This weekend Michelle and I hopped on the motorcycle with two other couples and headed into the high Sierras. We started the tour heading up 99 and then cutting across to the Sierras on Hwy 59. We stopped in Jamestown, which is a great little gold town, for breakfast. Once full, we crossed over to Hwy 4 to begin the journey over the mighty Sierras.
The first stop was the Calaveras Big Trees. It’s a large grove of some of the most humongous redwoods on the planet. Living in Fresno, I’ve seen my share of big trees in Yosemite and Sequioa NP, but these were flat out awesome. I could have walked around there for hours, but I was with a group who wasn’t big on walking, so we saw what we could from the trail and headed back to the bikes. Even the short walk we did was immensely satisfying and I’ve made a mental note to go back. Next time with my hiking boots.
We continued on up the mountain and I noticed something interesting and it never fails to surprise me. In just about any mountain range you travel, once you get past the first big tourist area, the mountains empty out. The traffic thins to nothing. I always wonder why this is.
We rode on and up through the cooling mountains as the road changed from a two lane highway to a one lane mountain pass, twisting it’s way through the trees and following the contours of the hills. After a bit,we rounded a corner and out popped the gorgeous Mosquito Lake (pictured above). We stopped and got off the bikes to stretch and take some pictures of what I think is one of the most picturesque and beautiful lakes I’ve seen. The air was calm and quiet, the sky was a brilliant blue and laced with pure white puffs of clouds, and the water was as smooth as glass. This is why I ride.
Continuing on we came across many, many similarly beautiful sights. The sheer scale of what you take in with your eyes boggles the mind. At one point as we were descending the east side of the mountains heading down to Hwy 395 we stopped at a vista overlooking the valley below. I’m telling you, my mind could not register what my eyes were seeing, and a photograph cheapens the experience. As I stood there just floored by the scale and beauty of everything, it struck me that even though man has created some pretty impressive things, there’s nothing we’ve done that compares to God’s work. We’re freaking amateurs. We have nothing to be proud of.
We finished the days ride at the Virginia Creek Settlement which is a cool little campground we’ve stayed at before. We rented a few tent cabins and had some amazing pizza before chilling out at our camp with a twelve pack of Tecate, some snacks, and good conversation. We met one gentlemen named Thomas who was from Denmark. The guy and his girlfriend were hiking from Mexico to Canada! They had started in May and expected to finish by October. It’s amazing to meet such interesting people.
Sunday we got up, packed the bikes, had breakfast and then hit the road. This time we would head south to Tioga Pass and come home through the always amazing Yosemite National Park. I honestly never get tired of seeing Yosemite and even though it was a bit crowded, I enjoyed the ride.
The only downside of the trip came during the last hour of riding. Turns out we came back to the valley on the hottest day Fresno had seen in over 100 years. Nothing like being wrapped in black leather, sitting on top of a running motor, and moving along a black tarred surface when it’s 112° outside. Still, motorcycling is like that. To get the rewards you have to deal with the inconveniences. It was worth it.
So it was an amazing weekend. I mean, look at that picture at the top of this post. That’s not a stock photo from some far off place, or a photo taken by a hardened professional photographer trekking through the wilderness. That’s a picture I took myself after pulling off to the side of the road. That’s HOW IT REALLY LOOKS. And it’s right in our backyard. Get out there!