Day 61: Ascending in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark.

Just outside the busy slot machine casino where we had breakfast we enjoyed this inspiring quote by Theodore Roosevelt: Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered with failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows no victory or defeat.”

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered with failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows no victory or defeat.” —Lolo, MT.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered with failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows no victory or defeat.” —Lolo, MT.

Over breakfast, Paul, Terry and I had discussed the coming ride. Our guide describe in detail the narrow, winding roads, the ever increasing number of salt carriers and logging trucks using the road. They also go to great lengths to talk about the difficulty that Lewis and Clark had getting over Lolo Pass. Just after breakfast we found an informational sign that shared how Lewis and Clark endured terrible hardships getting through the rough terrain up ahead. It even went so far as to say that they didn’t have any guides to help them through as few of the local tribes used the pass through the mountains. Courageously undaunted, we forged ahead. We only made it a couple of miles before our bike path ended with no warning forcing us to retrace our steps and blaze another trail. With bike paths ending willy-nilly, it is no wonder that Captains Clark and Lewis had such a hard time getting up the trail.

One of about a dozen signs describing how much difficulty Lewis and Clark had in this area. —Lolo, MT.

One of about a dozen signs describing how much difficulty Lewis and Clark had in this area. —Lolo, MT.

This bike trail ended in a grove of trees, with a gully between us and the road. We nearly gave up hope of ever finding a path to the Pacific. —Lolo, MT.

This bike trail ended in a grove of trees, with a gully between us and the road. We nearly gave up hope of ever finding a path to the Pacific. —Lolo, MT.

The trail itself was stunning. The mountains here are much more heavily wooded than the higher elevations in Colorado, Wyoming and Southern Montana.  We wound our way up to Lolo Pass, slowly making our way past a rushing river.  At one point, we witnessed the devastating impact of a large wildfire that had spread through here a few years ago.  Next to every burnt out building was a new construction replacing what had been lost: a testament to the hardy spirit of the Western Montana folk who live here.

 

Lolo Mountain. —Lolo, MT.

Lolo Mountain. —Lolo, MT.

The road up to Lolo Pass, MT.

The road up to Lolo Pass, MT.

As I neared the pass, a large tractor-trailer rig was pulled over at the side of the road, clearly having mechanical difficulties. As I cycled past at walking speed I asked the driver if I could give him a tow. Terry pointed out later that it was a good thing the driver had such a good sense of humor as he could have taken my smart-ass comment in a different light. About an hour later as I sat eating my lunch at the visitor center, the trucker, Ryan, came over to get some water. He had been able to jury rig a broken coolant line and needed to fill his waterproof boots to with water to transfer to the reservoir on his rig. I was able to offer him my pliers so he didn’t have to use the drinking fountain. I’m glad I was able to help him out as I felt a little guilty about my unhelpful comment earlier on the mountain.

Ryan fills up his boots with water to transfer to the coolant reservoir on his truck at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center on the MT-ID border.

Ryan fills up his boots with water to transfer to the coolant reservoir on his truck at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center on the MT-ID border.

 

Leaving the national forest center, we crossed the state line for Idaho, our penultimate state. I’ve now biked from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific time zone, which is pretty cool. My ride down the mountain was wicked fast as usual, with speeds generally in the mid-30 MPH range. I almost whipped past a little turnoff for Devoto Cedar Grove, but stopped at the last moment. The grove is devoted to Bernard DeVoto, who had spent much of his life interpreting the journals and history of the Lewis and Clark expedition. I can see why he loved this place so dearly, some of the trees are hundreds of years old. The pine needles and ferns cover the ground in a thick loam that deadens all sound except the river bubbling past nearby. I took an hour to sit in silence here and enjoy the beauty and peace of this little corner of creation

 

Hello Idaho!

Hello Idaho!

Goodbye Montana. Like all wildlife, this bear only likes presenting its ass to the camera.

Goodbye Montana. Like all wildlife, this bear only likes presenting its ass to the camera.

The view on the Idaho side of the Lolo Pass.

The view on the Idaho side of the Lolo Pass.

