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High Sierra Adventure Ride

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My 7 Day Sierra trip write-up.

Here's my trip write-up from Memorial Day Weekend, 2005.

First night - I left San Diego on Thursday evening, May 26th with plans for a 4 day trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. I first headed to my friend's house for our usual Thursday night Bike Night gathering...pizza, beer and bench racing. I stayed long enough for pizza and a beverage, then departed Roger's house at 8:30pm. I had a long freeway blast up the I-15 to the 395.

I stopped in Olancha for gas at 12:20am. Gas station closed, but luckily they had the credit card machine at the pumps. Arrived at Diaz Lake County Park at 12:50am, after 312 miles in 4 hours, 20 minutes, just south of Lone Pine on the 395. Pitched my tent, had a couple of cold Ales and hit the sack, after pondering the adventure that lie ahead.

Day One - Next morning, woke up and packed up the 950.

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As I left the campground, this is my first view of the morning. Just a tease for what lie ahead the rest of the day.

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First thing I did after leaving camp, was ride a few miles south on 395, trying to find my way to a dirt road I saw climbing it's way out of the valley, up the side of the mountains. I explored some side roads but kept running into private property, so gave up on that idea. Then I rode a short way into town for breakfast to get charged up.

After throwing some groceries down my neck, I headed west of Lone Pine towards Whitney Portal and found the turnoff for dirt. Hogback road leads into the Alabama Hills (History: after confederate sympathizers found gold here, they named the area after the Confederate Navy Cruiser Alabama, which sank 64 Union merchant ships during the Civil War). I explored many dirt roads and trails for about 1 1/2 hours and rode the 950 up some hillclimbs to get to some abandoned mineshafts and mines.

View from a ridge in the Alabama Hills with the snow covered Sierra Nevada range in the background.

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Inside mineshaft.

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Old mine

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I also rode down "Movie Road". This area is also famous because many western movies have been filmed here over the years.

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Realizing I had a long day ahead of me, I headed back out to pavement and north on 395 to the town of Independence. I filled up with gas, replenished my beverages and got some emergency canned food, just in case. The rest of the day would be spent riding in the high mountains in desolate areas, so I had to be prepared.

From Independence, I took Mazourka Canyon Road which turns into a dirt road and leads into the Inyo Mountains, across the valley from the Sierra Nevada range. The bike and I quickly started climbing in elevation and soon we were at Badger Flat.

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Awesome riding through great scenery...trail with the Sierra in the background.

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Took a turnoff to a must-see trail up to Mazourka Peak, elevation 9,412 feet.

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Bad hair day

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Radio towers and equipment on top of Mazourka Peak

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I turned on my cell phone up here and had full bars for reception, so I placed a call to the guy I'm working for to see if he had work lined up for me the next week, fortunately for me, no work, so I could extend my trip to SEVEN days !! When I called him, he was at lunch with his office manager, I told him I was on my trip, on top of a mountain. He laughed and said I better bring back some photos.

Before heading back down from the mountaintop, I had to get a couple more pix across the Owens Valley.

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Continued north on more, fun dirt roads and trails.

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Had to ride through some terrain that was fairly challenging on a 950, fully loaded with panniers and camping gear....here's a rocky, loose, steep downhill

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Papoose Flat, an important food gathering place of Native Americans for thousands of years

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After dropping down in elevation, it got a bit hotter. I hit some canyons with a few miles of deep, soft sand.

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Squaw Flat

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ROH ROH !! The deep, soft sand finally took it's toll on me...where I first dropped it on this trip, little did I know it wouldn't be my last !!

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Narrow canyon with........more sand !! Heading towards the Narrows.

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Lots of abandoned mines from the gold rush days...here is an abandoned miner's shack, and the inside of it.

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After a few miles of sand, I got to this wonderful, rough trail......see the rocks on the side....that is shale, and the trail was nothing but shale for a ways...I still had a blast, though !!

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After about 50 miles and 5 hours of off-roading in the Inyo Mountains, I came to pavement.

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Headed west on Saline Valley Road to highway 395 north. After being off-road most of the day, I dreaded getting back onto pavement. Soon, I arrived in Bishop and checked a couple of motels. Most were booked, as I figured, one wanted $109 for the night. I said "Later", and headed to Brown's Campground. I pulled in and the sign said no vacancy. I walked in and asked if they had room for one motorcycle and tent, she said NO. I heard a voice from behind me say something about the motorcycle group. I turned around and said I wasn't with the motorcycle group. He invited me to pitch my tent in their area since they had plenty of room. They were the HOG (Harley Owners Group) Chapter from San Bernardino. I thought it was so cool, he invited me to camp with them, not even knowing or caring what bike I was riding. That's the way it should be !!

On my way out, I ran into a guy checking out my bike. He was a local, and had a couple of bikes, including dualsport. We chatted for 15 minutes, then it was time to pitch my tent. I hung out with the HOG folks for awhile. Then later in the evening, it was time to go for dinner, and to the local Saloon. I had been here 2 years ago on Memorial Day Weekend, and knew the "Mule Days" Rodeo was in town, so knew the Saloon would be hoppin'. Hung out 'til 11:30pm and when I got back to camp, only 4 guys from the HOG group were still up. We talked for awhile until time to crawl in the tent and pass out. A great first day to this trip !!

