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  • Writer's pictureMax S

The city of Cars and Yosemite

After leaving Oregon it was time to get back on the road. I was getting pretty tired of being cold, and the US was considerably more expensive than the places I was planning on going. So I started heading south faster and faster, I drove through the wide open deserts of Oregon, stopped to resupply, and then headed into the Sierra Mountains. I ended up crossing into California, just scraping the North-East corner. That night was the coldest yet, and if you've seen the video series, you'd know I woke up with a pretty thick layer of frost INSIDE the tent. So I packed up before the sun had even come up, and continued my drive. I got to Reno Nevada, and I had a purpose this time. My transmission, which I suspected was damaged from overheating back in BC, was getting warmer than I would have liked on the big mountain passes. So I was looking for a transmission cooler. They're relatively cheap so I figured it couldn't hurt.

When I got to Reno, I was thoroughly surprised. It was like all the car enthusiasts decided to live in one city. There were hot-rods, 4x4's, classics, sports cars, you name it, they have it. I went to a few shops and of course, in the US and Canada alike, getting a walk-in appointment isn't too common of an occurrence. But, everyone was extremely helpful. They called their friends' shops for me, came out to look at the truck, and gave me suggestions. The reason I was looking for a shop was that I couldn't really mount the cooler anywhere and needed some brackets to hold it in place. Eventually, I got referred to this old-school mechanic who decided to just work from home. I spoke to him on the phone and we set up to meet the next day. I brought my new tranny cooler I had bought at Summit Racing, and he moved one of his classics to get the truck in the driveway. Man, this short old dude (no offence Frank), was the coolest, most knowledgeable car guy I ever met. He told me stories of his street racing days and how he got into cars. He was also a pretty educated guy. After a few hours, it was all good to go and I head out for Yosemite.

It was getting dark, but I managed to find a service road just before the west entrance to Yosemite. It was at nearly 10,000FT elevation (3km+), I got my cold-weather bag out and put everything I owned on, including my military-issued white balaclava. I was freezing but the view made up for it. The next morning I drove into the park, and I foolishly didn't realize there was no reception in 95% of Yosemite. I couldn't figure out where the hikes started or get any info on them. So I was driving through and eventually saw a parking lot that had a few cars. I stopped and read the signs, and saw that this was the start for a hike called Cloud Rest. Perfect. I got my hiking boots on, threw my backpack on with a little 250ml bottle of water, and set off. In my sluggish, coffee-less brain, I read the sign that said "Distance: 6.3" and though, yeah no worries. It wasn't until a good hour into the hike I realized that it was 6.3 miles, not kilometres, and that was a sign of the distance to the top. Meaning I was looking at a roughly 20km hike. But it was too late, no way was I turning back now. I was wearing sweatpants with Fjallraven pants overtop, not the best combo, and a fleece with a jacket overtop. It was heavy, and the hike immediately started going straight up. I was going as fast as I could, passing the other hikers on the trail, sweating and breathing hard.

It felt like forever, but I reached the top, and it was incredible. Cloud Rest gives you a birds-eye view of the park, and the topography is spectacular. I took some photos and was heading back down. My legs were screaming. I stopped for a few minutes when a couple came by and we chatted for a bit. They gave me an apple and some trail mix. By the time I got back to the truck I was shot, I made a little instant meal I had left over in my hiking pack, drank a bottle or two of water, and left. I wanted to see one of the giant Sequoias before I left. So I found another trail, which felt like torture, and walked another hour or so round trip to see one of the giants. Honestly, after seeing the old growth on Vancouver Island, I wasn't so sure the hour of torture was completely worth it, but hey, the trees are spectacular no doubt.

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