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34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada
34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada
13,000 Miles Beyond Incredible
Published by Helmetdance
Page 13

Day 9 – Sunday August 7th
Yosemite National Park to Bass Lake, California
Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Little Dragon

I reserved a cabin months in advance in one of Yosemite’s campgrounds. Although the accommodations are less than expected, we all sleep fairly well. We rise early to make Glacier Point by sunrise.

Phil and Drew lead the way to Glacier Point as they live nearby and are very familiar with Yosemite. Our ride to Glacier Point left me with a very strong impression of Phil’s bike. I have referred more than once to Phil’s RC51 as a hot bike. Not only is Phil’s bike fast, but the custom exhaust system emits a low-toned throaty rumble which is sheer music to the ears of any sport bike fan. I ride a cruiser, and I must admit that I too was drooling over Phil’s awesome machine. I will never forget riding behind Phil’s bike as we passed though a tunnel in the park. The sound waves reverberating off the walls of the tunnel literally felt like someone was beating on my chest, a memory I will never forget. Whether a fuel stop or a scenic vista, if there were people there, Phil’s bike was turning heads.

Our timing is perfect. We arrive at Glacier Point as the sun is rising, embracing Half Dome in sun beams like a mother holding a baby in her arms.

Sunrise behind Half Dome, from Glacier Point

Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point

Phil discussing the finer points of the sport with a hang-glider preparing to launch from Glacier Point

Hang-gliders at Glacier Point

As we walk about Glacier Point enjoying the view and watching the hang-gliders, our group is joined by another rider. Mike (Thisisme) and I made plans to meet today in Yosemite. We originally planned to meet at the campground in Yosemite Village, but had no idea how impossible it was going to be to find each other there. Luckily, Mike and I discussed the ride ahead of time, so Mike’s had no problem finding us at Glacier Point. After all, there aren’t that many folks walking around the park in motorcycle gear!

At Glacier Point, I bid farewell to Phil, Drew, and Matt. As we head back into Yosemite Valley on Glacier Point Road, my three riding companions quickly disappear through the many twists and turns ahead. It’s been great fun guys!

Mike and I continue our ride into Yosemite Valley where we take a few shots of some of the main attractions.

View of El Capitan and Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point Road

El Capitan

Yosemite Falls

Merced River

Tunnel on Big Oak Flat Road

On our way out of Yosemite Valley, we stop for fuel at the Crane Flat store. It’s only about 10:00am, but its already sweltering hot with temps well on the way to triple digits. Hot weather preparations include filling the Camelbak with ice and water and soaking my mesh riding jacket with a water hose. All fueled and ready to ride, Mike and I say goodbye to Yosemite.

View from Highway 120 near Hodgdon Meadow

Route through Yosemite

After exiting the Big Oak Flat entrance station, we stop for one last look into Yosemite National Park.

Half Dome view from Evergreen Road, outside the Big Oak Flat Entrance

Continuing on Evergreen Road to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

Mike and me

Middle Fork Tuolumne River

Bikes on the bridge

Spillway at Hetch Hetchy

O’Shaughnessy Dam at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

View of the Tuolumne River from O’Shaughnessy Dam

O’Shaughnessy Dam

From Hetch Hetchy we backtrack to the little town of Mather, where we ride Mather and Cherry Lake Roads to Highway 120 west, near the town of Colfax Spring.

View from Rim of the World Vista Point near Colfax Spring

Continuing on 120 west through the towns of Colfax Spring, Groveland, and Big Oak Flat, we got stuck behind several slow cars. Detouring on Old Priest Grade Road, which could just as easily be called “Very Steep Grade Road,” we pick up Highway 49 south at Moccasin.

Ever since my first glimpse of the Little Dragon on, I’ve planned on riding it myself. Today is the day. Mike and I are both feeling the effects of the intense afternoon heat. Triple-digits or not, I can’t pass through without getting some good shots of the Little Dragon, trying out both lenses in the process. Mike, just like everyone else who has met me along the way, was very patient while I took a ton of pictures, despite the high temperatures.

Little Dragon, Big Fun

Approaching the Merced River, a pulse-quickening glimpse at what lies ahead

The first series of turns opens up to this view back toward the river

A second overlook after an exciting series of ascending turns

Varying the lens angle

The Little Dragon and Merced River

California gem

Three tiers of the Little Dragon

Having completed the Little Dragon, Mike heads home when we get into the town of Bear Valley. I stop to refresh my Camelbak with ice and water and head for Bass Lake, about 47 miles up the road.

