Monday, July 12, 2010

Over the Divide

Since I last wrote from Idaho Falls, I have crossed the Continental Divide. Five times. The Continental Divide marks the watershed. In theory, water that does not evaporate will flow like this: on the west side of the divide into the Pacific Ocean and on the east side into the Gulf of Mexico. Really cool is in Yellowstone National Park there is a small pond called Isa Lake that sits right on the Divide at Grant's Pass (two photos below). Water from the lake could end up in either the Pacific or the Gulf. Sorry, that's me being nerdy. The other thing that means is that I am on the home side of the Rockies. I'm like Lewis and Clark coming home.
Isa Lake
Craig Pass

One of the themes of the last few days has been cyclists. Met lots of them. Partly because I am back on the Transamerica and partly because I was riding through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. There's Andrew and David (below, top) who are from London and biking across America. There were the the three girls from St. Louis going to Portland. Pablo from Spain was doing a Yellowstone Tour. Two other girls were riding to New York City. A group of cyclists included Kelly (below, bottom in red), from Etowah, NC who is biking from Boulder to Vancouver. The two on the either side of Kelly were riding from New York to school at Evergreen College in Washington. I met some cyclist in Colter Bay that were doing the Transamerica from East to West and some others riding from Salt Lake City to Glacier National Park. Met two different guys on the Great Divide route (which I want to do someday). It's been fun interacting with all these neat and interesting people, even if is just for a rest break on the side of the road.

Other ride notes:
- I only made it 63 miles from Idaho Falls to Ashton on Wednesday, July 7. My goal was Island Park, another 25 miles up HWY 20. First, the ride was hillier and windier than I anticipated. I was pretty tired when I got to Ashton. I was mentally trying to get ready for the next day's climb over Targhee Pass on the Idaho-Montana border when the ladies at the Visitor's Center told me that Ashton Hill was much more difficult. 6 percent grade compared to 2-3 percent at Targhee. That sold me. I decided to stay in Ashton and climb a lot the next day.

- Ashton is a nice little town. Apparently, a lot of people come here (and to Island Park) for fishing in the summer and snowmachining in the winter.

- I did not climb Ashton Hill the next day. I took a detour on the Mesa Falls Scenic Highway. It added nearly 10 miles, still had lots of climbing but had fewer cars (and semis!) and I got to see the two Mesa Falls. Here's the Upper Falls:
Upper Mesa

- Island Park, ID claims to have the world's longest Main Street. It's 400 residents have a variety of shops (most catering to hunters, fishers or snowmobilers) along it's 36 mile Main Street.

- West Yellowstone, Montana is very touristy. I guess what else can you expect from a town that is footsteps from Yellowstone. It's still not as bad as Gatlinburg, TN.

- Yellowstone deserves it's own blog post.

- I enjoyed riding through Grand Teton National Park and the time I spent in Colter Bay (the top pic below is the marina at Colter Bay). The Teton Range is among the most perfect mountains I have ever seen. See for yourself:
Colter Bay

- Despite it's celebrity appeal and cool factor, I skipped Jackson. One, it was over 60 miles round trip out of my way (though the road in is supposed view-tacular). Two, other cyclists told me it was expensive and there are no campgrounds in town. Three, my friend Wendi, born and raised in Wyoming, said Jackson is great, but doesn't display "true Wyoming." Good enough for me.

- Sunday was a climbing day. Togwohee Pass was my last trek over the Continental Divide. At 9,658 ft, it is also the highest elevation of my entire trip. It was about 15 miles of steady uphill made more difficult by the construction that turned the last 6 miles of my climb into a gravel fest. I did cruise into Dubois faster than what might have been prudent with the trailer behind me. Without fear, the Bob held up nicely, even at nearly 40 MPH.

- Dubois is a great little town. Around 900 people, they boast that they are an authentic western town. Good place. Nice eats. Cool boardwalk with names on it. I wish I were not there on a Sunday when everything was closed. Did get great pie at the Cowboy Cafe.
Dubois Boardwalk

- In Dubois, the guy camped next to me was named Doug. His BMW motorcycle fizzed out and he has to to stay in Dubois for two days until his wife can come rescue him with a U-Haul. The nearest place that can service it is Salt Lake City, so he's just gonna haul it home to Calgary. He looked at my bike and commented that at least mine worked. I love BMW bikes and he had some bicycle touring questions, so we became fast friends.

- Today I made it to Shoshoni. It was 106 miles on my odometer. Really hot and sunny. Fortunately, I had a downhill most of the time and a tailwind 2/3 of the time. I took a little half mile detour to a convenience store in Kinnear for a hot dog. I didn't need it, I needed more an excuse to get out of the sun. Shoshoni is a hole of a town. It once was booming-- 2 doctors, several banks, 23 saloons. Now look at it:

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