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Destination Montana Day 9 (South lake Tahoe CA to Bridgeport CA)

Lets roll the clock back a bit to late yesterday afternoon…. When we arrived in south lake Tahoe the temperate was in the mid 80’s so we promptly turned on the AC unit in our room after unloading all of our gear.  Later in the evening, when it started to cool off, we opened up the window as well.  Right about the time that we dosed off the temperature in the room was perfect.. so we left the AC on and the window open as we drifted off to sleep.  What we didn’t realize is that the temperature would drop to the low 40’s during the night so leaving the window on and the AC running wasn’t the brightest idea.. but we really didn’t think about it because we dozed off without a second thought.

The next morning we woke up to a room that was about the correct temperature to store meat. All three of us during the night had become cold and had piled on extra bed covers.. but for some reason none of us remembered that the window was open.. or that we should turn off the AC. (Guess it was one of those things where you wake up about 1/2 way and realize it’s cold but as soon as you put on more covers you fall asleep and don’t think about what is causing the room to be freezing). In the morning we all had a good laugh at our collective stupidity.

So…after thawing out a bit we geared up and headed out of South Lake Tahoe south on hwy 50 at about 7:00 AM.

 

Our ride for today will take us over the sierras… twice! We plan on riding west over the sierras via Ebbetts pass, then we will cross back over to the east side of the Sierras via Sonora pass which will take us towards Bridgeport.

It was 42 degrees so we all were layered up pretty good. About 10 miles out of Tahoe we headed southeast on hwy 89.

 

After a short while we passed through the town of Markeleville towards hwy 4 which would lead us up and over Ebbetts pass to the west side of the Sierras.

 

The ride on hwy 4 over Ebbetts pass was absolutely amazing. The road started out nice and mellow but eventually thinned out to a single lane road with tons of twists and turns. Many of the turns were really tight 180’s where you would enter the turn and and as you continued thorugh the turn the back side would tighten up and rise to a 25% grade.  Many of the turns had loose rock and rubble laying in the road so we had to be careful. The pictures shown below don’t even come close to showing how tight and twisty the road was (I couldn’t take pictures on the twisty stuff.. had to have two hands on the bars.)  I do have a bit of video of riding the pass and I’ll try to post a video summary of the day’s ride that includes the video.

 

 

After about 30 minutes of climbing and only coming across a handful of vehicles, we headed over the Ebbetts pass and along a couple of incredible alpine lakes.

 

Just beyond the lakes to the west, hwy 4 starts to descend down to the west side of the sierras. I think the total mileage of hwy 4 as is traverses the sierras is something like 80 miles.  During the descent on the west side you ride through the Calaveras Big Tree state park where the trees are HUGE!

Ebbetts pass was an absolutely incredble ride on a motorcycle… I did a horrible job of conveying the nature of the ride with the pictures, but trust me… if you own a motorcycle this is definately a ride to put on the must do list.

After traversing hwy 4 over the sierras we ended up in the town of Angels camp where Mike, Debbie and I grabbed some lunch and then continued south to the town of Sonora where the traffice was really bad. The town itself was really quaint and charming but the traffic was pretty brutal. It was complete grid lock through town and we sat in a line of cars moving at barely a crawling speed for about 10 minutes or so. The temperature had climbed to about 95 degrees so we were pretty hot as we moved through town.  Funny to think that this morning it was 42 degrees and it was now 95 degrees… a 53 degree temperature swing in just a few hours.

 

Just south of Sonora we headed west on hwy 108 that would take us up and over the Sierra and dump us out on hwy 395, on the east side of the Sierras, not far from the town of Bridgeport which was our desitination for the day.

The lower part of hwy 108 brought us through rolling foothills with oaks and vast grasslands. 

 

The scenery was nice but along this stretch we were hung up by many slow moving cars. Actually we had been slowed down by many slow moving cars on the last stretch of Ebbetts pass as well. What was really frustrating is that every car we encountered and try to pass would not move over in their lane and let us by.. under any circumstances. Every time we would come up to a vehicle the driver would see us and would ignore the fact that we wanted to pass. This was the exact opposite of what we encountered in Montana and Idaho where every car we came upon would simply scoot over a bit in their lane and let us pass. One can’t expect everyone to move over and let others pass (that kind of perspective is pretty self centered) but you would think that at least one person would move over every now and then.  Nope.. not a chance. The bottom line is that the stereotype that California drivers as A-holes was proven over and over today. (Then again.. maybe I am proving that we were the A-holes because we felt we had a right to pass poeple from time to time…)  Either way my comment that California drivers are A-holes is correct becuase both our motorcycles and every care we passed had California plates.

After a short session of being slowed down by car after car, we were able to open things up again about 10 miles into hwy 180 which was now taking us back into lush pine forests towards Sonora pass.

 

The first 80% of the hwy as it traveled east consisted of flowing gently meandering corners that allowed us to maintain a pretty good pace. It was a lot of fun to swing back and forth on the hwy through the forest and rocky terrain as we ascended higher and higher towards the pass.

 

 

Before we know it we were at 9600 feet and at the top of the pass.

 

I’m thinking there are some seriously steep turns up ahead…. 26% grade is no joke.

 

Just as anticipated, there were some crazy steep and tight turns on the descent, but most of it consisted of pretty mellow corners and undulating terrain that clung to the side of pretty steep drop offs.

 

Once again.. these pictures just don’t do the ride justice. The ride was an absolute blast and the road was off the hook beautiful.. something that I just couldn’t capture while taking pictures in motion on my motorcycle.

About 15 minutes later we dropped to about 7,000 feet and road along a long valley that was taking over to hwy 395.

 

We intersected hwy 395 and headed south towards the town of Bridgeport.. which is where we are right now.. staying in the Ruby Inn. Bridgeport sits in the middle of huge high altitude valley where there is endless grassland for miles and miles.

 

 

FYI.. here’s a video that shows some images (and video) of the day’s trip ..

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