Wednesday - July 10th
The summers in this particular part of the country have very long days and very short nights. I woke up shortly after 5:00 AM from the sunrise and was in and out fighting the mosquitos that were taking over our campsite for the next couple hours. We all slowly realized we weren't getting anymore rest and started making our way down the hill one by one to start the day off with a ride back up the pass we had driven up and down the day prior. We experienced another omen on our hike back to the vehicles similar to the meteorite from the night before. I've been throwing that "omen" word around more and more after reading The Alchemist earlier this year. I really appreciate the spiritual theme that everything in the world conspires to help you discover what your personal destiny is and you'll receive signs, or omens, along the way to help let you know whether you are on the right path to discover what you're living for. As we left our campsite Chris and I spotted a moose running about 50 meters from our campsite. I know what coincidence is, but I'm happier believing that moose was a sign that we were being looked after.
|11,000 feet above sea level.|
With ascending and descending mountains being the easiest choice for a ride we all enjoy doing, we started the day with a 3-hour ride in The Rockies climbing over 6,000 ft. and ripping down switchbacks at times overtaking vehicles with our ability to descend much faster on our bikes. Chris and Kevin made good use of a nearby lake to wash-up afterwards, but the rest of were anxious to pack up and get into Yellowstone National Park. With it already being lunchtime and having only ate trail mix, cereal bars, and PowerBar bars for breakfast and lunch we had a tall task to use what energy we had left to see the hot spots in Yellowstone and make it through the Grand Teton National Park to try and finish the day in Jackson Hole, WY. The rest of us would get a chance to hop in the rapids of the Gardner River to clean and cool off once in Yellowstone.
Yellowstone National Park is something everyone needs to experience in their life. In our rushed visit we were still able to see a black bear, bison, elk, prong horns, marmots, moose, mule dear, and we even saw people saying that they could see a grizzly bear and her cub amongst some trees. At that point it was too hard to see the bears and we were well into our express visit with only so much daylight left. Along the way we did catch the Mammoth Hot Springs which we all agreed required much more effort than it provided visual appeal. Basically it wasn't exciting at all. Thankfully the geysers were very exciting and each one we visited had something unique about it that made it hardly redundant and rather interesting. We only had to wait about 25 minutes to see Old Faithful burst and used that time to have some coffee and ice cream in waffle cones. That was our idea of real food after the past four meals being little more than snacking. We'd step up the bar on our next stop at the West Thumb portion of Yellowstone Lake making PB&J and Wheat Thin sandwiches to hold off our hunger until Jackson Hole. We had to incorporate Wheat Thins as utensils to spread the PB&J since we had nothing else to use and despite our nomadic approach to life lately, we are all germaphobes.
|Mammoth hot springs run-off.|
|Cooling off in Gardner River.|
|"Backstreet's back, alright!"|
|Hiked to the top of Mammoth Hot Springs... Not as exciting as we expected.|
|Do not approach wildlife.|
|Geyser - My camera died before reaching Old Faithful.|
|Yellowstone Lake - Chris and Sam were brave enough to enter the freezing water.|
With more stops, views, and experiences I can summarize or even keep track of, we exited Yellowstone as the sun was setting behind the Grand Tetons. This created an out-of-this-world view with a pink glow outlining the mountain range and a tiny sliver of a moon that seemed within reach of the peaks in a much lighter blue than the dark of the night and stars above it. It really was something I'd expect to see captured on another planet or in a sci-fi movie more likely. We rolled into Jackson Hole, historically a beaver-trapping and ranching town taken over by ski bums and novelty stores, starving and without lodging sorted out and less than a couple hours left until another day marked off the calendar. We got turned down the first place we tried to eat being informed there was only one place in the town still serving food to an under-21 crowd, two-thirds of our party. We found some pizza and I had my first beer since Madison, WI to take the edge off what had been our longest of long days since we hit the road. Justin took care of finding us a hotel that ended up being recognized by some third-party I can't remember as bike-friendly and we crammed the six of us into one room again for what had been only our third hotel stay in over a month of traveling. With the promise of continental breakfast and beds to sleep in I crammed in as much internet time as possible after not having cell-phone service or internet since South Dakota and fell fast asleep just after midnight.