At Devoto Cedar Grove. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

At Devoto Cedar Grove. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

At Devoto Cedar Grove. My fingers span 37 rings. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

At Devoto Cedar Grove. My fingers span 37 rings. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

At Devoto Cedar Grove. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

At Devoto Cedar Grove. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

At Devoto Cedar Grove. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

At Devoto Cedar Grove. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

Our campsite at Whitehouse Campground is among the most beautiful and peaceful of the trip. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

Our campsite at Whitehouse Campground is among the most beautiful and peaceful of the trip. —Clearwater National Forest, ID

Day 59: Zeroing in on the ACA: Hamilton, MT to Missoula, MT

Last night’s dinner was curtailed by an impending storm that never broke. The wind dashed the tent about noisily, and the dinnertime sprinkles never materialized to anything more. As dawn broke the shifty wind had made up its mind, and that mind said tailwind. Paul, Terry and I broke camp at 5:30 to shoot into Missoula and get a tour of the Adventure Cycling Association’s headquarters before everybody left for the weekend. Though, we weren’t so keen to get there quickly that we were going to skip breakfast. Much to our surprise and delight, we met Jerry and Jonathan at the diner, whom we hadn’t seen for about two weeks. The five Valkyries joined forces again and set off for town on our trusty steeds.

The scenery was beautiful on the ride to Missioula, and I was able to enjoy it all the more for the fact that I was seeing it from a bike path. I haven’t had a completely stress free ride in some time. I turned on some Bach concerto’s performed unaccompanied by Yo Yo Ma. For three hours, I lost myself in the beauty of the mountains and music.

The bike path from Hamilton,MT to Lola, MT

The bike path from Hamilton,MT to Lola, MT

The bike path from Hamilton,MT to Lola, MT

The bike path from Hamilton,MT to Lola, MT

Tom, the last-place and in no hurry East bound racer took some time to share whisky from a bottle and tips about the location of secret hot springs up ahead.

Tom, the last-place and in no hurry East bound racer took some time to share whisky from a bottle and tips about the location of secret hot springs up ahead.

We arrived at the ACA just after lunchtime and were given ice cream sandwiches, stickers, and a wonderfully informative and interesting tour by Jennifer. Jennifer is a cartographer for the ACA. She and her coworkers are responsible for maintaining the accuracy of the maps with an eye towards cyclablitliy. Given how good our experiences have been on route and how challenging they have been off route, I can say with certainty that this group has made my trip across the US awesome.

ACA headquarters. --Missoula, MT

ACA headquarters. –Missoula, MT

ACA headquarters. --Missoula, MT

ACA headquarters. –Missoula, MT

I also want to take this moment to say that any prior implication (or explicit statement) that the cartographer at the ACA is a “total A#@HOLE!” for the description of the Ozarks as “moderately rugged” was clearly all just a misunderstanding.

Jen, a very friendly and helpful cartographer. --Missoula, MT

Jen, a very friendly and helpful cartographer. –Missoula, MT

The final part of the afternoon was the weighing of the bikes. I was disappointed not to have the lightest one, but it was understandable since I’m on a recumbent. Here’s the tale of the tape (fully loaded, some food, no water):

Whifferdill: 75lbs
Persephone: 80 lbs.
Lord Montague: 85 lbs.
Burly Chassis: 87 lbs.
Pokey: 90 lbs.

The Valkyries together at ACA headquarters. --Missoula, MT

The Valkyries together at ACA headquarters. –Missoula, MT

Weighing Persephone at ACA headquarters. --Missoula, MT

Weighing Persephone at ACA headquarters. –Missoula, MT

Day 58: Young goats.: Wisdom, MT to Hamilton, MT

74 miles (119 km) – Total so far: 3,238 miles (5,211 km)

The sober beginning of our trip today was a visit to Big Hole Battlefield. The battlefield is a memorial to the forced migration of several tribes to the Nez Perce reservation. Five tribes banded together to escape the US Army and push on towards the Big Hole Valley. A battle ensued and many native American civilians were killed. The monument celebrates heroism on both sides of the fight as well as mourns the terrible and needless loss for life.

Big Hole Battleground, MT.

Big Hole Battleground, MT.

In a somber mood each of us made our way up the Chief Joseph pass alone. I paused often to reflect on the beauty of the trees and the river. Our national forests are truly amazing treasures. They are much less crowded than the National Parks, and a chat with a ranger will reveal that the permissions on the land are extremely permissive in terms of camping.

National Forest on the way up to Chief Joseph Pass.

