Monthly Archives: August 2017

Quinton takes a Zero

After spending the night at the bike camp, Quinton decided to take a zero.  My next stop would be Jackson, 75 miles and two mountain passes away.  It was a long and uneventful day.  

Quinton’s spot at the Bike Camp in Twin Bridges

The thirty miles from Twin Bridges to Dillon went by fast.  I stopped there for lunch, potato burrito and a 2 Litre of lemonade.  The temperature got to the mid 90’s and I started to feel it after leaving Dillon.  I ran out of water on the first pass, which included my two 20 oz bottles on the frame and my backup 32 oz bottle.  I knew there would be water in the river valley, but not sure how much further to the water.  I already passed a couple dry creek beds before I came to a sign for Bannack State Park.  Seven miles to Bannack or 20 miles to Jackson.  I sat at the crossroads for probably 10 minutes trying to decide which way to go. 

Salt stains from the heat

I opted for Jackson and pushed on.  I found a creek just a few miles up the road.  It was in a cow pasture and the creek bank was covered with cow tracks and patties.  As I was filtering the water I was reminded of Molly-Molly, a hardcore thru-hiker that never filters her water.

I crawled to the top of the second pass less than an hour before sun down.  About 10 miles to Jackson and it was all downhill.  This area is known for having large square hay stacks, the size of houses.  They are made with these giant moose trap looking devices.  Just outside of Jackson I spotted a moose and her calf grazing with a herd of cows.

The main reason I pushed on to Jackson was so that I could take a day or half day off at the hot springs there.  Unfortunately, it was closed, along with most of the rest of town. It would take less than 30 seconds to ride through town.  The Bunkhouse Hotel had a sign out front for a “Cyclist Campsite”.  I set up and then went inside to sign the guest book and read the policies.  Most of the free camps have some sort of guidelines you are supposed to read.  There was nobody around so I took advantage of the shower, bathroom, wifi, and microwave before going to bed.  It was a cold night and I tried out my new wool baselayer in conjunction with my minion blanket, silk sheet, pad, sleeping bag, and emergency blanket.  I was still cold all night.  

Slept behind the hops vines

The First Bike Camp

It rained nearly all night, which caused us to sleep in.  Once we finally crawled out of the tents we were slow to get around, letting the tents dry in the sun.  We had one pass ahead of us and the rest would all be downhill.  I got back on the road while Quinton did ran some errands.  

The climb started right outside of Ennis, spanned 5 miles and rose nearly 2000 feet.  It was slow and painful.  I stopped twice to give my seat a rest.  My legs are hardened from all of the miles, but long climbs put a lot of unwanted stress on my seat.  The pass was deceiving.  Once I got to the top and through pass it opened up and I could see that it just kept climbing.  At the real top of every pass I stop and look back and think about how it hurt and how I got over it.  I then slip on my arm warmers in preparation of the speeds I’m about to reach.  

The ride from the top of the pass to Virginia City was effortless.  I don’t even remember pedalling.  I have been listening to the radio a lot the last couple of days.  One of the advertisements played over and over was for a creamery in Virginia City.  This creamery has been making icecream the same way for a hundred or so years.  Every 30 minutes I got to hear about this creamery.  So, I stopped and that is where Quinton caught up to me.  

Virginia City was a cool old gold rush town.  Built in ~1862 it had a population of 20,000 after one year (I stopped at the visitor center).  They have the oldest saloon and brewery in Montana.  We explored the town and settled on the old train depot to set up lunch.  Ramen and instant mashed potatoes again.  

Once we ran out of downhill and got into the flat river valley we hit a head wind.  I could see him struggling in the wind ahead of me so I let him draft for a few miles until I fatigued.  He passed and offered to pull, but I was spent and wanted to spin a while.  At the next town I caught and passed him and continued on with renewed strength.  It was probably the Snickers I ate.  

The next town was Twin Bridges and I followed the signs to a rest area.  I was going to fix a snack and wait for Quinton.  That is where I found the Bike Camp.  It was a one room building with a couple couches and a recliner.  Outside was a patio with a grill and picnic tables.  It also had a bathroom, hot shower, and a biker box.  When Quinton arrived, it was mutual that we would be staying there for the night.  While I explored Twin Bridges he settled in.  


