Morning Cycle Along the Merced River

The magic intonation I did the night before to wake up before dawn happened without my taking it seriously enough to set an alarm!  Wow.  A sign from the river pixies to go cycling along the Merced: I hear thee.  Anyone familiar with Briceberg, the super cool mini Bay Bridge there, it’s great swimming beaches and it’s raw natural beauty know where I am going.  A few miles downhill from the Bug.  Park at the Day Use Area this side of the Bay Bridge.

My old mountain bike loves this old rail grade road, so I can whip through a ten miles round-trip to the Black Bridge at high gear and feel the fresh morning breeze on my face. Set along the river are the unusually scarce campers having breakie wave, the forest burns past a few miles that still shake up my memories of the past, and the Rio Grande small stream running along the bottom of the watershed.  Wow, I have never seen it so low!
My soul looks forward to the refreshing rains that will bring out the red-orange California Newts by the hundreds in puddles, the chartreuse hued moss that grows along the opposite bank that still shocks my senses, and a renewed fresh voice to the river itself.
There’s a little bridge I call the Black Bridge at the far end you can walk through to the North Fork.  A quiet, bracing walk best from October through May past the falls there past hundred year old remnants of hydraulic electric station and it’s water sluices. Was it for mining or logging or railroad? Can’t remember.  Heard they were trying to top up the dam at the far end and it would come up past this falls. Hmmmm. Whoever said that living in the backcountry is uneventful?
While stopped listening to my heart slow and my fingers still on my brakes, a Pacific-slope flycatcher on a chair-sized rock seems to be finding food.  Two Acorn Woodpeckers fly down from a grey pine up across the canyon land at a live oak here to check me out.  They are not usually quiet and are are followed by 10 or 20 House Finches.
My chest puffs up in pride, they are rarely so close to see, are they starving for human attention? Nope, one or two at a time, they all go down for their morning drink.  A finch comes in for a closer look and zooms at my red bandana – oops a Anna’s Hummingbird thought I had a head full of nectar.  He comes back and hovers near my face to show dissapointment and flies off.  on the way back, a Stellar Jay scampers across the road, and a Raven flies above and in front of my swift bicycle.
All common species but Len would be pround of me. Remember the Bug’s 50 acres is also one of the best places for birdwatching all year.
Check out these Conservancies for Yosemite Region naturalist walks and events on their calendars now and year round:
Sierra Foothill Conservancy sierrafoothill.org
Yosemite Conservancy yosemiteconservancy.org
Upper Merced River Watershed Council merced-river.org (you can make a donation to them through our booking engine).
NEWS FLASH FOR SINGLETRACK RIDERS.  Now the old rail grade running north from the bridge upstream is now single track cycleable and super fun.  You park above the bridge once crossed and a small parking area.  Watch for dogs & owners for the first while but they are amenable.  There will be three creek depressions you will go through & return just past the last.  Sand, roots, cobblestone like rocks, narrows, whoppdedoops, rattlesnakes and pokey plants at your ankles.  Super fun all year but go early morning in summer!  For the hardcore, go up the Burma Grade at the same starting point to the top and beyond for some plateau action.  there’s actually a fire road loop at top to the right along the rim and back on the Forest Service Road, but people get lost easy.  You can cycle to Highway 12o or 132 or the old secret Big Oak Flat Road Yosemite entrance road up there (John Muir Ramble Route of Hwy 132, Greeley Hill Road, Old  Yosemite Road, Old Big Oak Flat Road).  See John Muir GeoTourism Center in Coulterville.