Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Day 54: Parklife

Day 54

Colter Bay to Grant Village, Yellowstone NP 39miles

Bit of a thunder storm at some point last night. Nothing too major, but it did mean my fly sheet was a bit wet when it came to packing up my tent. Chatted to John and Ann-Marie, who were also packing up their kit. And we then set off together from the campsite, although not for long as they were heading further south into the Tetons, whilst I was heading north into Yellowstone. We wished each other well, and then I was on my way.

I really didnt want to rush through this section of the route. If I'd really wanted to, I could probably have got right through Yellowstone and into Montana today. But I wanted to be able to spend some time in the park, knowing how amazing it is.

The ride out of Grand Teton was nice (bar the odd bit of rubbish road surface) and the mountains looked great in the early sun.

Getting to Yellowstone did involve a fair bit of climbing, I had 2 steep climbs today. One to take me out of the Grand Teton, and then another taking me into Yellowstone. The pass you have to buy to get into Grand Teton is also valid for Yellowstone, so when I got to the park entrance I rode straight to the front of the long queue of vehichles, and flashed my pass. Then carried on uphill. I remembered this road from when I was here last year. It runs next to the Lewis river canyon, which gives some pretty spectacular views of the river below. Definitely easier by car though!

I was a bit worried when I entered the park, as a noticeboard said that Grant Village campground was full. Which was where I was planning on staying. I was hopeful they would be able to squeeze me in somewhere though.

Crossed the Continental Divide yet again (think Im back on the Atlantic side now, but I'm losing track!) and then got to Grant Village. Thankfully they also had a special hiker/biker section, and apparently will never turn hikers or bikers away. So for $6 I had a spot to stay for the night.

I'd got to the campsite pretty early, as I wanted to be able to enjoy the park. Including the wildlife. As I was unpacking my kit onto a picnic table by my site, I turned round and saw a couple of elk, no more than 15ft away, just watching me. Luckily my camera was on the table, so I was able to get a good shot of them as they strolled on. They didnt seem even slightly bothered by my presence – probably used to it.
David Attenborough has nothing on me

After pitching my tent and getting some lunch, I was after something to do. The only real problem with Yellowstone is that it's too big to explore by bike. The main roads follow a sort of figure of 8 pattern through the park, but it can be 30miles between each hub with little or no services in between. So I decided to stick close by, and go visit the West Thumb geyser basin. Even this was about 3-4miles from my campsite!

The basin was quite impressive. Lots of bubbling pools of bright coloured water, with great views out over Lake Yellowstone. I did see a wolf at one point, but he wasnt quite so keen to stand still and be photographed.

Just missed him

I also did a couple of small hikes, one which too you up a hill to get a great view of the lake, and the other took me to another, smaller lake nearby.

On the ride back to the campsite I saw a sight I recognised – lots of cars parked by the road. It meant one thing – some animals had been spotted! It turned out to be some elk. They were quite far away, and I didnt have the heart to tell people I had a much closer encounter earlier! Sadly havent seen any bison. I remember from last year they tended to be in the north and east parts of the park, where it's more large open plains. The area I'm in is much more forest like.

I was getting a bit concerned that I hadnt had too much rest. Even the showers (coin operated!) were a 10min walk from my tent, and then I also had to head back out on my bike in the evening to get some dinner. Hopefully wont be too tired tomorrow.
Blending in with my surroundings!

But its been a fantastic couple of days in this part of the world. Fantastic scenery and some lovely riding. Tomorrow I should get through the rest of the route within the park, and then out and into Montana. After a bit of early climbing, looks like it will be quite downhill or flat tomorrow which is good!

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