About 15 miles south of Mariposa, the William Sell Bridge is part of a wide sweeping turn on Highway 49 crossing the East Fork of the Chowchilla River. I pull off on the south side of the bridge for this view, looking behind me. Locals warn that the north side of this bridge is a favorite spot for LEOs, noting that they frequently stop here to take pictures of a slightly different variety.

William Sell Bridge along Highway 49

End of Day 9
Location: Bass Lake, California
GPS Mileage = 3976 miles
Today’s Mileage = 239 miles

Route: Day 9

<<  <    Next Page (Page 13 of 40)    >  >>
By Chocoholic on 07-21-2006, 09:20 PM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

great story and trip...thanks for sharing it with us. Give me more chill wanting to go cross country......
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By G8ESCAP on 07-22-2006, 06:48 AM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

What a great job you did putting all this together Mark, and I'm only on page 12 so far! Has to be the finest post on the forum. Well worth the wait! Makes me want to get on my bike and go, if only it wasn't going to be 110 degrees here today!
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By goldwinghen3 on 07-23-2006, 04:58 PM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

THAT was one incredible ride...Your pictures are fabulous !!!! it took me 6 hours to read and look at your trip....You should publish this with some one...That has got to be the most amazing picture story around...I can't imagine how long it took you to publish this on here...How did you remember all of the names of the pictures and you amaze me that your spelling wasso good.......I am going to read it again when I have more time,,,I loved it !!! Isn't the Western U.S. GORGEOUS ??!!!!!!!!.......If you are ever in California again...look me up.....Thanx for the wonderful trip !!!!!....Henry
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By Helmetdance on 07-24-2006, 03:19 PM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Fenny - That's great that you have been inspired to do some long-distance touring by reading my story. Even if you don't do that right away, you are lucky to live in the land of the best motorcycle roads in the world.

Dale - Thanks for the kind words. Still working some bugs out of it with Gary's help, but its nice to have it up on the board where the Pashnit gang can finally read it.

Henry - Thanks for the compliments. My intention is to eventually condense this down into a book. I didn't keep track of the hours, but there were many all-day as well as all-night sessions. There are a lot of hours wrapped up in this piece. Remember the names? If only I could do that, the amount of work would have been a fraction. I identified the names from maps, info on the internet, google earth, and lots and lots of internet searching. Tagging the pics with names required a whole lotta searching.
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By JimmieS on 07-24-2006, 07:55 PM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada


Truly a spectacular way to spend 30 + days and nights. You have seen the best of the best with the best of the best out there, and I have to give huge Kudos to you for the execution of this most amazing trip, and the all out perfect photo essay to accompany it. I can't imagine what it was like for you to take on such a huge ride, and still be able to communicate your daily excitement a year later. Well done. Well done indeed.

As I mentioned on another forum to you my wife and I just completed our 30 day circumnavigation of the US, and I am just beginning to put that story together to share here on Pashnit. I'm humbled by your style and class. Next time your in Ca. you had best remember to include me in your ride plans along with DaleC and Dorian - (man am I irritated with those two for not letting me in on the time they spent with you....)

Great job!
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By gpickren on 07-25-2006, 09:57 AM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Fabulous ride pics and commentary, Mark. We live in So. Cal and as soon as we are able my wife and I will ride most of your route. Omitting the Kansas and eastern Colorado part I think.

We have been unable to travel for a long time do to caring for her 94 year old father, but when his race is finished we will plan to go. Thanks for the inspiration.
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By Michael Bishop on 08-06-2006, 07:14 AM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Mark you did a great job giving a us a taste of your experience. I have been waiting for this from the time I read you was doing the trip.
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By harryvbr on 08-13-2006, 10:40 AM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Great trip! I enjoyed the beautifull pictures. I was so lucky in 2002 to make almost the same trip by Goldwing. That Goldwing I could rent at Everett Motorsports.
Every now and than I look at the pictures I took.

Harry Vanbruggen
the Netherlands
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By bangladave on 08-13-2006, 11:04 AM
Clapping2 Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Mark, GREAT POST I have followed Pashnit for that last couple of years and your story is truly a great one. I have been looking at some of the same areas to ride through one day soon. We would be heading there from Minnesota so we need some extended time to do it. Keep following you dreams.

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