Picking up where we left off, we enjoyed one last night next to the river in Dubois before setting out for Togwotee pass. Terrified the wind would make this 30 mile climb up to 9658ft impossible, we set off about 8am. The air was relatively still except for the occasional rain cloud rushing overhead, briefly scattering teardrops over the already moist landscape. We agreed to meet every 10 miles until the top for a snack, stretch and sunscreen break but kept them short to ensure time for the decent off the snowy peak. The pass had been closed 5 days before and we were told by cyclists heading the other way that it was still snowy and cold up there. We had climbed to this elevation twice before and had encountered snow, but not as thickly layered as what we found on Togwotee pass. There were icy streams gushing out of snowpack, frozen lakes so desperately yearning for the summer sun, and wildlife all around frolicking to find the sweetest grass.
It was 1pm by the time we made it to the top, and although it was cold, the three of us decided to put on jackets and enjoy the view while we feasted. It was a magnificent lunch spot surrounded by snow. We felt good after the climb and felt like we had earned the view.
Unlike the other mountain passes we have climbed, Togwotee Pass did not have a sign marking the summit, so we made one. The pass is also another Continental Divide which is the 4th time we have crossed it.
About 3pm the wind started to pick up so we set off down the peak. As we soared down we finally began to see the side of Wyoming worth knowing. Our first few days in the state were windy and agricultural, souring our moods and making us want to rush through this section, but now the scenery has eclipsed our initial impressions. Broad meadows of tall green and reddish grass are surrounded with snowy alpine, aspen, and spruce trees. As we descended we breathed in the fresh, crisp pine air. Mi saw a moose and stopped to get a picture before it disappeared into the vast wilderness.
Throughout the day’s ride signs had announced road work for 43 miles, but we had already ridden 34 of them and were beginning to wonder if the repairs were so minor we wouldn’t notice. That is when signs warned of a 6% downgrade and an unpaved road for the next 9 miles. We flew and jolted over bumps, pebbles, and rocks, all of which threatened to throw us of our bikes numerous times. Luckily, we made it through the unexpected rough terrain with little more than some minor adjustments to our brakes.
When the roads pavement began again, we rode about 5 miles into the Teton Wilderness where we quickly found Hatchet campground. We have an annual National Parks pass which reduces camping fees to 50% of the listed price. For $5 we knew we would not find a better deal. Henry, who caught up with us in Dubois stayed with us and said his bike computer said we climbed over 3000ft in the 50 miles we rode that day.
The campground was lovely and in the morning we warmed ourselves by our first campfire of the trip before heading off. Henry had decided to take the Jackson spur on the Adventure Cycling Map which is almost 40 miles off route and while we had heard that Jackson is a place worth visiting we were hesitant to go so far out of our way. Ultimately we decided to take a few extra days to check out the town and it has already proved worth it. So rather than continuing on to Yellowstone we turned south toward Jackson and rode beside the Tetons, grassy vistas populated by horses and bison, and over gurgling rivers. Part of the way there was a bike path that was a welcome break from rising alongside trucks, semis, and RVs that all belch noxious fumes as they chug by. The ride was slightly downhill which was also a relief. The moment we got into Jackson we sought out the Snake River Brewing Company which has gotten rave reviews.
The three of us parked out bikes and headed inside where we enjoyed a pitcher of their stout and then one of IPA while we had lunch. Henry had already arranged a place to stay so while we ate we researched places to spend the night. As we had expected, the local accommodations were either far away or expensive. We thought we were stuck until our waitress offered her backyard for us to camp in. We were saved!
After Henry left and the waitress, Allison, got off work, we piled our bikes, bags, and bodies into her car and traveled the few miles over to Wilson where she lives in a sweet log cabin. We set up and met the inhabitants of the cabin, including her bear-like Newfie and her roommate’s affectionate pit bull. It was a great evening of socializing with people and animals, savoring a delicious curry (the first Allison had ever made), and drinking beers around the second campfire of the trip.
Back in Moab we met a pair of cyclists, one of whom, Casey, lives in Jackson and enthusiastically invited us to stay once we got to her neck of the woods. We were unable to get ahold of her before arranging to stay with Allison but we met up this morning. We rode the short distance to Casey’s house where we are doing a much needed load of laundry and catching up on a few things. The house is awesome and Casey was nice enough to let us chill here while she does some work at her house in Victor, Idaho just over the mountains from here.
Now we are off to go for a walk and do some yoga to keep our achy muscles from getting stiff.