Sent: Tuesday, 8/12/03
To: Friends and Family
Subject: Union Pass to Pinedale
August 10 - Union Pass Road to Whiskey Grove Campground (49 miles, 4260 feet)
Jim, Evan and I rode for 10 miles uphill to Union Pass. We huddled under a stand of trees for about 30 minutes as a thunderstorm passed over us. When we reached the high point on the pass, Jim rode back to the motorhome. Evan and I continued downhill to a Continental Divide crossing. It's a mystery to me how we ride downhill to cross the Continental Divide.
We've seen plenty of signs warning us about grizzlies, but fortunately, no grizzlies. Just in case, I keep my bear repellent handy. The last day we rode with the BOB Boys, Ray told me we were going through an area that all of the bad "rogue" grizzlies from Yellowstone had been relocated to. When I was alone on a stretch of dirt road, I practiced getting the bear repellent out of the side pouch of my backpack. No doubt I'm slower than a grizzly. This photo was taken south of Union Pass, away from the rogue grizzly habitat. Grizzlies don't extend into Colorado, so I think our chances of encountering one are decreasing.
Jim faced the longest drive yet to move the motorhome to the next campsite. The direct route that Evan and I took was too rough for the motorhome. Jim had to make a big U, backtracking through Jackson. Evan and I were about ready to bum a can of beans from our neighbors when Jim finally rolled into camp at sunset.
Wildlife on this stretch of the trail was disappointingly scarce. We had great views of vast expanses of land, but didn't see a single wild animal other than birds. There were plenty of cattle, but the immense herds of buffalo, elk, deer, and antelope of Lewis & Clark's days were sadly missing.
August 11 - Whiskey Grove to Green River Lakes (36 miles, 1060 feet)
If Jim and I were by-the-book Great Divide cyclists like Evan, we would have ridden 29 out of 36 miles on a paved road to Pinedale. The elevation profile showed a road so flat it looked like a dead person's EKG. Nothing about that appealed to me, so we opted to do a 36-mile ride to Green River Lakes. Several people had told us how scenic that area is. They were right.
When we started the ride, we noticed the air was smoky. As we neared the lake, it was evident we were heading straight toward the fire. When we arrived at the lake, a fire was burning on a rugged mountain on the opposite shore.
Even though it was a short, relatively flat ride, the wash-boarded road condition made the ride an exhausting one. We faced a headwind going back, making even the slight downhill a challenge. What weighed heavier on my mind was what that wind was doing to the forest fire.
The first order of business when we got to Pinedale was to go to the town's only bike shop, which occupied a small corner of the local hardware store. Since the high-end bike shops in Jackson didn't have the rear shock I needed, it was doubtful that the shop in Pinedale would either. We struck out again, so I called Titus, the bike maker in Arizona. They had the shock and agreed to overnight it to me at their special "stuck-in-the-middle-of-nowhere price" of $175. The shock retails for $325, so I was very happy that the shock wasn't available in Jackson or Pinedale. Those folks at Titus are great; when and if my current bike needs replacing, my next bike will probably be a Titus too. Their excellent service matches the high-quality bike they make.
In the hardware/bike store I met Tina, a 53-year-old woman from Holland who is biking from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to somewhere in northern New Mexico ALONE. I invited her to pitch her tent outside our motorhome and asked her to join us for dinner. Just when I start getting full of myself and feeling studly for doing this bike ride, the universe serves up some reminder that what I'm doing is no great thing. Not only would I never consider doing this ride self-supported, doing it ALONE is unthinkable. Just before I met Tina, I'd made a note to pick up a whistle in case Jim or Evan ever got too far ahead of me and out of shouting range. When I look at my to-do list now, what once said “whistle” now reads "WIMP!" I scratched the whistle off my list.
August 12 - Pinedale (rest day)
Pinedale is the "Cowboy Town." We walked to the Museum of the Mountain Man, a fascinating collection of artifacts that tells the story of the American West. Since I'm reading "Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, I enjoyed seeing many of the things I'm reading about.
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