A mad push through the desert
Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
25Trip End Jul 15, 2010
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Matty and I were back in Rexburg, it was almost a pleasure to see the beacon of God upon the hilltop, (the Temple). Not because we needed saving by the Mormonites, just because we could climb into our hotel beds and sleep some after the 18 hour bus ride from Reno. Reno is a try-hard Vegas and defo not worth the visit unless your passing through and have to rest. The flakiness oozes from every corner. The locals did seem to have a good kick arse attitude, a kind of fuck yeah type stance. Amusing for me, I like that rawness if it’s in the right hands coming with good nature
We checked out late the following day. It was great to be back on the bike but I’d picked up a hefty chest infection from my week at burning man. It made riding tough, but it was manageable. The road was smooth, gentle elevation leading to out toward the mighty Tetons Range in Wyoming. I much prefer this kind of beacon. The mountain range ripped up out of the earth’s crust millions of years ago, making a knuckle formation. What didn’t go up went down and the total moment from top to bottom of the fault was about 50,000ft.The grand Tetons are 13,775 feet high and no matter where you are on the road you can see it.
We ran out of day light and had to pick a road side camp before it was too dark. Passing a row of large trees and bushes about ten meters thick we popped into them to check them out. It had a 3 meter channel running through the middle which was perfect for a roadside camp. Didn’t even notice the massive trucks rolling by overnight. In the morning we cooked up a pot of porridge throwing in dried fruit and nut, which we hadn’t had for a week. It was delish and after we hit the road. Idaho wasn’t too bad I though as we crossed the border into Wyoming. We stopped for lunch at a large lodge which had a huge picnic table area
Our highest yet at 8429ft with a sweet of downhill on the other side. It was the old road left after the new highway was laid. On the way down a saw a few bikers, a guy on ski’s with wheels, and a few power walkers with dogs. What lay at the bottom was Jackson Hole. A ski town, summer town and expensive town. Mini aspen, not commercial but full of loaded people and a small community of working class. This town has a great feel to it, loads of funky café’s and art galleries. Shops still look old and authentic from the time of horse and cart. The locals look as much like tourists as the tourist, laidback. The camp site was 35d a night and matty and I said F that. We’ll cycle down the road and wild camp. Whilst hunting a camp site and almost setting up in trees by a golf course a girl stopped to ask if we were lost. We chatted and Molly said to camp on her Lawn. Her friend had just come back from Burning man, and she lived down a real nice cycle path in the next town, Wilson. Wilson was like the cooler little brother of Jackson
Thank god Jackson was as good as what was coming up the following day was very different. It started off a gentle ride in Teton/ Yellowstone countryside, then up a gravel road to our highest pass to date. Togwotee pass was a massive 9658ft high and what followed that was union pass at roughly 100ft higher. Two passes in one day and roughly 75 mile on the clock. The pace was picking up as matty wanted to be in Rawlins by Wednesday and it was Saturday evening with 400 miles to go. It was getting dark and we were in the middle of mountain forest and Shingle Mountain sides. This was perfect bear country I thought as we gathered wood for fire, collected water from the creek and set up our tents in the dark, it was the one night I insisted matty put his tent right next to mine, with the bear spray close at hand for both.
We were on the road early, mp3’s plugged in and grooving along up onto the top of union pass. This wasn’t like our normal pass, where we go up and down. This pass just went up and stayed there. We rode 45 miles along this pass at over 9000ft. It was tough going. Wind, slight rain, thin air and loads of deer running around. Hunters were about in there camouflage gears, 4wheeler motorbikes with bows and arrows. Yep, that’s right it was only Bow hunting season. Rifle was a week away. The whole hunting thing is quite complex. You have different licenses for different animals, released at different stages of the two hunting months. All this can differ state by state, park by park and everything is calculated and accounted for. EG. One hunter can buy an Elk license for his closest state park. This may cost him around 80 dollars and entitle him to one kill. A non-resident may pay upward of 200d. Once you have shot you elk that’s your lot which is why they put so much prep time into a kill. They bush bash for a month prior to suss out their spots, set up their tree lofts and plan their flanking push if working in threes or fours. Montana and maybe other states will sometimes release extra licenses if the auditing returned higher or growing numbers of a particular animal
Finally we dropped out or the cold down the pass, but only 1000ft. We needed water so stopped at a little country dinner pub. We filled up from the bar and chatted to the locals for a while. This is unavoidable even if you didn’t want to talk to them as they will always strike it up. There were about seven tidily locals downing beers. One couple had just come off an Alaskan cruise ship. They said that the boat was full of Aussies, kiwis, and Japanese. They had decide to stay at their union pass holiday house before returning to the main home 20 miles down the road in Pinedale. I don’t think I really understood the why it was so close but they like to get away from all the people in Pinedale. Population 2000 or something like that. HA. We were cycling along, destination Pinedale camp ground when a car pulled up alongside us. It was the couple and they invited us to stay at their place in Pinedale
We hit town and they drove up and directed us to their place. They had been waiting in the pub playing pool looking out the window for us. How cool is that! And how amazing, as they were quite pissed. We followed them up there street and Joe said we could put our bikes in the garage. He offered beer and I went to help get them as they were in the shed. In the shed, past the awesome fishing/jet boat, through the locked rear door, into the gun room, to the fridge. His beer was as important as his guns. I like a man with his priorities right. This guy’s gun room was huge; he had about 12 cupboards full of home pressed bullets from the press machine on the bench. He laughed and took the piss out of my accent when I said bullets. So I said Cartridges like he did and he laughed harder.
The coupe were so nice, they repeated over and over how nice it was to meet new friends. Their kids were just a little older than us and I guess that’s why they enjoyed our company. Annie made us an awesome dinner of lamb, or maybe pronghorn, beans, salad before peach schnapps and hunting talk amongst other things. Annie said to sleep in the lounge but we opted for the garage, me half under the boat. Bacon, eggs, coffee, toast and homemade cherry jam for breaky, SO good!!! We said our goodbyes then hit the trail again only stopping to get some food and stove gas. We spoke about how nice they were as we cycled out of town into another huge day’s ridding.
We were still at 8000ft and it was now apparent that Wyoming is mostly high altitude desert
It was a little hard to sleep that night. There were packs of coyotes all around the desert. They howl, bark, and laugh, as they hunt out food. I was waiting for a band of the cheeky buggers to come sniffing around the tent. I heard them plenty of times through the night, waking me every once and a while. I know they were just a hundred meters from me from the foot prints in the morning. Coyotes hardly ever attack humans so that’s a relief.
The morning light gave way to a clear day, the wind had picked up and I knew it was going to be a hard tough day. I saw mattys tracks after a few miles and noticed two other tracks as well. I thought it would be the Duchies we had met in Canada. After 60miles I came down off the plateau another 1000ft. Now sitting at 7000ft and the weather was boiling. It had been a hard ride with a strong head wind. Three days of head wind now and four of the longest days ridden. I was beat! Right then, my tire went flat. It had a tear through the road wall. The bead was sticking out and must of torn on the downhill. The rocks were vicious. After patching and pumping it up it had a bulge which jolted the bike every time it hit the road. I coasted into Rawlins Town to the campsite. A nice campground and probably nicer than the hotels which looked run down or deserted
I managed to buy some good tires online and have them sent to a bike shop further down the line, Steamboat Springs, and pick up a second hand pair from a local bike shop from 6bucks. They should get me there I hope. Its three days away with no services. The good thing is I’ll be out of the desert and back in the lush mountains of Colorado.