Eastern Sierra dual sport ride - day 4
April 19-24, 2015

Day 4 ride: Volcanic tablelands north of Bishop

After two nights at Green Creek, we broke camp that morning and headed for our next base camp location near Bishop, ending up at a county park campground about 5 miles west of town.  Because we were still early in the camping season, most of the national forest campgrounds were still closed.   Although this county park was a bit noisy, it ended up being convenient for the showers, getting a well-deserved clean-up after three days of riding.  One other interesting presence at the camp were a number of large and mostly nocturnal sphinx moths that seem to get into everything during the evening hours (see pictured below). They seemed to be potentially attracted to the black locust trees in bloom around our campsite. 

That day we set out to explore the volcanic tablelands area northwest of Bishop via about an 80 mile loop that ends up close to Benton Hot Springs at its apex (but staying off road) before returning to camp.  After topping off our tanks in Bishop we headed north for about 5 miles along Highway 6, and then 5 Bridges Road, before breaking off onto the dirt up Fish Slough Road to the north.  Along the way we did a short excursion out to Sky Rock on a very rocky and rough road, to one of the more interesting, yet mostly secret petroglyph covered rock formations of the area.  After taking some casual photos in the afternoon light, we continued further north, stopping at more such petroglyph formations to explore and photograph.  The road to the north was long and seemed to go on forever, being on the edge of the tablelands to your left and Fish Slough to your right. Eventually we reached an anticipated fork in the road shortly after the signed Chalafant petroglyph rocks, taking the path to the west through Red Rock Canyon. At this point the road becomes a bit more interesting for the dual sports due to a narrowing canyon to ride through (although a full sized adventure bike with trail tires should not have any issues either). 

After our next stop to put on another layer and/or the liner in our jackets, we realized again we were running short on time, with the weather also closing in and temperatures dropping quickly. We had to abort some other planned more technical excursions in order to avoid having to take this in the darkness. Instead we opted to take a more direct path to reach Benton Crossing Road, saving the more technical route for next time. From the asphalt of Benton Crossing Road, we headed southwest for another 3~4 miles before branching off again for another dirt road that eventually dropped us down into the Owens River Gorge just below Crowley Lake, and then up again to Tom’s Place along Highway 395. To help find our way through a network of dirt roads, the Garmin GPS attached on my bike's handlebars via a Ram mount came in handy.  After reaching the highway, we just made a beeline back to camp in order to expedite our return at dusk. About halfway back, Tucker’s KTM ran out of gas, having to switch to reserve to complete the route. Randy also had some spare fuel in a Rotopax on his back rack that we planned on sharing if needed. I am sure it would have been necessary for all of us if we had the extra time for the more technical route.

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Sky Rock

Sky Rock (view 2)

Fish Slough corral

Grinding holes

Fish Slough Petroglyph
human stick figure

Chidago Petroglyphs

Descent to the Crowley Lake basin

Sphinx moth

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