Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sequoia National Park and 21 New Friends

Sean and I left Lake Kaweah around 9:30. We stopped in Three Rivers to shop and post a blog. Sean had more to do so I headed out on my own knowing I had a lot of climbing to do. Before too long I came to the entrance station for Sequoia National Park. This is my first National Park of the trip.

After I paid my $10 entrance fee, it was onto the climb. And climb I did! I stopped at the Foothills Visitor Center, checked out the center, wet down my buff and refilled my body and my bottles with water. It was very hot!

I climbed for a long time. I knew there was road construction ahead that was causing one hour delays. After about 3 1/2 hours I made it to the construction only to find out that I could not ride through. I would have to hitch a ride with someone who could carry me AND Stella. I got there at 4:10. At the time there were not many cars and nothing suitable to ferry me through the construction. I went up to ask Anthony, the flagger, what I would do if no one could take me through. As I approached him, I saw two pickup trucks parked on the side of the road. I asked Anthony who those trucks belonged to. One was his and the other one belonged to Duane. I asked Anthony if Duane could take me through. He said I had to ask Duane. So I said, "Duane, could you please please please take me and my bike through the construction?" he was not on duty until 6:00 (he got there early) so he said he would take me through. WHEW! I was getting a little nervous!

Duane was fabulous! He not only took me through, but pointed out all the great things to see and told me some of the history of the road and of his family. He was a very fascinating guy and I was lucky to have him be the one to take me through. He is my hero!

After Duane dropped Stella and I off, I continued to ride toward Lodgepole Campground. There was still quite a lot of climbing, but to see the beautiful Sequoias was worth the climb. They are so so huge! The bark almost doesn't look real! I took a number of pictures along the way.

I finally pulled into Lodgepole at 7:15. The sign said the campground was full, but they always reserve a couple of sites for cyclists or hikers. The ranger put me in site 27 (my favorite number!!!). As I rode toward my site, the people in the site across from mine were applauding. As soon as I pulled into my site one of the people from the group came over and said they were a tour group from Slovenia. They wanted me to join them for dinner. Of course I said yes! I quickly pulled out my jacket and pants (it was a little chilly there--my campsite still had a huge pile of snow!). I went over to their site and they made room for me at their table. I had delicious meat (pork and beef) as well as tomatoes, bread and pineapple. There were 21 of them in the group doing a tour of the National Parks of California. Their tour leader was Uros. They all made me feel welcome and we had great conversation (yes, even with Slokos --not sure of the spelling). Slokos was the "boss". I thoroughly enjoyed bantering with him. He couldn't quite fathom why I would want to do this ride without my husband and why my husband would give me "permission". Jan was the "brain" of the group. He was pretty knowledgeable of America. There were five married couples (Slokos and his wife being one) and ten singles with Uros as there leader. It was Uros birthday and they had a celebration planned for him. First they made him a cake of snow. Then they made a cake of pineapple and bananas with candles in it. Then they brought out a real chocolate cake. However, before cake, they had a special plan for Uros. You see, Uros is a little lacking in the hair department. For his birthday, the group gave him some hair. First they blindfolded him. Then they put shaving cream all over his head. To the shaving cream they stuck clumps of green lichen. Then they added clips and curlers and a headband. He looked AWESOME! they took the blindfold off and gave him a mirror. I think he thought he looked pretty good! It was great fun! Then we had cake. They insisted I have two pieces! I bade them all goodnight and went to set up my camp. In the morning two of the guys invited me to breakfast. I finally agreed and had a nice hot breakfast. It only takes all 21 of them one hour to break camp and move on!

After a couple more pictures, I was on my way. I stopped at the Lodgepole Visitor's Center because I had heard a pass I need to go over after Yosemite (Tioga Pass) is closed. I wanted them to show me an alternate route on my CA map. They said Toulomne Meadows is also still closed (tons of snow this year). So, I have my detour route planned. Coincidentally, when I got to Grant Grove today (where I am staying), I met two German boys who are going south and did the detour I'm planning. I still have to go over a pass (Sonora), but it is open.

Today was a relatively short day. I've been able to do some laundry and rest some. This plan of not taking a day off until Yosemite was, perhaps, not the best idea. Oh well, I'll get a good night's sleep and be ready to ride again tomorrow. Yosemite is only 3 days away. I'll have a rest day there.

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