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This is the second «part» of my trip from Montreal to Death Valley that I've separated in two to give more details, even though It's all part of the same trip. It includes my time along the coast on Highway 101 and National 1 from Port Angeles to San Francisco and the crossing of Sierra Nevada through Tioga Pass.


On the coast, the way to go is heading south: the winds are insane, and I cannot imagine someone going north.


Port Angeles to San Francisco  

Some riders go inland through Seattle and skip west's nature. If you like cities, it's probably a great choice; if not, the way to go is west, following Highway 101. There's not much over there besides many national parks and forests in Washington State. It's beautiful. However, do not expect to see the ocean too soon; 101 doesn't follow the coast; it goes back and forth to the shore and land. 

Once you hit Oregon, things change, and you'll see more water and heaps of lovely little towns. There's also a 4-mile-long bridge to cross before entering the state; it can be stressful (narrow shoulders and lots of log truckers) but very manageable. It goes on like this until Brookings (very cool), and the scenery only improves. There are also dunes near Florence. After Crescent City, it's the Redwoods, and I strongly recommend entering Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and staying overnight if you can. After that, Eureka and the Avenue of Giants. 


Things get interesting in Leggett, where 101 splits into 101 and National, an absolute scenic highway. Cars drive slowly, and the view is just incredible. The road is so windy, and the hills are infinite. It's constant up and down. There are only a few cute towns (besides Fort Brag) and many camping. Highway 1 is definitely in a strong position among my most memorable rides. I recommend following it to San Francisco. I remember the climbs after Stinson Beach; it was one of my best moments!

I  crossed Golden Gate under great fog on the 4th of July, so I went to Pier 39 to get the feeling of this beautiful American day. Good luck climbing Lombards Street from the west. Downtown Union Square is among the lovely places to go. To leave the city when heading east (Yosemite, in my case), the best way is to take the ferry to Oakland, skipping all the endless streets. After Livermore, it's the Central Valley, and the temperature can get high. Then, it's Sierra Nevada! 



San Francisco to Panamint Springs 


Before leaving San Francisco, I didn't know what was coming. Sierra Nevada is quite something. 


The climbing starts right before Groveland, a tiny town on 120, and the last one before entering the park. It's a difficult and long climb but lots of fun. You can choose your way; there's windy 120 (more accessible) and one that goes straight up the hill. I saw a bunch of cars struggling with their brakes. But once you're up there, the air is more relaxed, and you can smell the pines. Riding becomes pure joy. 

The park has an entrance fee, but they don't usually charge bicycles when the lady lets me pass. Once you turn towards the valley, it's a nice long downhill with tunnels and viewpoints! There are no words to describe this place, and it's probably why a writer like John Muir spent so much time there.

You have to go to the Half Dome Village towards the backpacker campground (next to Lower Pines campground). You're allowed to camp one night, and it's self-registration (they take it very seriously). But if you leave in the morning and come back at night, they won't notice. 


I did the 4-mile trail up to Glacier Point. You can ride up there, but you'll have to leave the valley first. It's an easy trail, and you can see everything from there. There's no need to worry about supplies here... There's food in the valley and a gas station right before entering. 

From the valley to Tioga Pass, it's 100km and 2590m of climbing. Then, 980m down to Lee Vining and Mono Lake (2.5 times saltier than the ocean), I arrived exhausted and hungry after screaming for a few minutes at high speed. Quite a happy day. It's a great road. You can see Half Dome from the other side, Tuolumne Meadows, many lakes, etc. Everything is unique, everything surprising and beautiful. 

While the mountains are white and green, it's dry and brown down the other side. In the high-altitude desert, riding 395 is quite dramatic. You look left and then right, and the scenery changes completely. I wasn't expecting that, and it keeps going until Lone Pine, where 136 takes you to 190, the Death Valley. 

There, I had to change my plans. I wanted to reach Las Vegas, but at 50˚c, I wasn't willing. Too hot with too many hills. I couldn't rest during the day because of the sun and the heat, making me too tired to ride at night. With almost no money left, I decided to head back where I came from, to Panaminttoprings, and it was the end of this ride. I took the train to LA, where I flew back to Montreal. 



Lone Pine 


I didn't know of Mount Whitney's existence then, nor its «importance» since it's the highest in the contiguous US. After my unexpected return from the death Valley I thought «why not?». You need a permit to make the ascent, either a day or overnight permit available online and delivered at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Centre. I got lucky. Lots of people had cancelled their permits because of the amount of snow - a guy had died three weeks earlier. So, I got my overnight permit and went straight to a backpack rental shop. 

There are single-night camping sites at the portal right beside the trail's starting point. A nice guy I met during my breakfast offered to take me up there with my bike while he would take care of my gear. There's a little cafe and shop where you can eat and maybe buy some equipment you missed during preparation. 

The trail is about 11 miles and 1900m of elevation gain with 3 «campsites» where you can spend the night - even though I saw many people camping at Lone Pine Lake. People fear the most the 99 (if my memory is good) switchbacks a couple of miles before the top. Day hikers were leaving at midnight to get back in time. I wasn't in a hurry, so I left at 7h15 and made it to the top at 12h45; I took the cleats off my cycling shoes to hike, which made the whole harder - they came back wholly destroyed. I wouldn't recommend doing this to anyone; my legs hurt a lot at the end. But since it was the trip's end, I wasn't apprehensive. 

The trail is good exercise but not technical, even though many people asked me about all sorts of equipment I didn't even know the existence of. It was lots of fun! 


Mt Whitney
Ancre 1


I'm quite a fan of numbers and for no particular reason. Since I was a child, I like to measure things. Each time I tell someone about my trip, I know all the questions they will ask: 

Duration: 60 days 

Rest: 10 days 

Mileage: about 8000km 

Longest day: 295km 

Shortest day: 60km 

Average: 133km overall / 150km on the bike 

Hotels: 5 days 

Warmshowers: 6 days 

Wild camping: 50 days  

Antoine de St. Exupéry used to say that people ask for numbers because they think they will know the person better. And so we ask: 


«How old are you?»


And never:


«Do you like butterflies?»


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