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Randy, last night I read your trip report and viewed all of the great photos that you took on your High Sierra Adventure, and I am jeolous. I grew up in San Diego and spent a lot of time on the high desert and mountain areas in and around where you rode. It brought back so many good memories. I fall in the category of your new friend, Dale, that you met on your trip. I'm 70 years old, and still going strong. I just got back from an 8-day off-road ride to the Copper Canyon area of Mexico. It made me feel like I was still a teenager, except for the crash in the mountains on the last day. Things like that seem to hurt more and last longer as you get older. Actually, I broke my fibula, but didn't know it until 3 weeks later. Just think, you've got at least another 40 years of good riding in front of you.

Lou W

Dixie Dual Sport Riders, Florida

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Day Two - At the campground, I unpacked everything I didn't need and got ready for a full day of off-road exploring outside of Bishop. I brought the essentials....camera, tools, cooler with beverages, and also my sleeping bag, just in case anything happened in the mountains and I would need to spend the night. I didn't have a tankbag for this trip, so I would need to leave my panniers on the bike.

Riding to breakfast, the whole town of Bishop was bustling and busy getting ready for the Mule Days Parade. Stopped to get a quick photo of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.


As I rode down the street looking for a restaurant, I saw the guy who checked out my bike the afternoon before at the campground. Dale saw me ride by and waved. I pulled into a parking spot and was ready for breakfast. Dale walked over and said all the restaurants in town were packed and the wait would be at least 45 minutes. He suggested I go down the road to the country club, and assured me there would be no crowds there. Then he asked if I wanted to have breakfast with him and I said "Sure, that would be great". At breakfast, we talked about bikes, trips, rides, bikes, trips and rides....(and bikes). He was a real neat guy, full of great stories and information. After breakfast, I asked if he minded if I stay in touch with him. He gave me his number and told me to call him after I get back into town tonight, he wanted to hear about my adventures for the day.

We parted ways and I rode out of town a few miles and found the dirt road which leads high into the mountains west of Bishop. I almost ran over this snake, sunning himself in the middle of the trail.


I continued ahead, through a few miles of deep sand, and then the road started to wind it's way up steep switchbacks. Here's a shot looking back at one twisty section of the dirt road.


Heading up into the mountains.


As I was having a great ride, enjoying the scenery, crossing ridges and valleys, I came to this snowdrift across the trail. I saw a single motorcycle track go along the edge of the drift, on the edge of the trail. I figured I'd give it a try, it was too early to quit. I rode the bike a few feet and got stuck.


I knew I wouldn't make it across now, so I started to back the bike up slowly, but the rear wheel started to slide off the edge.


Before I attempted this, I had a plan in case I didn't make it across the drift. So, now I had to execute that plan. I started to back the bike across the top of a ravine next to the trail, but I couldn't quite push it backwards all the way across.


Front View of bike in ravine.


Here's the Mighty 950 perched on top of rocks and wood that held it up before I had to bulldog it and turn it down into the ravine.


After turning the bike to face downwards, I had to ride it down into the ravine, then out of it, through the thick brush, back onto the trail. This whole process took me about an hour. Here's the ravine after I rode down and out of it.


As I was gathering my jacket, gloves and helmet, I heard a vehicle coming from the other side of the snowdrift. I thought to myself, "how did they get to the other side, there's no tracks across the drift". I heard the 4x4 crossing a ridge above me. It came down a turnoff about a hundred yards back. I had seen that turnoff, but thought it went up and dead-ended.....Oh Well !! They asked if I was OK...Yep. They had only gone a couple of miles ahead, so I was up for some more exploring to see how far I could get.

I rode a few miles and dropped down into a valley for some awesome, spectacular views of the Coyote Flat area and surrounding ridges and mountains.....





I explored all the trails in the area and went as far as I could, all of them were blocked by snow. Here's where I decided to turn back....I realized I wouldn't be crossing any more snowdrifts today.


At one point, I was riding on an overgrown 2 track trail and crossed the brush in center of the trail. WHAM !! All of a sudden I'm on the ground, laying next to the KTM. I hit a rock larger than a bowling ball that was hidden in the brush. No major damage, just a good scrape on the right side engine case, by the rear brake lever. I developed a slight oil leak from this. Later, cleaned it off and didn't see any cracks in the case, so just kept an eye on it for the rest of the trip. I gots ta get me that skidplate !!

The 950 posing by a pond formed by snowmelt.


After spending some time absorbing the awe-inspiring scenery that surrounded me, I started to head back down the mountain. I explored every side trail I could find, knowing that all would eventually dead-end, but just had to see where they all went.

View east towards the White Mountains.


A fairly rough, challenging trail I explored which dropped down a steep hill into a green valley.



I decided to stop at this fence, even though there was a narrow, single track cow trail going past the fence. I figured not a good idea on the 950 with wide panniers on it.




Nice riding.


Photo play.


View northwest.


Bloomin' flowers.


After 47 miles and 4 1/2 hours on the trails, I dropped out of the mountains, back into town for gas. Then I continued west to the inspiring grandeur of Buttermilk Country. Pavement for a few miles, then onto a graded dirt road. Explored the White Cap Mine Site.


Many more mineshafts in this area.


Back on the main dirt road, I thought this was going to be a boring ride. BUT, soon I rounded a few corners and the road got rougher, started to climb in elevation, and the scenery got intense.

