Pages

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 16 - Jackson to Dubois, Wyoming - Heaven and Hell



There is a God...

so says Mike Munk, our trip leader.

If you can look at the scenery we are going to see today and not believe in a supreme being, well, you aren't lookin' hard enough.

But by the end of the day we believe in the devil as well as God.




The day starts early for me.

Well, I'm up at 4AM as usual trying to get the blog out.

I'm 2 days behind!



I load my luggage early and go alone to Bubba's, a local popular breakfast joint.

The group plans to breakfast at 7:00, but I need to get on the road earlier than that.

It's a long day - 88 miles, big climb and great scenery.

Bubba's is charming.

I'm there as they open.




The waitress knows all the other diners by name and knows many of their routine orders.

Good eggs, toast, and grapefruit juice to start a big day.







And of course, Diet Coke.






As I start the morning ride through Jackson, I am sad that we don't get to spend  a full day there.




I mean everyone felt whupped after crossing the Teton Pass...

...and Jackson is a lovely town to explore...

and the next biking day we climb the Continental Divide.



What are they trying to do to us?!



I bike by the National Elk Refuge...

...where the elk shed their antlers every year and the boy scouts gather them for the arches into the town...














I get to see The Thoroughbreds in action for the first time as they catch up with me...



...and I get to see them posing at the entrance of Teton National Park.






I bike over the Gros Ventre River sparkling in the early sun...







And there are the mountains...







Magnificent!

The French explorers named them Les Trois Tetons - the three breasts...

But to me the jagged peaks soaring to the sky are so masculine...








While the gentle hills across the road are soft and feminine...







It is great fun biking through the park with the friends I've made on this trip...

We stop and take each other's pictures...

and share ideas on how to capture a smidgeon of the beauty around us on pixels.









Bright blue flowers line the road...

They remind me of forget-me-nots...







And these white ones look like tiny wedding bouquets...















The fields are full of bright flowers distracting me from the awesome mountains.












But my friends are quick to remind me of the grandeur we've come so far to see...






The Tetons are unique because there are no foothills...

The mountains leap straight up out of the plains...


We can thank John D Rockefeller....

Citizens of Jackson Hole were upset as hot-dog stands and souvenir shops began to fill the valley.

They asked Rockefeller to help...

So he set up an organization to buy the land in the valley as it came up for sale.

He spent millions of dollars buying this precious land...

...and then he donated it to the US government so it would be protected for future generations...





....and that is us.

And this is Sidney here visiting the park with her Mother....













And it's not all about stone and flowers....
Kim and Tom (fellow bikers) pointed out to me these pronghorn antelopes hiding in the scrub...

I come face to face with two big mule deer with velvet antlers...

but they were too quick for my camera.




Birdsong fills the air along this creek.

A few years ago the creeks of nearby Yellowstone were silent...

The banks were bare of willows - eaten to the quick by the large herd of elk who stayed in the valley.

It wasn't until wolves were returned to Yellowstone that the elk began to migrate again...

The willows returned to the creek...

as did the songbirds and the beaver....





I wonder, as I look at this beaver dam on a willow-lined creek, if the wolves have also helped the lands of the Tetons.








We leave Teton National Park, but not before Leo takes one last photo....










As do I...





As I bike along
I notice this sign on a fence...



The people that own this land, in full view of the Grand Tetons, have placed a conservation agreement on the land with the Jackson Hole Land Trust.

Like Rockefeller, they want to preserve the beauty of this land for the future...

My little 33 acres in Indiana that I've protected with the Red-tail Conservancy seems so small next to this incredible place.





And next to the conserved land I see Nan - leaning on a fence taking pictures...

What could she be seeing?






It's a prairie dog town!

I join Nan for a few moments of chasing these little critters down with the camera.







Okay, time to get busy...



Those clouds ahead look ominous...

We still have to climb the Continental Divide today and those clouds look like rain....


....or snow.








So I turn my bike to the mountain and begin another difficult climb....


...and to my surprise the first people I see biking up the mountain with me are my old friends from the Teton Pass - Dereka and Ian!








With a sense of Deja-vu the three of us struggle up still another steep incline...








As I get higher above the tree line, I look back for one last view of the Tetons...

Will I ever see anything more amazing than that?



Oh, my goodness! 





There is a man riding his unicycle up this mountain!

And down this mountain!!!

Do unicycles even have brakes?

This is Skye Horn...

He is riding his unicycle across the country...

4,200 miles!

And I thought I had it tough!








And we pass lots of people biking up these mountains loaded down with full gear...

They are biking across America carrying their own luggage, camping out...

Wow!

These people are truly amazing!





But my body is aching.

I lean down for a stretch and count the miles to the top...



We make it to a stopping place - Al calls it the restaurant with nothing because she couldn't find anything to eat there...



Back to the mountain...

Just 8 more miles to go....







We are passed by a free-spirited group fully loaded for their camping journey across the country...


But they are stopped by construction...

...as are we.



The highway officials will not allow bikers to bike through the construction zone.

Some of our earlier bikers - including Al - were tossed with bikes on the back of a flat top truck for a very cold and bumpy ride to the other side.






ABB to the rescue!

They load our bikes on top of the van and carrY us over the top in nice warm seats...






But we want to see the top!

We peer through the logos on the windows to see the continental divide cross beneath our tires.

And we see snow!




Once past the construction, bike leader Jeff unloads all the bikes and sends us on our way...

Down the steep mountain - freezing to death!

I have never been so cold in all of my life!

My bicycle starts to wobble from the shivering of my hands!




When I get to the Wild Bunch Cafe I had to stop!

And there are my friends -  Gerard, Ian, Allison and John.











Hot chocolate never
tasted so good!













Than Dereka arrives and kisses her husband, John, in relief.


But still we have to face 20 miles downhill into this devilish bitter-cold headwind!






I would never have made it without my hero, Gerard...

Gerard is tough...

He likes to lead a paceline, not follow.

One time, on the ride across Iowa, and and a buddy side by side lead about 100 people!



As we charge down the slope, every now and then he needs a break.

We stop and take photos of the beautiful painted hills around us.

It is overwhelming to see so much incredible beauty every single day of this journey!







As we pause, photoing, we are joined by John who is exhausted.












And then Ian and Dereka catch up and we have a moment of joviality before we face that dreaded wind again.





Gerard leading - he pulls me down the mountain...

I honestly don't think I could have made it without him.

As we near the town of Dubois, I see a wagon of bones.

At first I think it is the bikers who didn't make it.





Then I see the restaurant where all of the others have gathered for dinner already.

I pull in - my legs shaking...

I can hardly stand.


How can I face the road tomorrow?






Post a Comment