Tough day, and it’s not over yet. I got out of the RV park relatively early around 6:45. I had heard that the winds were mellow in the morning, and that was mostly right. There wasn’t much wind, but there was slow insidious climbing: the kind that looks flat but actually cuts your speed in half. The other thing was that the smoke was serious this morning. I wore my gaiter all day long
It may not look like much in the photo but the haze was surreal. The distant mountains were shrouded in an unhealthy looking fog, and I was headed right for it. I made realitvely slow time but eventually got my first view of the Madison River and the valley it’d carved for itself
The wind was picking up in the valley and it made the going even slower. It also blew the smoke towards me and I could feel it clogging my throat and eyes. The pleasant views continued
I rounded a corner and saw the worst of the smoke yet
The photos don’t do it justice, I was quite worried about the health effects. Despite the smoke the scenery really was pleasant, I watched a few fly fishers casting in the quick moving waters. I passed a very nice rest area and got some water and some ventilated air. The continuous climbing continued until I crested a hill into a wide plateau and got some maybe clearer air
I was quite tired by this point, because I’d failed to make a proper breakfast and was running low on snacks. It’s actually good this happened today so I can stock up before Yellowstone.
My maps showed that I’d be passing through the mountains in front of me but I wasn’t quite sure where. The smoke made it hard to tell but eventually I made it into this crack in the imposing mountains
I pulled into a visitor center for Earthquake Lake: a lake dammed up by a massive earthquake triggered landslide, the location of which is still evident
The lake was really nice too, though 28 people died in the earthquake that created it.
Just up the valley was an artificial lake, lake Hebgen and I climbed through a very pretty river valley to reach it.
A bit more climbing and I crested the dam. The lake was huge and almost empty on a Monday at lunchtime.
At one point 3 army helicopters flew low overhead and disappeared around the large rock faces in the canyon. I stopped at a small store and got some Thai tea, cheese curds, ice cream, and shrimp for lunch. A random mix, but tasty. I fell asleep for a bit on the picnic table and felt much better afterwards. The riding after this point was flat, at first hugging the lake then heading east towards highway 191, which was only 9 miles to West Yellowstone. This road was also flat and soon enough I made it to town. I got some barbeque, filled my bottles, stocked up on breakfast and lunch foods at the grocery, then went to the visitor center for Yellowstone. I confirmed what I knew about the park then used their wifi to write and upload this post. I plan to head 14 miles into the park now that traffic is dying down and camp at a nice hiker/biker campground. I’m uploading this partial post because I don’t anticipate any service in the park. When I get service I’ll update this post with the rest of the day. Wish me luck!
Update: made it to Madison campground! The ride was beautiful and mostly uneventful. Most the traffic was leaving the park and only a few cars were entering. I did get passed by quite a few rental RVs which are my new least favorite thing. The park really is stunning
There was one scary incident as I rode along. There was a narrow shoulder and a 6 inch drop off to my right. I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have been and checked my rearview mirror to see if any cars were coming. In that moment I either veered or hit something and went of the pavement into the dirt. Directly in front of me was a large ditch and I braced for a crash. Stunningly the bike didn’t go down and rode right over the ditch. I got my foot down and came to a safe stop. The only injury was a bruised palm from the impact of the ditch and a scrape on my inside thigh where it contacted the top tube pump. Could have been sooooo much worse, particularly if a car was coming.
I made it to the campground and it’s great. It has a store so I even got cold ice cream for desert. There are 3 other bikers here including one on a tricycle going from Orlando to Alaska! I met my first new Eastbounders in a while, Kelley and John. John is taking a different route but I’ll probably see Kelley again tomorrow. I think tomorrow I’m going to cross the Continental Divide again, maybe twice. Exciting stuff, but I need an early start to avoid traffic as much as possible. Night!
- 3 cliff bars
- 4 shot blocks
- Thai tea
- Ice cream
- Beef jerky
- Pork sandwich
- Mac and cheese
- Chai tea
- Rice and beans
- Cheese curds
- Ice cream sandwich