, we had a completely different adventure.

Anyways, on to the pictures.

My friend, Dan, and I heading out of the Monterey Bay area. Dan is on an R1150GS and I'm on my newly purchased F800GS (I traded down from the 1200 and couldn't be happier).:

Southbound on Hwy 101 between Salinas and King City:

Just east of Bakersfield, along Hwy 178, we reach our first detour of the trip, Rancheria Rd.:

Rancheria Road winds through barren, rolling hills and then rises into chaparral:

And you have to keep an eye out for the wildlife...

Focus in on the tree on the right...

As you climb higher the chaparral gives way to lush valleys and hills:

Until finally you reach the southern end of Sequoia National Forest (very different from the groves of towering redwood trees that people traditionally associate with the Sequoia National Forest)

We'd risen above the haze of the Central Valley and the sky was incredibly blue, the clouds white, and the trees were a vibrant green:

The weather was perfect, the ride great, and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong...

...except for the fact that our campsite was allegedly 2 miles past this gate...

All was not lost, however. We decided to backtrack to the Davis campsight in this nice little clearing:

Our site was situated around this concrete foundation. We never did figure out what had been here or what was going to be put in...

...Making dinner. I call this picture "product placement" :


That's it for Day 1 but there are plenty more pictures coming. Tomorrow I'll continue with the journey.

Jedi5150 screwed with this post 05-23-2010 at 09:42 AM
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:07 AM   #2
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Day 2

Day 2 we ride back out on Rancheria Rd. You can tell I was in the rear by the amount of dust collected on my bike. :

Dan's brothers, Phil and Dave, joined us late the previous night at the campsite. They stayed with us, driving their Dodge, for the majority of the trip:

Heading east on 178 we come across a river coming out of the side of a mountain. What will they think of next?:

And it falls into the Kern River:

We get gas and eat at Burger King just outside Lake Isabella:

A small part of Lake Isabella:

East of Lake Isabella Hwy 178 joins Hwy 14 north towards the 395.

My traditional mirror-self-portrait:

Dan in the mirror:

Up 395 we arrive in Lone Pine. Dan in front of the Death Valley information center:

While camping we become connoisseurs of restrooms. They sure beat using a bush. This restroom at the information center rated very highly :

And from the parking lot of the information center we get our first view of Mount Whitney. At 14,505 feet, Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48 states . In this picture it is the three small spires just left of center:

Riding up Whitney Portal Rd:

The town of Lone Pine sits at 3,700 feet in elevation. Whitney Portal Rd. takes you from there to 8,300 feet in a very short distance. Here are the switchbacks:

Rounding the final switchback you come into the valley. Mt. Whitney is clearly visible here (the three spires on the right):

Looking down from the switchbacks you can see Whitney Portal Rd. snaking through the Alabama Hills towards Lone Pine:

Our campsite at 8,100 feet:

The view right across the street from our campsite (looking almost straight up ):

A good view of the switchbacks:

Next....Day 3.
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:20 AM   #3
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:29 AM   #4
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Great pics! The Eastern Sierras really are incredible, aren't they?
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."

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Old 05-23-2010, 09:24 AM   #5
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Thanks for the compliments guys! it only gets better

And Bigger Al, yep, they are. I was awestruck.
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Old 05-23-2010, 09:25 AM   #6
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Day 3

Yours truly coming down Whitney Portal Road on the morning of day 3:

A short distance north on Hwy 395 you arrive at Manzanar War Relocation Center. Sadly, this was home to 11,070 US citizens of Japanese decent during World War II. The western states of California, Oregon and Washington were considered high threat areas during the war and people of Japanese decent living in these states were sent to various "War Relocation Centers" around the country. The centers have been labeled as everything from "internment camps" to "concentration camps".

The original barracks are all gone but a few are being reconstructed for the museum (in the background the switchbacks to Mt. Whitney are visible):

A guard tower:

One of the only three remaining original buildings is the auditorium:

Riding north on 395 we approach Tom's Place:

Did I mention that the mountains were big?

We ate lunch at Tom's Place. They boasted having the world's best onion rings and I have to admit, they were pretty good.