National Forest on the way up to Chief Joseph Pass.

My ninth and final crossing of the continental divide at Chief Joseph Pass.

My ninth and final crossing of the continental divide at Chief Joseph Pass.

The other side of the mountain was the biggest downhill yet. I covered 12 miles in just <b>under</b> 22 minutes, which is an average speed in the mid 30s. Woohoo! Near the end I stopped at a restaurant/gift shop/tacky disaster/grumpy employee depot. This facility was adjacent to a Lewis and Clark expedition historical point. As I sat there, several cyclists on day rides showed up and we chatted about our respective adventures for the day.

A monument to the Lewis & Clark expedition in Sula, MT.

A monument to the Lewis & Clark expedition in Sula, MT.

Some friendly cyclists at Sula, MT.

Some friendly cyclists at Sula, MT.

Wildlife has been scarce on this trip. I’m not sure if it is depopulation, or a cattle monoculture, or just the sheer amount of available land. For some reason known only to God above, I really really like seeing mountain goats. I found a whole pack of them. They didn’t like me too much, the males were pawing at the ground and generally looking tough, while the females and young legged it up the mountain. I was relatively safe behind a guardrail, so took some time to snap a couple of photos.

This goat was angrily pawing the ground while his peeps legged it up the hill. -- Sula, MT.

This goat was angrily pawing the ground while his peeps legged it up the hill. — Sula, MT.

This family of goats legged it up the hill while "Dad" watched their back -- Sula, MT.

This family of goats legged it up the hill while “Dad” watched their back — Sula, MT.

Further into the bitterroot valley, we saw several sings of Native American protest about the white man’s intrusion into their ancestral lands. One such expression is a vertical pile of wood surrounded by rocks with brighly colored flags attached. Another sign of protest was an eagle carved from the rock of a bluff overlooking the highway. Having ridden through a couple of reservations and read the local newspapers, I’m stunned at the continued discrimination these nations face in the modern age. I find these sings of protest to be powerful and hopefully they will be effective in changing the discourse between Native American nations and the rest of the US.

A carved Eagle. --Darby, MT.

A carved Eagle. –Darby, MT.

Mike leads a band of harleys into Hamilton, MT

Mike leads a band of harleys into Hamilton, MT

 

Paul, Terry and I chose to take an alternate path down a gravel road to get away from the busy US highway. The terrain was pretty challenging, limiting us to around 7-8 MPH. But, in the end the views of the Bitterroot valley were stunning in the late afternoon sun.

The Bitterroot Valley, MT.

The Bitterroot Valley, MT.

The Bitterroot Valley, MT.

The Bitterroot Valley, MT.

Day 57: eXcellent riding: Dillon, MT to Wisdom, MT

66 miles (106 km) – Total so far: 3,164 miles (5,092 km)

In the states of Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming the small towns I’ve ridden through have an “old town” or “main street” or “downtown”. Usually this center boasts the best shops and services that the area has to offer. In addition, a “new town” or “frontage road” has developed over the last 50 years just next to the interstate or main highway. This area has the same set of strip malls, fast food joints as every other small town, along with a Walmart.

In Missouri and Kansas, this new town usually sucks all of the energy and vibrancy out of the old town leaving behind a set of cute, but deteriorating vacant buildings. Each town is the same as the next with little variation— so much so that locals from on spot really had no reason to go from one to the next even if it was only 15 miles away.

By way of contrast, each little city in Colorado or Wyoming boasts some unique feature that the people of that area rally around. The populations are generally quite a bit smaller so these places draw from the neighboring farm and ranch lands creating compact and vibrant economies that attract tourists as well. In Ennis, the attraction is fly fishing; in Dillon, a university generates a cute art area downtown; in Wisdom, the beauty of the surrounding valley and forests is the focus.

All of which is to say that I had an amazing breakfast of baked oatmeal and a large espresso based drink in a funky and fabulous coffee shop next to the university in Dillon this morning. Yum.

The ride itself today was clear blue skies and beautiful landscapes. One of my favorite days so far. The first portion was along flats slowly rising towards the mountains along some lazy rivers. The rivers and marshes played host to an abundant array of birds and other wildlife. Even the ranches of Wyoming boast variety that is a sharp contrast to the bovine monoculture of Kansas.

