Over the pass.
Day 52. Dubois WY. | End: Teton Park WY. | Mileage 2930.3
In the middle of summer, with the days at they’re longest and the sun in its prime, the last thing I would think to pack would be winter clothes. A combination of both altitude and the increase of our northern longitude, the cold air can be rather uncomfortable. With nothing but our cycling gear and a light sweater each, our options for cold weather are slim. The layer technique proves to be a temporary fix, though after a climb up a mountain pass, all our clothes turn out wet and dripping with sweat. This makes our lives hell as well confront the cold air on the way down, penetrating every layer we have on.
With a thick mass of cloud cover, the morning started with a gloomy face. The mountains covered and the sun hidden. No chance for a quick warm up before the ride. I got up and hesitated to jump out of the sleeping bag. The fight between getting up or staying in the warmth of the sleeping bag, a dilemma I do not have to think twice about at home. After a cup of oatmeal and a quick power bar, we set off.
The scenery was just incredible. Rivers flowing into the valley and mountain peaks covered with snow. As we made a bend around a cliff face, our eyes set upon a huge incline. With jaws dropped and legs shaking, I took the lead and we pressed on. The first of many climbs we faced and conquered, only to be rewarded with a slight downhill and a strong head wind. The most defeating feeling is that of working on a downhill. What should be a coast down with great speed turned into a pedaling mess.
Never had we found any cyclists moving west before today. Always hearing the same remarks when we meet someone traveling the opposite way…”you guys should have gone east.” While saying this, they are spoiled with the tailwind and downhill. Dirk and I laugh, always following up with “well you can’t always take the easy way out.”
Slowing the pace to make a U-turn into a convenient store, we came upon 8 cyclists all making for the pass. At first we didn’t have much conversation, just the greetings and gestures of acknowledgment. As the ride continued and we caught up with the group, a flock began to form. We had Dennis, Dutch mom, dad and sis. This became the core group, moving up the mountain as one and having a blast. When we stopped we all ate and talked, moving on from place to place like a gang.
As we neared the top, we received news that a grizzly bear was up the road. We would make the next few miles with a sense of anticipation, curious and nervous for what we might see. Reaching the 9500ft pass, we all snapped shots and pursued our reward of a 6% down grade. After only 3 miles we were robbed when the road turned to gravel. Dust kicking up and impairing our vision as we cautiously closed the gap between the paved roads.
The Grand Teton Mountains greeted us as we sped down the valley. A view I cannot even begin to describe. Out of nowhere, this mass of rock and snow erect out of the earth. Everything dwarfed by the size of the peaks rising into the clouds creating the snow that feeds the land. Making it to the gate of the park we had quite the surprise. As this RV sped past us, Dirk laughs and yells out toward it. It is his Ma and Paul who is road tripping as well for a little time over summer. We will hang out and spend some time seeing the parks. A vacation within a vacation or a great end to a day, what ever it was, I was happy to see it.