Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 45: Colter Bay, WY to West Yellowstone, MT (91.5 Miles)

An impressive display of nature came rolling through our campsite last night. No, sadly, it was not a stampede of elk or a family of bears... it came in the form of a fast-moving thunder/hailstorm. It rocked our tents and came through within a few minutes. After the storm passed, I looked out to see clear skies again. Chris woke me up around 5:30AM and I started making some coffee. I was feeling very groggy and moved slower than the others. I realized that I needed to pick up the pace when Chris and Aaron were already done breaking camp. I told them to not wait around for me and I'd catch up to them. A half hour later, I was finally on the road.

I first caught up to Saz and successfully "scared the crap" out of her. I then found Aaron overlooking a beautiful panoramic of the Tetons over Jackson Lake. We stopped and just looked on in complete silence... I rode on ahead and found signs saying "Loose Gravel Road Next 8 Miles" and "Pavement Ends 500 Feet." Expecting another free ride in a pilot car, we had no such luck. It was a slow crawl up to the pass and a scary descent. By the end of my slow ride down, my hands were aching from pressing firmly on the brakes for 30 minutes or so. I looked back and saw that I had left Aaron and Saz behind and it was the last I saw of them.

I never saw Chris and Chris either... I'm assuming I passed them somewhere in the park. I had to pay twelve dollars just to ride through. The Yellowstone National Park represents the best and worst things about National Parks. For one, they have great preservation efforts and have great hiking trails. However, they also carve roads through a pristine area and allow for RVs and SUVs to drive through at all times. I think I saw one "fuel-efficient" vehicle in about 100 gas guzzling beasts. I actually saw one RV hauling a Hummer behind it. I'm glad my friend Matthew Reginald LeBlanc wasn't there to witness this, otherwise I'm sure he would've caused a scene. The first part of my trip was plagued by these large vehicles careening by me at high speeds. There were no shoulders for most of the ride through the park and really kept my eyes turned away from the scenery and focused on not getting hit by tourists.

I had to keep good pace through the park, in spite of the heavy climbing. I crossed the Continental Divide three times in just under an hour, and still had time to wait for Old Faithful to blow. Along the way, I met another rider named Mike. He's riding with two other guys from Texas and I'll probably see them along the way tomorrow.

Leaving Old Faithful, I had an impressive tailwind that made me average about 27mph, even going uphill. However, my luck changed and it quickly turned into a crosswind, then a headwind. I started feeling the miles and contemplated camping in Madison, but snacked some more and rode towards the Montana border.

The last 20 miles were rather difficult, as I rode along Madison River I was hit with headwinds that would really kill any momentum I tried to build up. On the bright side, these winds slowed me down enough to enjoy the views and witness some wildlife. I saw buffalo, elk... but no bears. I was hoping to see a Grizzly from afar, but no such luck! I've heard from some locals from Montana/Oregon and they informed me that I still can see Grizzlies outside of the park.

I came across the very humble Montana state sign and rode into West Yellowstone. Not feeling like riding through town to find a campsite, I spoiled myself and found a motel room. I spent the rest of the night trying to update the backlog of blog posts I had, in spite of spotty WiFi. Not wanting to leave the comforts of the room, I also ordered a pizza and ate it in bed. It was a hard day of riding, but I feel like ending the day with a little luxury is more than welcome. Now I'm in Montana, and I'm going to sleep thinking of Montaña.


Momma said...

Hi Blake!
I was doing my daily devotions and praying for all in need when I was instructed to encourage you with Isaiah 61. So, when you get a chance, look up this scripture and I pray it will bless you.
All my love, Momma

Grandma said...

You were one day ahead of Obama at Old Faithful! Some years ago we drove the same road through Yellowstone as you--but we drove from the north end (Montana) to the south. I remember it as being scary in a car--pretty narrow roads--so I can imagine how difficult it was for you on a bike. But, oh what sights! We had our pictures taken in front of the lake with the Tetons in the background just like the one you included. Your photos are wonderful. Thank you for sharing this great experience.
Love, Grandma and Gramps

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