Rocky Canyon


At the border of the John Muir Wilderness


Nice stream crossing. I walked into the stream to make sure there were no holes in it that would swallow the KTM.


Another dead-end due to snow, but with an awesome view looking east.


Raging waters and time for a break.


Yet another trail to explore......my tracks going in and coming back out, no other tracks !! In many areas, I didn't see another soul.


Hate to bore you with spectacular scenery.....just another 2 mountain peaks.


Now, this was perhaps the best, most awesome, spectacular, incredible view of the trip, at about 10,000 feet. I continued as far as I could and stopped here due to snow. I am only about 1/2 mile across the valley from the base of the mountain peaks....


Looking south.....


and east.....


Now it was time to head back towards civilization....on a road that looks like it leads to nowhere.


I knew I had to hit pavement after the last 40 miles and 3 hours of awesome dirt riding. So I took route 168 to the end to check out Lake Sabrina. It was cold and windy as the sun dropped below the mountaintops.


The dam dam at Lake Sabrina.


Saw this weird cloud formation along the way.



On the way back to Bishop, sunset on the foothills of the White Mountains.


After about 9 hours and 140 miles of riding, mostly in the dirt, I arrived back in town and had dinner. I called Dale after dinner, and he said to stop by for a beer and he wanted to hear about my ride. I went to his house and we talked until midnight. Lots of great stories back and forth. He is also a very experienced dirt rider, he used to travel the Nevada deserts on an old Honda Single, before they even made real "dualsport" bikes, so he is full of knowledge and tips for adventure riding. When I left, he said he hadn't been up 'til midnight in years (I found out he is 70 years young....I tell ya, motorcycle riding keeps you young, so keep on riding !! ).

Back to the campsite, and none of the Harley people were up.....LOL, lightweights !!

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Day Three - Sunday. I crawled out of the tent early and loaded up the KTM. As I was talking with some of the Harley group, I learned that the couple who organize this yearly campout; the woman's son was on his way here from northern California and they just found out he was killed on his BMW near Lake Tahoe. That was truly sad to hear about a fallen brother. I took some time alone for a moment of silence for him, then finished loading up and got underway.

After breakfast, I went to Dale's house to say goodbye to my new friend.


He wanted to show me a good route on my maps, out of Bishop, and also showoff his bikes. My plan was to go into the White Mountains, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and up towards the White Mountain Research station. But, we learned from Dale's neighbor that the dirt roads were still closed due to much snow.

Dale's ATK.


Dale's cruiser with his version of a stove.....he carries a tin canteen, and when he needs to heat up water for coffee or cooking, he places it against the hot engine, this way he doesn't have to carry a camp stove !!


After talking with Dale these last couple of days, we realized we both had a lot in common, including the passion for riding, and the need to support off-road organizations that protect our access to public lands. As I am, he is a member of CORVA and the Blue Ribbon Coalition, and he was very involved in local groups fighting to keep their local areas and mountains open to public and motorized access.

I left Dale's house at 11:00am, rode north a few miles on route 6 and then branched off onto dirt roads heading into the Fish Slough and Volcanic Tableland areas. At one point, I noticed a neat jeep trail that headed along some marshland, so turned down it. Riding along, all of a sudden I heard a loud clunk behind me, looked in my mirror and there was my right side Pannier laying in the middle of the trail.


I quickly slowed and as I came to a stop, I fell over with the bike. I laughed to myself, wish I had that on video !! I walked back and saw the one, lonely rock that my bag had hit. Don't know how I hit this one, it was in plain site !!


I picked up the pannier and realized I couln't mount it back on the bike, it was bent and deformed as the impact ripped it off the bike. So I called Dale back in Bishop and asked if he would be home for awhile. He said yes, he was sitting around watching the Indy 500, and asked "Why, what's up ?" I told him what happened, he laughed and said to come on by so we could fix the pannier. Luckily I was only about 10 miles from his house, so I got on the bike and carried the big, aluminum box in my lap. I must've looked pretty hilarious, riding down main street in Bishop with the box in my lap !!

At Dale's house, first thing he did was bring me a cold beer, a sledge hammer and a pop-rivet gun. 2 hours later, after some heavy pounding, the box was straightened and mounted back on the bike. Sat in Dale's living room, watching the last few laps of the Indy 500 race. Then it was time to hit the trails again at 2:30pm.

Rode back north the same way I started out earlier. This time, I was more conscious of how far the panniers stick out from the side of the bike. In the Volcanic Tableland area, I came upon some very old Indian Petroglyphs.



Rode west through Red Rock Canyon


Then started to explore many forest roads and trails in the area east of Lake Crowley. I avoided the main, graded dirt roads and chose to explore many of the trails on the map, marked 4WD. These proved to be more challenging and fun. Here's a rocky, downhill on a jeep trail....


I rode in a general west direction on trails that had no route numbers on them, knowing eventually I'd find my way to Lake Crowley. I made it there late in the afternoon and it was time for a break on the lakeshore.



I rode up to this group of vehicles parked on the lakeshore.


I met Steve and his family, who lived locally and had a beverage with them and they offered me a burger. Man, I love meeting people on trips !! They even said if I didn't find a place to camp tonight, I could come back and join them.


Steve pointed me in the right direction to head into town, so I took the trails to Lake Crowley Dam and crossed over the dam.


