Day Twenty-One – Jenny Lake to Dubois, WY

Day: 21
Day Mileage: 73.3
Total Miles: 1,201.5

I popped up early fully intending to get on the road early knowing I would reach the highest point of my trip so far over Togwatee Pass. I had to back track 13 miles before getting on the main route again. I made coffee and ramen and then was able to be out and on the road at 7:54. Making the start time, I’m pretty sure, my earliest which is incredible because I wake up early every morning. I just don’t get ready quickly. 

On my way back to the route, I took in the Tetons as much as I could looking back frequently and staring in my rear view. They are incredible and I was sad that I had to leave them behind at this point in my trip. I’ll be back however, with Megan, and and something softer under my butt. As I turned on the main road, I knew the climb was upcoming, but I just didn’t know when. I stopped for a coffee, sandwich, Skor and to refill my waters and then it began almost immediately after. 

It took 19 miles to gain 3,500ft of elevation lasting almost a full 3 hours. Nothing was ever incredibly steep, it was just lengthy and uphill that entire time. As I came up the final stretch to the pass I reached the continental divide once more.. and then I kept going up. Another 1/2 mile passed before I reached the highest point I the pass. It was literally all downhill from there. That’s s joke I hear quite often when doing a trip such as this and rarely is it true. Today, it was. I coasted into Dubois with s tailwind as the scenery changed dramatically and the temperatures warmed back up as I made my way back to 6,000ft. 

Dubois is a small town of less than a thousand and I’m staying at St. Thomas Episcopal Church where they offer up their community room for hikers and bikers. I’m sharing the room with 3 hikers on the CDT as they resupply in town. I walked down to the laundromat where showers are offered for 50 cents a minute. I probably beat a world record to shower but it was nice as it was my first real one since Saturday. I walked through the small town and surprising was pretty lively and I’m not sure what its economy is based on or if tourism is it. I plan to take my time getting out of town tomorrow on my way to Lander, Wyoming.

Day Twenty – Jenny Lake to Jackson, WY to Jenny Lake

Day: 20
Day Mileage: 42.4
Total Miles: 1,128.2

I wanted to sleep in but there just isn’t really a way. I couldn’t. I was awake at 630 and began making coffee. It was incredibly nice to be able to roll out of the tent and not have to pack it or any of your stuff up. Could get used to that, especially with the views I had with my coffee. I wrote yesterday’s post when a red fox walked right up to me nearly. I scared it as much as it did me. It was collared I assume to keep track of him but it took a double take and then trotted off. After coffee, I loaded up my ONE pannier with dirty clothes and gadgets t be charged and made my toward Jackson.

Moose, Wyoming was only 6 Miles down a paved multi-use path alongside the Teton Range. I planned to stop there for additional coffee and maybe a bite. Instead, I found a visitors center and made my way through it looking at the history of the National park and it’s lore, including John d Rockefeller junior memorial highway rabies awareness race for the cure fun run. He owned 35,000 acres out here (still unsure how he obtained that) but then donated it to make it part of the National park system. Nice of him. Once I browsed the exhibits, it was only another 13 or so miles to Jackson.  

I arrived in Jackson hungry. With it being Tuesday after Labor Day I expected maybe things to be slower but it definitely wasn’t. I had never been to Jackson but it was busy. And it was touristy. I needed to make s stop at a bike shop to get a few items checked out and s screw tightened with a big wrench that I do not have. Once I had that situated, I had a lunch before going over to do laundry. I needed it. After knocking out the one load I had, I made my way back to the city center to check things out, charge some items and have a drink. I took my time before going back the 21 mikes back to Jenny Lake. Best part was that I knew I had a tail wind. It was going to be great. 

Those miles flew by. I arrived back at camp after about 75 minutes which is wonderfully fast for me being unloaded and with a tail wind. Once back at camp, I chatted with a cyclist who sold his dog walking company in Boston and has been on the road since May. He flew back to Boston for a wedding from Jackson last week and flew back to continue his trip. He suspected he could manage traveling for another two years with his budget before having to go back to work a real job. He had quite the plan going forward and carried a bunch of camera equipment to get some cool shots. I was back in bed by 8pm again. It had been a not so restful rest day though I felt great with the schedule going forward. 

