Just finished my first full day of bike touring! Before you say, "Congrats! When are you getting to Argentina?" I have to get something off my back. I fell. There, I said it. I got it out of the way now while we're training in California. Scrapes and bruises are all part of the plan.
Our training trip hasn't been quite what we expected, but it certainly has been incredible. Some friends dropped us off on Saturday at the Onion Valley trailhead in the Eastern Sierras. We locked our bikes up behind a big boulder and crossed our fingers that they would still be there in a few days, then we hit the trail. With snowshoes and ice axes in our packs, you know, just in case. Within ten minutes we were postholing in three feet of snow. The trail was lost, to be gained a few days later on the way back. "So that's where the trail goes! Oh, and look at our tracks up that steep hill over there. Huh." The cold continued that night with a snowstorm, but we were unfazed. The snow in the morning is much firmer, a pro of those freezing nights, so the going was much easier. We managed to sidehill the steep, snowy slope to Kearsarge Pass, ice axes in hand, and gained the pass by noon the next day. We had hiked four arduous miles in roughly seven hours. We reevaluated the original 80-mile plan and decided to spend the next two days around the Bullfrog Lake area, what would turn out to be two days of ineffable beauty, numbing cold, and another nerve-wracking traverse of Kearsarge Pass. I wish I could post a picture that sums it all up, perhaps the one of Tam standing next to a trail sign, the usually torso-high placard barely visible in the snow at her feet!
The road we took down out of the mountains, the Onion Valley road, was one of the most incredible rides either of us had done. It took us from snowy spires down to the desert, the floor of the Owens Valley, in about thirty minutes. I did my best to redirect my eyes from the incredible views to the road, and I guess I succeeded because hey, I'm still here writing this, but believe me it was tough! We spent the night next to a burbling rill at a campground in Lone Pine and woke up early to hit the road to Inyokern. All went well, except for the afore-mentioned crash and the heat. I know it's only April, but good lord was it hot! 90, to be exact. The contrast of having been snowshoeing just a few nights before was not lost on us. Upon arriving in Inyokern, our final destination, we immediately went to the store and split a quart of ice cream. In case you're curious about the nutritional value of our little snack (I was), the numbers for each of us came to 900 calories and 120% of our saturated fat for the day. To that, I give a half-sarcastic YUM! Unlike Tam, I at least waited a few hours after that to have dinner. She was still hungry. And this is after two days of biking. I'm actually worried about how much food we're going to consume daily throughout our Alaska-Argentina trip. But it's hard to worry about anything right now while I'm watching the sunset in this park in Inyokern, this comfortable patch of greenery among the harsh desert world.