Got to a little resort community called Tom's Place. Saw they had a restaurant and bar, across the street was a band playing live music and lots of people dancin' and groovin', so I knew I must come back here later after finding a campsite up the road.

I checked out many campgrounds along route 12 going towards Rock Creek Lake, and rode as far as I could until the road was closed due to snow. I headed back to the first campground ("French Camp"), found a nice spot, pitched my tent while enjoying some nice, cold Sierra Nevada Pale Ales in the Sierra Nevada mountains !! Only rode 87 miles today, but it was relaxing, and enjoyed 50 miles of it off-road.

I hopped back on the bike and rode back to Tom's Place as it was getting dark.


Too Bad, the band was just packing up. So I had a great dinner, then headed into the bar. Met lots of fun, crazy people having a good time.


I stepped out on the patio and heard one guy say to another, "Hey, there's a KTM 950, why don't you get one of those". The other guy shook his head and said that bike was not for him. SO, of course I had to chime in and tell them what a great bike it is and how good it works off road. Turns out one of the guys named Brian, owns a multi-line dealership, including KTM in Mammoth Lakes. He introduced me to his family and we talked for awhile. I must e-mail him a link to this trip write-up !!

Later, I met another guy named Allen in the bar and we got to talking. Found out he had no place to stay yet, so I offered that he could share my campsite. He said great, and now I would have somebody to talk to around the campfire later. On the way out of the bar, I met another guy named Chuck, who was a member of the band. He said, "Hey, you're the guy I saw at the gas station outside Bishop yesterday". I laughed, because I was meeting so many cool people on this trip !! It was time to head back to camp, relax by the fire, check out the awesome night sky before crawling into the tent again after another awesome day !!

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Day Four - Monday, Memorial Day. Woke up and heard Allen outside packing up his stuff, so I figured it's time to get up. We talked more as we both loaded up our stuff and then went into town for breakfast at Tom's Place.

Allen at the campground.


After a hearty breakfast of pot roast & eggs, Allen and I parted ways. If any of you are ever passing by Tom's Place, I highly recommend stopping at the restaurant for their awesome grub !!

I wanted to explore an area called Sand Canyon, heading up towards Wheeler Ridge. I knew there would be too much snow on Wheeler Ridge, but wanted to go see how far I could get anyway. I started south from Tom's Place and rode some great, twisty roads until getting to the dirt section which led to Sand Canyon. There's a reason they call it that....some deep, soft sand for a few miles as you climb higher in elevation. The road was getting rougher, the higher I climbed. I saw the low fuel light come on.....damn, poor planning this morning, I didn't fill up the tank. I turned around, knowing I better not run out of fuel up here alone. This is a place I want to explore in the future. The book I was using as a guide says Wheeler Ridge is a scenic, moderately challenging 4x4 trail, so I am looking forward to riding it sometime.

Got back onto the 395 and gassed up near Lake Crowley. Decided to hop on a two lane road that parallels 395 for a few miles. Then back onto 395 north. A few more miles on the highway and I turned off to go see Convict Lake. It was crowded up there, lots of tourists, but the view was nice.


I only spent a few minutes at the lake, then headed back towards 395. I saw a dirt road to the left and couldn't pass it up. It followed along 395 and then towards the next area I wanted to explore, called Laurel Canyon, a 4 1/2 mile dirt road that dead ends at some spectacular scenery, according to the book.


I turned up the road and it quickly started to climb some tight switchbacks and was fairly rocky and rough. YEEHAW, I knew I would enjoy this !!

Oh no, not another snowdrift !! Luckily, clear passage around this one.


I came upon the next snowdrift, made it across since the 4-wheelers had already gone through.


Another mile and had to stop at this one....


I hiked across the long snowdrift to get a view of what was ahead. Once I got to the crest, I was treated to this majestic view.....


View east.


After soaking up the views, I climbed aboard the mighty 950 and rode back down to the main dirt road, turned north and headed towards Mammoth. As I was riding along, I just happened to turn my head to the left and noticed a bike on a trail. I turned around to go meet the guy and be sociable. When I pulled up to him, I noticed he had a problem. He was wet and he had his helmet on the ground. There was a tiny stream crossing that didn't look like much, about 3 feet wide. BUT, what he didn't see was a hole about 3 feet deep in the stream. Of course when he tried to cross it, he fell over with the bike and fully submerged it. He couldn't get it started and had NO tools with him. I got my tools out and we drained the float bowl on the carb, checked his plug, stood the bike on end to drain the water out of the tailpipe. The bike still wouldn't start. We did what we could, then he had to use my cell phone to call his wife, since his phone wouldn't work after it got wet in the stream. He thanked me for the help, and I asked him if there was anything else I could do for him. Nope, all was good, luckily he wasn't very far from town. I continued through some beautiful, lush pine forests and into the town of Mammoth for gas.

After gas, I headed towards the east side of 395 and into the mountains. Saw 3 dual-sporters riding back to their trucks, so stopped to talk to them and ask them about some of the trails in the area. I followed some of their advice combined with the route in my book, to head towards Lookout Mountain. I ended up on a marked route called the Lookout Trail. I was expecting this to take me to Bald Mountain Lookout, but soon realized I was riding in circles. I did ride some neat trails, with one steep, loose downhill-uphill....of course the KTM got me through without any trouble !!

