Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Yosemite to Kernville
I got up and left Yosemite National Park as soon as I could. Needless to say I guess, if you read my last post you know I wasn't really digging Yosemite. A shame, because it was beautiful, just too many fucking people, cars, buses, and rangers... who're basically cops. I mean I know they're doing their job, a good job, an important job, but... it's kinda killed it. Well for me it has. I was looking forward to getting the fuck away from the masses again, and today I knew exactly where I was going...
Today I was headed south to re-ride a road we'd done as a group about 4 weeks ago now, but in the other direction (north). That ride had been amazing, a highlight of the trip so far, and I was excited about both the ride and the kinda country I knew I was headed back into.
To cover some ground quickly I took main highways/interstates for a bit. I took the 41 to Fresno, got lost for a bit, went to Starbucks again, and found my way onto the 99 south to Visalia. From Visalia I knew I could find the quaint little back road we'd taken a few weeks back by finding the gas station we'd stopped at on the 198 which would take you up to Sequoia National Park.
I found the gas station, and stopped for water and to take my jacket off. This was the hottest days riding so far. I don't know what the temperature was but it was nuts! Way hotter than anything I'd experienced before. It was sorta uncomfortable but whenever I thought about the weather I'd be heading home to (cold!) I felt good and enjoyed the fuck out of it. We never get to ride in t shirts at home!
I found my road – Yokohl Drive. A beautiful little twisty back road that runs along the foothills of the mountains, past golden grass farms and ranches. My photos above start here, on this road. I was in heaven, and the rest of this day was to be certainly one of the best most memorable rides (probably?) of my life.
I was headed for the Pierpoint Springs cafe/diner in the mountains that we'd stopped at with Nick last time. I took Yokohl Drive to Springville, and then hung a left onto the 190 that takes you up into the mountains. This road – the 190 up to Camp Nelson – is motorcycle gold. A winding up-hill road where the bends are super consistent so you kinda get a feel for them and can just start taking them faster and faster. Dangerous probably. But fucking fun! The DR handles like a dream on these kind of roads. I'm really surprised by it's ability to corner. You can just keep tipping it over, and it's also super forgiving. You go in too fast, hit the brakes, and it just sinks into the shocks and absorbs your mistake, popping you out of the corner right side up! Brilliant!
Anyway, after a great ride up to the diner, I ate a big lunch and congratulated myself for how many miles I'd done already that day by downing a couple of pints of some local beer. I reminded myself when I left to take it easy. I was now headed into the wooded mountains that we'd previously camped in with Nick. There are dirt roads leading off in every direction up here. I chose one at random and decided to just see where it went... it went and went and went, and then ended at what I guess was a sort of free campsite by a massive meadow that just appeared out of nowhere from the forest of big trees. I was stunned by this sight and spent time just looking at it. These meadows amaze me, the way the just appear within these massive forests. I always imagine I'll see a bear cavorting in the sun and grass?
Not having seen any signs of anyone for a long while now I decided I risk leaving the dirt road and heading out onto the meadow. Real naughty I know, but fuck it, after Yosemite I just wanted to get as far away from humanity as I could! I rode the length of the meadow and then up into the trees beyond it. It was easy riding up through the trees and I went for quite a while like that, eventually stopping and thinking about setting up camp. I was pretty stoked to be really in the wild now, and I sat around for a while and drank another beer. I started to get paranoid though that if I did get busted by a ranger up here I'd be pretty screwed. I also started thinking about mountain lions and bears. I mucked about for ages, unpacked my bike, procrastinated for a bit, and then repacked the bike. I decided to head back to the dirt road and find an actual campground. Especially since I knew there was no one at the campgrounds in this area, it didn't seem like too bad a compromise.
Riding down the mountains now it was evening but I swear it was getting hotter. I'd been riding in a t shirt all day, and it I was sticky and disgusting, so when I came out next to (what I'm guessing was) the Kern River it was too tempting to get off the bike and go for a swim. Even though it was about 7pm I think. I found a great swimming hole – deep! – and jumped in. Man was this a relief! The sweat and dust of the days riding were gone and the cool mountain water made me wake up again. I felt quite rejuvenated, and then sorta just kept riding... past all the campgrounds... to the pub at Kernville. We'd stopped here, at the pub, on the way up too. The beers were good, the food was good, and the locals had seemed kinda cool. I decided I'd do the same – have some food, some beer, and then ride back up and find a campsite. However once at the bar I started yakking to a local girl and drank too much beer. Needless to say I didn't end up camping but crashed at the motels right next door to the pub!
What a fucking day. I hope I remember this one on my death-bed.