There’s nothing like a bikepacking trip to help one recalibrate. I mean the juxtaposition of simple meals and bountiful meals, clean clothes and wicked dirty clothes, brown, barren landscapes and green, wooded landscapes, sandy sleeping bags and clean sheets, dust and sunscreen laden skin and a fresh shower. It just makes you appreciate the little things so much and take nothing for granted.
We said goodbye to Kirsten at Brush Mountain Lodge and started our day with a solid uphill and then a lovely ride through hugh meadows with stunning views of Colorado peaks.
Our climb up the Watershed Divide was manageable until the steep and rocky hike-a-bike at the top. The other side however was ratchet downhill with rocks and washout that made it hard to let loose and bomb down the other side, unless you were Tyler who raced pass me on the descent. He was a man on a mission.😂
About six miles from the top, the route finally opened up and we had sweetest downhill all the way into Clark where we stopped for a snack and met up once again with Tyler and Alex.
Steamboat is apparently a fave destination right now and shelter for bikepackers, whether it be camping, hotel or someone’s backyard was difficult to find. We could see a storm was coming and with our daughter’s help, we scooped up a hotel room for the night. Not mad about it. Another night of clean sheets and tasty food. Thanks, Anne! Not getting too used to this fine living though. It’s back to the tent the next few nights.😊
Another downhill, a favorable tail wind and speedy riding took us all the way into Steamboat before the storm. We needed the night with a dip in the hot tub and ice cream.
Tomorrow we shoot for Lynx Pass. Fingers crossed. 🤞🏻
After we had breakfast and Tom made himself a sausage sammie to go from the breakfast bar we headed out of Steamboat. The route immediately took us to bicycle Nirvana. Gorgeous bike routes! The first half hour we must have seen close to 40 cyclists. The local bike club even arranges porta potties so cyclists can take bio breaks.
Soon we were off pavement and on a sweet dirt road that followed a stream populated with Saturday morning fly fishermen.
An easy path that led to single track took us around Stagecoach Reservoir, the dam and a picturesque mountain home community around the water.
Then the climbing began. Again. Nothing new here. All good. It was a subtle but longish grade. On the way up the first assent I told Tom we should give ourselves credit since it’s pretty hard to train for all this elevation living in flat Indianapolis. Tom answered, “True but why are you talking while we’re punching pedals up the hill?” 😂
Less than a week before, Lynx Pass was closed because of forest fires. Grateful the fires had been extinguished we continued up the pass and saw so much community support for the fire fighters. Very cool!
After 30 miles we stopped for a quick roadside snack and noticed the clouds moving in. We were still about six miles from the top of Lynx Pass.
Shortly after, not only did we begin seeing evidence of the burn, both vegetation and some structures, the cold rain began. And. It. Did. Not. End.
Up, up and up we went. There was no shelter and the steady rain kept coming. We put on rain jackets shortly after it began and the constant grind of climbing kept our body temps warm but we wondered when the rain would quit following us.
Another concern was our cranks. We both have Salsa Cutthroats and they have been performing well but both of us were beginning to feel and hear grinding as we pedaled hard up the pass. The muck and sand seemed like it was seeping in with all the rain. Hummm what to do if it doesn’t go away. The grinding sounded destructive.
After hitting the top of Lynx Pass we found shelter under the eave of a pit toilet building and put on a warmth layer and rain gloves. We wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible since we could see more nasty clouds moving in.
The route said that the Watershed Divide would be impassable if wet so we had to detour to the pavement. That meant another pass… in the rain.
By the time we reached the top of Gore Pass, it was raining even harder and the wind had picked up. Without shelter, we knew we had to keep moving or get colder so we had a quick snack at the top to ensure we didn’t bonk. I had my sites set on the bar-b-q Vienna sausages I’d been carrying around in my fork bag since Rawlins but we opted for the quicker choice of Cliff bars. And I popped a couple of the Goetz’s chewies in my mouth. Then we began our descent.
That’s when Tom noticed his brakes weren’t working properly. Seriously? He was Fred Flinstoning it dragging his left foot on pavement trying to stop his bike while descending Gore Pass in pouring down rain and relentless wind. We quickly pulled off the road and he adjusted his brakes. Not sure how he did it with such cold fingers but in less than 10 minutes we were back on bikes coasting down ginormous descents. In the rain, only this time we weren’t peddling, just coasting wicked fast and we were so cold!
