It took Muir and his buddy Chilwell seven weeks to reach Yosemite, drifting "leisurely mountainward by any road that [they] chanced to find; enjoying the flowers and light, 'camping out' in blankets wherever overtaken by night, and paying very little compliance to roads or times." The best we'd been able to arrange, a century and a half later, was seven days. It did seem fitting, at least, given Muir's pecuniary state in 1868, that there would be no budget for expenses.
BENEATH A VIADUCT IN DOWNTOWN SAN JOSE we met a woman who introduced herself as Pack Rat. She'd been camped at the terminus of the Guadalupe River Trail for 22 years. "You guys need anything?" she asked. "Socks? Vouchers? Food?"
She hopped on her bike, led us gingerly along the railroad tracks to the Salvation Army, one hand on the handlebar, the other wielding the warm dregs of a 40-ounce malt-liquor bottle. After we finally convinced her that we didn't need anything more than what we were already carrying, she offered to guide us across the city. "Can you guys ride?" she said, by way of challenge. Then she turned it on, and the three of us pedaled like kids running from the cops down the middle of the streets of Old Town, past St. James Park, and up the pedestrian mall on North 1st.
"You can take the train all the way to Gilroy for a buck," she advised, taking her leave of us. "Or hop it for free. But if you're not cheating on your thing, and maybe you're not, just ride this bitch [by which she meant 1st Street] all the way."