I went to meet Mario at his new business in Hollister, CA in the morning. He couldn’t come for the ride unfortunately and I didn’t feel like I could spend another day before heading north. So Mike and I set off for Yosemite across the dry central Californian valley. After an oil change in the Walmart parking lot (fancy synthetic oil costs less per quart in the US then budget oil anywhere in Latin America) we headed into the Sierra foothills and made it to Yosemite Valley (the accessible by car part of the park).
As it was getting on in the day we started looking for a campsite (everything was full in Yosemite) on Evergreen Road just north of the park in a national forest, but along the way came across a couple of black bears crossing the road.
We drove a bit farther and found a ‘lodge’ and gratefully drank some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and had some fancy burgers. After asking the waiter about places to sleep he told us that the fire road right around the corner would be fine for free camping. So in the dark and with the bears present in our minds we setup camp. Camp for Mike wasn’t more than a sleeping bag because of an earlier misunderstanding between us meant that we only had my single-man tent.
The next morning, after breakfast we drove along the 108 through the forest toward the Sonora Pass that a biker yesterday had said was not to be missed. Mike had to return to Hollister so at Strawberry, CA we went our separate ways.
The drive from Strawberry, CA to the pass was excellent tight twisty road over little hills along a river and then a steep climb up to about 9000 ft through the snow line. There was some frozen snow-melt on the road and lots of gravel from the winter clearing which made for a few unpleasant surprises.
The snow is still quite deep up in the mountains but dissipated as the road wound sharply down out of the Sierra’s near the Nevada border. The highway 395 towards Carson City, NV was a bit desolate and boring so I decided to head back into the mountains on the 89 towards Lake Tahoe, CA.
The road then became more interesting again and curved along a river through scrub and pine with copper coloured hills and snowy mountain-tops along the sides. I drove through sprawling South Lake Tahoe and then over another pass and along the flat 395 again to Reno, Nevada. Reno seems pretty desolate and the difference in money/education is quite distinct from the plush California towns.