 

Looking back towards Dillon,MT from atop a railroad bridge

Looking back towards Dillon,MT from atop a railroad bridge

Ospreys near Dillon, MT

Ospreys near Dillon, MT

Torrey mountain dominated my attention for the lion share of today’s ride. Starting out from Dillon, I could see it in the distance to the North, capping off the Western edge of a series of mountains running off to the East. The nice thing about the view today is that it wasn’t overwhelming: this single mountain stayed in view for hour upon hour, allowing me to focus in a way that is challenging in the midst of the over-the-top showy ranges of Colorado.

Torrey Mountain from the South

Torrey Mountain from the South

I ascended the 2,000 foot Badger pass at a stately pace without much difficulty: a fact that continues to shock me in juxtaposition with my early challenges on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Hayter’s gap. Continuing on past Badger Pass I found myself in a typical mountain valley, but with no real towns or development. This land is truly big and pretty empty. Just me and my thoughts and my bike… oh, and now Torrey Mountain off to the East, showing off another angle as I rode along.

Torrey Mountain from the West

Torrey Mountain from the West

Having ticked off the first two sections of the day, I began an attack on Big Hole Pass, another 2,000 foot climb. This time I decided push myself on a hill climb; racing to the top in a mad dash to see if I could pull off an extended uphill aggressive pace. About a quarter of the way up, I noticed I had yet another view of Torrey mountain and I hurriedly snapped a photo, not wanting my heart rate to drop too much.

Terry -- between Big Hole Pass, MT and Badger Pass, MT

Terry — between Big Hole Pass, MT and Badger Pass, MT

Torrey Mountain from the North.

Torrey Mountain from the North.

Cresting the pass, I was greeted by the amazing views of the Big Hole Valley, which is bordered by the Bitterroot mountains. In a vast country with gargantuan landscapes, the Big Hole Valley is enormous by comparison. The scale is hard to describe… the valley floor goes for miles and miles before hitting the roots of the mountains (I assume they aren’t all that bitter, but who knows, maybe they are holding a grudge)

 

The Bitterroot Mountains from atop Big Hole Pass, MT

The Bitterroot Mountains from atop Big Hole Pass, MT

The Bitterroot Mountains from the Big Hole Valley, MT. The valley is truly enormous.

The Bitterroot Mountains from the Big Hole Valley, MT. The valley is truly enormous.

Paul at Big Hole Valley, MT

Paul at Big Hole Valley, MT

happily pedaled away the last few miles in this idyllic setting, arriving at the town of Wisdom in early evening. The relaxed pace and pleasant weather left me with enough energy to read for a couple of hours, which is pretty rare on this trip. I finished the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which documents her journey on the PCT (and also in life). The ending left me thinking about my final weeks here on the TransAm trail. I’m looking forward to finishing and hitting the Pacific, though I know in a couple of months time I’ll regret no longer being on my journey.

 

Day 56: Wonderful start and Wonderful end, but skip the middle.: Ennis, MT to Dillon, MT

74 miles (119 km) – Total so far: 3,098 miles (4,986 km)

The town of Ennis treated us right. We enjoyed everything a cyclist could want. Willie’s Distillery set us up with space for tents behind their tasting room. Did you catch that? Ennis has a distillery and tasting room. After a little bit of some of the best American whiskey I’ve had (and I’ve tasted quite a variety of American whiskey), we setup our tents on their very well manicured patch of ground. Angie, our hostess, also let us borrow a set of dominoes for the evening.

The town of Ennis, MT has everything a cyclist (or fisherman) could need.

The town of Ennis, MT has everything a cyclist (or fisherman) could need.

Angie from Willie's Distillery in Ennis, MT treated us right!

Angie from Willie’s Distillery in Ennis, MT treated us right!

Properly setup for an evening of camping, I sauntered over to the local pub and had a wonderful local microbrew, a Greek salad, and some tasty brisket. The food is so much better in Colorado and Wyoming than it was in Missouri and Kansas. And this great food trend continued into the next morning at a little coffee shop that served fresh food and… wait for it… espresso! I haven’t had an espresso since Virginia. Here’s how my order went down:

Barrista: How many espressos shots do you want in your Americano?

Me: How many do you usually put in a large Americano?

Barrista: Normally 3, but some people like 2 because it is so strong.

Me: I’ll have 4.

