Deep into Yosemite National Park!



It’s hard to believe a year has passed since the last trip. The ride is an interesting mix of people from both Northern and Southern California. It seems that the Northern California group is much smaller than last year. It’s just ZZ and I.

Usually we stay on the west side of the Sierras like Oakhurst or Mariposa. Given the late start planning this year and the fact that the passes opened very early, we’re staying on the east side of the Sierras: Mammoth Mountain to be exact. That gives everyone a new ride. Southern California riders will come up 395 and the Northern California riders will get a full day of riding Crossing California. Typically the ride from San Jose out to Maraposa is a half day. This year we got the full day. 🙂

The first major stop was Oakdale. It’s exactly 100 miles away from our start point and was a very easy ride out of the bay area. It’s a Friday morning, and we were rolling against traffic. Once in Oakdale it was proving to be a very warm day. I got lucky over Memorial Day weekend as the temperatures were quite temperate, almost a little cold. This was the exact opposite. It wasn’t even noon and I was already sweating bullets.

Once firmly entrenched in the gold country the temperatures eased up a bit in traffic was almost nonexistent. Since it was Friday and not Saturday all of the minivans were at work. 🙂 What’s we got to the gate at Yosemite there was nobody there!

It had been a while since I had been out to Hetch Hetchy. We made a U-turn at the gate heard back a little ways and then out to the big dam. For those of you that don’t know Hetch Hetchy is the main reservoir where the San Francisco gets its water. It’s some of the best water in the country and is treated very little if at all. The road for about the first 6 miles is a little goaty but very possible. There are a couple of tight corners, and a few cars that were a bit far left in their lane but nothing to write home about.

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About 7 miles in the road crosses into you Yosemite National Park. There is a staffed guard gate to lighten your wallet. As of this writing it’s $20 for cars and $10 for motorcycles. Once in the park, the road quality is great! The speed limit however is 25 miles an hour. We went little faster :-). The road has wide open views of the far western Sierras.  Since this area is less viewed by the public, it appers to be logged more often.

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The last time I was at the dam was in April and it was cold snowy and miserable. This time it was quite pleasant! You could see the reservoir was at its peak and water was plentifully flowing into it. They haven’t closed the ability to walk out onto the dam so it was cool to walk out there and see just how big the structure is.

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While pretty, i’m not sure what the boat was doing way out in the middle of the lake.

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Looking east from the dam, it’s apparent this is both a large and deep body of water

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It was getting late in the day and ZZ and I were still up for some adventure. We got gas at Crane flat and headed down in the valley. To get from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point is none other than a long slog. It’s 26 miles of a 35 mile an hour speed limit drive with tons of cars that never pull over. That being said, it’s one of the best views you can drive to in the park. Being Friday traffic again was a little lighter but it took us about 45 minutes each way. Once up top though, the view was awesome!

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On top you get to see all three major waterfalls!  Yosemite Falls

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and Vernal Falls/Nevada Falls well known from the hike from Happy Isles to Half Dome

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Somebody saw my license plate and recognized that I was from the bay area. He owns a suspension rebuilding shop and offered to give me a discount should I choose to get my front and rear suspension rebuilt. 🙂 Small world! Note: it was Ted Porter’s Beemer Shop.

The locals know they are well fed, but this little guy seemed to be going the extra mile.

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After about a half an hour milling around and taking photos it was going to be a late night in the saddle. Our arrival time was 8:30 and that wasn’t including stops.

From Glacier Point down the highway 41 it was actually a great ride. There is very little traffic. But once on 41 into Yosemite Valley that all changed. Highway 41 is the main connector from Southern California into the park. It was a long slog. We made it back to Crane flat and then it was 60 miles out to 395. Since it was dinner time there was very little traffic out on the road so we made pretty good time. We stopped at Tenaya Lake as the sun was winding down.

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I needed to stretch, it was the halfway point, and well it’s just a pretty spot. 🙂 We were losing daylight though.

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From there we made our way through Touolonme Meadows, out of the park, and then down the pass towards Lee Vining. The ride from the east entrance of the park down to Lee Vining is a great ride! You feel the sheer magnitude of the mountains as you’re very close to them with very big drop offs. The sun was just about set so all the richness of color was all around in the mountains. You could see tons of reds, oranges, and purples. We saw the last bit of color at Mono lake.

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Dinner was at the Tioga Gas Mart.

Tioga Gas Mart (Whoa Nellie Deli) (C is average. No grade inflation here):

SeatingB/C-Plenty of seating if it’s nice outside, but if the weather sucks, the inside is cramped and noisy.
AtmosphereB/DGreat outside, not so great inside.
Wait StaffC+Always friendly and helpful.
FoodAThe food is awesome here.  You can truly eat well here if you want to or just get a sandwich.
ValueBIt’s expensive for the good stuff, but way better than other places around in Lee Vining.
OverallB+Best place to stop within 25 miles of the 120/395 junction.  Next best stop is going to be Mammoth 30 miles to the south.

This place is one of those odd spots that you would never expect to be there. Yes, it is a gas station at the restaurant attached it has some of the best food in the area! The fish tacos were great.  Next time I should have them skip the sauce.  Sour cream just doesn’t do it for me.

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From here it was 30 miles to go to get to Mammoth. It was dark, somewhat cold, but easy riding. The hotel for the night was a great score. It’s off-season so I got a great deal in my room! the Juniper Springs resort is nestled right next to the mountains. It was only 100 bucks for a studio condominium. Granted, they view isn’t great, but hey, it was 100 bucks. The room is more than comfortable and will do great for tonight.


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