The title must be performed in a Buzz Lightyear style for full effect, and it is where we have been since we last spoke. But how did we get there? Well there was, as ever, on this route a great deal of climbing. I am now treating this in much the same way as a recently incarcerated criminal views the depressing prospect of a life sentence. Mike who we had been staying with whist new kit arrived and it stopped snowing on our route, was going to ride with us from Auberry.
He was riding a light road bike. I had for some time now, been a little fixated with how easy this would all be on such a bike and I would now find out.
Every middle aged man in lycra (MAML) or Fred, as they are called here, has the heart of a teenager beating in his chest. The prospect of a new bike will lead to sleepless nights of excitement. Young at heart, the daily visit to a mirror to shave can be a bitter sweet moment. You are looking good, but just good for your age.
Riding a heavy touring bike next to someone on a weight weenie road bike is similarly sobering and hard on the moral. When the grades get to 10% and stay there even for a short while, the seat of a touring bike is a depressing place from which to view the world.
Don joined us a few miles in on a recumbent, just to press home this unequal point as he glided along. We said our farewells and camped at Bass Lake. A beautiful campground, but jaw dropingly expensive at $26. We complained, but not as much as the next couple of cyclists who were used to the prices North of here. Welcome to California my friends, where in a theme that I will return to in a while, there is no discount or encouragement for being on a bike.
The next day was bright but cold, and it got colder still as we climbed towards Yosemite’s South Entrance Station ($10 per person on a bike – which can work out more expensive than a car!, There I told you. The road narrowed, leaving us feeling a little vulnerable from drivers rather preoccupied with the views to left and right. And yes the views were spectacular but fleeting from the tree-lined road. At bike speed, you are on a winner here.
Still well under 6,000 ft and snow was deep on the roadside. Ahead Tioga pass, our route out of the park still has 27 ft of snow on it in what has been a 200% snow year. We descended to Wawona and took in the Pioneer Yosemite History Center ( Free entry!). The old log houses always remind us of the paintings of Bob Ross and his unlikely catch phrase “Happy little trees”.
Taking the last available pitch at the campground thanks to a cancellation ( this is something you will have to cope with in or even near Yosemite even off-season) , we stopped to show our booking to the Ranger. “Site 81 is on the end of the camp where a Moma bear and her cub like to wander”. “when was she last there?” “Yesterday” was the unwelcome answer.
At times like this I remember a line by Woody Allen “And the lion and the lamb will lie down together. But the lamb will not get much sleep”. Tom the Ranger had a top tip for our stay in Yosemite. It is such a top tip and so simple and yet open to abuse that I can not share it with you dear reader. I can say simply this. There are no sites at Yosemite as all will be taken before you get there. Camp 4 has a walk in policy, but it has the ambiance of a refugee camp crossed with a badly organised music festival and even here there is a waiting list for someone to pass out or crawl away.
We climbed once more. Beyond Tunnel View there is one of the worlds most spectacular views, where any idiot with a camera can become Ansel Adams ( is any one else called Ansel?). Simply stunning.
You have the descent into Yosemite ahead of you and the worlds most beautiful one way system. This is natural history, geography and geology, putting on a show in Disney perfection. Trees were in new leaf and spring flowers had just burst through.
Our campground for the night was perfection, even if it was bear central. Great people to talk with and a camp fire and then to bed for a restless night (I will get better at this sleeping in bear areas).
We pedaled along the valley the next morning in awe at our surroundings and enjoying the flat riding almost as much. It did not last as up Highway 120 we went in our search for a road not blocked by snow.