We were off route, had no cell service but we had our Adventure Cycling map and found our work around to Highway 40 which was another adventure in itself. Apparently rock slides on I-70 shut it down so traffic was routed through Kremmling, our destination for the day, via Route 40.
We just rode our gravel bikes off the side of the road when we saw traffic approaching from the rear. Those little helmet mirrors are life savers.
We rode a couple more miles than expected, and opted for a budget hotel room for the evening to dry out but at least now we know why Colorado is so green. It rains!
Tomorrow it’s Ute Pass. And there’s no rain in the forecast. Plus Tom still has his sausage sammie to look forward to!
And just like that… the topography changed as we entered Colorado. There was only a sign that let us know we were LEAVING Wyoming. The green trees around us and distant daunting mountains let us know we were in Colorado. It’s a new state for us to cycle in!
After shaking our bags, sleep pads, clothes and tent out from the dust storm the night before we were on our way to Brush Mountain Lodge which is an iconic stop on The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
We watered down at the remote Sandstone Work Center Cabin where we met Elwin and Roxie who are hosts. Roxie goes through 125 pounds of sugar in four months feeding the hummingbirds. Elwin built his own seven hole golf course. These two are livin’ their dream.
After a lunch stop off the side of the road we set our sites on BML. More climbing, more scenic views, and a lot of Jolly Rancher chewies for me.
We turned the corner on a climb and there it was! The Lodge! Kirsten welcomed us with hugs, a shaded porch and a pizza cooked in her wood fired oven (one large pizza for each of us). And yes we ate it all.
BML is a magical place that welcomes hikers, cyclists, motorcyclists, and hunters in the winter – really anyone! Cool thing is… if you arrive under your own power (bike or hike) Kirsten offers a 50% discount on rooms. Pretty awesome. Thanks Kirsten. She also did a load of laundry for us. I’d say she’s another patron Saint of Bikepackers.
Northbounders refer to Colorado as the “high peaks” state – lots of mountain passes. We are feeling stronger and so grateful.
We’re also very much looking forward to a rendezvous with our Indy buds Dan and Christie in Salida in a few days. Probs gonna take a zero day (maybe two)! Whooo hooo 🤙🏻
Wyoming we love you but what’s up with the send off?
The best part about today might have been late checkout at the Hampton Inn. 😂 We did laundry, updated the blog, backwashed the water filter, did some bike maintenance, ate a huge breakfast, bought more food and water for the road and even stopped at McDonalds for some lunch.
Late checkout was clutch after arriving later in the evening. We just took our time getting out.
Although we left Rawlins in the heat the day we were totally revived after our ride out of the Great Basin. It was super smooth riding on a newly paved road.
This was our last night in Wyoming so we had our eyes peeled for a scenic yet convenient camping spot. It looked like weather was coming in so we began to get a little more serious about finding one.
Finally we just pulled off a county road and plopped the tent down ensuring it was anchored down well with the storm coming. Dinner, stowing food, brushing teeth, securing bikes were finished so we hunkered down in our tent thinking what an easy day of riding it was and that we were both actually still somewhat clean. 😂
Next thing we know a huge gust of wind came and picked up all the dust (and whatever else is mixed in since we are in a cow pasture) and blew it up under our tent fly all over our clothes, skin and sleeping bags. It was like laying out in the beach with all the sand. Why Wyoming would you want to send us off like that? Until next time…
Where to begin describing our ride through the Great Basin? I would say it’s a love hate relationship. We loved it, but it was tough mostly because of the relentless headwind and being anxious about adequate drinking water.
We resupplied at Wild Bill’s with Carmella and Chris taking good care of us. This was especially helpful as on Monday it appears most everything is closed in Atlantic City (population 57).
As much as we celebrated the tail wind the previous day we lamented over the persistent headwind. I thought a lot about tailwind metaphors in life and advantage but won’t go into it here. #toodeep
It’s beautiful in the Great Basin; the landscape rarely changes, there are herds of wild horses racing across the land and it’s pretty much all sun, no shade. The pronghorn thrive and we never tire of seeing them.
