Jackson, Wyoming Mile 850
P1030480.JPGRIDING PAST THE TETONS

Thursday morning we left West Yellowstone, not at all sure where we were heading. The highway that brought us to West Yellowstone is busy with traffic and on the map it returns to the Route via a broad arc that adds a lot of extra miles. Ever vigilant for short cuts, I scanned the maps for a different route. As a crow flies there appeared to be nearly straight route over a mountain pass, Reas Pass. I asked at the bicycle shops and no one had ever ridden all the way over to Big Springs but they seemed to think it possible. With that tenuous assurance, we set off. We did a little head scratching at a few junctions but then we encountered Forest Service signs that were set up for snowmobilers and they guided us in to Big Springs just like a laser. Whew!

That was a 20-mile ride and we got to Big Springs by noon so we decided to play catch-up and ride an additional 35 miles to Warm River Campground. The route follows an old railroad bed. Ordinarily, old railroad beds make for excellent riding because they are straight and gently graded. This one had those good qualities but it has been degraded by ATVs so that we could rarely get our speed above 5 mph.

Warm River was a nice campground and Mary had the foresight to ask if we could pitch our tent under the picnic pavilion since the sky threatened rain. Sure enough, shortly after we had fallen asleep we were awakened by a terrific thunderstorm with all the bells and whistles. Not a drop of rain touched us, safely ensconced under the pavilion’s roof . We packed a dry tent in the morning.

The ride out of Warm River took us up on a plateau of farmland – a first on this ride – and made an end run around the north flank of the Teton Range. Along the way we stopped for lunch at Indian Lake for lunch. The good-sized lake was almost completely covered by water lillies.

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Our destination on the map that night was a place called Flagg Ranch. We expected a place where cowboys worked or at least somebody drove a tractor but what we got was a very large, overpriced RV park – $38 to pitch a tent! The alternative was a little cabin without a bathroom – basically a wooden tent for $75. We had another heavy rain all night long but our little tent did us proud and we awoke comfy and dry. We did, however, have to pack a wet tent – ugh!

The morning ride was another trying time for Mary. It rained hard and cold. When it came time to turn east and head up into the 9000-ft mountains again (we were already at 6000 ft) we opted to continue south to Grand Teton National Park toward the town of Jackson. A forecast of snow in the high passes was more than either of us could tolerate.

The clouds dispersed as we rode along Jackson Lake and the Tetons came into view bit by bit:

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With narrow road shoulders and cold rain I could understand Mary’s sagging enthusiasm. Add to that a passing tour bus that nearly clipped us. It was time once again to employ my proven “traffic shield” from our Southern Tier tour. I mounted the little flag pole from the B.O.B. trailer sideways so that it stuck out into the traffic lane. It worked perfectly. No more close calls.

Mary’s spirits rallied as the sun warmed our soaking-wet clothes. The last twenty miles to Jackson were on a paved bike path which was a great improvement over the Labor-Day-crowded highway.

Jackson is a hip little town with lots of sporting good stores and bistros. We picked up a few waterproof items after our morning soaking but the store we enjoyed most was the Dollar Store. What a relief to get some bargains after the price gouging we have suffered at the convenience stores along the way (e.g. $5.65 for a package of Fig Newtons!)

The weather looks promising tomorrow so we are planning to make a break for Pinedale – 75 miles distant – in the morning. It’s a paved road ride and a tail wind is forecasted. How we love those tail winds! Perhaps we’ll catch up to the Nederlanders in Pinedale.

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