I followed many forest roads, some marked, some unmarked, so I used my sense of direction to lead me to the dirt road up to Bald Mountain. I had to check it out to see if I could get to the lookout tower at 9,104 feet elevation. Had lots of fun getting there, but up at the top, guess what.....snow blocking the road again !! Well, it was worth the ride up.....spectacular view from up there.


View East


Near the top of Bald Mountain, used my cell phone to call my friend John in San Diego to tell him where I was, just to rub it in. After all, what are friends for ?!!


View looking north with Mono Lake in the distance.


After leaving Bald mountain, I rode through pine forests in elevations around 6000-8000 feet, and had to dodge snowdrifts for a few miles. Here's one where I fell over while crossing it.........


I continued past places called Pilot Spring and Crooked Meadows, then came upon this barren area of volcanic ash and pumice, left over from volcanic eruptions a long time ago.


Late in the afternoon, I had to hit pavement to get to the town of Lee Vining for the night. I turned west on route 120, but still saw some more 4WD trails on the map I felt the need to explore. One dead-ended, then I found this one as it headed towards Mono Lake.


The trail was fairly hardpacked for miles, but as it dropped down towards Mono Lake, it got much softer. I realized I was riding in deep volcanic ash, which is much finer, and tougher to ride in than sand. My original thoughts were to follow this trail around the entire lake. I had to change that plan quickly. As I turned west on the 4x4 trail, some sections of this ash were really bad, about 6" to 12" deep. I dumped it about 5 times within 3 miles of riding in this crap. During one fall, my right foot bent backwards and got trapped underneath my saddlebag. Luckily, the ash was so soft, I was able to wiggle my foot out from under the bike. At one point, I saw a 4x4 track drop down onto the lakeshore. I decided to give this a try, since I was wearing myself out in the deep rutts on the trail. Down on the shore, it was still soft, but no rutts so the bike just squirmed back and forth. It was a little less work as long as I stayed on the throttle. I knew I shouldn't be down there, and saw the 4x4 tracks head back up onto the trail, so I followed them and had to endure the soft ash for awhile longer. FINALLY, I got to the main dirt road which headed to pavement. WHEW !! Pavement was a welcome sign after riding through that last section.

Pulled into Lee Vining at 7:00pm, after 148 miles of riding, much of it off-road. Got a room at Murphey's Motel.....nice place and reasonable price. I peeled off my riding gear and boots, grabbed a cold beer and went to sit by the pool to cool off. This was my first room and bed since I left San Diego. Ahhhhhhhhhh, shower and a good night's sleep. I woke up refreshed the next day.

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Day Five - Tuesday morning. I woke up after a good night's sleep and saw that my sweaty riding gear had dried out overnight. I studied my maps for a bit, and it was time for another day of exploration. I loaded up the bike and had my plan of attack for the rest of the day, then headed for some grub. After breakfast, I rode south a couple miles on 395 to find the turnoff to Horse Meadow. Saw a guy in a pickup truck on a dirt road and stopped to ask him if this was the right turnoff. Yep, then asked him if he knew if the trails were blocked by snow. He said clear all the way. So I headed up towards Lower Horse Meadow, then south on the 4WD route.


I took a turn west on a trail that was not in the book. I knew it would dead end, but I needed some good exploration first thing this morning. It was just another fun trail with some more great scenery. There were some downed trees across the road, so I had to ride off the trail around them. I was worried about the ground being too soft in some spots, but there were 4 wheel tracks to follow, so knew I'd be OK. Further up the trail, there was a huge mud puddle and the 4 wheelers had rutted up the trail in this spot. It looked really soft and deep, so I detoured around it through the trees. Didn't foresee this........



The forest floor was softer than I ever imagined. Hmmmm, what to do now ? I couldn't push or lift the bike out. I decided to pull up on the rear and lay the bike on it's side, resting on the pannier. I contemplated dragging it to the trail, but that was about 15 feet and the bike was pretty heavy, so that idea was out. When I looked in the hole that the rear wheel had dug, I saw water actually flowing beneath the topsoil, no wonder it was so soft !! I used my boots to stomp the dirt down as much as I could and stood the bike upright. Fortunately this worked, I was able to rev the crap out of the motor and ride the bike back to the trail. This little incident only took me 15 minutes to get out of this time :drinks:

This mud would stay on the bike until I got home.


I rode to where the road dead-ended. No spectacular view this time, but the riding to get here was well worth it !!

What a Poser !!


After my little 2 hour exploration, I rode on a dirt road before getting back on 395. I saw 2 horses in a field, and I don't know if this was coincidence or not, but it seems that when they saw me, they both started into a full gallop, running in the field along with me. I imagined they saw me on my mechanical horse, and had to race me through the field !! I stopped to try to get a photo of that, but they were too fast. Coincidence or not, I thought that was great. I had to get back on the 395 north. I wanted more dirt after a few miles, but there were no trails that I knew of. I found the next best thing for getting off the highway. I saw the old road paralleling 395, so I turned onto it, just so I could get off the main road. The old road was broken pavement with some dirt mixed in. I also explored a couple of side trails that didn't really lead anywhere interesting, so decided to keep heading north. I had to face the fact that today I would have to burn some miles on 395. I rode down some paved, dead-end roads heading west. One was Lundy Canyon and the Lundy Lakes area. Ahhh, towards the end of this road I found more dirt. I rode a couple of miles along some interesting lakes. There were different lakes along the road, at different levels (like different steps, hard to describe) as the road climbed in elevation. I continued on until I reached a huge mud puddle about 75 feet long, across the road, and no way to get around. It looked like a lot of snow runoff had been running across the road, and I was worried there might be some deep holes or rutts that I couldn't see. I threw some small rocks into the center of the puddle to try to see how deep it might be. Grabbed some larger rocks and threw them in. Looked like it might be deep or rutted in the center, so I decided I didn't want to chance getting stuck or falling over in it. I turned around to head back.