In late afternoon on Monday we just plopped our tent down when we’d had enough and enjoyed a simple dinner while sitting on our old maps sparingly drinking water.
Tent fly free camping gave us an unforgettable view of the stars.
On Tuesday it was just 30 miles to the next water source and if we were gamblers we would not have thought we would make it to Rawlins which was 80+ miles away but we did! Don’t think I’ve ever been so spent and thirsty.
Thanks to Tom for being my constant cheerleader. There comes a point when you’d do just about anything for an ice cube or cold drink. Making it to Rawlins was a big incentive for us.
We rolled into Rawlins, got something to drink at the Sinclair gas station and promptly rolled our bikes over to the local steak and burger joint for some real town food.
We are celebrating that the Basin is behind us and very much looking forward to Colorado in about 50 miles.
Even though today was our longest day of riding yet and we didn’t start until 10am this morning it felt like a vacation for our legs. It was the combo of friendly road surface and the tailwind! Yes sometimes Wyoming plays nice. 😉
We planned on stopping at 60 miles at a sweet camping spot Chere mentioned but it was only 4:30pm, and although scenic there wasn’t a lick of shade so we continued. So glad we did. Gotta just go when you’re feelin’ it. We spotted so many pronghorn today and I was able to get a short video of them.
I forgot to mention yesterday that this isn’t our first bike experience in Wyoming. Back in 2016 we rode the Tour d’Wyoming and had so much fun. Amber is the ride director and if the saying “good things come in small packages” is true, it was written for her. She’s a sweet little lady with a heart big as the state of Wyoming itself, not to mention she’s a kicka$$ cyclist. She’ll be back at it in 2022 highlighting some of the best cycling roads Wyoming has to offer. Check it out here. It’s a super popular multi day tour so sign up early.
I don’t think I’ve ever cycled though such desolate landscape (although that’s probably going to change tomorrow as we enter the Great Basin). I mean it’s hot, dry and dusty but it’s absolutely stunning. And again, pics don’t do it justice.
Along the way we met Marshall the horse and his owner (don’t know his name). Marshall carries his owner 12 miles a day and loosely follows the Continental Divide Trail. Cool! Sometime Marshall brings a buddy horse to carry camping gear. Sometimes Marshall gets a break and gets to ride in the horse trailer when his owner’s wife sags for them. Who knew that was a thing? 🤷🏼♀️
We’re just a short distance from South Pass City so that means we may find our way to a coffee first thing. Until then…
And thanks for the follow and words of encouragement. It means a lot.
Today’s theme is “Hold On, Tom! I’m Comin!” If it wasn’t the narly rocks coming down Union Pass, it was the headwind. And if it wasn’t the headwind, I needed to make a clothing change, or change my Spotify playlist or grab a snack. Thank goodness Tom was behind me at one point, because my Oofoos sandal fell off my seat bag. #bikerideprobs Thanks for your patience, Tom!
We said so long to Chere and passed Mosquito Lake, the place we were were thinking about camping. Gorgeous!
We stood in awe of a beautiful herd of elk as they moved on up to higher ground. The high meadow at daybreak was breathtaking.
Our roll into Pinedale was punctuated with scenic views, fellow bikepackers and of course ATVs with a few prancing pronghorn thrown in for good measure.
Pinedale did not disappoint. We resupplied, showered up, did laundry, new rear brake pads for my bike and hit up the money spitter.
The day started with Tom finding a dollar bill on the road. I thought about my running bud Mary Beth who would bend over in the middle of an eight mile run for a nickel. MB he hit the jackpot! 🎰
Not gonna lie. We were anxious about today’s ride over Union Pass, especially after having just crossed over Towgotee the day before. And it was tough but we did four of the five climbs before noon.
We bounced up and down around 9,000 feet most of the day amid what I know would be spectacular views had the skies been free of haze and smoke. It was still such an amazing feeling to be riding up there!
We’d planned on riding to Mosquito Lake (that name tho, not enticing). Northbounder Ben told us about a sweet safety shelter near the top of the pass so we were watching for it.
