GDMBR. July 26, 2015. Lima, MT. GDMBR. July 20, 2015. Wild camped at 9,200 feet in the Bridger National Forest The alarm jars me from a dream filled slumber. Foggy, I feel for the phone tucked in the tent pocket. As I press the various buttons to silence the alarm, my mind clears.
I unzip my mummy bag and my body recoils from the frigid air. “It must be near freezing”, I say to myself. I hastily don my headlamp. My cold weather clothes are laid out at the foot of the tent. I dress hurriedly and feel my body heat begin to offset the chill. As I leave the tent, I notice that I can see my breath. Overview Total miles: 1,668 Total elevation gained: 120,000 feet Current location: Lima, Montana Miles since last posting (Pinedale, Wyoming): 312 In the last six days I have been aware of contrasts.
Last week was dominated by the barrenness of the Divide Basin. This week, each day brought contrasts. Sunday morning brought Wyoming ranches. Video By mid afternoon we were in high country wilderness. The next afternoon we were climbing Togwottee pass on highway 287 and shortly found ourselves in tourist land USA: The Great Teton National Forest. Thirty miles later, we were back in remote mountain dirt roads with very little traffic.
What did remain constant was the weather (clear mornings, T storms in the afternoon) and daily crossings of the divide. My new mantra is: “I’ve got the power and endurance to meet today’s challenge. I’m enjoying the ride.” I’m doing much better.
I notice that I’m spending most of my time in the middle chainring, even on climbs of up to 10%. I’m working on enjoying the ride as it develops and not being consumed by what’s to come.
Riding at sunrise is still the favorite time of day. The soft light, emerging long shadows and a landscape flooded by sunlight consistently leave us in awe.
Daily record. Sunday, July 19th. Leaving Pinedale, Wyoming after a rest day. After a rest day I am always renewed physically and in good spirits. The early morning ride out of Pinedale is pristine. I notice the many artful western scenes atop the archways on the entryway to ranches as we ride northwest toward the divide. The rivers are flowing freely and the lush grasses wave back and forth in a the light breeze. Such a contrast to the barren high desert we just left behind. It all feels so civilized.. Mid morning we crest a ridge and glide down the paved road and anticipate a second breakfast at the restaurant annotated on our ACA map.
Unfortunately, it is closed. Why it is closed is a story for another time. We continue downhill until we see the sign: “Pavement Ends.” The joy of riding on pavement is replaced by bone jarring washboard with a heavy dose of three quarter inch crushed rock. “Back to the real world,” I say to myself. Shortly we enter the National Forest. The green river flows alongside the road. These road conditions- washboard and a layer of rock, I’ve noticed, accompany heavy traffic for a dirt road. In this case, campers and pickups pulling trailers hauling ATV four wheelers; all good stuff.
Fortunately, after a few miles, our route takes us off the heavy traffic road onto a two track clay road that looks like it goes nowhere but in fact will take us up to the mountain wilderness area on the Wyoming Divide.
After a couple of miles I can see a ribbon of this jeep trail two track snaking up the mountain. “Oh shit”, escapes my lips as I stop to look the situation over. As we granny up the track amongst open range cattle, I notice bear tracks pressed into the clay road. I stop to study them and take pictures. I’ve never seen real bear tracks before. The five toe impression looks similar to a human footprint except it is wider and there is a pin prick for each toe from the claw.
In a way, this wildness is what we were seeking when we decided to embark on the GDMBR. Well now we have it. I take stock in the congruent relationship amongst bears and cows and think to myself, “if they leave the cows alone, they probably aren’t that interested in me; unless of course, I startle one.” I find myself “coughing” as I climb into blind turns.
After gaining an elevation of 9,200 feet, we wild camp near mosquito lake. We take extra care to tie our food bags ten feet off the ground and four feet from the trunk of the tree. I’m on alert as I nestle into my tent but I’m excited.
Monday, July 20 Rode 25 miles at 9,000 feet plus. Good dirt roads. Dropped nearly 3,000 feet to Warm Springs for lunch. Joined 287 and climbed 10 miles to Lava Mountain Lodge.
Tuesday, July 21 Left Lava Mountain Lodge at 6:40. Ten mile climb to Togwottee Pass. Seventeen miles down to Moran Junction. Breakfast at Togwottee Lodge. Camped at Colter Bay Hiker, Biker campsite.
Wednesday, July 22 Fifteen miles on busy tourist highway to Flagg Ranch then turned west on a dirt road and climb. Ended the day at Squirrel Creek RV. Last ten miles were tough due to rock and washboard roadway. RV park is perfect.
Thursday, July 23 Squirrel Creek RV to Marks Inn, Idaho. Took alternate route on paved road to avoid thirty miles of trail described as “awful” by south bound riders. Opted for a motel vs planned camping due to heavy rain in the forecast. The forecast proved to be accurate.
Friday, July 24 Advised that the route ahead to Lima, MT was impassable under rainy conditions. Three miles into day’s ride, the route turned off the paved road onto muddy two track. Jamie said, “today could be interesting.”; translation: if we maintain the current speed of 4.3 mph, it’s going to be a long day. As has been the case from the beginning, the current situation always changes. Projecting, thankfully, doesn’t pan out.
A few miles into the muddy tract, we noticed a number of campers scattered throughout the woods. I said, “I wonder how they got the campers in here?”, knowing full well that a camper couldn’t have made it through what we had just ridden. Sure enough, a hundred yards down the trail, we turned left onto a paved road. That road turned into a good quality dirt road in a short while but far better than the mud trail that we started with.
After 51.6 miles, we found a stretch of BLM land and set up a wild camp amongst some tall bushes. It rained much of the afternoon and evening but we were tucked safely (and dryly) into our tents. Saturday, 25 July Twenty six miles to Lima, MT where we are meeting Barbara and Paula. Day off on Sunday. I’m anticipating that this will be our last day off before arriving at Rooseville, MT. I will give brief updates between now and then but will not post a full update until after the ride is complete. We have about 630 miles to go.