For me this trip reports actually should start back in June when my wife Toni and I went out to Bridgeport California located on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We were able to map out both a SUV trial and a moderate to easy 4wd trail from Bridgeport Reservoir to Mono Lake. For most of us this trip started early Friday morning. For me that meant 4:30am checking road conditions since a winter storm came through Thursday night. Wouldnâ€™t you know it, highway 108 closed during the night. I check the computer and called Caltrans to find out highway 88 and 120 through Yosemite were still open. I sent an email off to all going on this trip hoping they would check their computers when they get up. At 7am I started calling and was only able to get hold of a few going.
Richard Beard spent the night at his bother Calvinâ€™s house in Modesto so we made arrangement to meet up at 7:30 and caravan out together. While on our drive I received a phone call from Loro and she told us highway 120 through Yosemite was now closed. GREAT! Darell and Kathy were staying with friends in Jamestown so I called them. They were on there way up 108 to have breakfast in Strawberry because they were told Highway 108 should open a little later in the morning. Richard and I decided we would meet up with them in Strawberry saving about 4 hours extra of driving time.
While driving up 108 nearing Kenney Meadows a white car with Idaho plate could not wait to pass us. He blew by us crossing a double yellow line and within 2 minutes we were all stop the gate closing the road. As I pulled up to the gate (3rd vehicle in line) a guy came out of the 1st truck in line and he stated Caltrans was up check out the road conditions.
At this point some of our morning humor begins! Richard brother calmly shuffles over to the gate and find it is unlocked. So what does he do? He opens it! We were all standing back looking and laughing on whatâ€™s going on. None of use wanted to be the first thought the gate. Well it did not take long and the white car with Idaho plates was off blasting up the mountain. We all came to agreement that if the white car was not back within the hour we would continue up the mountain. Well we waited about 35-40 minutes and decided to go. Since I was leading I was the first of our group to see a Caltrans truck coming down the hill to us after we were about 2 miles in from the gate. I played STUPID!! He told me that the gate was closed at the other end and another truck was letting someone out (white car Idaho plates) and he has on his way down to check the gate. I thought he was going to turn me around but he said itâ€™s not bad over the summit but be careful of the ice. There was ice and if you drove slow it was ok. As I was looking for away around the closed gate at the other end a large orange Caltrans blow truck pulls up and opens the gate for us.
When we arrived in Bridgeport we all stopped at the mini-market and filled up our tanks. Richard and Calvin decided they were hungry so the were going to brake away from the group and get something to eat. The rest of us headed to the Virginia Creek Settlement (VCS) to get checked in. It was now about 1:30 in the afternoon.
Next to arrive was Loro and here group in her white & silver Bronco who came out highway 88. Dirk and one of his boys arrived a little latter coming down from Sparks Nevada. Since it was pretty darn cold both Loro and Dirk upgraded from tent cabins to Motel rooms with heaters!
Now the snow starts falling and the skies start getting dark. Since there is no cell phone coverage where we were staying I headed back to Bridgeport to see if I could get a hold of the others that our on there way. When I could see bars on my cell I stopped and saw I had 7 messages in my voice mail.
After several attempts I got through to John Ruiz. He said they got turned around in Yosemite when highway 120 got closed. Then they got lost in the Sonora area and when they finely made it up highway 49 to Jackson. The family had enough of the 8 hours in the Jeep and they were going to stop at a friendâ€™s house before heading back home.
Jim Hodges was the next call I returned. By the time I got a hold of him, he to had turned around and was heading back home.
That meant we were waiting on two more to show up and I did not have cell phone numbers for them.
Before heading back to the V.C.S. I picked up Saturday lunch at the market & deli in Bridgeport.
The snow is still falling.
At about 5pm everyone decided that they are getting hungry so they went to the little restaurant that was at the V.C.S. while Toni and I went back into Bridgeport. Nothing was in my voice mailbox so we had dinner at Rhinoâ€™s a localâ€™s hangout.
When we went to bed at 8:30 there was about 4 inches of snow on the ground and we were waiting for 2 more people to show up.
