I am currently on day two of a rest period in Missoula, Montana. This is because Monday morning when we woke up freezing, we decided that it may be a good idea to push 120+ miles into the biggest city we’ve seen in quite some time. There was an open ended warm showers host that was able to take us, plus the last 50 miles were on a bike path so the mental strain from riding with cars all day would be reduced. It was a long day, but we all survived.
Tomorrow I will be heading towards Idaho for my 3rd to last new state. I’ve decided to change routes and add Washington into the mix.
July 26: Dubois to Signal Mountain (65 miles)
Rich was feeling neauseous so we got a late stsrt, but did manage to take a few photos with the giant jackalope. The days climb takes us through Togwotee Pass, grizzly bear capital of the world. David appears to be possessed as his climbing is something that we have yet to be seen. I suppose fear of bear attacks can lead to inspired riding.
The climb is fairly long and steady. The dense forest and mountain views are gorgeous. One cannot see the Grand Tetons as we had hoped, we do however find our Aussie friends, Vic and Howard relaxing at the nearby lake. We pull off the road to get water, snack and rest. There was a cowboy fly fishing and a beautiful blue tick hound patrolling the parking lot and bikes.
The gang put on extra layers prior to the descent. This is almost standard as the sweat from climbing cools rather quickly when flying downhill. The descent is fast from 9,500+ feet. Finally the Tetons come into view and we are all stunned. Pulling over at an overlook we snap some photos before a quick lunch and finishing the descent. At one point it appears as though we are entering the wide plains of Jurassic Park, with expansive views of endless tree covered mountains to our left and huge open fields ahead with the Teton mountain range as the backdrop.
We get to Signal Mountain to camp. The great park about National Parks camping is that they never turn away hiker/bikers, as one cannot cover enough distance to find open accommodations like a motorist. A space is offered next to the recycling area in the campgrounds. This worries the group as it would likely attract bears. We are informed there is a single black bear that wanders the camp.
David and I are offered space to camp by a random guy, Tim who was camping by himself for a few days. Tim recently lost his wife and was out seeing the country, coping in his own special way. After I solo swim in the lake, a few of us shared a few beers and conversation as an electrical storm flashed behind the Tetons. The thunderless strikes illuminated massive silohuettes. All decide to turn in as the storm came closer. I was last to bed taking in the granduer.
July 27: Signal Mountain to Grant Village (52 miles)
I woke up naturally just before 6. I heard some loud footsteps just outside my tent about 20 minutes prior to forcing myself out of the warm sleeping bag into the crisp morning air. Knowing David tends to sleep a bit later, I thought it was odd that Tim would have walked passed my tent that early. When I saw Tim packing his car, he confirmed that he hadn’t walked passed my tent. Rather it was the neighborhood black bear. He had taken a few photos, none with much clarity, but certainly within our site. Fortunately/unfortunately this would be my only bear encounter in Wyoming.
The ride of the day is constant climbing, not the flat route the maps led us to believe. The mixed views of lakes, canyons, forests, rivers amd waterfalls lessen the pain. We arrive our next campgrounds, grant Village early, early enough to have our own campsite. Or so we thought….
About 2 hours of setting up camp a crazy looking hiker yelled at us that we were on his space. We quickly informed him that he was wrong. Not 15 minutes later another appeared. He was more insistent that we were in the wrong and told us he had paper work confirming his stay at the site until August 1. Again we informed him that the office told us this space was available to us. After an uncomfortable conversation he left to clarify with the front office.
Rich and I went to the front office to follow up on our own. It turns out that the site was the hiker/biker site and they could fill the space with as many people needed space. This makes sense, but did not make us feel better about sleeping next to this individual. The same information was relayed to this man which made him calm down, a little….
The man ranted the entire time he set up his 12 person tent. He injected himself into any conversation we had. I bought firewood to provide some light and warmth as we hung out. Sure enough he made it a priority to tamper with the fire, moving burning wood by hand. Then throwing more of our limited wood pile onto an already heathly fire. I informed him we had the fire building under control. He then told us that if the rangers were to fine us for numerous reasons that his friend “Harmon” would take care of it.
Harmon was apparently a jack of all trades. A lawyer, a federal judge, a influencer of law in Wyoming. As far as I could tell he was the priest from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Should we have any legal ussues, singing a college song and doing a little dance would be enough to appease the all powerful Harmon and get us out of trouble. Needless to say we continued to limit the interactions with this man. We all slept without ear plugs which was smart, but left us sleepless as this man ranted all night in a one-sided conversation. When he decided to walk around our tents in the middle of the night, that also caused some groggy concern.
July 28: Grant Village to West Yellowstone (60 miles)
The following morning contained the same mentally ill interjectiond of the previous night. Our packing was quick and deliberate as we wanted to move on from our engaging neighbor.
The day’s ride was just as gorgeous as the previous day’s. Instead of constant climbing we found a few amazing descents. This included a stop at Old Faithful and the various other hot springs and geyers. The Grand Prismatic Spring was the most impressive site of the day.
The ride out of the park into the town of West Yellowstone was incredible. Even with a slight headwind, Jon and I averaged about 18 mph. We arrive in town ten minutes before the local electronics store closes. I am finally able to replace my shredded usb-c cord.
Rich, Tash, Jon and I then attempt to find affordable housing for the evening. After trying a motel, the fire department, a Baptist Church, a campgrouns, an RV park finally takes us in. The place is perfect; soft grass, clean bathrooms, laundry, WiFi and sane neighbors make all the difference. Jon and I grab pizza at a local bar with live music.
July 29: West Yellowstone to Ennis (74 miles)
Rich Tash and Jon take off early for today’s ride. I meet David for a proper breakfast before taking off. The highway out of town is super busy but make our first turn onto a smaller, more relaxed country road. Montana seems to be very similar to what we expected in Yellowstone National Park, tree covered mountains and gorgeous lakes.
What we did not expect to find was Earthquake Lake. A massive earthquake in the late 50s cause a massive landslide blocking the river, causing the valley to flood, creating a lake within days. Twenty eight individuals camping lost their lives, nineteen of which were never found. I am quite surprised this was never made into a disaster film. The lake is stunning with some eerie reminders, dead trees lining the lake rim mainly, of the disaster that took place not too long ago. It makes one wonder how many natural features near your residence are a result of a significant natural disaster.