Pan America 2011 - 2012
American writers like Kerouac and Miller influenced me a lot when I was in my Twenties. And I heard lots about the West Coast from American travellers, recommending great national parks and the Route 101 that is sort of famous thing to do for cyclists. So I decided to postpone other planned adventures and flew to Vancouver BC, equipped with my good old pushbike, a tent and a (warm!) sleeping bag.
After fantastic landscapes and forests down South to San Diego I teamed up with Kathrin, a great cycling mate. When we reached the Southern tip of Baja California, we decided to move on together, crossed Mexico into Guatemala and Belize. After living in a rented house on the Lake Atitlan we ventured out for snow capped mountains of South America, crossing the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza and moved up North again, to Machu Picchu. After 11 months and 11000 kilometres I arrived back in Germany, with Kathrin...
- Category: Pan America 2011 - 2012
Where do I begin, to tell the story how I got into the Yosemite Valley...
Shall I start explaining that crazy morning at the hostel in San Francisco, where the fire alarm went on just after I managed to get myself a rather delayed breakfast. Or talk about the missing power supply for the laptop, that made me ride back to the hostel and find my forgotten mobile phone between the blanket? How I made a decision to go to visit Reed again in Santa Cruz, and how I got squeezed between two merging high speed highways, and got lost again on the wrong site of the peninsula? It was all strange that day. When I arrived in Santa Cruz, Reed took me out for some great Asian lunch, explained me the term "Indian Summer". The very Doors song has long been a favorite of mine, without knowing that Indian Summer means that kind of last few days of warm climate in Autumn before if finally gets cold. Had a dip in the Pacific, the first since weeks, and decided that I need Indian Summer now. Dream of a sunny beach weekend in Santa Cruz. Until the staff of the New Brighton Campground explained their "One Night Only" rule, according to which I have had to leave the next day. It has been more than a week without a real break from pedaling.
That night I sat long in a Cafe and wondered what to do. A weekend of best weather ahead, and my motivation to keep cycling is literally in the basement. A good deal for a rental car for three days, and it's all set. Tomorrow I'm gonna go to Yosemite!
By lunchtime I roll on the highway with a pair for 10 Dollar hiking boots from the Thrift Store and whistle California Dreamin'. Cross the coastal mountain range, buy heaps of food for the weekend (what a luxury not to think about weight!) The streets out here in the endless valley are with out shoulders. Roll into the Sierra Nevada and eventually reach Mariposa, about an hour away from Yosemite Valley. There's no camp sites available in the valley, the ladies in the tourist information tell me. Yet I could stay on a campground a little outside. Eventually I end up on a very basic 21 Dollar spot on the river, without shower nor fresh water nor electricity. Nice enough, barely anyone is here. No need to chatter whatsoever. Enough space, finally!
Entering Yosemite Valley on the next morning. Glowing tips of the surrounding rocks from the rising sun. There's the Yosemite Falls, one of the worlds tallest falls. There's El Capitan, the worlds biggest single rock(?). Park the car and cycle through the valley into Curry Village. Already on the way there I can't resist to take dozens of photos of the bright white rock walls towering above the conifer woods and meadows of the valley. I take the recommended hike to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls into Little Yosemite. Lots of hikers are out here, at least on the first section. Every bend on the trail, every breech between the trees reveals a new great view, seems to be a new epiphany. Everyone seems to have sparks in the eyes, all the Americans and French and Swiss and German hikers are smiling with drops of sweat on the forehead. The higher the steep trail goes up, the less people. The greater the views. Time to air the feet, time to meditate in some of the most stunning scenarios I've ever seen... Just a single thought sticks in my brain: It is infinitely beautiful here! Back in the valley I visit the Mirror lake, watch a video on Yosemite's history and walk the lower Yosemite trail. I'm all taken away by this divine scenery...
Little time I have if I want to return the rental car in time. Hard decision, hike up Glacier point, or cycle? In the end, I drive all the way. Watching the Yosemite Valley, Half Dome and the three giant falls from above is a scenery beyond imagination. No words nor photos can truly express this. A Hippie girl traveling North with her three friends hands me an apple and tells me about their travels through America and playing guitar and sitar music.
Instead of driving back the same way, I take another detour to see the giant Sequoyah trees in the Mariposa Grove on the Southern entrance of the Yosemite National Park. They are Redwoods, similar to the Coastal Redwoods, not quite as tall but with much bigger trunks and canopies. A free shuttle bus brings visitors from Wawona into the 10 miles distant Grove. It is just 3PM, and still I can get a decent three hours hike. A number of loop trails are available there, leading through the forests with a number of really old tree giants like the Grizzly Tree or Clarks Tree in the upper grove. Around the little wooden Mariposa Grove Museum, the Sequoyah wood is most magnificent. The one storey house looks like a toy between those Redwood giants. Once again, I am taken away by the spirit of Redwood forests...
Stop by in the next real town at Mc Donalds for diner. A few hours of emails and internet, a few refills on the coffee and I am prepared for a few more hours night ride on the highways leading West. Eventually I stop the car by 1 AM at a restaurants parking lot on top of a mountain pass. Marveling upon the bright stars, a shooting star and the lights of the cities below me. In the morning, they would hide under thick fog. What a weekend!