A four shot Americano in Ennis, MT

A four shot Americano in Ennis, MT

Utterly over-caffeinated I set out of town with my trusty sidekicks to ascend the pass towards Virginia City. Paul set a moderate pace while Terry and I pulled in just behind him to attack the hill. We chatted, palavered, gabbed, and blabbed our way up the mountain, happy in the cool morning sunlight. After an hour and change we crested the top. 2,100 feet of climbing with no stops and we weren’t even particularly tired. It feels so good to be a strong cyclist at this point in the trip. Having reached the pinnacle, I took a few minutes to lounge about on a rock and enjoy the beauty and the view.

View from the top of the pass between Ennis,MT and Virginia City, MT

View from the top of the pass between Ennis,MT and Virginia City, MT

Down, down, down the hill into Virginia city, I screamed along at just under 40MPH. By the time I entered town the speed limit had dropped to 25, and it felt great to be a lawbreaking speed freak! Good things the cops weren’t around… ominous pause. The twin towns of Virginia City and Nevada City are leftover of 14 such towns that dotted the ruby river valley from a local gold rush at the turn of the century. As the surrounding towns contracted during the inevitable bust, some enterprising souls started buying buildings, machinery, train cars, and other big paraphernalia. The buildings were deconstructed, moved to town, and then rebuilt as a sprawling museum.

Virginia City, MT

Virginia City, MT

Very old wood rail carriages in Virginia City, MT. Note the smokestacks for burning fires inside the carriage to keep it warm.

Very old wood rail carriages in Virginia City, MT. Note the smokestacks for burning fires inside the carriage to keep it warm.

By this point, it was 2:30, and we had only logged 25 of our 74 miles for the day. We reluctantly pulled ourselves away to start piling on some miles. The sun was shining, the wind favorable, the scenery fabulous, and the temperature cool. Perfect cycling. Then, some jerk in a double tractor trailer blew past us so close it nearly knocked me off my bike. As he passed he let out a mighty blast of his horn. Adding insult to injury, he called the Madison county sherif to complain about cyclists on the road. Said sheriff pulled up and gave us a lecture that we had to:

1) Obey the same rules as cars.
2) Pull all the way over to let massive trucks squeeze past: even with a double yellow line and oncoming traffic in the other lane.
3) Watch out for trucks behind us.

The logically mutually exclusive nature of the first and second directives combined with the absurdity of this third directive had me fuming angry. Fortunately, I held my tongue while Paul and Terry played the clueless Brits card. We rolled away 15 minutes later, but I had a hard time shaking the incident and enjoying the day until we hit Twin Bridges, where a bike lane felt like a reaffirmation of our right to use the roads here.

The bike lane headed into Twin Bridges was a welcome change from the hostile truckers and sheriffs of Madison county.

The bike lane headed into Twin Bridges was a welcome change from the hostile truckers and sheriffs of Madison county.

A super cool trike in Twin Bridges, MT

A super cool trike in Twin Bridges, MT

One of Persephone's forebears in Twin Bridges, MT

One of Persephone’s forebears in Twin Bridges, MT

The final 30 miles of the ride were very pleasant. Beaverhead county lies at the intersection of several river valleys, making a wide fertile basin surrounded by snow capped mountains. The road regained its shoulder allowing the tension in my shoulders to slowly dissipate. As a bonus, every five miles or so the roadside sported an interpretive explanation about the Lewis and Clark expedition in the area. I took a moment to honor their journey by cooking quadrilles over my jet boil. I burnt most the hair off my fingers before we happened upon the solution of using tent stakes to hold the ‘dillas.

Roadside quesadillas near Dillon, MT

Roadside quesadillas near Dillon, MT

Beaverhead Rock for which the county is named. I was very pleased to pass this rock and get out of Sherrif-thinks-he-is-a-cyclist-but-really-supports-wreckless-truck-driving Madison County.

Beaverhead Rock for which the county is named. I was very pleased to pass this rock and get out of Sherrif-thinks-he-is-a-cyclist-but-really-supports-wreckless-truck-driving Madison County.

Day 55: Vivid Landscapes: West Yellowstone, MT to Ennis, MT

72 miles (116 km) – Total so far: 3,024 miles (4,867 km)

I set off solo today to spend much of the day in solitude, reflection and prayer. Here are some of the many beautiful landscapes I saw today.

 

Just North of the town of West Yellowstone.

