Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day 8 - Yosemite and crossing the mountains

This morning we wanted to get an early start so the alarm was set to 5am. The plan was to get into the park before all the tourists got there. So by 6am we were outside starting our bikes. We topped off the gas tanks and started looking for a place to eat. The problem in Oakhurst is that they don't open for breakfast early. We found one cafe that was willing to let us in out of the cold and serve us coffee until they opened at 6:30. This sort of slowed us down but there weren't any other choices to meet our schedule.

It was 39 degrees when breakfast was over and we had at least an hour of riding to get down to the valley floor of the Yosemite National Park. When we reached the entrance gate there was a sign that said to pay on the way out. Since we had annual passes we weren't worried. While winding our way down to the valley floor, Doug came on the radio and informed me it was a chilli 21 degrees. Brrrr... Of course there was snow on the side of the road so I new it was cold. Thank goodness for my electric jacket and liner.

Once we got to the visitor center we started looking for the 2 hour shuttle tour so we could learn the most about the park in the limited amount of time we had. It was well worth the $25 each. Because the temperature was so low they brought out a large bus complete with heater and bathroom. Once everyone was onboard, our guide/driver introduced herself as Karen. She had been doing guided tours in the park for 17 years. She really knew her stuff. After showing us a lot about the park she got us back to the starting point right on time. We grabbed some food from the Village store and then prepared to leave.

Our first plan was to go over the Tioga pass, but it had been closed for a few days. So we took 120 out of the park and headed up to Sonora. But when we got up that way we discovered the Sonora pass was also closed. So we back tracked and took 49 north up to 88. Things got interresting when we got up to Mokelumne Hill. It had started snowing on us. Luckily the road wasn't yet covered in snow, it was just on the sides of the road and in the fields. But it was snowing pretty good and I didn't want to stay there too long in case Cal-Tran decided to close the road behind us.

Finally we made it to CA-89 and crossed over Monitor Pass. The snow had passed and the road was in good shape since it had been open since earlier in the day. After passing through the snow earlier it almost seemed anti-climatic making it over the pass. But we were still happy to see 395 and point the bikes south. Then it was time to find a place to sleep for the night.  When we got into Walker we found a nice old style roadside inn and a bbq joint across the street. We pulled in and got a room, then hurried across the road to eat dinner.  The inn keeper was from Dallas and the bbq joint owners were from the Humble area. It was a little Texas reunion.

After dinner we returned to our room and planned for tomorrow. Since we have to go by Mammoth Lake which is at 8,000 feet we are going to start a little later to make sure we don't get hung up with any road closures on the way to Death Valley. Today we managed 297 miles plus we spent the morning at the park. It was a great day.

No comments: