A lesson we learned quickly during this trip: whenever you see a river crossing on the map, you can expect to climb. The San Joaquin was no different, and by 10am I had wrung the sweat out of my gloves during the steep climb up from the valley. It wasn’t a scorcher but with little air movement and no shade we had gotten off to a sweaty start to the day. Today is our last climb from the valley up into the Sierra Nevada’s which is exciting though!
Before setting off this morning, we focused on securing reservations in San Francisco, which is how we justified getting a late start for such a difficult day of riding. On the way out of town we stopped at a market where we bought supplies, including a 2lb package of knock-off Oreo’s, most of which Rachel carried up the big climb of the morning.
Around 5pm we arrived at Fish Camp, just outside the South entrance to Yosemite. Our options were to spend the night there, or continue to the valley, where we would definitely have a spot at the designated backpacker (and bikepacker) site. We wouldn’t get there until well after dark, though, so we checked a few campsites and motels, but they were all full or overpriced. As a result, we chose the latter option and pointed our wheels up the gradual 2,000′ climb.
As expected, we made it to the top just after dark and began descended into the valley. We missed out on some great scenery once again (especially when the first view of the valley opens up after passing through a long tunnel), but the riding was very comfortable and, when we weren’t being passed by a long string of traffic, serene.
Judging by the number of signs warning visitors about bears, we thought we might see one while cruising along the river to the east end of the valley. For better or worse, we didn’t see anything, though. Instead, we saw some lights up on El Capitan, which must have been climbers spending the night or finishing their day’s journey in the dark.
In camp, we shared a bear box with Roberto from Chicago, who just finished a multi-day backpacking and fishing trip throughout the park. It sounds like it was amazing; we would love to come back in the future to do something similar! After trading stories with Roberto, we had a quick dinner and then fell asleep while gazing up at the stars. Supposedly there was a meteor shower, but we were more interested in getting to sleep. Tomorrow will be a rest day, but we sadly set our alarms for 4:30am so that we could get a site at the first-come-first-serve campsite for tomorrow night!
Trip stats, to date (Day 87)
Auberry, CA to Yosemite Village, CA
Daily mileage: 74.7 mi ; Trip total to date: 5,186.7mi
Daily riding time: 7hr 37min; Trip total time: 452hr 01min
Daily ascent: 8,730 ft; Trip total ascent: 270,239 ft
Flat tires: Rachel – 4; Chris – 6