Shot before I turned around.


Interesting, someone painted an Indian Head on this rock.


It was time for a break at this raging stream. All of the streams, creeks and rivers were raging, due to tons of snow melt from the mountains.




Heading north (again) on the 395, I was not in a rush, so I rode the next route west to the Virginia Lakes area. There were many trails I could see off the road, but the elevation here was very high and still lots of snow. I knew they would be impassable. I rode to the end where there was a "Pavement Ends" sign. Unfortunately, this is also where they stopped clearing the road.


Here is one of the lakes.......still partially frozen.


The Virginia Lakes Resort. Looks like a nice place to stay sometime.


On the way east, there was one dirt road called Dundeberg Meadow that I really wanted to ride; supposed to be awesome. But as I figured, it was blocked by snow within the first 100 yards. I knew that for the rest of the trip, there would be no more off-roading along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra on the west side of 395.

I had to continue north on 395, fortunately there were some twisties and great scenery along the way to Bridgeport. I had to bypass the turnoff for the ghost town called Bodie (I was there 2 years ago, so wasn't too worried about missing it this time), since I needed fuel. Stopped in Bridgeport for lunch and gas. Asked the guys at the restaurant if the dirt roads going into the Bodie Hills were clear. They said probably, but I might have to deal with some mud. Alright, time for some more adventure !!

Just outside Bridgeport, I took the dirt roads through Aurora Canyon and to the Bodie Hills, heading towards Masonic Ghost Town.


I came to a severe looking mudbog in the road. It was rutted out from 4 wheelers, but looked like it had hardened up over the last few days. I decided to give it a go, I was not going to turn back !! I Felt the bike sinking a bit, but stayed on the gas and made it through, no problem. Came to this section, where I couldn't decide if the road was a stream, or the stream was a road !!



As I was stopped for these photos, a guy on a quad rode up and I asked him if the road was passable the rest of the way. He gave me a thumbs up. He told me to get ahead of him, but later he passed me as I stopped for more Kodak moments at the Masonic ghost town.


Remains of mine on hillside.


Miner's Shack.


I enjoyed riding through the remains of this mining town, but it's nothing compared to Bodie Ghost Town. If you're ever in this area, don't miss Bodie !!

The road continued into Nevada, here's the 950 at the border.


The road eventually led me back into California and I headed back to Bridgeport for gas, then north again on 395. I thought I was done with dirt for the day, but as I headed towards Sonora Pass, I knew of one more dirt road and when I saw it on the right, I couldn't pass it up. I turned around and rode up to Burcham Flat. This was a fun road as it was fairly well graded, had fun sliding the KTM around corners, and was able to ride at a good clip, much faster than all the dirt I had ridden so far on this trip.


I had to stop for this shot, I'm up on a ridge about 2000 feet above 395, which is in the valley below.


The road got tight and twisty as the switchbacks dropped me down quickly to the town of Walker. I realized the dirt road took me at least 10 miles north, out of my way, but since I was grinning from the ride, who cares !!

South on 395 took me to the Sonora Pass Rd., route 108, which would take me across the Sierra Nevada to the west side.

Deep snow still up on the pass.


Rad Adventure Rider.


They always try to get this road open and clear the snow before Memorial Day Weekend, since the Tioga Pass through Yosemite is usually closed until July.

I stopped later to absorb the views of all the snow around me. Here's a stream flowing UNDER the snow.



Ahhh, cool, refreshing in the Sierra Nevada.


My plan for the evening was to end up somewhere near Fresno and get a room. But, as I rode through the gorgeous pine forests and saw campgrounds along the road, I decided I wanted to spend another night camping in the mountains. I got to a little place called Strawberry, their store was closed, but I saw this and couldn't resist a photo. I'm getting a set of these tracks on my KTM for the next ride !! :friends:


I backtracked east to a place called Kennedy Meadows (not the same KM that is down south on Sherman Pass) since I heard they were open. I saw a nice campground on the way in and headed to the store to stock up for the night and have dinner.

Stocking up.


Met some nice, friendly folks at dinner who were in the area doing volunteer construction at a local Christian Camp.


The Touratech Panniers come in very handy....you can strap all kinds of stuff to them, like firewood !!


River view at Deadman Campground


I set up camp, started a roaring fire and thoughts of all the great riding I had done so far, flowed through my head. I retired to the tent earlier than expected to get a good night's sleep. Only one day left, tomorrow, before heading home.

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Day Six - Wednesday. After breaking camp and loading up, it was time for breakfast. Kennedy Meadows is a historic place, it's been there for years, and many movies have been filmed here.


As I was checking out all the historic photos and plaques on the wall, the waitress told me there's a cabin in the meadow that was used for the opening scene for the old TV show, "Little House on the Prairie". I didn't have time to go see it.

