Day Seventeen – Ennis to West Yellowstone, MT

Day: 17
Day Mileage: 72.3
Total Miles: 972.5

I woke up from behind the distillery early. Throughout the trip, I’ve woken up early but haven’t been on the bike early. It’s terribly hard to talk yourself into getting moving again knowing you have many miles and several hours of that thing the the remainder of the day. I packed up everything as I now have my system in more of an order than before. I then see my way down to the Picanic Basket for breakfast, coffee, and to prepare for the day. I stayed a good while listening to anglers in town telling fish stories from the river. It was enjoyable as was the was the coffee. 

It was nearing 8:30 and I needed to get going. I had a full day ahead with 70 miles and climbing 2500ft over those 70 miles so nothing terribly strenuous or steep but still, it was going to be a long day.  As I got out of town just one mile, I realized I set my chapstick on the table at camp and it fell through the crack and I didn’t pick it up. I was only one mile but couldn’t turn around. I just couldn’t. I was on Highway 287 heading south for a good portion of the day before the for the 61 miles before turning  a bit east and then the final 8 mile stretch south. 

Two things worked against me today: the wind and the traffic. It was Labor Day weekend and I was ons one of the main thoroughfares to Yellowstone National Park from the west. The south wind wasn’t bad to start but picked up throughout the day. I was going a slow 9-10 mph during this long, gradual uphill and into the wind stretch. In addition, this stretch of 287 was terrible. The shoulder was wide enough, however there were rumble strips well into the shoulder by 2ft so any deviation or if I just wasn’t paying close enough attention, I would ride over the rumble strips. With 16 days of riding under my belt, I didn’t need any addition bumps for my downstairs…I just trudged along, cursing on occasion and yelling at trucks and the Montana Department of Transportation. 

Finally, I made it to where most of the traffic turn for a different route to Yellowstone and it was a much more enjoyable ride. I came upon Earthquake Lake and Hegpen Lake as well as a few Continental Divide Trail hikers who started in Mexico 4 months ago and were taking an alternate route to shave off 20 miles because they’re sneaking into the winter season by the time they reach Glacier National. I turned south heading into West Yellowstone. I stopped where a crown had gathered and saw two moose(s?) in the creek and snapped some grainy photos. I kept on where I stopped at a campsite a few miles from West Yellowstone. They were full but did say I could pay $20 to throw a tent behind a trailer in some grass. I knew there might be something in town so I went the final 2 miles where I had cell service. Made calls around to the RV parks and zero of them have permits for tent campers which I was unaware of. There was a hostel in town that had availability, though it was more than $20. It was a twin bed in a private room with showers and bathrooms down the hall. I jumped at the chance and was even given a discount for being a cyclists. 

I showered, had dinner and brought in all my stuff from the bike before winding down and the day hit me hard. I was tired and struggled to watch the Mizzou-Wyoming game knowing Anthony Robb was there just across the way from where I was I didn’t last long and was in my way to bed… in a bed! 

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