Traveling on the Edge of a Primal Reality

Day 18

DAY 18: September 12, 2011 (Monday)

Bridgeport, California to McGee Campground, California near Crowley Lake: 60 miles (716 thus far)

Left motel at 6:50 AM, prior to sunrise. Practically no traffic this far out in the boonies as I head up the grade to Conway Summit, 13 miles distant and nearly 2,000 vertical feet higher, at 8,139 feet elevation. The sun is once again shining, with scattered clouds making for a picture-perfect view of my surroundings. Low gears to summit. A Mexican family stopped ahead and awaited my arrival, intent on learning all about my trike and what I’m doing out here. They were very friendly, and the dad wanted to take a photo of his young daughter standing next to me. I had to do two things though: reach the summit and take a pee, so after a pleasant time of discussion, I said my goodbyes and they drove on while I found a perfect place to offload my water behind some boulders. It took me about three and a half hours to pedal from Bridgeport to Conway Summit, the other side of which is a 4 mile thrill ride at 6% downgrade … talk about fast! And what incredible views of Mono Lake on the way down. Motorists love the show. Ate lunch in front of a Lee Vining market … the usual stuff, of course. On this stretch of 395, my shoulder was often wider than the automobile lanes by a wide margin, enough for 3 or 4 trikes to ride abreast at times. Lots of varied terrain: up, down, and flat. Wondering if today’s afternoon weather pattern was going to follow the past two days of afternoon drenchings, I had been keeping the fires burning and the pedals turning, attempting to outrun the highest elevations before I got soaked yet again. Well, today, it clouded up, and I figured I was doomed once more, but the trike gods were with me, and all I got was a 15 minute hailstorm … no rain at least! Fortunately, the hail was not large. Stopped at a very nice roadside rest just north of Mammoth Lakes a few miles, ate a bar, drank and refilled my water supplies, and left an offering in the men’s room. South of Mammoth and the Devil’s Postpile, I began my usual late afternoon ritual of searching out a suitable locale to pitch my tent. Not much was coming up along the highway, and I wasn’t about to turn off the road and ride a few miles off my route to a secluded campground. Near the north end of Crowley Lake, I came upon, as if by a smile of those same trike gods, McGee Campground, a private campground that was very nice, very beautiful, with nice people running it in a little log cabin, and even ice cream bars for only a dollar! Needless to say, I grabbed up one of their last spots for a tent, right next to a raging creek called McGee. Safe yet again! I came up with a little rhyme: “Pedal when you have the mettle; Coast when you’re toast.”