In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away
– shing xiong
For years my wife Sue, our companion animals and I traveled to the Eastern Sierra in Fall right around after Labor Day. There is nothing like it; the crowds are gone and the quiet and magic of the vast Eastern Sierra Wilderness is breath taking. Hiking, backpacking, fly fishing, cycling or just hanging out in a comfortable chair, marveling at the beauty and grandeur of these mountains, enjoying wildlife from the distance, drinking it in; a brew you cannot have in Los Angeles, called stillness.
We are lucky that our cousin rents her cabin to us, which sits on Gull Lake, one of many gorgeous
lakes on the June Lake Loop. This year we took Labor Day as our travel day, knowing that everyone else is leaving or about to and left Los Angeles at the crack of dawn, and arrived at our destination 6 easy hours later. I will never tire of the drive to the Sierras; a route filled with incredible sights and climate changes. We live at 400 ft above sea level, Gull Lake sits at 7500′ feet, and the journey from here to there goes through low- and high desert, traveling through canyons, such as Red Rock, then snaking through endless fields of wild sage and eventually climbing into Alpine territory.
The first few days were very cold and windy, with gusts up to 45mph, but I was able to get some rides in and use the June Lake Loop as my route. We got some pop corn like hail and a bit of snow on Wednesday, a perfect day to just hang out and catch up on reading. Wildlife was prolific this year, and when I took Shep for hikes, we ran into larger herds of deer several times, and we had bear visits to the cabin the first couple of nights.
The highlight for me for this trip was the fact that I would ride the High Sierra Fall Century, something that was greatly in doubt when I had my heart attack in June. For me this Century ride was very special, sort of a personal celebration of life ride. What made the anticipation even better and the fun greater, was the fact that Kurt (you know him as @M2TiGuy on Twitter) would join me on the ride. He and his wife Karen came up on Friday and brought along amazing food, such as home made lasagna, incredible sugar free brownies (a special treat for Sue) and an incredible banana-bluebery loaf for Kurt and I. It was great fun that they came up to visit, and I really admire Kurt for his willingness to do so. It is very hard to go from sea level to this elevation, and then ride a century the next day at elevation levels between 6000 to 8200 feet above sea level. Therefor, we had an early dinner and got to bed early, to be rested and make our 5 am wake time for Saturday’s ride.
It was cold, 28F at the cabin and a brisk 31F when we started from Whitmoor Fields, outside Mammoth Village. You can find ride and route data here
I did a ride report last year which you can read here, so I will not go into detail and instead post some images from the ride. Kurt and I had such a wonderful time and we finished the ride side by side crossing the finish line. Celebrated with Hefe Weizen while listening to the local band, both grinning from ear to ear. After that, we drove back to the cabin, cleaned up picked up the girls and headed to the local grease joint, called the Tiger Bar, to wolf down a burger and fries and a couple of more beers.
The High Sierra Fall Century runs every year on the first Saturday after Labor Day. In my opinion one of the best organized rides I have ever been on. 5 Rest stops (you may think this is over kill, in that case we’ll talk once you have done the ride), just wonderful volunteers, really great food (especially at the lunch stop), fluids and power aids galore and very strong SAG support in case you need it.
One last thing: this was the first big test for my Neuvation Wheels – I could not be happier with the purchase. If you want to rock a super light and super strong, hand build wheel set – look no further and check them out. OK – without further ado…here are some images from the ride – hope you will enjoy…