OCT. 8th 2021 - Bishop, CA. Tri County Fairground
We rolled out of the shop early on Thursday, and headed north -- eventually following the iconic Highway 395 to Bishop, Ca. nestled at the end of the Owens Valley. Every year this sleepy town hosts the Ventura Motorcycle Club's multi-day dual sport event right at the sprawling Tri County Fairgrounds.
We setup the box van, offering our typical onsite-bike services to riders as they arrived and settled down for a long weekend of adventures.
OCT. 9th 2021 - Coyote Mountain & Papoose Flats
Friday arrived crisp and overcast, the first rumblings of distant autumn storms wreathing the crown-like peaks of the surrounding mountains. Excited, we geared up, and rolled out of town heading southwest, Coyote Mountain and the Sugarloaf practically calling our names.
It started to rain as we hit dirt, and spirits were high as we blazed across the desert floor the storms creeping into the basin around Bishop. Temperatures dropped rapidly, even as we began a climb up into the mountains.
Wild weather was on the horizon.
Rain turned to sleet, and sleet turned to large wet flakes of snow - the storm had swallowed us and was providing white-out conditions. A few stops to warm our hands, to debate our sanity, and to check our navigation as the world became blanketed in snow.
Roads had disappeared and we'd long left behind the other groups of riders that turned back as the storm escalated.
After a few hours in the clouds, exploring a winter wonderland, we began our descent -- as we dropped down the flurry of snow turned to an impenetrable wall of frigid fog. We creeped along unable to see more than a few feet past our front fenders, cautiously finding our way down the steep mountain.
We rolled into the Alabama Hills with a sense of relief and excitement, at this edge of the storm the sun was shining clear and warm. Our numbness receded and we hurried on across the few miles of desert to Big Pine.
We had a quick lunch at Coppertop BBQ (the chance to dry-off and warm up was welcome) and a refuel before we turned our eyes eastward to the towering sentinels of the White Mountains. We climbed up to Squaw and Papoose Flats, enjoying the vistas and terrain before our group split up heading back down the mountains on separate routes.
After arriving back at the Tri County Fairgrounds we helped a few riders sort out issues with their tires, mousses, and tubes -- and generally supported anyone that was in need of a little help.
OCT. 10th 2021 - The Buttermilk Mountains & Woodcutters Trail
Saturday dawned with clear a clear blue sky and warmer temperatures. After helping out a few people, and answering a few questions we made a late start -- this time running for the Buttermilk Mountains to the west of Bishop. These jagged peaks are iconic, and a stunning backdrop to any adventure.
Wending our way into the scenic foothills surrounded on all sides by stunning high-desert vistas.
It was hard not to stop as every new turn in the track brought new surprises and endless opportunities for pictures.
We passed through stunning stands of golden trees and made our way right up against the base of the snow capped mountains, a surreal start to our morning.
We even discovered a natural motocross track and spent some time hitting jumps, and railing sandy berms while bouldering rock-climbers watched from afar (they were probably jealous we were having such a great time!).
After a few hours of play riding on the sandy tracks in the desert, we made our way back through town, stopping for a little gas and a snack before running up Silver Canyon.
We'd missed out on a section in the White Mountains the previous day, and felt determined to catch as much trail as we could.
Silver Canyon - it may have abrupt elevation change, but that poses less difficulty to a two-wheeled vehicle than it does for a 4WD. Still, we didn't quite account for the temperature change as you climb almost 10,000ft up switchbacks at a steep angle.
The bitter cold was unpleasant, but we made our way up into the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest high above and met some friends at the peak while we warmed our fingers up for a few minutes discussing the route and the sights.
Up here we were riding in sub 33F temps -- and there was a wind-chill on top of everything else. Our hands and faces were freezing, and frigid air bit right through our gear as we took in the humbling vistas of Owens Valley and the Sierra Nevada.
We made a short quick loop around the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest -- all we could manage in the cold -- before descending down past Schulman Grove to great a section of single-track called Woodcutters Trail, which we were able to follow all the way down to the desert floor.
It was a long weekend, with over 200 miles logged, countless amazing views, wild weather, and good times with friends.
Couldn't have been better!
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