Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Distance: 258.8 miles
Duration: 10 hours, 10 minutes, and 40 seconds
Average Speed: 25.4 mph
Minimum Elevation: 334 feet
Maximum Elevation: 7600 feet
This day of the ride report is going to be a little bit picture heavy. This is the first of two days of things I rode halfway across the country to see, so I of course went a little camera crazy. I'm not apologizing, if you've seen this stuff before then hopefully it brings back good memories. If you haven't seen it before, hopefully it spurs you to make plans to go see it yourself.
About four years ago my friends Andrew, Pops and Joey (Redfish, Pops, and HPPants on FJRiders) came out to YFO and I read their ride report and knew I had to make this trip. I translated their ride report into google maps and then into Basecamp with a route titled "Redfish Sequoia" so that I could see all the amazing things they saw. Sadly, I've had to abandon that route thanks to the French fire. Today I've set my GPS destination for Three Rivers, California, in hopes of salvaging as much of that route as possible.
I started off the day headed north out of Bakersfield, but felt a little like I was back in Texas with all the oil pumps.
That however very quickly gave way to beautiful farmland.
And then into some beautiful countryside.
So, I'd like to stop and talk a little bit about my new GPS, the Garmin Zumo XT. The screen is huge and bright, and the CPU is very snappy and responsive. One complaint I've had is having to sift through all my shaping points in the saved list to find what I'm looking for. I've been saying that I wish they'd just hide those from view. It also annoyed me to see all the little flags on the map.
However, as I'm approaching Three Rivers I see a flag nearby. I pull into a gas station and open my routes and choose the "Redfish Sequoia" route and tell it to route using the nearest entry point. Turns out, the nearest entry point is that flag in front of me. I can still use the last half of that route. At this point I'm not so annoyed by the little flags because they might have saved the day here.
Once into the park you embark on the General's Highway. This is a spectacular curvey road that winds it's way up the mountain. You do have to remind yourself that you are in a park and fines would be pretty stiff for having too much fun in here, but the road is phenomenal. I'd say the curves per mile have to be on par or close to the Dragon.
A quick stop by balancing rock. There's nobody to take my photo so I snap a quick shot and am on my way.
I grin at these signs. They'd be more fun on a supermoto but I'm not riding a supermoto across the country.
Looking back on the twisties that brought me up here.
The road gets higher and the scrub gives way to thick forests.
At one point I saw two deer scramble down the hill in front of me to my left, then dart across the road and I saw the bushes moving as they made their way away from the road. I looked frantically to my left to see if there was a third one but couldn't see any, then turned back to my right and it turns out only one of the deer ran into the bushes. The other one was camouflaged here on the side of the road trying to decide if he should run back in front of me again.
I pulled off into one of the parking lots and marveled at the size of these trees. At first you see a bunch of them together and think "They aren't that big" and then you notice a normal sized tree and look back again and they are huge. Trying to capture their size in a photo also doesn't work too well, even when you use someone as short as me for comparison.
I ran into this guy at the parking lot. He's Kike Castell on advrider and is on a month long trip around the USA starting in Connecticut.
Then I went and hiked down to see the "General Sherman" tree. Yes, I hiked down. I don't know why all my life I've hiked up first but on this trip all my hikes start with down. General Sherman isn't the tallest, nor the oldest, nor the widest tree in the world. But, by volume of wood, it is the biggest tree in the world. The top is dead so it won't get any taller but continues to grow wider each year.
These bricks are laid out to resemble what the base of General Sherman would look like. Pretty huge.
As I was panting and sweating my way back up the trail I came once again across Kike Castell. He was surprised to see me having already done this and heading back up. That's when he asked if I skipped the tunnel tree. Turns out it was poorly marked and I missed it and had I not run into him I'd have missed it and everything on that road. That was at least about two hours of stuff I really would have wanted to see. So I thanked him and headed back.
The roads are smooth, unmarked and a little narrow. You really have to watch out because those park busses come around corners pretty fast occupying most of the road. But most of the time it's quiet, beautiful and serene.
And I found the tunnel tree, or rather, the tunnel log.
Then I'm riding around and come around a corner and get my second wildlife encounter. That's a bear way up the road. I stopped and waited giving him plenty of room.
Then I found these clusters of trees and had to stop for some photos here.
And then it was time for one of those moments. When you are surrounded by such beauty and you turn around and there's your bike, the bike you that has brought you to this place and will get you home, your partner in this adventure. All you can do is smile, think "Damn she's good looking" and snap a few photos.
