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Through Grand Tetons Nat’l Park to Hatchet, WY – 55 miles

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6/29/2012. Grant Village (Yellowstone) through Grand Tetons Nat’l Park to Hatchet, WY – 55 miles.

As warm as it got yesterday, the temp still dropped drastically after dark, and by 1:00 am I was freezing in my tent. I started heavy duty layering of clothes, but still it was cold. I think it must have reached the low 40’s. When I researched light weight sleeping bags, I thought I had bought one that indicated it would be sufficient for the avg temps of the areas I would be traveling. But apparently I was wrong. By 5:15 am, I was in the women’s bathroom, which was heated, and which also had one of those auto hot hand dryers I am becoming intimately acquainted with at each campground. I heard Randy rustling with the propane burner for the Starbucks via around 6:00 am and gratefully came out from the bathroom. Roger was also up by then.

After breakfast, we started riding around 8:30 am up the last pass in Yellowstone. By then the temp had warmed and it was another beautiful blue sky/perfect temperature day. The ride turned out to be a lot easier than I thought, but the traffic was quite heavy. The terrain reflected the natural healing process after the 1988 fire. Looked like pickup sticks all over the place, interspersed with new pine trees.
As we headed out of Yellowstone, the snow-capped Grand Tetons arose from the distance. They looked so majestic, and at various points along the ride, we were pedaling along the perimeter of the  Lake Jackson, the large lake in front of the Tetons. The wild flowers, though a little past their prime, lined the roadside. Although I did take some pictures, I am afraid that they don’t come close to showing the views in reality.

We rode about 38 miles to Colter Bay before stopping for lunch. As we were entering the deli/grocery store, there were 2 women probably in their 50’s dressed in biking garb and eating ice cream. Turns out they were from California and on some sort of abbreviated women’s ride in Yellowstone, and were intrigued by the idea of riding cross country some day. They asked me a ton of questions, and I tried to encourage them.

Seems like everywhere we went today, people would come up and ask about the ride. Even more so than normal.

After lunch, we rode the remaining 17 miles to the Hatchet Campground run by the US Forest Service. It was terrific fun – long stretches of rolling hills with a tailwind at your back. Along the way, Frank met another young man from the Netherlands who is biking to Denver to catch a plane home. He decided to camp with us tonight. He has ridden cross-country as well as numerous other touring rides in the U.S. and was very knowledgable.   Before dinner, Randy pulled out his U.S. map and all the guys gathered to discuss the pros and cons of my riding to Colorado v. continuing on with them, and how I could ultimately modify my route to get to VA in the end. Case (the guy from the Netherlands) asked if there was anything “sacred” about going through Colorado and following the TRANSAMERICA route to VA. I said no – just that I have planned for a year to see my various friends in Colorado and, but for the recent fires, I wouldn’t even consider changing the route. My sister is concerned about my breathing smoke from the fires, and my Mom REALLY likes the idea of my riding with a group of people I like and get along with versus riding on my own. I have to make a decision in the next day or so before the guys leave the TRANSAMERICA for S. Dakota.

The Bangladesh tandem riders were supposed to camp with us, but we suspect they missed the turn because it wasn’t obvious. Dan decided to stay in Colter Bay because he was tired. Andrew is – well, Andrew, so we don’t know when or if he will show up again. Frank says the Bangladesh riders have a deadline by which they have to be in Washington DC because they have to fly out to San Francisco to meet with Al Gore having something to do with the trashmaniac thing. We speculated as to the truth of this, and conjured up scenarios where they would appear on CNN with their tandem bike talking about the cross-country ride.

Tomorrow, we have a very steep long ascent in the morning to Togwotee Pass, elevation 9658 feet crossing the Continental Divide for the 5th time and the highest elevation climb to date. Our destination for the day is approx. 50 miles to Dubois. I used what little remaining battery power I have to call and reserve a motel room – 2 consecutive nights camping is about all I am willing to submit to voluntarily. Can’t wait for that hot soak/shower and comfortable bed. ( as I write this, I am holed up in my tent hiding from the Mosquitos). When I called to make the reservation, the lady on the other end told me to be sure and check out Fall Campground along the way if I wanted to see bears. Apparently, there has been a grizzly with her cub making regular appearances lately. Sounds like a great opportunity to me – I was beginning to think I would have to go home and watch the home movies of the trip my family made to Yellowstone when I was in the seventh grade to see any bears. My cousin Randy Moore was the official photographer on that trip and crawled all over us to get those grizzly bears on home movies.

A couple of observations: I believe that I probably enjoyed the Grand Tetons even more than Yellowstone because it was less commercial. Old Faithful is impressive and well done, but has become pretty commercialized none the less. Today’s ride was more along the lines of just back to the nature itself without embellishment. Pure joy.

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