At 4am my cell phone started beeping stating I had 3 messages. I tried calling out with no luck. I got dressed and headed back into Bridgeport again. This time I had a heck of a time getting any bars on my cell and when I did I was standing the middle of highway 395 going through Bridgeport. Good thing for me the is NO traffic 4:45 in the morning up there. It was David Crumbman that left a message stating he was in Jackson trying to find highway 88. Tried calling his cell but had no answer so I headed back to the V.C.S.. Before going up to my room I decided to take Ozy (chicken dog) for a walk through camp town. When I got to the end of camptown where Richard and Calvin were staying I see Davidâ€™s Chevy Tahoe. I guess he and his daughter made it!
Most of us met for breakfast at 6:30 in the V.C.S. restaurant. Needless to say we did not make the 7:15 departure time. In typical Esprit DeLate fashion we were now running 30 minutes late.
By the way I never said my Blazers heater core went the week before this trip and I did not have time to fix it. I just by-passed the heater core with a piece of hose.
The skies are now clear with a little blowing snow from the wind. While we are driving to the trailhead one of the wiper bladed on my Blazer blew off so I had top stop and fix that. Think about it, No wiper and No heater/defroster? Itâ€™s a little cold at this time of the morning!
When we arrived to the trailhead (Masonic Road) there was a blanket of snow covering most of the mountain . The dirt/snow road was very easy to see so we all but it in 4wd and off we went.
Fist Stop was Chemung Mine where we were able to get out of our vehicles and walk around in the snow. There were several old buildings that we were able to explore. We were at this stop for about 20 minutes before heading off to Masonic. While traveling up and down the snow-covered terrain we were able to see many of the trees in the fall colors. Also on the way into Masonic if we look careful we could see some of the old mine entrances dug into the sides of the mountains. When we got to Masonic everyone again got out of the vehicles and walked around for about 15 minutes.
No we were off to the old ghost town of Bodie. Again most of the way we are on snow covered dirt roads and we were as high as 9300 feet according to my GPS. Many beautiful sights to see and everyone was taking pictures along the way. As we crested on town top we were able to see the town of Bodie off in the distance. While driving the mountain road some members saw a small heard of deer hiding in a group of bushes and trees. This was the last weekend of deer season so they must have been trying to hide from the hunters out there.
When we arrived in Bodie at 10:50 the women all jump out of the vehicles and headed to the restrooms. We all hung out in the parking lot and had lunch. If you we in the sun with something blocking the wind it was pretty nice. The breeze that would come through would make it pretty brisk!
Our guided tour of Bodie started at 11:30. The tour guide walked us through part of the tour and gave us a little history lesson of the town of Bodie. Then we walked over to the old stamp mill on the side of the mountain overlooking the town. This was the most interesting part of the tour. We were able to go inside of the old mill and our tour guide explained how they processed the many tons of ore everyday. The mill workers made about $4.00 a day back then. By the looks of things it was very hard work. After the tour ended most of the group wandered around Bodie for about an hour. For me I got to go back up to my Blazer to get my rear window up. It went down when we were getting our lunch but would not go back up.
It is now 2:00 and we are off to Mono Lake. Most of the snow is now melted and it is a bumpy ride on the dirt roads! When we arrived at Mono Lake we stopped at Boardwalk Park. This is a nice green park and most everyone walked down the boardwalk to the lake and viewed some of the tufa formations. We all air up our tires in the parking lot and said good-bye to Dirk and his boy. They needed to head back to Sparks Nevada. We then headed off to the Mono Lakes visitors center. While in the visitors center we were able to view a movie and look through their museum.
It is now almost 5:00 and time to head back for 7:00 dinner. At the V.C.S. they had some outdoor tents set up for us with heaters. We all socialized about our trip today while having a few cocktail. Richard and Calvin were giving lessons on how to play dice. For dinner we ate lasagna, spaghetti, green salad and bread. Dessert was chocolate cake. They had more food prepared than we could eat. I think by 8:30 everyone was heading off to bed with a very full belly!
Sunday morning we met for breakfast at 8:30 and after breakfast we said out good-byâ€™s. Dennis and Ava were off to Apple Hill, Darellâ€™s group was ofF to the beaver ponds, while David and is daughter along with Richard and Loroâ€™s group were off to see Yosemite. Toni and I just headed home and arrived in Modesto before 2 oâ€™clock.
It was tough for everyone to get out to Bridgeport on Friday so I would like to give a special thanks to all that endured the driving headache.
I sincerely hope everyone had a good time!