June 24, 2001

6/24/01 Colter Bay, WY

78.4 miles

Kind of an odd day, but everything worked out OK. The plan was for an easy 50-mile day, with the only hurdle getting over Togwatee Pass (at the 30-mile mark). One thing I wasn't happy with was the wind. Usually, it's pretty calm until about 10 A.M., then it builds up all day, then quiet again at night. Well, not today. Had a slight headwind as I left Dubois.

The route was a steady uphill almost the whole way to the pass. Traffic was pretty light this Sunday morning. I think the wind was just trying to annoy me; not like yesterday.

Close to noon, almost at the pass, I meet Karl, who, with a buddy, is biking the Great Parks Route south. When he found out what I was doing, he said, "I always try to meet one eccentric every day!"

At the spot where I thought the pass was, a picnic table sign looked inviting. Turned out to be a small mountain lake. What a sight, with someone fishing on the lake and the mountains in the background. Unlike Hoosier Pass, the only reason I knew I was over the pass was the sign that said, "STEEP GRADE - 6% NEXT 17 MILES." Now that is an answer to a cyclist's prayers.

Magnificent lake at the top of Hoosier Pass

But that pesky headwind just wouldn't go away, spoiling the flight downhill. Then, around a bend in the road, there they were - the Tetons! Even at a distance, they are impressive. Nothing like the mountains I've seen anywhere. For the rest of my downhill, they hovered over me.

Hatchet Campground was a disappointment -- primitive camping for $10. I'd heard cyclists could camp behind the ranger station nearby, but no one was there because it was Sunday. Talked to the folks at the Hatchet Inn, who suggested camping along the old logging road that goes behind their property. After checking it out, I decided to keep going. But I thought I had directions from the staff to a new campground 8 miles away.

The Grand Tetons

The wind was really blowing now, but I didn't pay it any attention. They said I had a climb ahead, but it never materialized. About four miles from the Hatchet Grill, I met Steve Gebert and his mom, Lorraine, on a tandem pulling a trailer. Not to give Lorraine's age away, but she gets the senior discount. They were a wealth of information about a few churches to approach for a place to stay. And, believe it or not, they know Bubba, the St. Louis policeman I met on the road in Kentucky. They tell me he's only a few days behind me. I knew he'd catch me sooner or later.

Said my good-byes and entered the Grand Teton National Park. Lots of traffic, but also lots of places to take pictures, with every view a postcard. With my admission to the park, I also got a map, which showed that the campground the Hatchet staff had recommended was 4 to 5 miles off route. Took a second to decide, and then headed for the next campground on my route.

Colter Bay seems like the Disney world of campgrounds when compared to others I've been to. So many people and vehicles, but this isn't even the busy part of the summer. The nice thing is that they reserve ten tent sites for hikers and bikers. And, true to form, I'm the only cyclist here.

Jackson Lake from Colter Bay

Went down to Jackson Lake to get a better view of the mountains. It's almost as if the lake kept us mere humans away from the glacier-covered spires where gods reside. The Tetons must be where the phrase "purple mountains majesty" came from.

Back at camp, I met some buddies crossing the country on motorcycles. Patrick drove from Maryland, meeting his two friends from California, Duff and Flip, in Arizona. Patrick checked his odometer and we almost had the exact same mileage. Had a good time talking about our two-wheeled adventures.

Sheldon is the hiker camping nearby. He flew out to Wyoming and has been hitch hiking all over, camping and fishing along the way. He's from Pennsylvania and we talked about how laid back people are out here.

As it grew dark, you could see the clouds move in. As I write this, a thunderstorm is raging outside. I can't remember when my last rain was. Maybe Ordway, Colorado? With two long days in a row, I hope to keep tomorrow to 40 miles. We'll see if the rain has any effect on those plans.