Thursday, July 10, 2008

Adrian's Tour Divide

My friend Adrian just finished the Tour Divide race, a bike ride along the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. That's a long time in the saddle. Congrats Adrian!

Adrian writes:

[These photos were] taken along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico (border of Mexico) from June 13 to July 7. This is the longest mountain bike route in the world at 2711 miles with 200,000 ft of climbing. But don't worry, half of it was downhill :-) My odometer clocked it at 2830 miles with the one detour I had in Grand Teton National Park to go to a bike shop for repairs, and the many times I made a wrong turn along the way. 15 riders lined up in Banff to race the route, 14 guys and one girl. 6 guys dropped out, 6 guys finished so far, and 3 riders are still riding in the monsoonal rains of July in New Mexico.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mineral King

Lost Canyon with a view of Sawtooth Peak

Mineral King is one of the least visited parts of Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park, tucked away east of Fresno at the end of a serpentine road. From Three Rivers CA, you drive 23 miles — and most of an hour — gaining 6,000 feet to a parking area in alpine meadows. (The parking lot looks like an auto-show. Everyone's hoods are propped up to keep marmots from getting trapped inside and wrecking the engine).

Peaceful Meadow

For the 4th of July weekend, our 30 mile loop took us over the Great Western Divide twice, over two high mountain passes, through meadows with braided streams, past remote lakes and nonstop views.

The meadow pictured above was so surreal, it looked like some kind of manicured golf course.

Our Camp by Columbine Lake

On the second day, we stopped by 2pm so we could set up camp and take it easy by an alpine lake. We took in the evening light show with some hot chocolate, and then directed our attention to the sky for the stars to emerge.

Climbing Sawtooth Pass

Our final climb was 11,630' Sawtooth Pass. The morning light was unusual and then we began to smell forest fires burning to the east.

Atop Sawtooth Pass

We only met a few other backpackers out there, and camped in areas out of reach of mosquitoes. A holiday weekend well spent.

Arriving at Columbine

In the 1960s, the area was going to be made into a 'Second Tahoe' ski resort developed by Disney. Fortunately it remains mostly inaccessible and pristine today. Here are some more details about the scrapped project and other vintage Sky Crown logo concepts.

And if you need a real-time vacation, here's a link to the Mineral King webcam.