Day Nineteen – Grant Village to Jenny Lake, WY

Day: 19
Day Mileage: 59.9
Total Miles: 1,085.8

I only woke up once to a dream where a bear growled (roared? bear’d?) outside of my tent and I internally screamed but couldn’t make noise otherwise and then I woke up. You know what sounds like footsteps or animals walking about, one’s pulse beating against a Micro Puff jacket’s material. The quieter you are the louder that “footstep” gets. After that dream, I slept incredibly well waking up as I do to rotate. That happens when sleeping on a single person sleeping pad, travel pillow and mummy sleeping bag. It just does. The temps were cool but not as cold as it was in Wisdom, MT for my first frost. I had prepared for cold and slept in tights, pants, wool long sleeve ….

Whoa! A fox walked up on me as I sit and write this.

…. and micro puff jacket and beanie. I got warm throughout the night to be honest. 

I made coffee and ramen for breakfast and packed up. It’s still getting easier to pack as my system becomes more and more routine. Only take 2 1/2 weeks. On my way out, I stopped at Mike’s campsite and stood by their fire for a little bit. I was cycling in pants, t-shirt, rain jacket to cut the wind and a buff. One thing with cycle touring is that when you get to camp, it’s hard to make a fire. One being the wood, but the other being you have a limited number of clothes. They already stink. And whatever you normally sleep in (the cleaner of the bunch) you don’t want smelling like a fire. Or at least I don’t. So I took advantage of someone’s else before leaving for the day. 

I had one climb out of the campground to the Continental Divide, but it was gradual and not near the elevation change from previous days so that was welcomed. From there is was just easy pedaling around Lewis Lake to the south entrance of Yellowstone. Traffic was noticeably light but there was still traffic. It seemed not as many people were rushed (read: assholes) to exit the park as they were to get to Old Faithful yesterday. Again, welcomed. There is a 5 mile stretch outside of Yellowstone called the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Highway Rabies Awareness Race For the Cure Fun Run that I didn’t know existed nor do I know the reasoning. I’ll need to look it up. After it, I was in Grand Teton National Park.

I was most excited for today. Today is why I went on this trip to begin with. I wanted to see the Grand Tetons. The pictures looked incredible and the mountains impressive. I should have picked an easier way to see the, I suppose but today was going to be the day that I saw the Grand Tetons for the first time. They did not disappoint. As I made my way down JDRJRARFTCFR I saw my first glimpse of real granite faced mountains. Not knowing what I was looking toward, I made a few turns and began my way around Jackson Lake and then approached a turnout: my first look at the Tetons. Sheesh. Incredible. I stopped took pictures and then kept going around Jackson Lake to Colter Bay Village where I’m glad I stopped.

It was a mile off route to Colter Bay but I was able to grab a drink and some snacks while sitting on Jackson Lake looking out to the Tetons. Families were swimming and having a great time as I took in everything. I was able to check in with everyone and speak to Megan as I had connection for the first time since West Yellowstone before going the last 19 miles to Jenny Lake.

I pulled off at almost all the turnoffs to take pictures and slowly made progress toward camp for the night. I stopped one last time at Signal Mountain Lodge where I had a late lunch and needed a break just 8 miles short of Jenny Lake because of brutal headwinds. Taking on the last 8 miles were made easier thanks to the views riding directly into the Tetons making their size even more impressive as they come out of the earth seemingly out of nowhere. 

Once I arrived at a Jenny Lake Campground, I set up camp. Paid my $12 for the night and changed out of my cycling gear and immediately jumped in the water. My first lake shower. It was such a nice temperature. Cold but once in, perfect. I swam for a bit, chatted with a woman who did research for the University of Nebraska in Omaha. After the swim, I made my way to camp and was asleep early, before 9pm. 

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.