The further I ride the more I would like to open a place like this.  I did get a hit on my Warm Showers for a couple to stay on the boat a couple days before.  We could only fine one flaw with the place and that was not having a light switch.  The bathroom, shower, and common room all had lights, but no light switch.  We spent half an hour trying to figure out how to turn the lights on.  Eventually we gave up and Quinton hung a flashlight from the rafters.  We plotted the next few days and watched the movies we had downloaded earlier before going to bed.    


We got up early, planning to do 75.  We had to get over the pass before the wind picked up.  I took advantage of the shower and Quenton took advantage of the microwave for breakfast.  Packing is always easier when I don’t have to take down the tent.  All I needed for the night was my sleeping bag.  

The pass was not a high one and the day looked to be an easy ride.  I caught up to Quenton about halfway up the pass.  He had stopped to eat some ramen.  I continued on and did not see him again until we stopped for the night.  The climb took us up and around Earthquake Lake.  There was a geologic visitor center there, but I felt like riding.  Coming out of the pass I went by a herd of mountain goats hanging out on the side of the road.  They didn’t budge when cars went by but they scared when I approached.  

From the top, it would be all downhill to Ennis.  Thirty miles of a long, slow downhill.  The road followed the Madison River and it was filled with trout fishermen.  They were all in these funny boats with a bow on both ends and a guide with oars.  Every now and then I would see a transport truck drive by and return with a boat and load of fishermen.

About 10 miles from Ennis I ran into a rain storm.  I stopped just before getting wet and set up against a fence post for lunch.  The storm was moving Northwest just like me, so I sat and waited for it to move up the road.  Before then I was running 18-20 mph.  This was the first time I had to purposefully slow my pace.  I kept pace around 10 mph to not get too close to the storm.   When it finally moved North of the road I passed it by and road into Ennis.  I explored the town, went into a couple outfitter stores, and then settled on an old fashioned soda fountain to rest at before heading on.  

Quinton arrived into town and called to find out where I was.  He was at the library and the librarian told him that Willie’s Distillery allowed cyclists to camp in their yard.  I went to their tasting room to sign up and did a tasting while I was there.  Afterwards I went back to the library to type and download a movie.  

Mulberry Liquor, blackberry liquor, cherry brandy, 80 proof bourbon, 100 proof bourbon

We set up camp and lounged the rest of the evening before going to bed.  If you like the smell of baking bread, you would like the distillery.  I got a whiff of the fermenting yeast with every breath.  It was a warm night because of the storm front coming in and I got a good night of sleep.  I hardly noticed the rain when it started.


The thru hikers call a day with no mileage a “zero” and a day with few miles a “nero”.  I like these terms and will adopt them.  I took a nero!  After two nights with little sleep and hard miles I was tempted to take a zero but thought I should make some progress.

The day started early.  Mostly because I was too cold to stay in the tent.  I got breakfast at a diner at 6 and then did shower laundry at a laundromat.  From there I explored West Yellowstone.  Being the closest city to Yellowstone it thrives on tourism.  I was tempted to spend th $15 to see the grizzly and wolf zoo, but decided to eat a good breakfast and lunch instead.

For lunch I stopped at a Chinese restaurant on the outskirts of town.  When I arrived, there was an Asian tour bus parked outside and it was packed with Chinese tourists.  That was a good sign.  I wanted to go to Old Faithful simply because of the buffet, but this was a much better deal.  The atmosphere and food reminded me of my trip to China earlier this year.  I especially appreciated the giant serving of rice.  The deal I would recommend to hikers and cyclists is the two person dinner for $15.  I asked if one person could order it and the waiter said yes.  You get two entrees, two soups, and unlimited rice and drinks.

To rest and digest, I went to the city park and took a nap.  The wind was blowing strong from the North and I wanted to give it a chance to die down before hitting the road.  I finally left West Yellowstone around 4 PM after restocking on food.  The wind had all but stopped and it was relatively flat.  I took my time and pedalled easy trying to enjoy my nero.  There were campgrounds just North of Hebgen Lake I planned to stay at.  The ride was cut short when I saw the Yellowstone Holiday RV Park.  It had tiny cabins for rent and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  It was $100 more than free camping, but I enjoyed getting out of the cold.  The unlimited hot shower, free-ish laundry, and microwave helped.  The cabins were bare except for the small table and bunkbeds.  

Once checked in, I gave Quinton a call to let him know that I had room if he was anywhere close.  He responded and was only 10 miles behind me.  The rest of the evening I watched the osprey dive for fish and the thunderstorms develop in the East.


Escorted out of Yellowstone

Quinton and I were slow getting around because of the cold.  I would guess the temperature was around 40 or slightly below.  I struggled to sleep because of the cold.  I still have not found a good way to stay warm.  The emergency blanket wrapped around me helped, but that just made me sticky with sweat.

All of us were headed out: Dave and Ben to Jackson, Lars to Yellowstone, and the Englishman to campsite B?  Dave and Ben were gifted a load of food from a supported bike touring group.  They paid a company to follow them and provide all the food.  We got the leftovers from that gift.

I was told that the route from Coulter Bay to Old Faithful was a flat one, but it was anything but flat.  I went up and down four passes before arriving at the park.  It felt tougher than the ride the day before.  Coming out of Coulter Bay we got a good look at Jackson Lake with the Tetons in the background.  Once we left the lake we started climbing up the Continental Divide.  The roads were busy with people either heading home or up to Old Faithful.  At the top of the first climb we started passing all of the cars that had passed us.  It felt great to dominate all of those cars.  If it weren’t for all of them getting in and out of their cars and walking we would have flew by them.

We stopped at a picnic area for lunch and they all passed us back.  Quinton convinced  me that I should fill up on water after lunch so I went down to the river.  Thinking I would explore around I tried jumping over a small branch of the river and did not make it.  After that, I just took the shoes off and waded around.  The cold water was refreshing in the hot sun.  There was still a cool breeze, but it was much warmer than it had been.

When we got back on the road the traffic was moving faster, but we were still faster.  That ended after we went through the gate to Yellowstone.  There was a major difference in the width of the shoulder.  It went from a 3 foot shoulder to a 1 foot.  The cars were now blowing by us and we started our second climb.  About halfway up we went over a bridge and read a sign that said waterfall.  There was also a sign that said the area was closed and that swimming and wading in the water was prohibited.  So, we went down to the falls anyway.

At the top of the climb the road overlooked Lewis River Gorge.  From there the road followed the river until it was the same level as the road.  That was the last I saw of Quinton.  He planned to stay near a campground off of Lewis Lake and I wanted to push on to Old Faithful.

I had not intended to even go into Yellowstone, but the CDT hikers raved about a breakfast buffet at Old Faithful and also a shower that you can sneak into on the second floor at Old Faithful Inn. From Lewis Lake I made my way up another pass and crossed the Continental Divide.  I met two cyclists at the top of the pass and they warned me that I had two more climbs before a long downhill to Old Faithful.

The first climb was not bad and it had a fast downhill on it.  Speed limit was 45 and I hit 46!  I didn’t pass any cars, but I didn’t get passed either.  At the bottom, I was spent.  I stopped again for another snack and turned on my rear light.  It wasn’t dark yet, but it was dark enough in the shade.  The last climb was straight up and it was a struggle.  So much so that I almost walked.  At the top I had 4 miles of downhill to Old Faithful.  I hit 48 on that downhill.  Coming over one rise I could see the steam from the pools.

First priority in the park was food.  I stopped a couple for directions and the man told me Old Faithful was about to blow and I should do that first.  I am glad I did otherwise I would have missed my chance.  I waited, took the photo, and then went to the visitor center to ask about camping.  They told me that the campground was closed and that I would have to find somewhere else to camp.  I could ride back up the mountain 15 miles or further North 15 miles and hope the campsite wasn’t full.  He also suggested I check with the lodges to see if they had any vacancies.  I was already spent and not about to ride any further.  I told him I needed food and then I would figure it out.  It was almost 8 and nearly dark after I found food and checked all of the lodges.  I offered to pay to sleep in their closets, but they said no.  I decided to scout around for a stealth camp.

I found some old buildings that looked abandoned and seemed like a good enough spot.  At that time, the same guy from the visitor center rode up and asked me how I was making it and then said he got me a lift to the campground North.  My stealth shower and breakfast buffet were no more.  Carl, a park interpreter, picked me up in his car and we maneuvered the bike into the backseat.  He was a nice guy and I appreciate him going out of his way to take me, even though I did not want to go anywhere.  He asked if I had a reservation to the campground and when I said no, he passed it up and headed straight to West Yellowstone, outside of the park.

Again, he was a nice guy and I’m sure he was trying to help, but he put 20 miles between me and that buffet.  He also drove me through the nice part of Yellowstone and into Montana!  In West Yellowstone he pulled over at the closest hotel and let me out.  I then proceeded to try every hotel in town for a vacancy.  Eventually I gave up and found a wooded area just outside of town to set up camp.  The trees were too short to hang my food so I parked the bike away from the tent with my food strapped to it.

That night I used everything I had to stay warm and was still cold.  I barely slept and the night seemed to go on forever.  Turns out, it dropped below freezing.  Once again, I would be looking for a warmer bag or alternative.


The day finally came and it was time to leave.  I was not going alone though.  Quentin came to the hostel friday night and also decided to wait around for the eclipse.  He started hiking the Appalachian Trail and after meeting some cyclists, traded in his pack for a bike and headed West.  

We would ride as far as we could up the Togwotee Pass, elevation 9658 feet.  We stopped about halfway for a snack and to look at the eclipse progress.  After about 20 minutes we got bored and decided to ride another 30 minutes and stop.  I told Quentin that it would be nice if we could roll up on a barbeque and get invited to join.  Within a minute we see this guy on the side of a hill jumping, waving, and whistling at us.  At first I thought he couldn’t be waving at us, but we were the only ones on the road.  In the 20 miles we had ridden, we only saw a handful of cars.  Everyone was probably hung over from the night before or staked their claim on a place to watch the eclipse from and not moving.  

Curious, we pull into the long drive and end up at a small snow resort.  The guy clears off a chair, hands us some eclipse glasses, and asks us if we would like to try his micro brew.  They were all set with their camera on a tripod with a black film covering the lens to capture the eclipse.  They also had a snack tray layed out and their cooler ready.  

As the moon and sun started to align we noticed the temperature dropping, the sky getting dark, and waves of light dancing on the ground.  One of CDT hikers told me to look at the way the light curved around objects making interesting shadows.  The edges of the shadows were somewhat blurry, but I wouldn’t describe it as a phenomenon.  When everything went dark we had almost a minute and a half to look at the glowing ring and stars.  When it was over the chihuahua perked his head up and started running around in circles.  And then it was over.  We filled the water bottles and got back on the road.

The rest of the climb to the pass was slow and grueling.  We never walked, but took breaks when the road flattened.  Almost to the summit and some girl in full lycra on a carbon bike with 21 cm tires blows by us.  I was struggling trying to keep the wheels straight and she passes me on the right.  Nothing ever passes me on the right so it made me jump and swerve.

At the top was a large pond and picnic area.  We spent about an hour resting, eating, and not wanting to move.  For lunch I had an instant mashed potato burrito and Quentin had instant mashed potato ramen.  He did some exploring around the pond while I attempted to take a nap.  The rest of the way should be nothing but down hill.  

We ran into our first bikepackers just below the summit.  It was a group of six that had started in Washington together.  I stayed and talked to the group for nearly half an hour while Quentin rode on.  I finally caught up with him at a gas station several miles away.  I decided that the climb out of the Tetons was way worse than the climb in.  I flew down the winding roads, so fast that I almost started passing cars.  Quentin was a little more conservative due to him missing a bearing and having a broken spoke on his rear wheel.  

Once we got to the valley floor we had another 15 miles to our campground on Jackson Lake.  At our campsite we found four solo cups and bottle of vodka left in the bear box.  We gave it a sample and left the rest for the next cyclists.  The two cyclists I met earlier that week that tempted me to go up the mountain were still there.  We spent the evening talking with them, an Englishman doing a zigzag tour of the U.S., and a German rollerblading from coast to coast.    

Still in Dubois

Today, I decided to leave the hostel and cross the mountain into the Tetons.  It was 4 o’clock when I finally decided to head out.  By that time the wind was blowing 20-25 mph.  I got 5 miles down the road and my pace dropped to 6 mph with a 30 mph wind.  I met two cyclists heading East into town and told them about the church.  They told me that the higher I climbed the stronger the wind got.  I was still 25 miles from summitting and that was what tipped my decision to returning to the church.  

My time at the church, which I call the hostel, has been a wonderful experience.  I have met more like minded people here than I have on my entire trip, maybe my entire life.  Everyone here is either a through-hiker or cyclist.  We mostly talked about food and gear.   Most of these through-hikers eat high Calorie, low nutrient foods and are consuming 5000-6000 Calories a day.  Coming off the trail, their first stop was usually the Cowboy Cafe for a burger, or two, and a piece of pie.  I found one girl wandering around town looking for the church and eating a half-gallon of icecream as she went.

There is a lot of community here.  People share what they have and help out when they can.  Sonny and Killer, AKA Scott and Genevieve, gave my gear a shake down today.  I was sitting in the living room packing my gear for the ride and Sonny started asking me about different things.  When I offered to let them help, Killer practically jumped at the opportunity to do a shake down.  We went through each piece of gear and reasoned keeping or leaving.  Since starting I have reassessed my gear twice, once in Tulsa and again when I first arrived.  I have dropped some gear and picked up some along the way.  The temperature change has been the dominating factor.  Once finished, I will compare my finish gear list with start gear list.  

Sonny and Killer took out my tablet, hammock and accessories, tarp, cyling jersey, shorts, whistle, 1/2 of wet wipe package, and solar panel.  Earlier this week when I went through the gear I took out a spare tire, electronic accessories, foam pad, hammock net, and some toiletries.  I debated a long time sending the hammock home and I have been on the fence about the tarp this whole time, even though it has come in handy a few times.  So, Sonny and Killer, I will be sending the tarp, hammock and accessories, whistle, solar panel, spare parts, front bottle cages, and some tools home in the mail.  I am keeping the clothes and will decide on the tablet in the morning.  

It has been a nice rest being here and I have neglected posting updates.  Mostly, I have been meeting and talking with adventurists, cooking and eating, and napping.  After my first day I somehow became the unofficial greeter for new people.  It is great to meet all of these people and to hear their stories, and after just a day it is hard to see them go.  I have already made plans to see a few North bounders along the trail and will hopefully run into others again.  I have mentioned a few by name, but there have been many that have made my stay here so memorable.  

Tomorrow is the eclipse and I plan to be in the middle of it.  The plan is to ride to the top of the pass and watch the totality from there.  My plans never work out, so we will see what happens.  

I have been living and often don’t even have my phone on me, so no photos this time.  

Hiker Hostel

I didn’t get much sleep at the fire station.  I just bought my bear spray and was warned by everyone I about traveling at night.  I also saw some signage just down the road warning about ferrell dogs and wolves in the area.  It was cold and rained most of the night and I was a little jumpy.  The rain stoppped around five and I was up and around by 6 but didn’t leave until the sun was high enough to warm everything up.  It was 40 degrees when I woke up.  This was the first time I layered up with my leg warmers, arm warmers, scarf, and jacket.  I wanted to make it up the pass into the Tetons before the wind got too strong and planned to camp at a picnic area at the top.