Here's a couple of friendly hound dogs just waking up on the porch.


I love dogs. Friendly little guy.


After a great morning ride through the twisties on route 108, I took 49 south towards Mariposa. Here, the fantastic twisties wind down a mountain and cross Don Pedro Reservoir.


And wind their way up another mountain......REALLY FUN riding !!


Historic Marker


I got to Oakhurst in the afternoon and called my friend Robert who lives nearby. Asked him if he had any cold beer at the house. He said no. I said I'll bring some over, and he asked, "Why, where are you". I said I was in town, so he said to come on by.


After hangin' with Robert for a couple of hours and telling him about my adventures, it was time to get to my destination for the day. I had some county maps of the area, and found some great, twisty one-lane roads that you'll only find on a county map.

I took Italian Bar road from Bass Lake to Chawanakee, then Jose Basin Road to Auberry.


Cool one-lane bridge.


I got up to Shaver Lake and stopped for fuel. I asked the woman if Kaiser Pass was open. She said it was still blocked by 12 feet of snow. I now had to change my plans of going to the end of Kaiser Pass and Mono Hot Springs (missed it last time I was up here 2 years ago also). I took Dinkey Creek Road to forest road 40 to the end at Wishon Reservoir.


Plaque at Wishon Dam.


Along the way, stopped at the McKinley Grove of Giant Sequoia trees........


Looking up at the Sequoias.


I tried finding a dirt road that heads down the spectacular Granite Gorge from Wishon Dam, to Black Rock Reservoir and to Pine Flat Reservoir. I started down one dirt road and wasn't sure if it was the right one, so I stopped in a campground and asked some people with 4 wheelers. One guy said he had hiked down the road a ways and there was a downed tree, he wasn't sure if I could make it around. With further contemplation, I decided to head back the way I came. I checked out a couple of other dirt roads I knew go down towards Pine Flat, but there was still a lot of snow in the forest. I continued back to lower elevation and took a road I was familiar with, which headed to Pine Flat. This road is a forest road with broken pavement and dirt for about 30 miles. I was now on my last dirt of the trip. Here is the last dirt photo as I dropped down towards Pine Flat Lake


As I got down to Pine Flat, the road along the lake is nothing but constant twisties for about 20 miles. There are hardly ever any vehicles on it, so I used it as my own, personal racetrack, blasting my way towards the town of Piedra. From there, I rode more twisties to the town of Squaw Valley, on route 180 west of Kings Canyon. I got a room at a motel there and went for dinner at the local pizza joint. I was so hungry, I ate almost a whole pizza myself, what a pig !! 328 miles for the day.

Squaw Valley Motel


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Day Seven - Last Day, Thursday June 2nd. After packing up the bike, I saw the motel owners outside. They had free continental breakfast out by the pool, donuts, pastries, fresh fruit and coffee. Mmmmm, just what I needed to start the day. I walked over and sat by the pool to eat. I saw this goat out back. He played a little game, digging at the ground with his feet and charging at me.

Killer Attack Goat.......


He was actually very friendly.


Putting on my gear for the day's ride, a couple in the room next door came over to talk to me. They were from Sydney, Australia and told me about their 6 week trip through the United States. They said everyday got more spectacular with all the sites and places they were seeing. Man, you gotta love the US !!

After riding a few hours of twisty pavement the day before, I was now in full-on street mode, since it would be pavement all the way home today. I left Squaw Valley and immediately hit some severely twisty, county roads. Sand Creek to Dry Creek to the 245, AWESOME roads !!

From Exeter, I took J37 towards Springville, riding along the foothills of the western Sierra Nevada.


When I ride pavement, I like to see signs like this.


And this sign is even better !! On the Mighty 190 from Springville east to Camp Nelson.


For anyone who's never ridden this road, we call it the MIGHTY 190 because it is over 20 miles of awesome riding; tight twisties along a river through a canyon, climbing into the southern Sierra Nevada mountains.

It was damn hot on the 190. Stopped for this photo, thought this was an interesting contrast: a blooming cactus along the road, with the snow covered mountains in the background.


Now, up high in the Sierra again, I stopped at the usual spot for refreshment, The Ponderosa.


I think this sign sums up what to experience in the mountains.....except it left out the most important part...RIDING !!


This bumper sticker pretty much sums up the attitude of many people who make a living from people recreating on public lands, especially motorized recreation....


Me again, Posing. The Ponderosa is For Sale, wish I could afford it.


I rode more bitchin' twisties and dropped down to the road along the Kern River, which feeds Lake Isabella. I've never seen the river at this level before, due to all the snowmelt.



In Kernville, I had to stop at "The Hut", a favorite watering hole while riding many dualsport rides in the area. The Harley guys seemed very interested in my bike.


The road out of Kernville is a fun twisty along the shores of Lake Isabella. The lake was close to full capacity from all the snowmelt due to extra heavy precipitation in California last winter.

On route 178 east, I opened the bike up to over 100mph to see how it handled with all the camping gear and panniers on it. So far on this trip, I hadn't gone that fast yet. The KTM handled fine. Later, when I stopped for gas in Inyokern, I looked at the rear TKC-80 tire and saw that I burnt up much of what was left on the rear knobs in that short, high speed run !!

