A storm was brewing above, as we climbed the Togwotee Mountain right outside of Yellowstone National Park. Either the mountains out west are easier to bike than the east coast ones, or the view around every corner was so spectacular that I forgot I was in my lowest gear climbing a mountain. While soaking in all the beauty, my heart skipped a beat when just over a lower gap in the mountain, I caught a glimpse of the snow covered peaks that awaited us. I didn’t know what the Grand Tetons looked like, but without a doubt I knew these were the mountains that I was looking at, because they were more grand and majestic than any other mountains I’ve ever seen in the states. I couldn’t wait for the ride down!
Throughout the US there are specific routes laid out for bike tourers. So believe it or not, there are tons of people who bike across the US every year. Most of us don’t live on the routes, so we don’t regularly see cyclist crossing the country, but for those on route, they see bikers every day of the summer making the trek. Since Rebekah and I had certain destinations we wanted to make it to, we made up our own route. A pro of making your own route is that many people we meet have never seen anyone biking across the country and are really interested in what we are doing and why we are doing it. The downside is that we don’t see other cyclist touring. Well, until now! Just the other week we linked up with the Trans America path and have met so many cyclists from all over the world. Some who have never done anything like this before and others who are biking the world and have been on their bikes for years.
At the top of this mountain, I saw my bike crew stopping, I thought just to talk to two other cyclists, but we had actually made it to the top. Just in time to, the storm was about to break. In sight through the woods there looked to be some picnic area, that we decided to look for shelter. What we found was a one stall bathroom, that wasn’t to pleasant smelling with a small overhang area outside the door. We all crammed in, as we took shelter from the rain and started putting on more layers because the temperature was dropping quickly. It wasn’t to long after, that 5 other guys who we’ve been seeing on the road, made it up the mountain. And the small overhang that already had 6, now had 11 cyclist sardined in. As a passing backpacker took our picture, she chuckled stating, “you all bike thousands of miles and when a little rain hits, look what you do” (The backpacker was secretly coming to the stall to seek shelter too) When you know you have to camp out that night, and when your rain clothes double as your warm clothes – being wet is no fun!
Usually the reward for biking up a mountain is the awesome ride down. In this case 17 miles of downhill going 35 mph in the 40-degree rain didn’t sound so appealing. But, we must go on. After 7 miles of riding I decided to stop at a lodge to see if there was a way to warm up my freezing feet and to fix my brake. Yeah, brake problems on a mountain= no good! After a bit of a break the rain stopped!!! What was one of the worst rides down the mountain turned into one of the best! There isn’t any other thing I’ve experienced that is like flying down a mountain with the wind in your face, especially when every turn could be a snapshot on a postcard. Curving around the mountain, overlooking the valley, and the Grand Tetons ahead. If only we could have hitch hiked back to the top to do it all again!
From here we camped out at the bottom of the mountains in Grand Teton National Park and spent the next two nights in Yellowstone National Park. And thanks to our new friend Zach, who works at the park, we got to see a lot more of the park than if we were just on bikes. Despite the rainy evenings and freezing nights, we had an awesome time and I definitely want to visit again.
Only 2 ½ weeks left of our journey!