From Volcanoes to Yosemite

Still giddy from the amazing riding through Lassen Volcanic National Park, I went against the advice of local riders I chatted with at a rest area, and took CA-32 out of the park to Chico. Their warning about 15-20 minute construction delays turned out to be more like 30-45 minutes, but the bright red line highlighting the route on my Butler motorcycle map was just too much to resist.  Although road construction has been a common theme on this trip, fortunately, so has super friendly people!  I was first in line when a flag-woman stopped traffic and said the pilot-car delay would be at least 30-minutes.  So, I shut off my engine, put down the kick-stand, and proceeded to have a great chat with her for the duration of the wait 🙂

I had texted Larry, my Bunk-a-Biker host for that evening, to let him know that I would be delayed, but I still felt bad as I rolled up to their house in Olivehurst, CA about an hour later than expected.  He was still at work, but his wife Sharon, waved me into the garage and got me settled in as if I were family.  By the time their daughter Madison and Larry showed up, dinner was ready and we sat down to a tasty meal and great conversation.  I just can’t say enough about how great the Bunk-a-Biker community is, and find it hard to articulate how comfortable and welcomed I’ve felt at each stay.  Another family I’m looking forward to hosting in North Carolina soon 🙂

Another friend made through Bunk-a-Biker!  Avid riders, Larry and his family made me feel right at home.
I managed to get a selfie with Sharon and Madison the next morning before they had to leave for work.  Awesome women- really enjoyed their company 🙂

Larry shared his local knowledge by helping me plot out the best route to Yosemite National Park from their place.  Now that it was after Labor Day, I was able to score a room for several nights at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, right in the park.  I took advantage of being within minutes of some of the most iconic sights in the park, as well as a Ranger-led nature walk and an Ansel Adams studio camera-phone photography class!

Everywhere I look, evidence of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) contributions to national and state park infrastructure.

According to the NPS, “the name Yosemite is simply a corruption of the term which the southern Miwoks (Indians) applied to any species of bear and particularly to the grizzly.”  The name became synonymous with the whole valley to the white people who first came in contact with it, so they started referring to the valley’s native inhabitants as Yosemites. The Park’s beauty lies in its varied geographic areas:  the High Sierra, Granite Cliffs, Sequoia Groves, and Valleys.

At roughly 55 miles, CA-120, aka Tioga Pass Road, is a wonderfully scenic, somewhat twisty, corridor across the high Sierras that cuts through Yosemite National Park.  It’s a great jaunt through the High Sierra, culminating at an elevation of 9,945 at Tioga Pass.  I rode it as an out-and-back, so essentially, I rode it twice 🙂
El Capitan rises 3000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor.  This granite Sierra Nevada rock formation is 100 million years old.  With over 250 established climbing routes, this rock face is renowned to rock climbers around the world.  One of its most popular routes, “The Nose,” has helped establish this rock as the international standard for “Big Wall Climbing.”  The Nose involves 31 pitches, meaning 31 steep sections requiring a rope between two belays!
The iconic symbol of Yosemite, Half Dome measures 5,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor.  I captured this reflection of Half Dome in the Merced River from Sentinel Bridge during my Ansel Adams camera-phone photography class.
It rained for the first half of the camera-phone photography class I took while in Yosemite National Park.  But once the drops stopped falling, the sky shifted between fog to swirling clouds, finally settling into stunning lighting on Leidg Meadow.
Me and Kim were the only two students to sign up for the rainy afternoon Ansel Adams Studio photography class.  Blake was an incredibly knowledgeable and patient instructor as he guided us through four hours of photographing the Yosemite Valley.  A truly unforgettable experience!
I got my first up-close-and-personal experience with a Sequoia Tree during the photography class in the Yosemite Valley.  Yep, I’m a tree-hugger!
No big deal, just a 10-point buck crossing the street in the crosswalk!
Smoke from nearby wildfires made for a dramatic view of the Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View on Wawona Road.
3000 year old Grizzly Giant is one of the Mariposa Grove’s most notable trees.  It stands 209 feet tall, has a 28-foot diameter, and the circumference at its base is 96 feet!  Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is located at the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park.  This section of Yosemite, added in 1906 (Yosemite Park was established in 1890), has the distinction of being the first scenic natural area set aside to be protected for future generations by a landmark piece of legislation signed by a U.S. President- Abraham Lincoln in 1864. –NPS website 

I’m generally a bit underwhelmed by things that are super-popular with the masses, especially national parks. Perhaps it’s because you hear so much about it, and see so many photos, before you actually go there, that the surprise factor is diminished. In the case of Yosemite, it lived up to the hype, but I think the lack of crowds (post Labor Day is the way to go!) and taking walks and courses led by knowledgeable folks, combined with dramatic weather conditions, is what elevated the Yosemite experience for me. Whatever the reasons, it was truly an unforgettable experience!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: