Well tomorrow marks 8 weeks since we started our ride in Whistler, but more importantly, as we depart Pinedale, Wyoming, it marks exactly halfway through the Great Dividing MTB Route! Holy crap, I can't believe we have made it this far!
Since we last checked in, we have left the beautiful Montana, spent a couple of days in Idaho, and are now deep in the cowboy heartland of Wyoming.
There's been a ton of ups, and a few downs:
Every corner we turn continues to show us how amazing the landscapes are here, snow capped mountains, mountains that look like icebergs, crystal clear lakes, rock formations that look like they are from Mars and skies filled with a zillion stars.
The people we are riding with...we are now riding everyday with Chris from Montana, a 66yo bundle of energy who is keeping Shane in his toes, and he's great company! Then on and off we are riding with the 3 English, Sam, Claire and Andy. Then there's the crazy kiwis, Sammy and Josh, and the English nutter Joe....every now and then others wizz by, Wolt, JD and Sanjay, all much faster than us, but keep showing up somehow!
Campsites in the middle of nowhere, absolutely stunning.
Instant mash potato with a tin of chili...dinnr most nights yum!
Random restaurants in the wilderness....marked with nothing more than a knife and fork on the map...we are obsessed with the knife and fork, and it's the end of the world to find they are closed!
Sunny days...see below for the downs, but man we are loving the sunny days!
Camping in the middle of nowhere, and being buzzed at sunset by a pair of low flying USAF fighter jets what a buzz!
Moose! We saw 2 young moose! Shane also made friends with a bear! Finally! I still haven't seen one, gutted!
The downs (from Richelles point of view!):
Torrential rain, muddy dirt roads and freezing temps from Upper Red Rock Lake to Island Park. I cracked it big time that day I was so wet and miserable. Luckily we waited out the rain for 2 days in a wonderful warm apartment!
The freezing nights. We have been so blessed this last 4 days or so with spectacular warm sunny days...but it means spectacularly freezing nights, with the tent covered in ice inside and out each morning! I have a great -4 degree C sleeping bag, but I'm still cold at night, even wearing my whole wardrobe to bed! I think I'm getting used to it, but I can't wait for our special delivery of winter weight I/O Merino gear when we hit Colorado in a few weeks!
Climbing, climbing and climbing some more, nearly 3,000m in the past 2 days, I think the kms are finally catching up, my little legs managed an average of 3.4km per hr on the last 7km climb. (With a number of midway meltdowns...why am I doing this again?!) I did consider today taking a week off and meeting Shane in Colorado (and miss the Great Basin), but for FOMO I'm sucking it up and keeping at it...I'm not allowed to whinge that I'm tired/cold/dead, and Shane's not allowed to whinge about me being too slow....haha wish us luck!
Tomorrow we leave Pinedale and begin our trek toward the Great Basin, pulling some big kms each day to ensure we get to a water source each day. It will be flat but long as we head south to Colorado!
And now I get to sleep in a warm comfy bed....night all!!!
One of the great parts of this trip is getting the time to play with the "Vision" camera, our Olympus OM-D. Some pics...
As we sit here having another rest day I thought it was time for me ( Shane ) to write about the trip thus far.
So 5 weeks have gone by pretty dam quick. So far the trail has been everything I had hoped for. Beautiful scenery and some challenging weather conditions. We have had bushfires, snow, rain and 40+ degrees. We have crossed the divide 4 times so 28 to go :)
After the initial slow and hard start for R i decided to take almost all of her gear in an Osprey pack we purchased. The ride has been much more pleasurable and faster for both us. I don't mind carrying the gear as it gives my legs a good solid work out every day. I like to ride hard up all the hills and passes just for the added challenge.
The terrain has changed immensely. We started in mountains and glaciers to now riding through open fields with " hills " either side. We had a 2 day stop in Glacier National Park in the hope that we could see something but unfortunately the smoke was too thick. However we did have one of the best camp sites yet. Set amongst beautiful Cedar trees and picturesque Glacier lake.
We have been saving money by swimming in the lakes as a bath Ahhhh so fresh. Canada turned out to be a LOT more expensive than we had planned so it has been great to be free camping the last 4 out of 5 nights.
We have seen Deer, Cows, rabbits, foxes, woodpeckers but NO BEARS........... Camped by Lakes and in a field with no people and stayed in 2 motels :) In the next few days we will head into Butte Montana probably get a new chain for the bike and maybe a proper service.
It seems the longer we travel the more we enjoy being away from the towns and people and on the open trail. I think this trip has already had a profound impact on both of us. As we go longer we are realising the things that really matter to us. Anyway no need for the deep and meaningful hahahaha.
Loving life and trying to out ride the winter
After days on the highway dodging wildfires, last Saturday we rolled into Seeley Lake, absolutely wrecked after 120kms that day, and 100km the day before. Arriving at the Big Larch campground, we found our fellow cycling buddy Brian, who told us we could set up next to the camp host RV and camp for free. Always keen to save $10, we jumped at the chance....then we met the camp hosts, Dan and Bev Foster. These guys hail from Florida, and have spent their summer by the lake in Montana, volunteering as camp hosts, and generally looking after cyclists as they pass through town.
First thing first...Bev is on it, "Can I get y'all a beer?". Then with his cheeky grin, Dan tells us that the girls, Marg and Rita popped by earlier, would I like to meet them? I looked at him cluelessly, what was this bloke on about? Who were these girls? Sniggering he strung me on for a few mins before he revealed that he was offering me a margarita! Haha we were definitely gonna be friends!
And that was only the start....not just offering free camping, they gave us chairs (real comfy ones with backs!), a place to charge our stuff and let us store our food in the RV. Then they took us to town for burgers! Yum! Then it was breakfast time...wow! Dans famous homefries, scrambled eggs, sausages and toast with homemade huckleberry jam! All in the comfort of their super comfy RV. Yum! Brian literally rolled out of the campsite as he hit the road. Shane and i were having a rest day there, and well, it was raining, so what to do on a rainy day? Sit around in the warm and cosy RV talking rubbish with our new best friends, and watching back to back episodes of Reba and CSI on their cable TV of course!
Oh look here, it's dinner time, and well our protestations of no, you have fed us enough, fell on deaf ears. For Dan had had his BBQ Pulled Chicken in the pressure cooker all arvo, and Bev had been to the market for fresh corn on the cob....well if we have to! So much yum, that chicken was to die for! We will be the first bike tourer's to get fat on tour I think!
By then it was pretty chilly, but in case they hadn't spoilt us enough, they very kindly offered us showers inside their RV..with real towels! Bliss! We did manage to put our foot down however when we were offered their sofa bed to sleep on! Our tent keeps us plenty toasty!
Their generosity surely knows no ends! And on our last morning we were sent off with French toast with sausages, plus leftover sausages for out on the trail. Man we were so spoilt!
It's really the little bits of help we get here and there that we appreciate, but Dan and Bev blew that out of the water. Our time with them was truly one of the highlights of our trip so far, we felt part of the family. We had heard about trail Angels, and that's exactly what these guys were.
We were so so sad to leave them...hopefully we can keep in touch....Bev and Dan you are one in a million!!!
I am an ultra runner, Mountain biker, Packrafter, Climber, Ironman, Endurance Athlete