Just North of the town of West Yellowstone.

Hebgen Lake, MT.

Hebgen Lake, MT.

Earthquake Lake, MT.

Earthquake Lake, MT.

Bill and Lynne stopped to chat for a spell.

Bill and Lynne stopped to chat for a spell.

Along the route between Yellowstone, MT and Ennis, MT.

Along the route between Yellowstone, MT and Ennis, MT.

Along the route between Yellowstone, MT and Ennis, MT.

Along the route between Yellowstone, MT and Ennis, MT.

Along the route between Yellowstone, MT and Ennis, MT.

Along the route between Yellowstone, MT and Ennis, MT.

Greg, Spencer, Zach, and Leslie are all headed East. I saw 11 Eastbounders today. By far the most of any single day.

Greg, Spencer, Zach, and Leslie are all headed East. I saw 11 Eastbounders today. By far the most of any single day.

Day 54: Underrated Fumaroles: Grant Village Yellowstone NP, WY to West Yellowstone, MT

55 miles (89 km) – Total so far: 2,952 miles (4,751 km)

It was the best of parks, it was the worst of parks, it was the park of joy, it was the park of despondency, it was the land of clement weather, it was the land of torrential downpour, it was expanse of solitude, it was the expanse of congestion, it was the countryside of joy, it was the hovel of despair, we had every moose before us, we had no moose before us, we were all ascending into the firmament, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the countryside was so far like our home, that some of its nosiest proponents insisted on being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.*

Everything in Yellowstone up to and including Old Faithful was wet, congested, cold, monoculture and underwhelming. Compared to the grand beauty and variety of the Tetons, the first half of the park was extremely disappointing. To be fair, much of this can be blamed on the cold and interminable downpour we cycled through. There were some bright spots: we met a wonderful couple on the way up to our 7th crossing of the continental divide. We then met yet another couple, these two touring on our 8th crossing of the divide at Craig Pass.

 

Stan and Leanne from Utah

Stan and Leanne from Utah

An unexpected lilly pond at the top of Craig Pass, WY

An unexpected lilly pond at the top of Craig Pass, WY

Chris and Anna are Eastbound on the TransAm, eventually heading for Maine.

Chris and Anna are Eastbound on the TransAm, eventually heading for Maine.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Immediately North of Old Faithful, Yellowstone took on the epic qualities for which it is known. The Fumaroles happily guttered, gushed and gassed sending steaming water down the sides of prismatic rock and sediment layed down over the course of centuries.

Boil, boil, toil and trouble --Yellowstone National Park

Boil, boil, toil and trouble –Yellowstone National Park

All of these little hot springs fed into the Madison river, which quickly grew to a happy bubbling river dotted with cataracts. We wound our way down towards the entrance of the park along the river. Just next to the Firehole Cascades we took a two mile wrong way detour down a car tour of the waterfalls. The rushing river has carved out a steep and stunning canyon.

The Madison River -- Yellowstone National Park

The Madison River — Yellowstone National Park

Firehole Cascades --Yellowstone National Park

Firehole Cascades –Yellowstone National Park

Firehole Cascades --Yellowstone National Park

Firehole Cascades –Yellowstone National Park

Exiting the park, I spotted a woodchuck capering about on a sunny rock. Getting into “stalking the wildlife” mode, as I described in a previous post, I slowly crept along the rocks until I could snap a closeup. The woodchuck was not amused.

A woodchuck -- Yellowstone National Park

A woodchuck — Yellowstone National Park

A woodchuck -- Yellowstone National Park

A woodchuck — Yellowstone National Park

In my final mile for the day I crossed into Montana, my ninth state of the trip. My wonderful wife had reserved myself and the Brits a hotel to get us out of the rain from the last few days. Refreshed and settled in, we headed out for the Slippery Otter, the local watering hole. Much to our surprise, we met David, who had done the TransAmerica trail in its inaugural year, 1976. Three hours later, full of good food, good beer, and good stories, we headed back to the hotel to hit the hay.

Montana! -- Yellowstone National Park

Montana! — Yellowstone National Park

David, owner of the Slippery Otter, and veteran of the inagural TransAmerica trail

David, owner of the Slippery Otter, and veteran of the inagural TransAmerica trail

*Credit to Chuck Dickens’ book A Tale of Two Cities for inspiring this first paragraph.

 

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