Today was about Yosemite, mostly, but there were some gems waiting for us at the end.
After acquiring an extra memory card for our GoPro, (yep, 64gb used already) we took a loop around Mammoth Lakes to see what we could see. Mammoth Lakes as a town is large, it doesn’t feel large as there are a lot of trees but it is spread out with the trees hiding many large complexes from sight. The nearby lakes, which I’m guessing gives the place its name, are beautiful, so it was very much worth having an explore.
We saw no bears though despite the warnings.
We left Mammoth Lakes and headed north to Yosemite, stopping just as we turned of Highway 395 for fuel and to reheat after a very cold trip along the highway. 24 hours ago I was incredibly hot, now I could barely feel my fingers despite woollen layers and leather gloves.
During the stop, Gary spotted some hand warmers, the little pouches of chemicals which heat up and produce heat magically. I was very glad of this later on.
We also met a local couple who were returning from a road trip down to Arizona, they were on a Honda Goldwing pulling a trailer, they said that the bike handles very well despite the trailer as it had its own independent suspension and they were able to not have to worry about luggage space….so no stuffing clothes into bags, squeezing the bag closed and then realising that you’d left something in the bag after it’s been closed, then?
We rode up the Tioga Pass to the national park gate, the traffic was slow and there wasn’t really anywhere to stop. To our left we could see heavy rain atop one of the mountains, I was praying it wasn’t coming our way. We got away with it but a few flakes of SNOW(!) did fall on me.
The fee for the park was $20 each, we paid and pulled over to put on some extra layers as it was getting even more chilly at 9,000 feet and there had been snow, did I mention that?
This stretch of the road was quite busy, there were many areas of the park here where cars had pulled over at the side of the road and people were heading off into the wilderness for a spot of hiking.
We stopped at the visitors’ centre which was surprisingly uncommercial. I actually had to hunt down the fridge magnets, souvenirs that don’t take up too much space. The visitor’s centre had a plethora of information for hikers and campers including how to deal with bears and mountain lions: make a lot of noise and fight back. Ok, then.
The landscape was a variety of savannahs, large rocky outcrops and giant rocks on which people were walking and admiring the views from atop.
After this perfect photo opportunity, the road became quieter, it seemed that not many people ventured over the Tioga Pass as we did, although we saw a few cars and plenty of motorcycles (mostly Harleys, BMW GS’s and Goldwings with trailers) – we broke out the low wave a lot. This stretch of road was beautiful, lined with pine trees and rocky slopes and many more incredible views across the mountains.
After lunch we headed to Yosemite Valley, a glorious narrow valley of huge rock cliffs, filled with pine trees and a picturesque river. This was another popular spot, I’m guessing, for people from the western side of the mountains. We crawled down and along the valley until the end, where we turned around and stopped many times for more photos. The trouble with motorbiking is that you can’t take photos as you ride along, unless you have mad juggling skills, that said, a break is always welcome.
Our journey to Sonora was actually amazing, we thought we had left the dramatic beauty behind but we were wrong.
We experienced many vistas across gorges and mountains and then were treated to an amazing descent into the valley below, where the beautiful road hugged the mountainside as it dropped into the valley. I actually scraped the foot peg twice although this led me to the conclusion that this Harley 48 isn’t really built for corners. I would have had no trouble on my Monster.
We are staying in Sonora, 50 miles from the park, although the closest ‘city’ to the park, I say ‘city’ as it has around 4,000 inhabitants which is merely a village back in the UK, although the same applies in country Australia, a settlement doesn’t have to have too many people to become a region centre for much smaller places around it.
Tomorrow we head over the Sonora Pass to Lake Tahoe.