West to east

September 23, 2020 § 12 Comments

The last two days have built my character even more. From my drone-surveilled campsite to Truckee was about ten miles of up and down. After Truckee it was flat for a bit, then up.

The endless climb up to Emerald Bay was worth all the character. Clots of fellow tourists oohed and aahed over the revelation of Lake Tahoe from on high. The traffic was light to nonexistent and for the first time in close to three thousand miles there were no logging trucks or 18-wheelers, and hardly any junk haulers.

I dropped into South Tahoe and then to Meyers; from there I took S. Upper Truckee Road and began scouting for sleeping quarters in earnest. From Truckee the complexion of the route, which from Astoria, Oregon had been rural. The homes ranged from magnificent to palatial, and shitty pick-them-ups vanished, replaced by Rage Rovers, Mercedes, and BMW uber alles. As I rode along I got worried about finding a spot; the riverside was all homes and private land.

After a few miles the homes ended and forest service land began. I found a beautiful site and set up camp. After that I crawled into my tent, exhausted, having started at 8:30 and finished riding at 5:00. Since I have to be back in LA by October 3, the lollygagging has been replaced by the reality of big days with incessant ascending.

With no cell coverage I didn’t even try to blog and used it blissfully as an excuse to turn in. By 6:00 I was in bag.

That’s when I heard the jingling of dogtags. I unzipped the fly and looked out. A nasty woman was filming me with her camera.

“You know it’s illegal to camp here, don’t you?”


“You should. ‘No camping’ signs are everywhere.”

“Everywhere but here.”

“I’m calling the ranger. They kick people out of here all the time.”

“Tell him I said ‘Hi.'”

“You think that’s funny?”

“I think you’re funny.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. Your money is showing. And it has smeared your mascara and stained your heart.”

Then she did something I thought they only did in books. She actually shook her fist at me.

“Night!” I said, and zipped back up, knowing that there wasn’t a USFS ranger in California working past 6:00 pm.

Nonetheless I made sure to start early the next day and was rolling by eight. The road turned into an immediately ugly climb, the steepest I can remember since the Lost Coast debacle. I got to the top and climbed again for mile after character-building mile. By 10:30 I was in Markleeville, where I second breakfasted on Ben & Jerry’s, and resupplied my dwindling food cache.

This was a perfect time to add ten pounds of cargo because I was at the beginning of the climb to Monitor Pass. It was hard beyond belief, 17 miles of hard climbing, two of which I had to paperboy. It took a little over two character-filled hours.

The descent was faster and more exhilarating than Lassen but nowhere nearly as pretty. I was busting 50 mph in places, and blew down the ten miles to US 395. I was now on the eastern side of the Sierras, where it was blazing hot, I was almost out of water, and was now pedaling into a headwind so stiff I could barely make 5 mph for several miles.

I reached Walker dehydrated and destroyed, stopping at a county park to eat and drink. I had two English muffins with pb, then finished off the fake Oreos, a pack of Hostess Donettes, and a pint of milk.

Reinvigorated, I found that the headwind had gone to bed and I was again pedaling uphill through a canyon. It was cool and gorgeous, rocky and stark after the lushness of the western slope. By 4:30 I was thinking camp, so I pulled off and found a spot under the pines not too far from the river.

It didn’t take long to fry up the rest of the bacon, boil coffee, and go to bag. Tomorrow more character is on order. Tioga Pass is open and it looks like I’ll get to ride back over the spine of the Sierras onto the Western slope.

More character, doubtless.


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§ 12 Responses to West to east

  • Brian Keller says:

    This right here, “Your money is showing. And it has smeared your mascara and stained your heart.” Is the content I pay for! Not only is your character being built, so is your ability to find just the right words. I mean, you got a fist shaken at you!

    It’s a wonder she didn’t jump your bones, man.

    Stay safe, Seth. Thanks for the update!

  • tjc says:

    Those Karens are everywhere. But why was she wearing dog-tags? Are they getting militarized? Good god…you were wise not to reveal your true identity, Commander S’mores.

  • I’ve traveled some of those routes, and you’re definitely in for some more character building. Have a good ride!

  • Margaret Smiddy says:

    The Eastern Sierras are so beautiful and there might be some fall color up in the canyons. I don’t know what your ride schedule is like but Lundy canyon is a nice little spot.

  • Winty Singh says:

    Emerald Bay is gorgeous — one of my favorite parts of riding around Lake Tahoe (especially in the early morning).

    The level of angry entitlement of people who bought their way in to the area to keep others out is going to ruin it all.

    • Anonymous says:

      Level of entitlement is not what drives them. They have money, it’s a beautiful place, the price of real estate has been driven up, that attracts people that have money, and they are shallow folks who want to keep the riffraff out. They don’t feel entitled. They feel titled.

  • LesB says:

    “The deast is in her heart”

  • I am pretty sure the foundation of the road up to Tioga Pass is nothing but shattered character. I sure hope you get an early start up that bugger, because the wind howls down it, and it is a very very long climb. Beautiful once you get through and into Upper Yosemite.

  • RGT says:

    What!… you have to be back in LA?

    • hughbike says:

      Me too! Here I was expecting an eastbound detour across the desert en route to Awe-Stin…wha’ happened? Remember: ^^^ this here trip/blog/character-building *IS* life!

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