The thirty miles to Dubois was a steady, but easy climb.  Once in Dubois I scouted around for lunch and settled on a BBQ shack on the outskirts of town.  As soon as I pull in my front tire starts hissing.  The old man there told me about the bike shop in town.  The bike shop was a small lean too building off of the Napa Auto store.  The were closed for lunch so I went ahead and fixed my flat and waited for them to open to get a new tube.  Inside, I met John, the local hiker and biker hostile operator.  I call it a hostel because it has that community feel of travelers coming and going and supporting one another.  It is actually an outreach from one of the churches.

John took me in and gave me the tour and introduced me to everyone.  Everyone, being through-hikers on the Continental Divide Trail stretching from Mexico to Canada, or vice-versa.  There were three couples in the house and solo hiker.  It was great to hear each of their stories and to learn about what they were doing.  They travel the same distance with the same amount of gear all on their backs.  Cycling cross country doesn’t seem as hard after talking with them.  One, did tell me that cycling was much more dangerous because of the traffic and that hikers don’t die on the trail but on the road trying to hitch a ride back to town.  

After my education on through-hiking, I dropped one of my spare tires in the hiker/biker box and mailed home my hammock mosquito net.  The hiker community is awesome.  Dubois is one of the resupply hubs and hikers going North and South all meet here to recharge.  There are other hubs like this along the trail and each with a hiker box that people can drop or collect gear or food from.  I also dropped my stakes that I acquired in Douglas and some other items and picked up a piece of foam sleeping pad in place of my small foam pad.  I replaced the stakes with some I found at an outfitter in town.  

In the evening, two cyclists rolled in from the East heading into Jackson.  They stayed the night and I got a chance to compare gear and rides.  I am still convinced that I have a good setup and am traveling much lighter than most.  I am the only one out here traveling without a cookset.  After having a kitchen for a day I momentarily thought about getting a stove, even though what I cooked was my mango salad I call ceviche. 

Margot, Arrow, Green Bay, and Jasper

For dinner, me and two of the couples threw together a bunch of food and made burritos.  I am not the only one that will put anything inside of a tortilla and eat it.  The night went on and eventually we all settled down for bed.  Hiker midnight, as they call it, is 9 PM.  One of the guys had been preparing two loaves of bread and they came out some time after 9, so we all gathered in the kitchen to sample it.  Afterwards, two hikers, two cyclists and I all set up our beds in one of the common areas.  

Winds at Crowheart

From Ocean Lake to Dubois was 70 miles.  I was feeling good after the 70 miles before and felt I could make it, but the weather had other plans.  I had not had good reception the last few days, I was running out of water, and my phone and tablet were almost dead.  I used the solar when the sun poked out from the clouds, but it rarely did.  

With no service, I was unsure when the next water break would be.  I passed a couple reservoirs before deciding I should get water.  Highway 26 followed the Wind River all through the reservation.  At one of the crossings, I went down and filled the bottles with the Sawyer filter.  Not 10 miles down the road and there was a rest area with a water fountain.  No electric outlets though.

From the rest area it was 10 miles to Crowheart and 30 more to Dubois.  Those 10 miles to Crowheart were tough.  I was averaging 7 mph and the wind averaging 30 mph stronger gusts.  It was a straight head wind.  At one point I pushed the bike a hill that normally I could have easily gone up.  The wind was so strong at times that I was in my lowest gear struggling to go downhill.  When I got to Crowheart I decided to wait out the wind.  I asked the store owner there when the wind usually stops and he said, “I’ve been here for 70 years and it hasn’t stopped yet.”  He told me I could hang out at the fire station across the street.  It had a covered area with picnic tables out of the wind.  At this point, it was only 2 PM.  The wind did not stop until the next morning. 

I set up my camp, which was my sleeping pad wrapped up in the tarp.  No need for the tent that night.  Later in the evening I heard some cars pull up and people talking.  I stuck my head around the corner and it was a couple with two horses and a chiropractor, a horse chiropractor.  Dr. Tiger worked on people during the day and would work on animals every week or so.  He said, “I’m chiropractic whore, if it has a spine then I will touch it, and probably have”.  He lives in Jackson and it was tempting to ask for a lift.  By the end of the night, he worked on 15 horses and one dog.