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Riding through the Wind River Canyon

Yesterday (July 4), we rode north from Riverton, WY to Worland. For about the first 25 miles, there was a fierce headwind, which caused me to resolve to get rid of the small (about 8 by 12 inch) nylon bag that I usually fasten to my handle bars. It felt like I had a sheet of plywood on the front–so much wind resistance!

Eventually, we rode through a series of three tunnels from which we emerged into the Wind River Canyon. Here’s the entrance to the first one.

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The Canyon had amazing rock formations. Mostly, they appeared to be sedimentary-the sediment at the bottom of some ancient water body. I know if I had time I’d have been able to find fossils. Here’s what the canyon walls looked like.

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We emerged from the canyon at Thermopolis. There is a state park there that features what they claim is world’s largest hot spring. I took this photo of the area showing the mineral benches that have built up over time as the hot water seeps out and evaporates. It was similar to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone.

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The last part of the day was about 30 miles of riding through the parched desert. At a water stop about ten miles from the end, we dumped ice water on each other. What a relief!

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All together we rode 93.4 miles.

Entering the Wyoming Dry Lands

Today (July 3), was an 82 mile ride from Dubois to Riverton. It was easier than most have been due to quite a bit of downhill.

Early in the ride, I took this shot of the Wind River and one of the first examples I have seen of the characteristic red rock hills of Wyoming.

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As we rode deeper into the dry lands, I took these two shots of the land on opposite sides of the road. This side was irrigated.

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This side was not.

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Tomorrow, we ride 93+ miles to Worland, WY. Happy 4th of July to us! Hope you all have a grand day!

The Tetons and Togwotee Pass

When we left Jackson Hole on Monday morning (July 2), we went by the town square in the old part of town. There are four of these arches made of horns shed by bull elk each year and picked up at the nearby wildlife refuge.  One arch is on each corner of the square.

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Soon, we were riding on a beautiful new bike trail through Grand Teton National Park. The view of the Tetons was awe inspiring.

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We learned from signs along the way that the Tetons are the youngest part of the Rockies, a mere 9 million years old!
Beneath Mt. Moran, on the north end of the chain, is Jenny Lake. Here’s what it looked like.

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After we left Teton Park, we climbed for about 18 miles to an elevation of 9658 feet to get over Togwotee Pass. But for about 2 or 3 miles we were not allowed to ride due to road construction and were transported with our bikes in the back of trucks.

This is what the pass looked like.

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Here’s another view of the beautiful alpine meadows at the pass.

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And here’s something I found humorous. It’s an official highway sign with a misspelling of “Dubois,” our destination for Monday night. After a mostly downhill ride from this point, I reached Dubois at about 7:45 p.m.

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On this day, we covered 101.5 miles, but it wasn’t an official century 100 miler because of the short truck ride.

Dragging Myself Over Teton Pass

Yesterday (June 30), we rode 68 or so miles from Ashton, ID to Jackson Hole, WY. The ride up and over Teton Pass was a bear! The first part as we left Ashton was green roller coaster hills with the Tetons way in the distance. Here’s a photo.

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Then, there was a portion where we went through some small Idaho towns, like Driggs, that are beginning to gentrify as the aura of Jackson Hole spreads into nearby places, even over the mountains. Here’s a photo of some beautiful peonies outside a shopping area in Driggs.

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In Driggs, we began climbing.  First, we reached the Idaho-Wyoming border. Here’s yet another shot of me crossing yet another border.

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After lots of climbing beyond the border, I reached Teton Pass, over 8000 feet. Here’s a shot of the information board at the pass and then the view from the pass, which was spectacular!

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The view.

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After a long ride down a 10% grade, we arrived in Jackson Hole yesterday evening.

This morning (our one day off per week), I saw two more interesting sights as I walked to breakfast. First, there were some hot air balloons taking off.

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Then, there was this osprey diligently caring for its young.

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“See” you again tomorrow.

First View of Tetons

The ride today (June 29) was wonderful!  We rode from West Yellowstone, Montana a little west and then crossed back into Idaho and rode basically south for the rest of the day, ending in Ashton, Idaho. Here is a picture of the signs at the border.

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This was at 7072 feet and we crossed the Continental Divide again.

We spent a good part of today’s ride on Idaho Highway 47, also called Mesa Falls Scenic Drive. From there, we got our first glimpse of the Tetons. Here’s how they looked.

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We kept on rolling along and had our lunch break near the overlook for lower Mesa Falls.

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I thought one of the best parts of the day was seeing HUGE rainbow trout in the Warm River. This was near a bridge over the river about six miles below the Lower Mesa Falls overlook. There is a platform that allows a great look at the fish. The fish had spawned and were guarding their redds. No fishing is allowed, but feeding is. One man had brought a loaf of bread, which they loved, and there was also a dispenser to purchase regular fish food. At one point, a gull came by and battled the fish for a big hunk of white bread. Here’s a shot of the episode. It’s hard to get a shot of fish under water, but if you use your imagination you can make them out.

