Bridgeport ramble –Smith Valley to Willow Springs (90k/5198k)

(September 4 – Written by Dave)

We had a great sleep in the old ranch house last night.  We didn’t hear any ghosts but Pete said that he thought he heard Gramps – who knows, many generations of Costas, Annettes and Days have roamed the valley and probably the ranch house.

Smith Valley sunrise

Smith Valley sunrise

Wellington School

Wellington School

We met Paul and Julie for brekkie at the Rosie’s.  They drove, we rode.  We had a great sunrise and nice quiet ride through the waking valley.  Nancy naturally had her pancakes.  Pete talked me into having the Huevos Rancheros – boy that was a mistake.  It was really tasty but very big and I think it followed me up the Sweetwater Summit climb for the rest of the morning.  It was fun spending more time with Paul and Julie – they were great hosts.  We wish them well with the mile long list of projects that they have at the ranch house.

Our Brekkie

Eyes bigger than our stomachs

Killer Huevos Rancheros

Don’t try this at home!

Julie and Paul

Julie, Paul and their dogs

We rode most of the morning on Highway 338 riding up towards Sweetwater Summit.  Back when Pete and I were 14 (or maybe 15) we rode from Carson City to Twin Lakes.  We were clueless on nutrition and hydration.  We had almost no food all day and each only had one small water bottle.  So clueless in fact that we stopped in Wellington for a drink and drank Mountain Dews – pure caffeine.  To make matters worse, Pete’s dad met us at the top of Sweetwater Summit and gave Pete a bag of dehydrated apples.  Pete didn’t share any with me and he paid the price big time.  Take one severely dehydrated teen and fill their belly with dehydrated apples and you can only guess what happened next.

Pete’s dad pulled up after the 10 mile descent and set up a camp for us.  I got my tent out and Pete went to the bushes to “give back” all the apples.  Pete’s dad and I had a good chuckle.  Perhaps Pete should have shared with me.  Anyway, today, when we reached to top of Sweetwater, I pulled out a large bag of dehydrated apples and offered one to Pete.  Not really realising what I was offering him, Pete politely declined my offer.  I offered a second time and he got it – and what do you know, he again politely declined the offer.  Nancy and I were in tears laughing – it’s the little things that make bike touring fun!

Pete and the road behind

Pete riding the open range

Dave and Pete at Sweetwater 2

42 yeas later

Pete getting hanked 2

Got him!

We were all feeling a little slow today and pretty tired at the top of the summit.  Pete, without dried apples, did a nice job pulling us down off the summit and up the Walker River valley.  I asked if he wanted to stop and look for an “old DNA sample” near where we camped all those years ago.  He declined and remarkably still politely pulled us all the way to Bridgeport.

Walker River

Walker River

Sweetwater Mountains

Sweetwater Mountains

In town, we had a drink and shopped at the market.  That got our tired brains and bodies back to normal, and made it possible for us to hit the bakery and ice cream shop.  Lunch was taken at the bakery, ice cream twists from the next door burger shop made a nice a nice dessert.

Nancy gets icecream


We had 5 miles left to ride from Bridgeport and we now had to ride out on Highway 395.  Labor Day weekend traffic was heavy but the shoulder was mostly good.  We actually had more traffic today than we would have liked.  Every other car seemed to be covered in telltale Burning Man grey dust.  I’m sure that people have fun out there at the festival but I’m pretty sure that all the dust is going to keep it off our bucket lists for a while.

Sawtooth Range above Twin Lakes 2

Sawtooth Mountains (up near Pete’s grandparent’s resort)

We were pretty quick in reaching the Willow Springs RV park and had no trouble getting checked in.  Pete knows the owners and they seem to know him – but there was no discount forthcoming.  Pete and I are heading across the road now to have an “sherberts” and post this blog.  Nancy is doing yoga and working on dinner (Senior editor note – working on a nap, not dinner…).

Willow Springs RV park

One owner for 65 years!

Tomorrow is a really short day for us (we are trying to position ourselves as close as we can to the big climb over Tioga Pass) but this is great as it will mean that we get to stop at the Mono Lake visitor center.  Mono Lake is highly alkaline and negatively affected by the city of Los Angeles taking too much water.  Back in the day it was hip to have a “Save Mono Lake” sticker on your car.  Maybe we can get one for our bikes…

7 thoughts on “Bridgeport ramble –Smith Valley to Willow Springs (90k/5198k)

  1. It is really good to see both (Dave and Pete) haven’t lost your love for riding your bikes 42 years later. Was the climb up sweetwater summit easier this time around?

  2. Wonderful pictures and scenery! I think it is time for another post from Pete! I’m a big fan of the visitor center at Mono Lake …enjoy. Don’t forget the yummy food at the Lee Vining gas station…

  3. Was so fun to meet Dave & Nancy and hear their story and listen to Pete and Dave banter back and forth! I would have guessed they were brothers. It was a pleasure meeting you both. God Speed on your journey from Alaska to Argentina. If you are in our area again you will always have a place to rest. Happy Trails!

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