Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Day 53: A Grand day out in the Tetons

Day 53
Dubois to Colter Bay, Grand Teton NP

Decided to allow myself the luxury of a lie in today. Although last night I did dream about bikes. Somehow in my dream, my chain had managed to tie itself in a knot. Hope this doesnt happen in real life – they didnt cover that on the bike maintenance course I went on!

After some breakfast I set off about 9am. Today was going to be one of those days of two halfs – climbing in the morning, descending in the afternoon. My aim today was to get over the Togwotee pass, and into Grand Teton National Park.

The climbing was generally fine, not too steep and able to keep a reasonable pace going. Most of the day I was riding in the presence of one particularly striking peak. Trouble is, everytime stopped to take a picture, I got eaten alive by bugs. When your'e moving they dont attack, but as soon as you slow down its like an all you can eat buffet for them!

By about midday I was nearing the top of the pass. At over 9,600ft, the Togwotee pass is the second highest mountain pass of the entire trip. Unfortunately there wasnt a sign to greet me at the top. A large part of the road is undergoing construction work, so I guess they removed the sign to stop it getting damaged. There was, however, still some snow clinging to the mountain top as I started the descent. Crossing the Togwotee pass also meant another crossing of the Continental Divide – Im back on the Pacific side for a little while!

Togwotee pass: No sign, but a bit snow!

On the way down I stopped for a quick drink at a hotel/restaurant and met my first mountain bike tourers. There is an Adventure Cycling Association route which follows the Continental Divide from north to south, and involves a lot of off road riding, so you need a mountain bike. This brother and sister couple from New York were going south on the route. Since a lot of it is off road, they have to take a lot of their own food. And judging by the bandages they were sporting, it looks a lot more dangerous too!

When I got back on the road, I had a lovely downhill section ahead of me. But then I had to stop rather suddenly.

For the first time on my trip, I had to get a lift in a car (well, a pick up truck). This wasnt due to illness, injury or mechanical problems. It wasnt even because I just couldnt be bothered to cycle. No, it was because of insurance liability! The company carrying out the road works doesnt have insurance cover incase one of their vehicles hits a cyclist. So even if they just scratched my paintwork, the legal costs (this being America) alone would probably mean I ended up owning the company! So they insist on cyclists being driven through one stretch of the roadworks. Annoyingly, as this was a downhill section, I actually reckon I would have been quicker on my bike. The car drove at about 20mph the entire way.

People who complete the TransAm, staying on at least 90% of the official route and not not getting any motorised support can apply to be placed on the TransAm register. The ACA know about this particularly issue, so I think it is exempt. I bet that people going east pretend to be disappointed they have to get a lift, but secretly are glad to be driven up 4miles of 6% climb!

Anyway, once I was back in the saddle I soon made it into Grand Teton NP. The Teton mountains are spectacular. They seem to shoot straight out the ground without warning. They really do make for a stunning backdrop for a bike ride.
My first view of the Tetons

Down at ground level for a better view

Good work Mother Nature!

Eventually arrived at Colter Bay campsite, and had to pay the huge sum of $7 to camp (what a bargain!). They have a special hikers/bikers camp area, so I can mingle with similar people!

Ended up in the spot next to John and Ann-Marie. They were also doing the Great Divide trail, but a smaller part of it. Had a very nice chat, and they shared some beer with me. They also mentioned there was a path to the lake, which I went and explored. My god the view was amazing. Went for a swim and then went for a shower and dinner. Had a fantastic bowl of pasta – just what my body is craving.

We all agreed that the lake would make a fantastic sunset photo opportunity, so we plan to head down there later. I took the liberty of buying a bag of ice and a 6 pack of beer, so we can all toast it together!
Jackson Lake - my own private swimming pool

Spent too long drinking, so I just missed the sunset!

No comments:

Post a Comment