Micky’s Cycle Through the Sierras

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This summer MetalMark Climbing desk staffer Michelle left her house in Clovis, California, and ended up in Bishop! “It took 9 days, and when I finished the ride through  Yosemite I didn’t really want to stop,” said Michelle. “I loved the feeling of just being able to go and do what ever. Even if that means nothing!” Check out her trip report of the ride, and get psyched for your own fall adventures!
Biking touring through yosemite

DAY 1: Hell on Wheels

Start- Home, Clovis CA End-Forks Campsite, Bass Lake

Miles = 47.1

Elevation Gain = 4,108ft

I was out the door by six am, arrived to the first rest stop O’Neal’s, and dreaded the unknown uphill. I was going through the foothills at the peak of the day, just in time to get baked by the sun. I finally reached the Shell station in North Fork, and rested (passed out) for a good hour. Once I got to Bass Lake, I searched for a campsite and after a brief talk with the camp hosts I had a two night stay- for free (I left them a few bucks as a thank you)! They were the sweetest couple, and had an adorable little dog. I set up camp, and had a well-earned dinner at the Forks Resort Restaurant. Immediately after, I passed out. It was hard to stay asleep because my back was burnt badly, but laying down and cool air felt good.

bass lake


DAY 2: Heaven at Bass Lake

Rest Day

A delicious breakfast, and phone charge at the Forks Restaurant was the perfect beginning! I relaxed on the lake’s shore with a refreshing coconut water and my book, “A Leaky Tent is a Bit of Paradise”. About an hour passed when my friend Ray met me on the lake, we spent an hour catching up on the past year’s events. Before we left, I noticed my feet were covered in sand so I rinsed them off in the lake. The next thing I knew Ray had dived in, so I jumped in as well. I am a terrible swimmer and even though it felt great on my sunburnt shoulders, I got out just as fast as I got in. We spent the day walking around Oakhurst and Mariposa, and listened to live music. It was a very nice recovery day.

Day 3: Roller Coaster Ride

Start- Bass Lake. End- Camp 4, Yosemite Valley

Miles = 48.2

Elevation Gain = 5,207

This ride wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. I left camp around six am, there was a surprising downhill which got me chilled enough to put an extra layer on. There were plenty of ups and downs. By nine am, my stomach was growling and my caffeine intake was low, so I stopped at Tenaya Lodge for a buffet breakfast!hwy 120

The rest of the highway into the Valley has no real shoulder, so the tight right turns were hairy. If you pay attention, you can hear the large trucks down shift. This, in my logic, means there will more than likely be a trail of cars behind them. So I would make it a point to be close to a turn out or get far enough off the road to let them pass. The downhills made all the killer climbing from the first day well worth it.

yosemite signOnce I reached the valley floor, my legs felt like jelly, I went to the wilderness center where they correctly informed me that you do not need a wilderness permit to camp at the back packer’s camp, so long as you are camping for one night and not going into the back country. I ended up sharing a site with three others, one from Merced and two from back east (I have a terrible memory). I had unpacked and set up my camp in time for food at the Loft, where I ordered a Spicy Hawaiian Pizza with a delicious Rogue Mocha Porter- was a well-earned dinner.

To follow and conclude the night, The Village Store provided my dessert of preference- the chocolate chip cookie sandwich by Nestle. It was an overall great, accomplished day.

DAY 4: Dirt Bagger’s Patience: CAMP 4

Rest Day

Woke up at seven am and spent half the day waiting in line at the Camp 4 kiosk to secure a campsite for the next few nights. When I finally got a site, I walked around the valley, dunked in the river and had dinner at the Loft! This time I had the meat lasagna, and a cold beer (don’t remember which one). It was a slow, good recovery day. Oh and the solar panel worked great!! It’s a great investment, I highly recommend it!

tent viewDAY 5: Smelly-Smelly Goodness

Rest Day

Woke up fairly early, made oatmeal and coffee on the “alcohol stove” a friend gave me. This is an extremely light weight stove idea, made from soda cans. I do think I would use it if I was in the back country. I am glad I had bear boxes to utilize as a stable counter top, far enough off the ground. For me the flame was a bit wild and the fact is, California is in a drought, dry climates and wild flames do not mix well. I later bought a new sleeping pad, freeze dried garlic-herb mashed potatoes, and an MSR wind screen. I was really nervous about the next few days to come. Of course the day ended with a meal from the Loft, which was accompanied by a delicious beer.

DAY 6: Onward and Upward

Yosemite Shuttle fromCrane Flat Gas Station to Porcupine Flat due to road work

Start- Camp 4 End- Crane Flat Gas Station

Miles = 15

Elevation Gain = 2,648

Start- Porcupine Flat End- Tuolumne Meadows Campground

Miles= 15.8

Elevation Gain- 1,234

I left camp4 by six am to beat the sun and traffic. When all of a sudden I was joined by two coyotes. Stunned, I tried to stay focused on going faster, the thought of them realizing I could be food was getting to me. At the same time the moment was majestic, their stride was ‘I am born a badass’. After a ton of climbing, yet in a nice groove, I noticed a tan Volkswagen Van had passed me. I realized it was my friend Karl, we pulled off at a turnout and talked about climbing the next day. As I rode in to the Crane Flat Gas station, I saw plenty of construction signs, trucks and workers, so I debated whether or not to ride or hitch hike past it. Not being able to make a decision, fate seemed to do so for me.

