Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Such Great Heights

Biking through the sierras has it's ups and downs, literally.  We were nearing the highest point in our trip, slowly but surely.  Neva and I had climbed 1800 ft in elevation and then rolled  back down to Lee Vining, just a stones throw from the beginning of the ominous Tioga Pass, which is considered the back way into Yosemite, and summits at about 10,000 ft in elevation.  I decided to bike by to scope out what we might be in for the following day.

As I was turning around, Tony, Tony and Chris, who had seen Neva and I voraciously take to a late lunch at the market down the road, stopped to see if we wanted a ride up the pass.  They were no stranger to the rigors of Tioga.  The San Francisco locals try to frequent the area at least a couple times a year.  They informed me that the multiple lakes around the area, the variety of wild fish, and the option to fish remotely in the high elevations, defines the area as a "fisherman's paradise".  Chris even was able to take home the much sought after golden trout.

We decided to take the offer and join our new friends at their campsite on top of Tioga.  Neva and I were grateful for the ride up Tioga as we saw a cyclist on a double decker bike struggling at a snail's pace to make it up the pass, with nothing more than a backpack.  I saw a shadow of myself pulling 130 pounds of weight up the steep grade.  How my calves might burn, how my back might ache, and how my forearms might shake trying to keep the load steady while going uphill, I was indeed grateful at that point. As we continued to climb up steep grades, we saw confident men dressed in all black with helmets on, fly passed us on skateboards, gaining speed at an atrocious pace.  We cringed slightly remembering the fallen rocks in the road that are a typical occurrence on steep mountain passes.  We attempted a warning wave, but they were gone in the blink of an eye.

It was pretty cold at the top.  Eighteen inches of snow was in the forecast for the following week.  The guys extended their van to us for shelter that evening so we wouldn't have to pitch our tent.  It was early to bed, early to rise that day.  The low temperatures and strong winds rocking our shelter, and whistling through the trees made sure of light sleep and an ambitious start.

Chris started up the fire while father/son crew organized breakfast and loaded up the van.  I was quite impressed with Tony's (senior) ability to pack the van with enough camp gear and fishing gear for three grown men on a long weekend fishing trip, with the addition of a bike and trailer and two extra passengers.  As a bicycling tourer, I can definitely appreciate the skill of compact packing.

It was time to go.  Tony dropped us at a gas station where we would have a nice decent down to the village.  Upon saying good bye, I noticed Neva's doggie "Buppy" was missing.  Upon further contemplation, I believe it was possibly thrown outside of the cabin on our way to inspect Tioga pass.  It was a sad day knowing that this dog that had accompanied Neva to four countries, through 6 states, and on three bike tours is now on his own.  Neva had taken to a stuffed cow in the van that belonged to Tony's (junior) mom.  They extended the cow as a parting gift, and headed toward San Francisco.

I looked ahead of us.  We had exchanged a large climb for a large decent.  It will be a good day, possibly with an unusually high number of bug consumption.  Rest in peace Buppy.


  1. So glad there are nice folks around to help you and Neva out. What a trip you have had! Proud of you sis! Kiss Neva for me.

  2. Hey Megan and Neva! This is Thiago, your friend from Wayna Picchu's mountain! Can't wait to read about your trip in Peru (and see the pictures!!)! I'm leaving today to Brazil, hope you enjoy your trip!