Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 38, Off route to Jackson, WY

Day 38, Wilderness Boundary Restaurant, WY (20 miles past Dubois, WY) - Jackson, WY 69 miles (2746 total)

July 18, 2008

Time on bike: 6:25:07

Avg: 10.8

Daily Ascent: 2553 ft (37 ft/mi)

Elevation at days end: 6095 ft

Max: 36.5 mph

Off route to Jackson, WY. Two things I forgot to mention. Yesterday when I was biking I must have been passed by 40 Porsches or similar cars. Small sporty cars, in other words. Sometimes they would be in groups of 4-5, other times by themselves. There must be a Porsche gathering like there is for Harleys in Sturgis… don’t know. Also, along the same lines though, a long time ago in Colorado I saw something very funny: a Porsche with a roof rack carrying a kayak.

I must say that spending the night in a cabin as opposed to a tent way up here in the mountains is divine. Instead of waking up to temps in the upper 30’s the cabin stayed toasty warm. When I pulled in last night I had my choice of $15 for a camp ground or $20 for a small, unfinished cabin. All that wasn’t finished was to run electricity to it for lights and the electric heater. But that little thing didn’t need a heater to stay warm.

I was at the midway point of climbing up to Togwotee Pass, so I knew I had some work to do. I began the ascent layered up with my long tights on and my fleece on as well. I was on the lookout for Bears as I ascended figuring that if I did encounter a bear I would turn around and head down the mountain as quickly as I could. I avoided the temptation to drop $50 on bear spray.

Up and up I went. The grade of the road wasn’t steep. Maybe 4-5%. Sometimes it would level out and sometimes it would go downhill for a quick minute, but mostly it was a climb, which I didn’t mind as my fingers and toes began to get numb with cold. I cycled passed pine trees with rocky cliffs not far up ahead of me in the distance.

I finally did reach the peak only to find snow still on the ground. Just as I hit the top a familiar black car passed me and pulled over. It was Melody and Morgan, the wife and daughter of John and Little John, father and 12 year old, who have been biking with me off and on. Come to find out that after a 120 mile day and a 115 mile day they took a day off in Dubois to get rested up.

At the top of the hill was one of my favorite signs. The one with the semi truck pointing down a steep incline! Yipee! The sign read, “6% Grade Next 17 Miles”. Music to my eyes. Downhills are great, but downhills in the cold are somewhat bittersweet to say the least. Downhill = speed. Speed = wind. Wind = windchill. Windchill = very cold! Not to mention that I’m not peddling so that makes me even colder. I kept wrapped up in my fleece, at times burying my face inside the fleece. There was road construction part way down so I had to stop for a flag woman just before the place they were dynamiting the road. She basically fit right in with the other Wyoming drivers in telling me that she hated cyclists and that we never use the shoulder of the road (because it’s full of rocks and debris). Eventually she let me pass and just a few miles down was a lodge and gas station where I picked up some hot chocolate before finishing the descent.

The descent opened up a spectacular view of the Teton Mountains off in the distance. The view was hazy, however, which I later learned is a result of some California brush fires. My pictures scarcely show the mountains but it was a beautiful sight to ride into. Grand Teton, the highest peak of the range, is 13,770 feet above sea level and there are 8 peaks over 12,000 feet.

I reached the junction and had to decide whether to go off route 30 miles to Jackson or to continue on the trail. Mark had suggested that I go into town, so I mentally flipped a coin in my head and headed to Jackson for the day. The ride into town could not have been more spectacular. The snow covered Teton Mountains lay just off my right shoulder and towered above me. I cranked up my iPod and sang show tunes at the top of my voice for most of the ride into town. It may seem funny to have passed a former shop teacher wearing Spandex and wailing on the likes of Rent and Aida but I really didn’t care at that point.

I wheeled into Jackson at around 1pm ready for lunch. Jackson is a gorgeous little town. “It’s regarded as one of the best towns in America,” my friend Ashby tells me. It must be. Several famous people have a home here: Harrison Ford, Tiger Woods, Sandra Bullock, Gary Shaw, and Vice President Dick Cheney to name a few. Jackson is located near Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and the National Elk Refuge, home to 11,000 elk. On my way into Jackson I encountered a handful of wild buffalo, but no elk. (There’s 11,000, how did I miss them??)

Angela’s dad lives here and is the chief of police here. Angela is a friend from Peace Corps, so I called up her dad who was out of town but he insisted that I stay at his place with his wife and step-daughter, so I ventured over there. They live in a beautiful log cabin home that looks out on some rolling hills. They were gracious hosts who fed and entertained me for the evening. It was nice to sleep in an actual home and eat a home cooked meal for a change. Thirteen year old Chelsea had stories galore for me about everything from playing violin in school orchestra to her future home which included a tennis court, soccer goal and trampoline.

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