Then I'm off riding and have a second bear encounter. I asked him if he was the same bear or a different bear but he ignored me. As I rode up I saw him scurrying off into the woods. Looks like he was as scared of me as I was of him.
Using the bike for comparison really does give credit to the size of those roots.
And then I climbed up Moro Rock Trail. It's a relatively short, but steep hike up a whole bunch of stairs at 6,700 feet elevation. I did this in full motorcycle gear, including boots, while carrying my helmet and tank bag. The trail thoroughly whipped my butt. And I have words for the lady who, when I was about 1/4 of the way up passing her going down told me "You are almost there!"
There's the fun General's Highway I rode coming up.
Here's a few shots of what the climb up looks like. Not for those scared of heights. My wife appreciates the photos I took because she's never going up there.
Some places are a tight squeeze.
Some places have railings, some places don't.
Some stairs are steeper than others.
Then I made my way back to the gift shop to get the required magnet for our refrigerator and it was time for lunch. Thankfully I brought one of my muffins from the grab and go breakfast at the hotel this morning because there's not much around and all that hiking has worked up my appetite. I paired it with a mini Cliff Bar and water from the camelbak and was good to go.
Then I was off to see "General Grant" which has an absolutely huge base of the trunk.
After that, I realized I had enough time to do the out and back on the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. It starts out high in the canyon with some very unforgiving turns. No sissy guardrails here! But lots of fun turns, just don't overdo it.
Eventually the road works it's way down the canyon and along the river below.
I rode it as far as you could ride it. These guys had the road closed. I think there was a detour but it was time to turn around anyway.
On the way down, a sign on the side of the road caught my eye. It said "CAUTION, ICE cream ahead!" LOL. I passed by and the guy was open in his trailer. Suddenly the Joey (HPPants on FJRiders) was speaking to me. Joey has a sweet tooth that kicks in about mid afternoon and he usually has to have ice cream. Now I need ice cream. I decide to swing by on my way back up. A mint chocolate chip cone really hit the spot.
Headed out of the forest is a nice high road with a view.
I caught this guy in the curves and I think that got him angry because he started punching it on the straight portions. I'm cool, I don't have to be the fastest guy on the road so I let him go on up ahead and flush out any police that might be around. There weren't any and I guess he won the race, but I didn't care.
After that, I'd somehow routed myself down some goat paths. These would have been a lot of fun on a small bike like a supermoto. They were kind of frustrating though because you'd get like three curves linked up and get your flow going and the fourth curve would be a blind downhill decreasing radius turn that resembled a kink. Eventually I made it to the Island Park campground at Pine Flat Lake.
Only there's a little bit of a problem. There's no one camping here, the place looks empty. The check in station is shuttered and there's a sign saying it's closed till April. I'm a little worried, did I miss yet ANOTHER cancellation? I have no service here to check my email and determine to find someplace higher. The center of the campground is higher so I head that way thinking if I can't get service there then I'll head back out to the main road. I rounded the corner and hit the top of the hill and there's three occupied camping spots. Two campers and a tent. I've got a little service and can't find any cancellations so I start trying to figure things out. My reservation is on upper loop road. This is the upperest loop in the campgrounds. I have spot number 9 and the spot number 9 up here is currently unoccupied. What the heck, I'm setting up my campsite.
And what a campsite it is!
Eventually a white pickup truck came rolling through the campground and I recognized the logo on the side designating it to the park ranger. I pulled out my paperwork hoping I'm not being kicked out for some reason as it's getting late. The lady hops out and asks "Do you have a reservation?" I tell her yes and give her my name. She smiles and says "Oh yes, got you right here, you are all set!" We have a little chat about the campground being empty and she tells me that it's officially closed for the season but they are still honoring any reservations already made. Unlike my Super 8 on day 1, I'm really glad I made reservations in advance.
She goes on her way and I set about dinner. This is the best Mountain House meal of the trip. Perfect amount of water, good flavor and a little spice. It's the Yellow Curry with Chicken and Rice.
I set up and start reading a new book for a while. Tonight I'm not putting the rain fly on as it'll be really nice tonight and I can lay down and watch the stars in the sky and the boats on the lake. Perfect end to a perfect day.
Speaking of perfect days, tomorrow I'll get to see Tyler (Tyler on FJRiders, I know, so original on her name, right?) and Yosemite!