Looking north towards Mammoth Lakes from Benton Crossing Road:

After lunch we rode up to the June Lake loop:

Silver Lake, along the June Lake loop:

Nearing the northern end of June Lake loop you get your first view of Mono Lake:

Hwy 167 East runs along the north side of Mono Lake. It would make a good entry into the "long, lonely highways" thread:

From the same place looking west, back towards the Sierras:

On Hwy 167 you can hit a dirt road that takes you in the back way to the ghost town of Bodie. Unfortunately the road was closed and we had to go back the long way around. These two pictures are of the closed road:

Looking out over these sweeping plains and gentle hills leading to Bodie it was hard to believe the elevation they were at:

Riding into Bodie. I could almost hear the Spaghetti Western music:

A little extra history on Bodie...Less than 10% of the town still stands. In it's heyday, Bodie had a population of 10,000 people and 2,000 buildings with 65 saloons. It was famous for violence and depravity, with gunfights and stage coach robberies an almost daily occurrence. Reverend F.M. Warrington saw Bodie in 1881 and described it as, "A sea of sin, lashed by the tempest of lust and passion". A little girl, whose family was moving to the town, wrote in her journal, "Goodbye God, I'm going to Bodie".

Being in Bodie gives you a new appreciation for the hard life that the settlers lived. This is a cold, barren area and the only thing tougher than the country were the people.

A nice little corral in the Bodie Hills:

13 miles southwest of Bridgeport we came to the Twin Lakes. We set up camp here for the night:

A little explanation is due for this next picture. When Dan was making the trip preparations he told us all that we could expect night time temperatures as low as 40 degrees. We rode into Twin Lakes and ate dinner at a small diner. The food was nothing to write home about but the homemade apple and blackberry pie a la mode were outstanding. ON the way back to the campsite after dinner we all got a good laugh as we looked at the thermometer and saw that it wasn't even dark yet...Dan's weather prediction was taking a turn for the worse :

When we woke up in the morning I checked the temperature on my bike :

Artsy shot of the morning campfire:

Next...Day 4

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Old 05-23-2010, 09:34 AM   #7
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Nice ride report

I am headed up to Isabella this week and I was hoping to ride Ranchera rd. Was the locked gate in your photos on that road?
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Old 05-23-2010, 09:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dirtnadvil
I am headed up to Isabella this week and I was hoping to ride Ranchera rd. Was the locked gate in your photos on that road?
Dirtnadvil, yep, it is. It is roughly 20-25 miles up Rancheria Rd., before Evan's camp. You can't get through to Hwy 155 because the road is gated in two places due to snow.
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Old 05-23-2010, 09:55 AM   #9
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Good stuff. We lived in Bakersfield for 10 years and while it wasn't all that great, I always enjoyed getting up into the mountains; the scenery never seems to disappoint.
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Old 05-23-2010, 09:57 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jedi5150

Riding up Whitney Portal Rd:

Next....Day 3.
great stuff
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Old 05-23-2010, 10:30 AM   #11
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Day 4

The morning of day 4 was a chilly 24*. It's no wonder that even the wildlife was cold. Inside this bathroom...

...we found this guy trying to stay warm:

The view from right behind my tent:

The road back into Bridgeport:

In Bridgeport we went our separate ways. Dan and I headed north along 395 towards Carson City and Dave and Phil went south, returning to their homes in L.A. Before we split up we had hot chocolate and pastries in this little diner. The building was a house made in 1881 :

And inside it had an outstanding bathroom! I gave it 10/10 stars :

Dan was a good sport and let me snap this photo of his graceful way of mounting and dismounting his bike :

Heading north on 395 we went through Devil's Gate pass, between Bridgeport and the Sonora Pass (SR 108). John C. Fremont (whom the Bay Area city was named after) crossed Devil's Gate Pass in 1844. Later, in the 1880's it was a stage coach stop:

Sonora Pass (Hwy 108) was still closed for the winter, as was Tioga Pass. Instead we took Hwy 89 through Alpine County. The switchbacks leading up into the pass were incredible:

Up in the pass it was cold. For the remainder of these photos just bear in mind that this is sunny California, almost exactly one month to the day before the start of Summer ...

Yes, you're reading that's almost 11:30 in the morning and 25* Farenheit:

But it hit noon it got colder still...

And then it started to snow :

I'm having a hard time desrcibing just how cold it was crossing the pass. I'll let the next couple pictures speak for me:

And one final shot of the intrepid adventurers before they reached the mundane Central Valley and headed for home:

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Old 05-23-2010, 10:34 AM   #12
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Nice Pics!
I get a little bored here of my back yard but then when I see visitor's perspective I get reminded how great it is.

Again, nice pics!
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Old 05-23-2010, 10:38 AM   #13
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I spent 2 years in Bakersfield and there is some GREAT riding up in the Sierras. I miss it already. The mountains not Bakersfield.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:09 PM   #14
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Great report. I rode Sonora Pass in Sept '07 and it tried to snow on me even then. I definitely need to get further south.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:55 PM   #15
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Nice pics...Nice bikes... thanks for sharing ...

Makes me think of Merle Haggard... and I'll Never Swim Kern River Again
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