Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Mexico, Seattle, WA
2. Slapping Rock, Getting Hot
I headed out onto the road again in the AM. No rushing here though, I don’t know what time it is. I guess it doesn’t matter, I have no place to be. Time of day is something that doesn’t really matter anymore. When the sun comes through my tent I wake up. When I start to feel hungry, I look for food. When I’m tired, I sleep. What day is it now? Sunday, yes it’s Sunday. No, no it can’t be... it’s definitely Wednesday. I like this. Make a right turn here, head South towards Lake Tahoe.
My stomach started asking for a heavy serving of porridge. I’m simple when it comes to breakfasts on the road. Oatmeal mixed with some dried fruit. Preferably several large helpings. A glooping gut-bomb of fuel. Add brown sugar if available. I like to cook it on the back of my bike. Scenic view optional but preferred. Lake Tahoe will do this morning.
Here she is.
I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe but I can see why it’s a destination. At a stop light I pulled up to a guy on a f650 gs. We both commented on how shitty of a place this is to ride. Really too bad we were out on bikes right now. He was a local firefighter. Said the firehouse was out of bananas, they bent his arm to ride around the lake to go get some more. Rough life.
I rode around the West (california) side of the lake and exited out south at the bottom. Continuing on 88/89 South. GPS says this place is called “Hell Hole”??
Looks pretty good to me. Maybe they are trying to deter people, keep the place a secret.
89 south then turns into a canyon heading east where it’ll bump into 395 south. This road. Is fantastic. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but picture 3rd and 4th gear sweeping turns. Long smooth lines, canyon carving. Climbing in elevation, working the motor well. the wrist generating motor noises crescendoing off the walls of the canyon. 30 minutes of sweetness.
If you are in the Lake Tahoe area heading south find it. You’ll dig it.
Bumping into 395 I’m now heading south. In a couple hours I should hit 120 west to take me into Yosemite. I've been seeing a fair amount of smoke the last couple days. A haze blanketing the region and blurring the views in the distance. As I get closer to the 120 I see big signs saying 120 west to Yosemite is closed due to the fires. Balls. Well I know there are other great spots further down the way…..mmmmm….Bishop, CA! Yep, Bishop it is. Plug it into the GPS, calculate route. Great, I’ll be there by the afternoon.
Most climbers know how to dirtbag it. It is a given that anywhere there is serious climbing, there will be climbers living in a free squatter camp of sorts off near the routes. I'm traveling on the cheap so this is what I’m looking for. I notice ambient temperature is heating up as I burn further down 395 towards Bishop. When I arrive it’s sweltering. The bike’s running temp is a full 20 degrees hotter than usual. Still within a normal range though. I pull into a coffee shop, “you guys got wifi?”, cool. 5 minutes later I have pegged two locations where there are likely to be climbers hanging out for free off near the climbing areas. Bonus, they are down dirt roads. Mmmmm I like the dirt.
Pretty area. Getting closer….
Shit, went too far. Are those hoof prints in the dirt?? Damnit, definitely been following cattle tracks for a while now...
Turned back and found it. That’s more like it.
I found the this beacon of 'free living' and decided to set up shop next to it.
I met another climber burrowed away in the back of his van sleeping off the afternoon heat. Meet Beatty.
Beatty’s from New York. He’s been traveling across the country climbing and visiting friends for the last 5 weeks. This place was empty during the day. He said it’s way too hot to climb with the sun up. Instead people climb in the early morning or in the evening after the sun goes down. As a ginger I am not built for the sun, waiting to hit the rock with better temps was fine with me. I’ll rearrange some of my kit on my bike that I wanted to move in the meantime. As you all may know though, one little job turns into another, and another, and another.
Next thing I know I’ve got my bike stripped and am cutting out the top of my airbox to reroute a carb breather tube (like a snorkel for high water crossings) and assessing a leaky fork seal. Leaky fork seal will have to wait though for a full replacement later.
As the sun went down behind the ridgeline to the West the temperature began to drop. Other climbers started showing up and things got into full swing. The rock radiated heat well after sunset like a warm furnace. Temperatures were perfect.The routes and rock in this area, called The Buttermilks, are great.
The next couple days were spent riding and climbing. I recommend this area to anyone that wants to do some great off roading. The lines are smooth, fast, and flowy. Plenty of berms and great views. Think 2nd, 3rd, 4th wide open. It may look dusty, but that is all fairly large granules of granite slough, so you get to fun & feel of cutting the back end loose without all the dust that you usually get with the really loose stuff. Fucking great.
During the heat of the day Beatty and I got out of the sun in the shade of some of the big trees.
Beatty used to be a tree climber for work at one point. A very old and large tree was begging to be climbed. Beatty said it was probably ~2k years old. I’ll be lucky if I experience 100 years of life on this earth (hopefully most of those healthy). This tree had seen many people and cultures come and go from this barren desert valley. People have come, places have changed, but the tree remains, ever vigilant.
Just touching this tree was an experience (2k years!) let alone being up in the top of it. Don’t worry, no trees were harmed.
Once at the top, we had a great view of the valley and surrounding area.
After a couple days Beatty recommended I go hit up Joshua Tree National Park on my way south. This sounded like a good idea to me. Hidden Valley Campground is my next destination.
Before heading out I took the liberty to clean myself and the few clothes that I have. There's something so satisfying about riding into the desert valley and walking around buck naked in a creek with nobody around, clothes left drying in the midday sun on the bank. Scrubbing away days of grime and dirt with cool glacial water. Sitting in the stream, listening to the water and wind rustle through the desert valley. I don’t know why I enjoy living like this as much as I do. But I do.
This little guy hung out for a bit too.
The next day it was time to hit the road. Bike pointed South towards Joshua Tree.
I made it into the park just as the sun was setting. The ‘trees’ in Joshua Tree are actually not trees at all, but a type of shrub that grows rather tall and slender, like a tree.
The landscape here is immense. Both in expanse as well as the prowess of it’s infinite rock formations. Big boulders full of ledges and outcroppings stretched throughout the valley in large crumbled masses. Worn away into odd shapes and flowing forms. Like giant sugar cubes worn away by water over the years. All I could think of was the lion king. Shit was pretty epic.
After the sun went down I set up my mobile home and went wandering with my headlamp around camp. I like to get to the highest point of wherever I am to get a feel for the area. I found the base of the highest rock face I could find but wasn’t sure if I could climb to the top. I put my climbing shoes on as my headlamp began to flash low-battery. The climb looked doable solo but without a light, that would be pretty stupid. The next morning I climbed to the top and got to see the view.
Not very good at self timers…
The view was way better during the day.
I enjoy free-solo things on occasion (climbing without ropes) as long as the route is well within my ability. I just have my shoes and chalk bag with me and can’t pack a bunch of gear on my bike since I don’t want to take up a ton of space.
Found some chains on the way down so it’s definitely got routes going up it.
I spent the next couple days hanging out with people that had come into town for “Bhakti Fest”. Supposedly it’s a huge yoga festival? I don’t really partake in the yogas but apparently there were thousands of people all doing yoga together in a mass undulating chanting group. Murray, a friend I met in camp said the ratio of females to males was 10/1. Yoga anyone?
Murray and I went tromping around in the desert exploring. Pretty wild place. Here’s a coyote.
I told the mother-unit that I would come see her before I die in mexico next week so I’m flying out of San Diego to the east coast to see her for a few days. My flight is in 2 days so the next stop is another ADVriders couch in San Diego where I will also store my bike for 7 days. After that, pointed towards Baja. The land of dirt and beaches.
Catch you in a couple.
SeanPNW screwed with this post 09-17-2013 at 08:56 AM