When we arrived we knew we were done for the day even though it was early. The shelter was just about brand new! And so comfty.
I immediately took a nap. And Tom puttered about and then napped. We awoke to company. A couple of ATVs stopped at the shelter and soon the shelter was filled with visitors including one of the cutest little toe headed toddlers.
We stepped out to chat it up. We must have looked thirsty, hungry and tired because they offered us a couple of Coors Lights and some… wait for it… homemade beef jerky. It was SO tasty! And they kept offering and I sure kept taking. Jane, her daughters and their husbands and of course Baby Brock were a lot of fun to hang with. We shared our blog info, said goodbye and sure hope they share that jerky recipe.
Before they left they mentioned they saw another solo female rider headed toward the shelter. That’s when we knew we’d be having a slumbie with a friend we hadn’t met yet.
Chere, is a northbounder that started in New Mexico and will end her journey in a couple days due to time constraints. I was so inspired by her courage, perseverance and outlook. And y’all her IG snaps are da 💣 You can see them on IG at BlueEyesMTB
Looking forward to rolling into Pinedale for a hotel stay tomorrow. I love cotton sheets!
Last night we didn’t know how to pronounce the name of this Pass and tonight we can say it correctly and say we did it! For these two Hoosier flatlanders that’s something. Again… we’re not fast but we’re deliberate.
We began our morning by setting our alarm early so we could get coffee and charge up our devices at the restaurant at Colter Bay. They also have Wi-Fi. 😉 There are key variables when deciding if and where to stop and most times wi-fi and electricity ranks higher than showers.
Blog posted, devices charged, and bellies full, we took off and headed for the hills to tackle our first eight mile climb. It was on gravel but it’s always easier in the morning when the legs are fresh. Another bonus? It was overcast and even rained a little. We’re thinking Mamaw was looking out for us.
We said goodbye to the Tetons and hope next time we see them it will be a bit more clearly as haze and smoke somewhat hid this majestic view.
We stopped in a C-store in Togwotee and then went on to pedal six more miles to the top of the Pass on pavement. The views both up and down the Pass were spectacular.
After a steady downhill on pavement we rolled into the Lava Mountain Lodge where we are tenting in their back yard. And the bonus? They have a wi-fi extender that reaches our tent. 😉
Tomorrow we take on Union Pass and will likely be out of range. But guess what…. We reserved a hotel in Pinedale so yahoo! That means town food, bevvies, electricity, wi-fi and showers.
Hope your day was extra special. Ours sure was. 🚵🏻♂️🚵🏻♀️
Just when you think things can’t get any better, they do. We realize not every day is going to be a good day but every one that is, is a gift!
Some places are like a vortex. You could stay there forever. Like the Llama Ranch, Jeff and Jill’s and then Squirrel Creek. We had so much fun visiting with LeAnn and her dad, Sheldon, and then we ran into them on the trail. Bikepacker Ben from California let us know what to expect on Union Pass. All good!
We had another stellar day of riding. We crossed the Wyoming state line without fanfare and a small sign for such a big state. And that brings us to map three which will take us to and through The Great Basin and the end of Wyoming.
A heavily forested gravel road took us through the area where the 1988 Yellowstone forest fires took place. New growth abounds with wildflowers and trees even though several areas are still scorched.
After stopping at Flagg Ranch for lunch we hit Rockefeller Memorial Highway and entered Grand Teton National Park. The traffic was nuts though!
Drivers were courteous and we safely arrived to the biker hiker camping area in Colter Bay. There’s lots of bike tourers here as Adventure Cycling routes the Great Divide and the Transamerica Trail through here. Alex from the Ukraine, a westbounder on the TA Trail rolled in late to the campground with some stories to share.
Again, our bikes are holding up well (and surprisingly these old bodies of ours 😉). Our Salsa Cutthroats (named for the state fish of each state we pass through) has a map on the frame of the Great Divide Route. Yesterday it was Flagg Ranch. Cool!
Wishing our dear Rosie the happiest of birthdays today. She’s 3️⃣! ❤️🌹❤️
Tomorrow we tackle Togwotee Pass and we will reach our highest elevation yet at 9,659 feet. Woohoo! ⛰🚴🏼♀️🚴🏼♂️