Day 22: Lake Tahoe, CA to Silver Lake, CA

Friday 9/30

We left Lake Tahoe and headed over Monitor Pass (8,314 ft) towards the north-south artery of Highway 395.

Rain was in the forecast, but for the time being the fall weather was agreeable.

We stopped in Markleeville for breakfast. Only after we placed our order and took our place at an outdoor table did we notice the road construction/destruction taking place across the street.

At first it wasn’t bad, but as more equipment fired up the noise and filth increased dramatically. Wayne was chatting with a BMW guy on a road tour — he said that as dirtbikers we must’ve felt right at home with the dust cloud that started to envelope us.

Ordinarily I would’ve been disappointed that of all the quaint towns we could’ve stopped at for our rare restaurant meal we had to pick this place, but there was one unusual upside:

You are looking at the tannest Workman’s Crack ever documented. This man is no slacker; his daily commitment to his job coupled with his unwillingness to cinch his belt a notch or two tighter had yielded a gold-medal “slot” tan.

Another upside of this place was the opportunity to chat with a bike tourer who was taking break. He started in Reno and was heading back there.

I had seen quite a few of these guys and gals along narrow stretches of road with semis and RVs inches away from taking them out. I asked if it was stressful for him. He confirmed it was and that although the California section was supposed to be awesome, he didn’t like it because there were so many roads with no shoulder. This type of touring seems like an undertaking in fatigue and despair; at least on a motorcycle you can feel like crap but still cover a lot of miles as long as you can maintain a grip and keep your eyes open.

He told us about a web site called warmshowers.org where bike tourists could find places to stay for free (courtesy of other bike tourists). I don’t know if there’s a comparable site for dualsporters, but it’s a great idea (that is, until yours is the house that gets trashed).

After Markleeville we continued on to the 395. We hopped on it briefly before cutting over to a dirt road that paralleled the highway through the mountains. It was a scenic way to bypass a chunk of the 395.

We got back on the 395 for another short stretch before turning off on a dirt road that headed towards Twin Lakes. A recent lightning strike had burned 1,100 acres. They had just gotten the fire under control and reopened the road.

The road heading to Buckeye Hot Spring was well maintained. If we were into hot springs we would’ve made a side trip, but we weren’t so we didn’t.

Just as we reached Bridgeport the drops started coming down so we pulled into a parking lot and hustled to get on our rain gear. Wayne gave his sign of disapproval at the change in weather.

Our original plan was to check out Mono Lake, but the rain told us to keep moving. It was late afternoon and our primeval desire to find shelter had kicked in so we kept pushing on towards the June Lake Loop.

At 7,100 feet with gusty winds, it felt like we had leapfrogged past autumn into winter. Only the snow was missing.

Since it was Friday night, we took the first available camp site we could find at Silver Lake. Even though the weekend weather was supposed to be unsettled (possible wind gusts of 80 mph on the ridge!), the campground was still nearly full.

Cold or not, we walked over to the little market to buy our afternoon ice cream. It gave us a chance to stop at the lake’s edge and watch the boaters bob around in the white-capped waters.

————

Day 22 overview: 141 miles

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