The weather has been hot in Three Rivers and Barstow. "Gilbert, how about a ride up to Lone Pine and Bishop to cool off" is what I plan to say. I pitch the idea and he likes it; "I just need a few days to get things set up at home." I travel South, cut across Lake Isabella, over Walker Pass, and down towards our meeting spot. "Meet me at Bradys at the Mobil gas station about 11am," he said. This is a good meeting place as he is heads North/West from Barstow.
The ride on highway 395 is a bikers dream. Scenic, good roads, and always climbing to higher elevations. We camp at the Lone Pine Campground, I marvel at the massive mountains. Mount Whitney, covered in snow, is looking down on us. We barbecue some steaks and corn and look up at the dark skies.
After a fire cooked breakfast, we move North. At Big Pine, we decide to ride up along highway 168 towards Deep Springs and Oasis. Near the top of the pass, we see a sign that reads 'Gilbert Summit, Elev 6,374 ft'. We stop for a picture and neither of us has been up here before. "Let's continue on and make a big circle back towards Mammoth" I say and we've soon off for Oasis where we'll turn North on highway 266.
This is all new, so we go slowly. We hope to hit highway 6 and ride East to Benton. There is a gas station in Benton and a small market. We buy some supplies and ask the lady, "Is there a place nearby where we can camp?" She asks, "where are you going?" We tell her eventually Bishop, but we want to see Mammoth Lakes first. "You can go the civilized route or the wild route," she says as she points towards the West. We almost say at the same time, "the wild route." "OK, you can camp along the way" and we thank her. We find a small dirt road leading up into the hills and love the place. We call this camp, Paiute Ridge. We did not think it would be this cold and the ride from camp towards Mammoth Lakes was one of the coldest. The temperature last night hit a low of 29 degrees and the fire helped keep us a bit warmer.
In Mammoth Lakes, vehicles have ski racks on top and we get some funny looks as we try to find a cafe for breakfast. A lady sees us pull up and says "those sure are pretty bikes." Not exactly how a biker would describe our bikes, but she is nice. Our bikes are dirty from last night's camping we explain. "Sure, camping at the casino I bet...it was freezing last night," she says. We agree with the freezing part and it took her awhile to realize that we really camped out last night. "Oh my" is all she said. The breakfast was a nice trade off for the cold ride this morning.
We explore some of the nearby high elevation lakes, like Convict lake, which are covered in snow. We ride into Bishop, buy some items for dinner, and follow the road upward to Lake Sabrina where we will camp. It will be cold up here, so we buy some firewood from the campground host. We see only a few other campers so we pick a nice spot next to a stream. After dinner, we do our usual star gazing. The skies here are bright and the stars within arms reach. Looking upward, we both see a strange sight almost at the same time. Gilbert asks, "did you see those two lights?" Joking I say, "it's the beer Gilbert." There are definitely two lights high in the sky coming towards us. One light is bigger than the other. Both lights travel at the same speed, crossing the massive sky in seconds. In just a few seconds those lights disappear. They are not planes, no blinking lights. No rockets, no after trail. Apparently we are the only ones to see the lights in the campground. In the cafe the next morning, locals were talking about the 'little green men' that traveled over Bishop in the night. We did not enter their conversations, but we know that we saw something too. It was a few days later that I googled, 'strangle lights' in the Sierra's near Bishop. One post had a video of what we saw but no explanation. The NASA web site was factual. If you were at this elevation at these coodinates, on this date, you might see the Space Station and the Space Shuttle in orbit, 255 miles above earth. We will never forget our Lake Sabrina camp out. An awesome sight, good camping, and another great ride.