At the gas station, a guy on an FJR1300 pulls up and says, "Are you with the Iron Butt guys?" I said no. We talked for a few minutes. His name was Dave Hick, a long distance endurance rider. I had to get some photos of him and his bike.

Dave on FJR.


The extra gas tank on the tail section of his FJR.


The cockpit with electronic devices all over it.


I rode with Dave and his group down 395 until they branched off at Kramer Junction. Now I had to endure the long, straight, boring haul down 395 to I-15 back to San Diego.

I had a goal of pulling into San Diego in time to attend our usual Thursday Bike Night. I made a call to a friend and found out it was at Ed's house (ShaftEd from ADVrider). I didn't even stop home first. I pulled into Ed's driveway at 7:15pm after 458 miles on the road, just in time for pizza !! I left Thursday Bike Night a week ago from Roger's house, and now was pulling in from my road trip to the next Bike night. My friends all thought that was way cool.

After 7 days and 1811 miles, at Ed's house.



What an awesome Adventure ride I had. Spectacular scenery, great riding, meeting lots of people, and no major problems. Even the few incidents I had added to the adventure. That's what it's all about !!

There is so much to see in California, and I am addicted to the Sierra Nevada mountains. I only got to see a small part of what is there. Next time, I will go later in the year when there isn't as much snow. And all this is only a day's ride from San Diego, gotta love it !!

Until next time..........THE END


My other Sierra Trip Write-Ups: click on underlined link........

WMRSII Sierra Trip & ADVrider Gathering

Memorial Weekend 2006 High Sierra Adventure

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certainly I am living the wrong life! I am jealous of all the neat photos. The only thing missing in them would be me on a bike, and maybe a couple of fishing rods :friends:

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I truly enjoyed reading your story and looking at the awesome pictures!! :blink: It really built up my spirits this evening… :friends: Now, I want to check it out for sure. I have been to the Yosemite area which I super enjoy, but have not done much other explorations out there. It's truly inspiring!! :D

Once again, thanks for sharing with us! :drinks:

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Husky4me, I'm glad that a trip write-up can help inspire you and others. Many people don't realize how much there is to see and explore out there, and that it can be done on a big adventure bike.

Don't know if you've seen these write-ups, they're further back in the forum, but here's a link to 2 more from exploring in the Sierra....

WMRS II - ADVrider Rally

Memorial Weekend 2006 High Sierra Adventure

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Boy-o-Boy, Ride-Rad ....... I can see how a ride like that can really get your goat .



And now I understand that smile on your face..



opps, I just realized I'm one delete key from being out of here..

just kidding randy,,, hell, I'd hit it.

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Boy-o-Boy, Ride-Rad ....... I can see how a ride like that can really get your goat .

opps, I just realized I'm one delete key from being out of here..

just kidding randy,,, hell, I'd hit it.

Kaw'ee, how'd you know I brought the goat home with me.....and now everyone knows :drinks::friends:

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Reading 2Wheels recent Sierra trip post, and then HondaPilot's post about memories of his beach to river trip, made me go back to read this write-up so I could re-live my trip again........so I'm giving it a bump to share it also <_<

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Thanks Rad

Awesome terrain up there!! I'd love to make a trip this year.

I'd like to do that Beach to River run sometime also.....maybe next time you do it.

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I'd like to do that Beach to River run sometime also.....maybe next time you do it.

It wouldn't be the same without the boss along. The sand get's pretty deep though, you may want to leave the "man" bike at home. <_<

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After flying up to Reno and posting the pix from the plane of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it reminded me of this write-up and I had to look at all my Sierra photos from all 3 trips.........time to plan another ride up there this summer !

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After flying up to Reno and posting the pix from the plane of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it reminded me of this write-up and I had to look at all my Sierra photos from all 3 trips.........time to plan another ride up there this summer !

Fantastic ride report. I'm up here in Lemoore and can see the snow capped Sierras from my back yard. If you end up doing another ride this summer and want some company for a couple of days, just post where you're going and I'll shoot up there on the trusty GS and meet you.

Not sure if you are interested in a group adventure ride, but I imagine there would be a few folks from SDAR who would be interested in a Sierra trip. Just a thought.

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Did you ever post pics from the TAT ride??

Not yet.....I'll be working on that soon, now that I found my Photoshop CD, so I can edit the photos and clean some of them up. I'm also catching up on some recent short rides.

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After flying up to Reno and posting the pix from the plane of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it reminded me of this write-up and I had to look at all my Sierra photos from all 3 trips.........time to plan another ride up there this summer !

Fantastic ride report. I'm up here in Lemoore and can see the snow capped Sierras from my back yard. If you end up doing another ride this summer and want some company for a couple of days, just post where you're going and I'll shoot up there on the trusty GS and meet you.

Not sure if you are interested in a group adventure ride, but I imagine there would be a few folks from SDAR who would be interested in a Sierra trip. Just a thought.

FYI - There's an "Adventure sized" bike ride being planned up in Tahoe in early June: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=411595

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FYI - There's an "Adventure sized" bike ride being planned up in Tahoe in early June: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=411595

Early June ? There will still be snow blocking some trails up high. I've explored the Sierra the end of May.....too early, July...some places still had snowdrifts and couldn't get through some routes......August is best is you want to explore up high, and that's where all the best views and trails are.

I may go up in June, maybe check out that ADVrider gathering. Memorial day weekend is also a possibility for a quick 3 to 5 day blast.

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