Yosemite Trekker @ thecityedition.com ----- Post #18 - June 15, 2010
Secret rendezvous. This quiet, undisturbed spot is located on a dirt rode running east-west between the bike path behind the Ahwahnee and the walking bridge that accesses the North Pines campground.
Bike Trek 2 - East Side of Yosemite Valley
Since the journey we're about to take nearly traces a circle, you can start at one of two points. Either Curry Village or the Ahwahnee Hotel - take your pick. Although it's basically flat terrain we're crossing here, the wind and steep grades are not too much of a consideration. However, the easier route leaves from Curry. It's probably a little faster, too, but a fast finish time might actually be a disadvantage in a place like this.
On the road to Happly Isles. Southside Drive gets a lot of foot traffic in summer since it leads to the the Half Dome trailhead. It's also adjacent to two of the Pines campgrounds.
This dispatch starts from Curry Village along Southside Drive, heading east. On most days you'll find a lot of walkers headed up Southside Drive towards Happy Isles and the Half Dome trail, especially early in the morning. This road also takes hikers and the shuttle up to Mirror Lake. Fortunately, cars get detoured north before the trailhead parking lot, so pretty soon bikers like you and hikers will have the road all to yourself.
There's a paved path running parallel to the road, I should note. And if they see you in front of them, impatient shuttle bus drivers are known for pointing out this fact on their loudspeakers . But, hey, that path makes for a bumpy ride due to years of frost heave, so why put up with the grief? Depending on the foot traffic and other factors, I tend to weave between the road and the path. I'm not the only one making these strategic decisions, either.
Right of Way. After so many generations, the mild-mannered mule deer of Yosemite are more or less habituated to the presence of humans. Once I rode right into four deer parked on a narrow dirt path near a campground and we all stopped within a few feet of each other. They were nice about it, too, moving to their right and passing down the path in single file. I moved to their left and went on my way. Yes, just another day in a national park.
As you ride down the road towards the east end of the valley, you'll see the Big Pine campground. There's also the little bits of color rising out of the ground (in early summer), along with the occasional furry rodent.
Cruisin' by. Top left photo shows the Lower Pines campground from Southside Drive. (Sometimes I get confused about the three campgrounds, since they're all adjacent to one another.) If you want privacy and quiet at night, try one of the campgrounds outside the valley.
And then there are the things you don't expect to see...
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