As I exited the store, the Yosemite Shuttle Bus had just pulled in. I rode the bus to Porcupine Flat, then finished the day’s cycle to Tuolumne campground.

Biking through Yosemite

The sights from highway 120 down into the valley blew me away because I was in the moment; riding lets you soak it all in instead of just seeing it. I felt it was only necessary I take a victory dip in Tenaya Lake. I set up camp, made food and met a French man, who lives in Nevada and hikes to the park often. He tells me I am crazy for biking from the central valley up, I laugh it off because I’ve heard that this entire trip. T’was a great day.

DAY 7: It starts here, no, no here…

Rest Day

Woke up really early and met Karl at the store, I noticed he was talking with a man who looked a lot alike a member from MetalMark Climbing. ‘That’s a scruffy Will Haskins’ I thought to myself, and sure enough it was him! We all talked for a while, then Karl and I got a cup of coffee, and sorted out his wrack of gear for the day. His guide book is a little outdated, so we had a tad bit of trouble finding the start as well as some of the direction of the rest of the route. Having to reference the book every pitch just made it more adventurous in my opinion. Not bringing my camera up the side of this rock was a silly decision, there were so many great shots to be had! It took us roughly four and a half hours to summit. Climbing with Karl is easy on the mind, he is patient and calm headed- I trust him. He mentioned he thought it was neat I hadn’t complained about carrying the haul bag. Apparently others think it annoying, for me I get to bring food, water, and an extra layer, so I did not mind!

I returned to my campsite and remembered I was at a back- packer’s camp that allowed only a one night stay. Slightly freaking out, though trying not to show it, I thought of Haskins. Sure enough he was more than happy to accommodate. I ended the night with a savory Pesto Chicken Sandwich, and a walk back to Lembert Dome to get a photo of the sunset. Sitting by the fire, Haskins and I talked for a while, like a lot of us, he and his wife are simply living life to be happy.

tioga pass

DAY 8: Tioga French Toast & Good Beats

Start- Tuolumne Meadows Campground End- June Lake Junction

Miles = 29.2

Elevation Gain = 2,270

I woke up with the intimidation of Tioga Pass on my mind. I had driven Tioga Pass multiple times and remembered it to be extremely steep. Trying to keep it on the back burner, I made breakfast, packed my things and thanked Haskins. The air was cool, because of the elevation which also had me winded. I noticed the sign stating “9,000” feet so snapped a photo. Riding through Tuolumne Meadows was calming, I breathed in the clean crisp air. There is an element of the forest that ignites a lava like fire within me, smooth and steady flowing. As I approached the Eastern Yosemite gate, I knew that the Tioga Restaurant wasn’t far.

11888632_10153329294179039_8925855620096948910_oI ordered their special, French toast which is the best I have ever had (topped with amazing whipped cream), followed by a slice of mixed berry pie and a cup-a-joe. Right as I was about to leave, my sister Jessica came through the doors with her arms raised up, racing towards me. We agreed to meet at the June Lake Junction, as a pit stop. I rounded the last corner before the serious downhill, and the entire six mile, eight percent downgrade came into view! I rode with a huge cheesy smile the whole way. I felt the power of gravity, wind, speed and energy fly past me. The turns and cars zipped by as I was gripping the handle bars. I eventually had the courage and confidence to stand up, gaining speed with every turn. All the pain and suffering of getting there was all just a memory.

There is no better feeling than a sweet downhill ride. On highway 395, I saw my sister going north, honking and waiving like a crazy fan. I rode desperately trying to keep my pace, I started to notice the headwinds, and remembered every hill until the original ending point- Mammoth Lakes. I felt something run down my face from my nose- it was blood. I assumed the elevation and temperature changes had made my nose super sensitive. So I stopped for a quick break and realized my water was low. That’s when I decided to cut the trip short at June Lake Junction. As I rode up, I was a mess of emotions, mostly glad that I didn’t have to ride any further, stoked that I had come that far, but not wanting this adventure of solitude and independence to end. We drove to Mammoth to get a much desired coffee and sight see.

I met up with my good friend Paiden, and caught up on life. Jess and I went to the Mammoth Brewery Tasting Room where we thoroughly enjoyed Nachos and a beer sampler of six varieties. Soon after, we headed south to the hot springs, found that the parking area as well as the pools were packed, so we set up the car to sleep and called it a night.

june lake junctDAY 9: This Looney Bean

Rest Day

We drove to Bishop where we stopped at the Looney Bean Coffee shop, one of my favorite drinks is the “Dirty Hippy with espresso whip”. Our intentions were to boulder but decided that it was too hot, instead checked out the Bristle Cone Pine Forest.

The road toward the Nevada Whites is an awesome, narrow, roller coaster like drive. The entire way home I could not believe the tour was done, the trip was over. I felt as though I should still be riding, that it was all too short. I feel like I should have spent more time in the meadows, relaxing, thinking, meditating with all the nature surrounding me. So next time, I will. As I drove back through the Valley, along the river, I decided to jump in. It felt good to cool off, sitting in soaked clothes and hair drying by the rushing wind.

We stopped at Mariposa Coffee Roasting Company. We asked to buy some coffee, and he replied “Sure, but just so you know I closed about forty-five minutes ago…” He was very hospitable. We were in awe of the unparalleled flavor, learning of their fully organic ingredients made us thankful to have experienced, in my opinion, the best iced coffee- ever! The best way to end a great trip.