Day 27: Oct 6, 2023
Bishop, CA →
San Francisco, CA
As I drift off to sleep, I smell fire. I drowsily brush this off, equating it to a possible nearby camper who ignores “No campfire” signs. The tent flap remains open, allowing for ventilation and for keeping overnight condensation to a minimum. In the middle of the night, I awaken briefly to a more pervasive odor, thinking, “They’ve been going at this fire for hours now.”
Early morning hits, and it’s still murky out with a mix of fog and smoke. The sun hasn’t risen, but Jen and I have. We discuss the air quality, and it dawns on me to research wildfires in the vicinity. Consulting various maps and weather apps, I locate two: One is a localized prescribed burn a little north of Mammoth Lakes, but the bigger concern is the Quarry Fire in Groveland, just outside Yosemite, two hours from our current position.
As we make our way out of the tent, we finally recognize a solid campsite. The late arrival from the previous night masked the view of the mountains to the west and the meadow peppered with rocks and wildflowers. We mark the site for future visits, but for now, the miasma motivates us to break camp instead of savoring our new discovery. Before vacating the area entirely, though, we take the rig to explore various spurs and forest routes woven throughout this zone. Suddenly, a prime spot opens up, overlooking a small canyon. We’ll definitely return. Highway 395 continues to impress.
We drive north to Mammoth Lakes, and the rising sun reveals the same fog–smoke stew we saw earlier, casting ethereal and eerie light. Analysis on whether we camp another night begins, and climate conditions are the prime considerations. Will the fire be an issue when we exit Tioga Pass as we use Yosemite National Park as a thoroughfare? I’d love to check out Cherry Lake, but I temper my hope.
Morning drinks call. Black Velvet Coffee Roasters is a regular stop when we’re in town and is a comfortable three-floor café. After I finish up a bit of work, we swing by Mammoth’s welcome center, scouting for patches. Sadly, the ones we encounter are muted prints instead of the vibrant and nostalgic embroidered variety. We move on, and an hour later, find ourselves at the gift shop inside the Mono Lake Visitor Center. The Mono Lake patch is sold out, but we snag a US Forest Service emblem featuring Smokey the Bear. After a spirited conversation with the gift store worker, we learn the proper pronunciation of Mono: It’s MŌ-no, not MAH-no. “MAH-no is a disease,” she tells us.
As we pass through the remote east side of Yosemite, we see wisps of smoke sporadically, and the smell is pungent as we curve up and over various elevations. We exit the park and the haze lingers in the air as we pass through Groveland. Bittersweet feelings abruptly intrude — we both acknowledge that home is our destination today.
A few hours and a gas stop later, we’re back. San Francisco is in full summer mode, with mid-80ºF temperatures triggering heat advisories. We unload the tent, the fridge, and the majority of our provisions. We situate Barbara, who’s zooming around the apartment, ecstatic to be home. We quickly jet out again to satisfy a sushi craving we’ve had for weeks.
The emotions are evident; the adventure is at an end.
We are changed.
A note from Jen and I: Thank you for reading, replying, and following along for these 27 episodes of Weightshifting. It truly means a lot to us, and keeping to a schedule was a fun exercise. Despite intermittent internet and occasional lack of motivation (long days and tiredness), we mostly maintained our goal of publishing daily, and we brushed up on our respective skills in the process. We absolutely loved doing it, and we look forward to the next excursion.
We may further recap in an additional issue, and we’re happy to answer any questions we haven’t already. If there was anything you were curious about, we’ll collect them and answer in a follow-up.
Thank you again.