Distance: 77.75 mi
Average Speed: 10.8 mph; Max speed: 37.3
Elevation Gain: 4,057
Average Temp: 70.6 F; Temp range: 46.4-84.2 F
I am exhausted.
I woke up this morning a bit after six (thank you, phone alarm) but I had woken several times during the night, so I was still a bit drowsy. The temptation to sleep in was mitigated by the knowledge that I had to cross the continental divide three times today. It would be a bit day and I didn’t want to leave too late.
Ed and Deb woke shortly after I did and left the campground before me, but it was nice to be able to thank them again and say goodbye. I packed as I made my breakfast, always careful not to leave the food unattended lest a bear choose that moment to wander into the area, or a ranger choose that moment to drive by and issue me a citation. I saw no bears, but I did see two coyotes. Sadly, it was when I was walking back from the restrooms and I didn’t have my camera. But life isn’t about the pictures, so I just stood and watched them. Occasionally, they would watch me back.
I was all packed up and ready to go around 7:30. I turned on my Garmin and had a facepalm moment. I had forgotten to load up the new map section. Yesterday I started map section 5, but today I would really get into it. It wasn’t that I would need it for directions: ride to Old Faithful then follow the signs out the South Entrance. Stay on the only road there and you’ll end up in Grand Teton National Park where you will eventually pass Colter Bay. Easy. Pretty much, “Get on road. Stay on road.” I didn’t need the route for directions, I needed it for the elevation profile. There were a few good climbs on the map for today, and I like to be able to see my progress on the elevation profile page of the Garmin.
I sat down right where I was, outside the restroom/dishwashing station and proceeded to dig out the necessary equipment to load up the map section. It didn’t really take long, it was just a pain to have forgotten.
On my way out of the campground, I asked the ranger on duty at the registration desk for the forecast. Partly cloudy and windy, high around 60, lows in the 40s, and tomorrow a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Armed with the knowledge that it shouldn’t be rainy or unbearably hot, I set out.
The wind wasn’t as bad as it was yesterday when I rode to Grand Prismatic, making the ride more pleasant. There wasn’t much wildlife around though. Only a few bison, some ducks, and, when I stopped to remove a layer, a swan.
I made it to Old Faithful, stopped at the post office to mail off some postcards, then popped into the visitor center. I had about 50 minutes before the next estimated eruption, so I bought some more postcards and then went to the Old Faithful Inn where I stopped into the little café there for a scone and a cup of coffee. I stayed only a little bit beyond the eruption to reorganize my bags because there had been some imbalance in the front panniers again, and set out once more.
Shortly after Old Faithful the climbing began and in due time I reached the continental divide for the 1st time today and the 2nd time this trip. Lake Isa is a fun little oddity. It sits on the continental divide, but in such a way that the water that flows out of the west side of the lake ultimately goes east to the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico while the water that flows out of the east side of the lake ultimately travels west to the Pacific Ocean. It’s otherwise a mundane little lake, but that quirky fact makes it interesting.
A little further I stopped for a snack and encountered two tourers, Jason and Eric. Jason and Eric are riding to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. You can check them out at Wanderingi.net. We discussed gear and travels and destinations and traded photo ops before a goodbye hug and moving on.
Another longish but not terrible climb later, and I was at the continental divide. Again.
There was a nice downhill after that. I passed by Lake Yellowstone, but didn’t follow the road towards Grant Village that would have given me a good view to take a picture from. Don’t get me wrong, Yellowstone is a beautiful place and I love it, but there was a lot of sameness to the riding. Most of the time road was lined on both sides by pine forest. And then every once in a while you get a view of something spectacular.
Today was also the first day that I wiped out on the bike. I wanted to pull off the road into one of the pullouts, which everywhere else had been hard packed dirt with a thin layer of gravel on top. Not this one. This one was loose gravel several inches deep. As you might imagine, my front tire sank in and I came to an abrupt stop, or as abrupt as a stop can be when you’re only going 5mph at the time. I didn’t have time to twist my feet out of the clipless pedals, so down I went. As falls go it was more laughable than anything. I fell well, which is a bonus as I’m not a skilled faller, landing on my right shoulder/upper right back with my chin tucked so neither my head nor helmet met the ground. As of now, all I’ve got is a few muscles twinging a bit louder than they already were, so it seems no real harm was done. Yay!
I made it out of the park and into the land between Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I was fortunate enough to spot a group of cars all pulled over at one spot. That usually means that there’s something interesting to see, so I asked. A moose! I had been hoping to see a moose when I was here two years ago and it didn’t happen. To spot one now would be awesome. It was a cow and her calves, but I couldn’t see the young ones, only mama moose having a rest in the shade of some trees. Now if only I could see a wild bighorn sheep…
There is a climb from the Snake River valley where I saw the moose to get up into Grand Teton. It wasn’t a huge climb at under 1,000 feet of elevation gain, but it was late in the day and I was tired. I slogged my way up and pulled over to get a picture of the sign. One guy greeted me with “Hey, you made it! Congratulations.” He had seen me working my way up the hill earlier. Another asked me how far I was riding, and I spent a few minutes explaining to a small crowd about my particular brand of insanity.
I’ve realized I’ve been remiss in my flora pictures. Here you go.
There were also some interesting warning signs, not that I saw what they were warning about
Eleven miles later and I arrived at Colter Bay. There are a number of other cyclists here at the hiker/biker sites, and I said hi before heading down to the village to do laundry and eat. By the time my laundry is done and I get back to the campsite, it’ll be time to turn in in preparation for tomorrow’s big climb. Togwotee pass, at over 9,658 feet will take me to my highest elevation yet.
Here’s hoping I have a solid night of uninterrupted sleep.
Roadkill count: 1 fox kit, 1 snake.