Ride to the Rockies, Day Seven
Before eight, I had met up with Brent and Julie and we were heading north out of Jackson. The drive out was spectacular with the first rays of the morning sun peeping over the Wind River Range lighting the tops of the Tetons on our left.
I wanted to get a still shot of the Tetons with my bike in the foreground, but Brent and Julie, with their photographer free to shoot “from the hip” as they rode, kept riding. I saw a line of cars stopped ahead and figuring it was my last chance for the photo and handy place to stop I pulled over, thinking surely soon I would be missed by the pair disappearing in the distance.
The Grand Tetons on my left, north of Jackson
And on my right, bison posing with the Wind River Range in the background
As I dismounted I found out why all the cars had stopped as I glanced to the east and saw a small herd of bison grazing in the mountain valley below the Wind River peaks. I spun around and got my photo of the Tetons with a bonus shot of the bison with my telephoto lens before heading north again in hopes of catching my compadres soon. I rode for a while then stopped to call them. They had stopped just past the toll gate at the entrance of Teton Park Road. At the gate I was shocked at the cost of admission—fifty dollars. I asked if they didn't have a pass fro all the National Parks and what that would cost, as I knew I would be passing through at least two more US National Parks on the ride. That turned out to be $80, a better deal, so I reluctantly pried the money from my pockets, and handed it to the attendant, but not until I had asked if there was a “senior discount” (not until age 67!).
I found Brent and Julie at the lay by and explained why I had stopped and agreed on signals in case I wanted to do some more photography. Off we went on our ride through the park, with the towering peaks always overhead on our left, and exited on the north end and almost instantly entering Yellowstone National Park. We took the west loop and stopped at the visitor center at Old Faithful where I successfully managed to get all my souvenir buying for my wife and kids out of the way. The geysers were impressive, but so many people crowded in the park ruined it for me and diminished the views. I think if I was to stay and camp for a few days and hike out away from the throngs of tourists, it might fare much better as a scenic place. We did manage to see many more geysers with fewer people surrounding them and even some more bison, so the ride was pleasant if not spectacular.
A photo of Old Faithful with the crowds carefully cropped out
We worked our way around the west side of the park and headed out the north on US 89, into Montana, bound eventually to Glacier National Park, on the Canadian border. The mountains just kept coming as we rode and snow-capped peaks were in sight almost all day. We had decided Butte was a logical stopping place for the day and as we continued the hills on each side of the Madison River Valley we were in were shorter and covered mostly by grasses all the way to their tops, like a rolling prairie brought to the extreme. Pronghorn Antelope were grazing in the fields while a wicked wind was blowing from the west making our bikes heel over as if we were in a turn as we made our way north. It was amazingly strong and the gusts made it hard to stay on the road. We were running at about eighty and the combination of speed and wind made for a very tiring day. It had remained cold all day and I was dressed in everything I had and had the heated grips going all day.
With the cold and wind and resulting exhaustion, I almost gave up on the idea of tent camping but the Butte KOA was $33 and I decided save my money and use the tent after all. Brent and Julie were staying in motels, but before settling in for the night we all went to a Mexican restaurant recommended by the girl at the KOA that was nearby. Other than a handful of peanuts, a breakfast bar, and coffee, it was all I had eaten all day and Brent and Julie had not eaten anything, so sitting down to a hot meal was welcome by all.
After dinner, we went our separate ways and I set up camp. I took a shower, but didn't wash my hair so I would not have to spend the night in the cold with wet hair. I climbed into my bag with everything one except my Frog Tog riding pants and my Jacket.
So far 3,262.4 miles