"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
With our first summer road trip in the books it was everything exactly as I expected - unexpected. The first day had us driving through Central Oregon where we made the last minute decision to trail run at Crater lake - It didn't dawn on us until the park entrance that the trails were likely covered in snow and those skis we brought might actually come in handy. So we geared up, took some photos for some tourists and started skinning up the hill. It wasn't more than a 500' slope, but the views of the lake were amazing and skiing with that scenery was certainly a bucket list item I'd had on my mind since I first visited in 2011.
After a few laps, we tested out the free camping website and found a lovely mosquito breeding ground at Eagle Lake and settled into the trunk of Sven, my 2003 Audi sedan, for a restive night on the road.
The next day we only made it a few hours before arriving at Incline village and deciding to do a classic mountain bike ride. Using my amazing power of persuasion, I convinced Marcy that the shuttle to the classic trail was unnecessary so we started slowly spinning our legs in a manic fashion to the epic Flume trail. Unbeknownst to us, the uphill trail was mostly sand and thus not the easiest for bike travel - but if there is one trait we both share, its definitely stubbornness. After receiving a wonderful Facetime call with my sister and 1.5 y/o niece Emma where I got to show Emma the views on my ride, and Emma shared with me the whereabout of all her favorite stuffed animals mostly notably Mr Hippo, we were finally on our way. The trail did not disappoint with amazing views of the lake. We added a loop with part of the Tahoe rim trail that had a really fun descent and then rode the Flume trail again to access the Chimney Beach downhill trail. This ended up making for one of the longest rides I've ever had on a Mt. Bike.
Later that evening we finally rolled into Yosemite Park to find out the campgrounds were full - so we enjoyed a second night working on our best sardine impressions in the back of ol' Sven.
The real adventures started the next day. At 7am we were first inline for a campsite and things were going swimmingly. Then we ventured off to Dozier dome to try a classic 4-pitch 5.6 route. Upon parking, old faithful decided to erupt in Sven's engine, billowing a never ending stream of smoke. After much deliberation with a fellow tourist and seeing that my engine coolant had all but vanished from the engine, I drove the car back to the campsite and settled on asking Matty P and Andrea to bring more coolant and give the car another go the next day. For the remainder of the day Marcy and I did a climb walking distance from the camp, which was the first route ever free climbed in Tuolumne - Lambert Dome's NW Books.
The next day ( Friday June 24th) my plans with Sven backfired as we made it part way to Dozier dome again before the warning indicators started their disco party on my dashboard again. I'll mark it up to being flustered, but I made a u-turn and nearly drove us in a ditch. I got within inches of said ditch and the car couldn't generate power to back-up. When asked by Marcy if I wanted to push, I said, "hell no I ain't getting smushed by this car." Only to later ask Marcy to give it a push when it got a tiny bit of backward momentum. The car then lunged backwards and we were saved from a real bind. Needless to say, I have been anything but commended for my chivalry in this situation. We drove it back to the Tuolumne grill and called AAA from a payphone. The AAA operator had to transfer the case from Northern California to Southern California and in the process order a tow truck driver without being able to contact me. Thirty minutes later, after unloading our car into the campsite the tow truck driver showed up. He was a fiery man from Lee Vining that had much angst against the motorcyclists on the road and his plan was to tow us into Lee Vining where we would than have to figure out our next chess move as his shop didn't work on European cars.
In sharing pleasantries he was very direct that his day was not going well due to the forest fire that started just outside Lee Vining that evening. Lee Vining was a flurry of forest fire commotion with the talk of evacuation mixed with trying to figure out if any shops within several hours drive could look at the car or if we could even find a rental/ Uhaul big enough to fit all our stuff. The general consensus was that we were screwed. Bishop, 60 miles away, was the only real town with rentals and Uhauls and the rental place didn't carry vans, and the U-hauls, well they are U-hauls and they could only rent us a 10' truck. Luckily Marcy also called the one car shop in Mammoth that we were told was closed and they answer - Sven could be looked at Monday.
We chose to have it towed to that shop and walked to the infamous Mobile store where we found a nice man filling up his tank who gave us a ride 30 miles back into the park. At this point we were back in the park and could delay all our worries until Monday when the car realization would come back to bite us.
Saturday we chose to ride the Yosemite "free" shuttle close to Dozier dome, where we could walk a few miles to the base. On boarding the bus we were asked to pay the fair for the free bus which equated to $5 per person or $9 round trip, though there was no ticket of confirmation for the return ride. After holding up the bus for 15 minutes dealing with a bus driver, who was unfortunately put in a crap position by the new bus operators, we begrudgingly paid $4 each toward the round trip and vowed to each other that we would now hitch-hike around the park. We ended up climbing Zee-Tree which was a really fun slab route topping out on Pywiack dome. The route was an endless congo party of climbers so we never made it to Dozier dome before hitching a ride back to camp.
On Sunday we joined Matty P and Andrea for a spectacular hike of Cloud's Rest, which overlooks the Valley and Half-dome from above. It was a tiring 6 hour hike in the heat, but Marcy and I still opted to finally get on Dozier dome afterwards, when the other two had a more sensible plan of going swimming and relaxing.
The route was a single crack system the whole length of the dome that ranged from thin fingers to full body length chimneying. Halfway up the route the exhaustion and heat from the day left us mentally bruised and battered, but we battled through the route. The first two cars when we popped out to the road stopped to give us a ride.
And this brings us to Monday, the day of reckoning. Matty P and Andrea were driving through Mammoth so they took us to the car shop. Once we hit cell coverage we got a VM from the mechanic who said he was able to check out the car on Sunday and had already order the needed part ( which was a busted hose). Given the elderly age of Sven, I had just assumed that hospice care was his best option. We chatted with the mechanic and he was able to get the car up and running by 11 am. I was ( and still am) skeptical that the hose is a secondary issue from something more serious, but we took the car, drove it around town and when nothing broke, we headed back to Tuolumne to get our stuff. The next objective was a 14 thousand foot Mt. Shasta that guarded our drive from Tuolomne to Seattle and only allowed passage with a brief visit to the summit. So we set sail towards Shasta, which lay over 8 hours away through blistering heat and high altitude passes. I gave Sven a 65% chance of 95% shutting down. But at 11:30pm we were at the TH with no major issues
Not having the energy to re-arrange the gear, we opted for a third night in Sven's company and just rolled the seats backs to an extremely uncomfortable 95 degree angle for our 3am wake-up. In one of the slowest displays of ski mountaineering readiness we were on the trail an hour later. Time flew by and by 11 am, we were standing on the summit. Wind kept the snow frozen for the first several thousand feet, but we eventually found the sweet spot of good corn skiing for a few thousand feet before venturing back around the pumice to the trails.
6 hours later we were at Chris's house in Portland and today I'm back at my parents to do laundry and swap some gear for tomorrow's climbing and Mtbiking adventure into the coastal mountains of British Columbia. Unfortunately, I have to leave Sven home from this adventure which saddens me greatly.
Here are some more pictures from the places we ventured to ( and am still working on adding more description and pictures when I can find the time):
Crater Lake: http://www.medicalmooselabs.com/#!crater-lake-ski/ny8p8
Tahoe Flume Trail: http://www.medicalmooselabs.com/#!tahoe-flume/fdxpu