James Murren
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A Fat Bike Snow Ride

The Earning

Outside of Yosemite’s south gate, there are miles and miles of forest roads in Sierra National Forest. Fish Camp town is a good starting spot, one that I recently used to spin some miles on my fat bike. Late fall into early winter in the mountains is fat bike season, as you may encounter weather that turns wet overnight, possibly even snowy and icy.

As I pedaled away from the hard road and back towards the stables, it wasn’t long before the crunching sound of rubber tires rolling over ice was present. At the cut in to turn back on single track to the waterfall, the trail had several inches of snow on it. The ride was only beginning, yet I had already found the day’s bliss, standing and listening to falling water in the mountains.

There was no agenda, no plan that I had. Riding a bike that way was not something I had done in a while. This time around, it was simple: pedal for a few hours then make my way back to where I started.


the earning


Snow got deeper as I pedaled past a burn scar below, a deep gorge cutting through the land. Blackened toothpicks stood tall and lay scattered, the remnants of a wildfire.

Thank goodness someone had driven up the road and packed down the snow, as the tracks allowed me to keep going. At Big Sandy Campground, the primary water crossing was too wide and deep, partially covered in slabs of broken ice. I scouted a spot off to my left to make it across, using my bike to balance and hold on to while I rock hopped to the other side.

Voices. I heard voices. Who else is out here and why?

Turned out, three guys on ATVs decided to get out for their first winter ride of the season, coming up from the other side, meaning the Bass Lake area. We all laughed about not expecting to see anyone else, and the camaraderie was high as we relished being in a winter wonderland.

I pedaled on a little ways more, stopping for lunch where I could see and hear water coursing its way through the mountains. Right then and there, I knew it was my ending point for the day. I turned around and went back down from where I came.

The Beer

Grocery store beers are worthy. Nowadays, it’s easy to pick up independent brewery beers while stocking up on food supplies. On this trip, I saw New Glory Craft Brewery cans and picked up the Citra Dream, a hazy offering from the Sacramento beer makers on Alpine Avenue. The big, juicy, citrus IPA had me tasting papaya right away. In fact, it transported me back to eating fresh, sun ripened papaya in far eastern Ethiopia in a Somali town for lunch while working on a project.

the beer

The Citra Dream was so delicious that I later picked up New Glory’s Gummy Worms, which they call a “chewy pale ale.” Again, I was quite pleased. Balanced and lighter in the ABV, it delivered pineapple breezes to me in the chilly/cold Sierra. I’d not had any of their beers, but after having the Citra Dream and Gummy Worms, they are going to stay on my radar.

Read other Earn Your Beer columns here.