Elevation gain and mechanical issues

Where to start.. the last few days have been pretty crazy. Even more so today so make sure you read until the end.

We weren’t sure where we were going to go when we left Smith Rock. In the end we ended up going to all three places that were potential destinations.

We first stopped in Truckee to do some climbing. Unfortunately we weren’t able to locate the crag in a timely manner. What that means is that after parking where we thought was the parking lot for the climbing area, we hiked around for an hour trying to follow a faint trail, improving it with cairns in order to make sure we would be able to make it back to the van if somehow we managed to find the crag. We never found it but we found our way back to the van. We were able to locate the proper parking spot on the way back but by then it was too late to climb. So that was kind of waste of time and fuel.

Next we went to Lake Tahoe. A bit disappointing and after the facts, we aren’t sure why we actually went there. It was quite dead and not much to see. We drove off the same day and continued towards Yosemite National Park.

Pass Feet

Monitor Pass – 8314 Feet

Over the last week, we have gone up and down numerous mountain passes, it’s impressive the van didn’t break down. The most prominent one was Tioga Pass. From the bottom of it, you gain 1000 meters over a short distance. I think we made our way up going less than 50km/h. We kept an eye on the temperature gauge and thankfully it never climbed past the half-way point. The other cause for concern are the brakes. The west side of that pass loses even more elevation and you really got to use the compression by downshifting if you want to make sure the brakes will work when you need them to.

Tioga Pass - 9945 feet This is where I was able to get a tow truck from

Tioga Pass – 9945 feet
This is where I was able to get a tow truck from

IMG_3282We spent 4 nights in Yosemite village. We did two hikes of 20+ kilometers each. The first one was 1200 meters elevation gain and the second one was the famous Half-Dome summit(22.7km). This one was 1600 meters elevation gain. The views from both trails were amazing. In many ways we were lucky to be there at this time of the year. The reason is that you usually need a permit to go to the top of Half-Dome. Since it’s a draw, your chances of getting a permit vary from good to very unlikely. The last bit of the hike to the summit has cables with steps attached to them but in the off season, they remove those steps and the cables are then just laid down on the rock. They remain attached to the rock and that’s what we used to get up. Normally there may be hundreds of people on the summit at once. When we were there, we were 6 on top. It was awesome. Totally worth hauling some climbing gear up there (and walking for 9 hours total). Furthermore, we didn’t have to pay for the permit and we were guaranteed to summit it. Did I mention the views were wonderful? Below is a short video of the panorama from the top of Half dome.


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IMG_3326When we came back to the van after doing the Half-Dome, there was a paper on the windshield. At first we thought it was a ticket but then realized it was a hand written note. Conrad, Kristine, and their girls, were in town and had spotted our van. We were able to hang out and climb some all together. That was a great surprise!


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Our last hike planned was to do Mount Dana. A super accessible 13 000+ feet peak that you hike from the top of Tioga Pass. You start at 10 000 feet and the total return distance is 6.25 miles (10 km). We drove out of Yosemite village last night and slept 1 kilometer away from the park entrance. This morning we were super excited to hike above 10 000 feet. The bad news is that the van didn’t cooperate with us. It started just fine but it stalled 30 seconds later. It wouldn’t start again. We thought of doing the hike anyways and getting a tow truck later but the problem was that rain/snow was in the forecast for the evening and that this road will close, potentially for the season, if that happens.image_2

So we took the safer approach and decided to try and get a tow truck up there before the storm. To make things harder, there is no cellphone reception up there. We figured they may have a phone at the park gate so I hopped on my bike and climbed to the top of the pass. The folks there were super helpful. Again, it wasn’t going to be so easy as their own cellphone tower had been removed for the season. They were able to radio in a request for a tow truck to Yosemite village and then the guys there called the towing company and magically, 30 minutes later, a tow truck showed up.

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We were really happy to have AMA (aka CAA or AAA in the USA). It didn’t cost us a penny and our membership also comes with 160 km towing distance anywhere you want. We therefore got a tow all the way to our next destination, Bishop. Had we had to pay this tow, it would have been $620 USD !!! Thank god for this wise investment! We were towed to a local shop here and it cost us $98 to get told that the only problem with it was that the engine was heavily flooded. A bit pricey but at least that was all it cost.

While we were waiting for a tow truck, I troubleshooted a little more the propane leak issue we were having. It turned out to be the hose that went from the tank to the regulator that was leaking and not the valve itself. After getting out of the garage, we headed towards Amerigas in Bishop. We asked if they could help us and after fetching the right person, and asking him if we would be breaking the bank to get that fixed, he said he could do it and that it would be VERY expansive, like thousands of dollars. Of course he was joking and although he never told us how much it would cost, he was very willing to help us out. He spent about 1.5 hour messing around trying to find a solution that would fit this 40 year old set-up. He replaced the rubber hose with a copper line and he installed a new regulator. We saw the price tag of $35 behind the regulator and were expecting at least $100 to cover the repair. While we were at it we asked him if we could get a propane refill as we were completely out. So when time came to pay, believe it or not, he didn’t want any money. NOTHING. We insisted and yet he didn’t want to take any form of payment or compensation. That guy was just a great guy but he certainly didn’t have to give us anything. We are still blown away by such kindness. We will bring the shop some donuts tomorrow morning as a small payback.

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Random pictures from this week are below the weekly budget.

Our weekly budget is now $184.77 CAD for food & fun.

We finally received our paychecks from the grape picking $419.72 .. we are rich!

Oct 23 – Oct 29 : Weekly & Totals since we left 18 weeks ago.

Fuel: $331.38 / $3173.79
Food: $64.72 / $1357.35
Fun: $5.22 / $3119.77

Total for the week without fuel: $69.94
Total with fuel: $401.32
Total spent since the beginning: $7650.93

Total budget: $15756.21 (+$419.72)
Budget left: $8108.28

E & M

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