Ebbetts Pass & Pacific Grade revisited
|June 10th, 2001...yet another glorious day for climbing hills in the Sierras! Ebbetts is, to me, the most beautiful of all the trans-Sierra passes. Sure, Tioga Pass is stunning for its dramatic granite walls and views of the Yosemite Valley, but nothing beats Ebbetts Pass & Pacific Grade for its uncrowded 1.5 lane roads, frequent babble of creeks, giant redwoods and a sense that you're experiencing something very special. Accompanying me on this ride were Brian Krause from our Redwood City store and Mike M. --Mike--|
|It used to be called Red Dog Lodge, but now it's Base Camp. Same great rates (in season weekends, $60/2 people, plus $10 each additional).||The cafe at the fancier lodge just down the road, where we had breakfast.|
|Shortly after you start climbing (which is within a couple hundred feet of starting to ride!) you get the obligatory photo op...24% grade ahead!||After winding around and climbing a bit you reach the last outpost of civilization, Lake Alpine. If you don't like steep roads, turn back now.|
|Another view of Alpine Lake...very pretty!||The first switchback descending Pacific Grade.|
|What, exactly, does a 24% grade look like? Not as steep as it feels! This is the spot where, two years ago, Bruno started laughing as the road curved down and away from him.|
|1,000 feet below Pacific Grade is Hermit Valley, a very pleasant (but short) piece of flat road.||But this ride isn't about flat roads, is it? Out of Hermit Valley you climb about 2,000 feet to Ebbetts Pass.|
|The highpoint of our ride, Ebbetts Pass, as Brian hits the summit first.||Kinney Reservoir, a mile or two below (east) of Ebbetts Pass, finds Brian & Mike all smiles & ready to go.|
|On the way down Ebbetts Pass we saw quite a few cyclists coming up the hill, most of them training for the Markleeville Death Ride about a month later.|
|Down, down, down...||...until you level out into a valley that used to be a bustling mining community. Not anymore!|
|Wolf Creek Campground, our turnaround point and also today's base camp for a group training for the Markleeville Death Ride. They had just done both sides of Monitor Pass, and were getting ready for an assault on Ebbetts. Interestingly, women outnumbered men in this group.|
|On the way back we cross Silver Creek, our constant companion on the way up Ebbetts.||If not for an occasional Bots Dot on the highway, you could easily think it's 1920 in these parts!|
|More DeathRide trainees as we start to climb.||Out of water? There seems to be only one campground on the east side of Ebbetts with running water...I'd strongly suggest filling up!|
The map above shows the location the campground where we found the water. Basically, it's on the east side of the pass, so you can get water there on your way while heading west. Look for the first Silver Creek crossing on the way up, just after the climb starts to get going.
Originally I didn't have this map posted, but today (06/23/01) I got two emails from different people, requesting more info on the location of the water!
You might also consider one of the water bottles with a built-in filter (so you can get water safely from any of the many creeks you'll come across).
This is what it's all about. Trees, granite, waterfalls, nice pavement, picture-perfect day (temps in the low-60s to mid-80s), light breeze and friendly cyclists. Oh yeah, and a nice hill to climb to!
|At least somebody's found a home in Shangri-La! Probably not so easy to live here in the winter though.|
|Just a mile or so to go to the top...||...where we find quite a crowd at Ebbetts Pass!|
|Descending from Ebbetts into Hermit Valley at high speed isn't the easiest time to take pictures.||But neither is climbing up Pacific Grade. This is the very start of the climb, just past the creek crossing.|
|So what's the lowest gear on your bike? Brian had a 39/25, while I was using a 39/27. Yes, I was using the 27 at times! Curiously, shortly after these photos were taken Brian was asking if we had 27s in stock.|
|Rounding the final corner to the Pacific Grade summit. You've just climbed 1,000 feet in just over a mile. Compare that to Highway 84, where you climb 1,000 feet in over three miles.||Mosquito Lake is appropriately named, but I wonder if sucking on my Cytomax-enriched blood might have created a new super-breed of high-speed endurance Mosquitoes?|
|Heading back to Base Camp at the end of the ride! About 57 miles, 7700 feet of climbing. Not nearly as tough as the Sequoia Double Metric century the week before, nor as challenging as Sonora Pass coming up in two weeks. But definitely a fun ride, worth the three hours of driving to get there.
Tech notes: Mike M was riding a TREK 5500 with Campy triple, Brian Krause a TREK 5200 with a 39/53 front and 12/25 rear (to be replaced by a 12/27 for the next mountainous ride!) and me with a TREK 5500 with 39/53 and a 12/27 rear. I felt entirely comfortable with my gearing, but then I like really steep hills, and prefer standing to sitting when the going gets tough.
For the photos, I actually brought both of my digital cameras, my standard take-photos-as-you-ride Olympus 450Z, as well as the much higher resolution Olympus 3000. All shots taken while riding were done with the 450Z, while most of those where I had time to stop and set up the shot were done with the 3000. The 3000 is capable of absolutely stunning photos, with enlargements to 12x18 entirely reasonable. Over 150 photos were taken, which is one of the reasons it's taken so long to get this page up...an awful lot of shots to go through and process! --Mike--