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Tomorrow, we climb Teton Pass and end the day in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
 

Earthquake Lake

Today’s ride (June 28) was through beautiful country starting in Ennis and ending in West Yellowstone. It was a total of 72.9 miles going gradually uphill all day long. A bit past the middle of the ride, we saw Earthquake Lake. It was formed in 1959 when an earthquake caused a huge landslide that blocked the Madison River. This first photo shows the constriction in the river where the earth slid down.

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The next shot shows trees that were inundated and died.

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A short distance later, I came upon a man with a horse cart and three beautiful draught horses. I spoke with him and found out he is taking a year to drive the horses 5000 miles around the western US and Canada.  Here’s what they looked like clopping along the highway.

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The final curious sight for the day was this sign by Hebgen Lake.

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I watched and watched for the alleged creatures but never saw any.

Check Out the House of Seven Gables

Today (June 27), we rode from Townsend to Ennis, Montana. Near the beginning of the ride, I spotted this mansion on the banks of the Jefferson River.

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Later, we saw this somewhat more modest home, with a sign reading, “Parker homestead” near the road.

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After about 60 miles of riding, we began a five mile climb up a seven % grade. You know, the type the semis groan up at 40 mph! At the top was a sign describing that this was the pass on the Bozeman Trail developed by John Bozeman for the purpose of bringing produce from the Gallatin Valley to south western Montana. Here I am with the sign.

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I think the ride today was 78 or 79 miles. At the end, we arrived at the high school in Ennis, which is beautiful. Here is the bronze sculpture of mustangs outside the front door.

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And here are some simple wooden benches I liked outside another door.

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Tomorrow, we ride to West Yellowstone.

The Unibomber

Lincoln, Montana, where we spent last night, is famous as the place where Ted Kosinsky, the unibomber, hung out. So I was a bit alarmed when, just after sunset, we heard many loud explosions and what seemed to be gunfire. This morning, we found out this is the method the town uses to keep bears away. It rained last night but minor amounts and I felt dry and cozy inside my little tent.

The big event for today was crossing the Continental Divide. Here is the obligatory photo of me doing that.

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However, not too long after I rode down the back side of this pass (Flesher Pass), an horrendous gusty wind came up. It wasn’t a matter of just riding against a constant wind. It was completely unpredictable. It blew me across the center line several times and kicked up so much debris I felt I was being sandblasted. I felt unable to control my bike and resorted to the sag wagon. As it turned out, a number of others also did. Of those who continued to ride, there were at least four crashes with one of those resulting in a broken wrist. So I feel like I made the correct choice.

Tomorrow, we ride to Ennis, Montana, a famous fly fishing spot.

Getting Broiled

Today, we rode 80 miles from Missoula to Lincoln. In the afternoon, the temperature was 88. We had to keep guzzling lots of water to protect against dehydration.

As we came into Lincoln, we spotted these horses. They looked quite well kept and healthy.

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After setting up my tent, eating, and showering, I took this photo of some of the group’s tents. I thought they looked quite colorful.

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My tent is the blue and orange one. There is a chance of thunder storms tonight so I hope they all stay up. Check in tomorrow to see.

The Gallatin

I did not get a chance to blog yesterday evening, so this blog covers yesterday (June 23) as well as today.

The day before yesterday, I cheated you out of a picture of the magnificent Clark’s Fork of the Gallatin taken in Thompson Falls because I could not get it oriented properly. I have fixed the orientation problem and here is that photo.

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I have included it in the blog for the 23d because we rode along the same beautiful stream for many miles yesterday. In total, we rode 102 miles. So, that makes two century rides for me in one week after never having completed one before.

One of the other riders is a marathoner. He told me that last fall he did a series of four marathons in four days in Seattle. He said, up until now, that was the hardest physical challenge he had faced but last week’s rides have set the bar even higher. That’s hard for me to believe, since I have never completed a single marathon and consider running that far even once near impossible.

Here is a shot taken yesterday about 75 miles into the ride, just beyond the town of Arlee, Montana.

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You can see the Rockies looming ahead, but the tour organizers assure us that this week will be easier than last.  Anyway, today I rode my bike over to the REI here in Missoula and purchased shoes with toe clips and the pedals to match. Everyone assures me they will make riding up hills easier (as far as I know, there is no one else on the tour without them.)

Tomorrow, we ride about 80 miles to Lincoln, Montana. It’s supposed to be sunny and hot. Hope that makes for some good photos. Tune in tomorrow to see!