Biologist on a Bike

Day 22: Ennis, MT to Baker’s Hole Campground, MT (3 miles outside W. Yellowstone)

6/12/18

Stats:
Distance: 68.73 mi
Average Speed: 10.9 mph; Max Speed: 34.6 mph
Elevation Gain: 3,009 ft
Average Temp: 73.2 F; Temp Range: 60.8-86.0 F\

Story:

Brrrrr. The morning started out very cold. Temperatures dipped below freezing last night, but I’m happy to report that my 30 degree quilt, bag liner, and tendency to wear multiple layers to sleep in the cold meant that I didn’t have any issues sleeping. Waking up, though, that’s another story.

Where I woke up, Day 22

How very puzzling. Someone is going to be sad next time they try to assemble that puzzle.

I did get up, packed up my tent, threw things haphazardly into my panniers, and relocated to the campground’s laundry room. I cooked breakfast, reorganized my panniers, including repackaging the food I bought yesterday at the market, and read a bit while waiting for it to warm up. The weather report said it would be near 50 by 9, and that seemed a good time to set out. Especially as I wasn’t planning to go very far today and, for the first time in 3 days, there wasn’t a major mountain pass to climb.

Organizing my gear in the warm

On my way out, I had a conversation with a gentleman who was a marine biologist. We talked about SCUBA and my trip, and the weather ahead, and a few other things. A nice, friendly start to the day. And the view once I got out of town? Spectacular.

On the road again.

I rode along a mountain range for the first half of the day, passing three pairs of touring cyclists going the other way and exchanging a “hi, how are you” in passing.

You’d think I’d be tired of mountains by now, but nope, they’re still awe-inspiring.

That’s a very old train

I’m excited to be nearing Yellowstone again. I understand that riding in the park is not fun, given the narrow roads and lack of a shoulder, but I’m excited ANYWAY. Bison, and antelope, and bears, and maybe, if I’m lucky, a moose or some bighorn sheep. I even saw my first pronghorns of the trip today. Along with numerous raptors.

Hey, what’s that? Ha! Made you look!

Do you really want to get into a staring contest with me?

Red-tailed hawk soaring.

I pulled into a rest stop for one of my meal breaks and while there met a Swiss cyclist who is making his way to Seattle. Beat (pronounced Bay-aht) and I talked about gear and routes and planning. He’s been planning his route as he goes and asked about my route. In response I showed him the ACA route maps. He was hoping to head towards Missoula, so I suggested he check in at the ACA offices and see if they had any maps that would get him closer to where he wanted to be. He has some great stories from the road, as well, such as a man in Wyoming who insisted that Beat needed to be armed to cycle through the area, then found him a day later on the road and offered him a gun, saying he had plenty! Nom, he didn’t accept the gun, and since he’s still here, I’m guessing it wasn’t as necessary as that guy made it out to be.

Then he spotted my tripod, and the inevitable occurred.

Me and Beat

I wasn’t on the road again for very long when I ran into another pair of tourers, although they hadn’t set out together but had merely joined up on the road. Anna (yipathon.wordpress.com) is riding from New Orleans, LA to Napa CA. She was excited to see me, as I am apparently only the second solo female cyclist she has seen in over 2 months. The home page of her blog makes a great point, and you should take a moment to go and read it.

With her was Robb, who is undertaking his tour for a cause: to raise money for  rare genetic skin disorder, Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). Essentially, people with this disorder lack a crucial protein that helps hold the layers of your skin together and as a result the skin can blister and slough off due to a number of triggers, such as friction that you or I wouldn’t notice. It can be fatal as well, as it was for Robb’s son, who survived only 13 months. You can read more about Robb, EB, his ride, and even donate to the cause at www.TheBigRideforEB.com.

Shortly after that I entered Earthquake Lake Geologic Area. On August 17, 1959 an earthquake of over 7 on the Richter scale (I can’t recall the exact number) shook the area. It caused surface cracks, road damage, a shift in the river including flooding, and a landslide of monumental proportions all resulting in 28 deaths. Now, nearly 60 years later the mountain face where the landslide originated is still a stark reminder of the event.

You can see some of the landslide in this picture already.

The mostly barren mountainside

The landslide also damned up the river and formed what is now known as Earthquake Lake. The edges of the lake are dotted with the skeletons of the trees that grew there before it was a lake.

This cemetery of trees bears testament to the geological youth of this lake.

Around that point I broke down and started counting miles to my destination. I was tired and my right calf is a little achy. I made it, later than I usually stop, but not that late, and on my way in passed a couple on bikes and had to pull into their campsite to say hello. Rita and Sharon are from The Netherlands and are also headed east on the TransAm. They decided to stay in Yellowstone area another day, and are taking a bus tour tomorrow. I heartily approve, and hope they see some great wildlife and thermal features.

As I was settling in to my own site, a woman came over to invite me to join her and her husband for dinner. I couldn’t share their meal, since it had chicken in it, but I brought my camp stove over and ate with them. Deb and Ed are new to camping and appear to be thoroughly enjoying the experience, despite an air mattress that deflated and tried to smother them. We talked about our travels and they asked about my trip. At one point I commented how, as a single woman who is not physically imposing and who, let’s say it outright because it matters, is white, I have had a number of people whose impulse was to be protective and helpful. They laughed and admitted that’s where the invitation came from, and Ed said I should even say so on my blog. It was a nice dinner. Introverted as I am, even I can enjoy some company when I spend so many, many hours alone in the saddle every day.

The plan is for tomorrow to be quite short. I’m riding from here into Madison, only 17 miles, where I intend to set up camp and then ride my UNLOADED bike to one or two of the features in the park. It should be a bit of a rest day. I haven’t really had one of those. The closest I came was the day I rode 16 miles (and only made 8 miles of forward progress) and had to bail out of fear or hypothermia. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Roadkill count: 1 bird, 1 snake

Map Day 22

4 thoughts on “Day 22: Ennis, MT to Baker’s Hole Campground, MT (3 miles outside W. Yellowstone)

    1. Suzan Lauder

      That’s because Canucks get scared when you mention guns. We find the idea of guns scarier than the idea that you have to have your wits about you when you travel through an area.

  1. Suzan Lauder

    That old tractor (not train) would be very quiet since it’s a steam engine. I once went to a rural festival that was all about old steam engine tractors. Sort of a puf-puff sound unless they blew their whistle, not unlike a steam engine on a train. It must have been a bumpy ride on that tractor without rubber tires, though!

  2. Leslie Diamond

    The lake reminds me a bit of Toledo Bend. They have all of the stumps from when the area filled with water. I’m really enjoying reading about your travels. Stay safe!

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