Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 46. Middle of no where to Grand Teton National Park. 85ish miles

I awoke with the sun and put in 20 miles before hitting a breakfast joint in Dubois, WY. The Cowboy Cafe, I recommend it. Biscuits and gravy, eggs, hashbrowns, sausage and chicken fried steak adorned a griddle type plate that was placed in front of me. A cup of coffee to compliment. The staff could not have been nicer. They were interested in my ride and what I was doing and they let me rest there for over an hour while I pondered the mountain pass awaiting my arrival.

A fine looking Texas family asked from another booth, "Are you on a bicycle?" A man with a huge grin and a Texas accent wearing a Canadian Tuxedo sat, his wife to his right and his three boys directly across. "You got it, man," I responded. We chatted about the ride and their own personal vacation. It's great to see people interested in the ride and the fully loaded bicycle. Apparently they saw me roll up to the cafe. Obviously if I were in a car they most likely would n0t have said a word.

I rolled out of breakfast and into a grocery to stock up on supplies. You never know what's out there, or lack there-of, in this country. I then decided some sugar was in order and rolled into a donut shop. There I downed a regular donut, a long john and a mtn dew. Also while there I saw a young man I had noticed at breakfast and at the grocery so naturally I asked him how he was doing. He replied with "same shit, different day." Naturally I thought him to be a local but when I inquired he told me he was from North Carolina and visiting family. Well, why the canned answer because I can't imagine that when on vacation that you can be doing the same shit? Anyway, turned out the young man was in the Marines and was only 19 years old. He had enlisted after school to be a mechanic but due to the current situation in Afghanistan he's headed out to the front lines in October. Going to be a 'grunt' he said. Also said that his shooting isn't the best. Better work on that man. I guess he was visiting family to say his last goodbyes as he told me about his families' plan to have him cremated once he was gone. Talk about a downer conversation but a real one, nonetheless. I thanked him for what he was doing and rode off.

The sun shone brightly for 10 miles before ominous rain clouds and strong headwinds moved in at the base of Togwotee pass. I crept along for at least 6 miles and for a solid hour before a spot of blue hope cut through the dark sky. For another 4 hours I climbed the pass, sweating profusely, the body heating a cooling with each wind gust. I stopped somewhere near the top for a snack of cookies and bread and a little email action and after about 20 minutes a ranger pulled up. "You need to be careful. There's a sow grizzly with three cubs in this area." I can see it now, a cute cub wandering up to me and sniffing my heels just when an angry mama bear knocks my head off. I hopped on the bike and cautiously watched the roadside for an angry ball of fur.

I eventually hit the top waiting for the smooth descent down the other side but unfortunately didn't get it. The wind blowing ever-so strongly, I pedaled furiously just to keep the bike moving down the pass. After at least 10 miles of descending and 10 miles of flats I hit Grand Teton National Park. The place was a zoo.

Grand Teton and Yellowstone are always crowded and extremely busy, especially in the summer months. Here, patience is a virtue. You can't ever be in a hurry. One great thing about the large crowds is that you don't have to ever keep an eye out of wildlife because the mobs of people and cars gathering on the sides of the road are a strong indicator. And when sitting on a bike, it's impossible to miss anything. As I approached my first crowd, I thought everyone would probably be scoping some elk or bison but turns 0ut it was a sow grizz digging in the dirt a couple hundred yards off the road. Rangers were directing traffic just trying to keep it moving while rubber necks extended through open windows with hopes of grabbing a peak at the large beast. Another great thing about a bike; you're always on the shoulder and can park anywhere. After an eye-full of grizzly bear I moved onto Colter Bay where I crashed for the eve. To my surprise they didn't gouge me over the price and the site was a mere $7 - talk about a deal.

I saw a few other cyclists but was too tired to visit with them. I rolled into camp, pitched a tent, ate some chili and climbed into my sleeping bag to read and snooze. I must say, there is something comfortable about actually sleeping at a campsite as opposed to the side of the open road, though not as exciting. Damn, this is awesome!

No comments:

Post a Comment