Day Eighteen – West Yellowstone, MT to Grant Village, WY

Day: 18
Day Mileage: 53.4
Total Miles: 1,025.9

Good news first: I lost Chapstick #2 but found my chapstick #1. Also, I hit the 1,00 mile mark! But, chapstick!!!

Sleeping in a bed was terrific. I still woke up early. With staying in this hostel, as part of the package, they give you $10 to the cafe next door. That covered breakfast and coffee! Except that I ordered an additional side of hash browns. I don’t think I’ve lost weight on this trip because I eat and drink everything in sight. I had too many cups of coffee before going back to the room to begin preparing for the day. I had to lock my bike up outside last night which made me nervous, but it was there so that’s good. I loaded everything up in my panniers and put on al my gadgets that I took off just in case. I showered once more and I was ready to go. It was already 9:30 and pretty warm. I didn’t even need my jacket as I got going. 

Within a mile, I was at the entrance of Yellowstone National Park. I have never been and was pretty excited as I entered. That excitement turned to angst as Yellowstone has very narrow shoulders and everyone who enters is a tourist, including myself, so everyone is looking at the scenery and no one is looking out for cyclists. Not sure I have ever been as frustrated in a more serene environment. MOST cars gave me ample space, but there were a few. 

Apart from all that, Yellowstone is incredible by bicycle. It slows things way down. You’re able to see things you might have missed in a car, including a herd(?) of bison sitting in a field. I about caused an accident as I stopped to take a picture and cars upon cars stop just to see what you’re looking toward. I rode too close to a lone bison into a picnic area not even realizing it was there until it was too late. As I had to make my out of the area, I had to ride by again but this time ready for a picture. I was nervous and pressed the lock screen button instead.

It was going to be a relatively short day and that was by design. I pulled off at all but one pull off. Got off my bike and did the different basins scattered throughout my route. My one regret, which this gives me motivation to come back, is that I’ll miss almost 3/4s of the loop that many take. It would just take too much time that I don’t necessarily have to explore those areas on bike too. 4 miles short of Old Faithful, my watched ticked over to 27.5 miles…. making that officially 1,000 miles into my trip. To celebrate, I went to the Old Faithful Inn and celebrated with lunch and a beer. As I sat on the patio overlooking Old Faithful, the remainder of the ride crept into my mind. I needed to get going, but I hadn’t seen Old Faithful do its thing. It was 2:35 and the next predicted eruption was 3:00. I decided to pack up. By the time I used the restroom, loaded my bike again, it was close enough that I just decided to wait out the extra 15 minutes to see it because I knew I would best myself up otherwise. It was a treat. Lots of tourists still but it was very cool to see something you’ve known about your whole life do exactly what you’ve been told it does and it was terrific.  I was happy and now ready to take on the last 18 miles of the day. 

I had climbs almost immediately but nothing too terrible. The bad part was still the shoulder. I passed the Continental Divide twice more and reached my highest elevation at 8392. I was then able to coast around Yellowstone lake and into Grant Village. Hiker/biker sites are $9.50 you’re guaranteed a spot as a hiker/biker. This will be my first H/b site of the trip. On the pacific Coast, I used hiker/biker spots almost exclusively. Here showers were an additional 4.50 and I happily handed that over. As things began winding down, my camp neighbor Mike stopped by and we chatted about his 8 kids, their foreign exchange group camp outing, his hiking and hunting adventures. With no cell service, tonight Is an expected early night. Low is reported to be 37 so have geared up for bed and am already looking forward to coffee in the morning.

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