Monday, July 20th




Very warm and sunny 'til dinner, then partly cloudy


Mack's Inn -> Warm River camp ground (the long way)


Warm River NFS camp ground



Elevation Gain


Outback Oven

Chocolate chip cookies

I was delighted to be pitching my tent under trees. Shade had developed a new meaning. I loved lodgepole pine home away from home. And we were in just such a forest.

It was supposed to be an easy riding day - low mileage and flat route, including a Rails-to-Trails path to the Warm River Campground.

Our (Norm, Al, and I) first attempt on the Rail Trail lasted less than a 1/2 mile before we said, "No way! We're outta here!" as we sank 3" into black sand. Hit the road.

We took a parallel road, eventually to the highway and then back on dirt roads - from one valley up and over a ridge and down into another. Rita and Dave took the on-road alternative - Highway 47 over the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.

Meeting up with Tom and Melissa at another opportunity to join the Rail Trial, we tried again. By now we had gone a'wandering 20 miles to click off seven in our effort to get to the campground.

We rode a couple of miles on the trail - after bottoming out on one low spot in the trail, I discovered a flat in the rear tire. (Likely a Mr. Tuffy-caused "wear spot" flat - I tossed the Tuffy.) Again we departed the trail for the parallel dirt road.

We wandered through meadow lands, ponds, which at another time of day would have been full of wildlife, and had our first view of the western side of the Tetons. Directly west of Yellowstone Park, we were coming down in elevation descending from pure lodgepole pine forest to a forest of conifers and aspen,

On route 150, we read a sign asserting the protected state of grizzlies. It certainly looked like potential griz territory. At 4:30 in the afternoon, we had 15 miles to bear country. Grizzly bear country. As the first rider of our group of three, I was bear bait. My bear spray came up from the depths of my handlebar bag, trigger off and pointed forward.

We crossed the Rail Trail for the third and last time. Al insisted that he was riding it to camp. Norm and I waffled, looked at the map, considered the time, and joined Al for the last eight miles to the campground

The trial followed the Warm River which coursed through the canyon beside us. In a strange way the trail itself mimicked the river. Where the river was wide and slow flowing, the trail was flat with patches of grass protruding through the middle of the trail. Where the river narrowed and cascaded down its rocky bed, we careened on a rocky path, necessitating some careful walking.

The trail wound through grazing lands and once we found ourselves in a "High Noon" confrontation with a cow, her calf well-hidden behind her. Norm (Doc Dog) in his best bovine bedside manner, "Yeehaw"ed them into a running frenzy anxious to be anywhere but near us.

As 6pm came and went, I assumed everyone in camp would be worried. Why were we so late? And then, within a mile of the campground (into which the rail trail ended), Ann and Paul came up from behind. They, too, had been doing some "trail research" and exploration [lost]. The five of us rode into camp together.

With a raging burst of energy unseen in normal people after a 50 mile ride on those roads, Norm sprinted into the campground making Rufus the red lantern carrier the next day. [In reality, Norm didn't just worked out that way.] We weren't so late after all; Tom and Melissa had arrived a few minutes earlier and Dave and Rita had preceded them by perhaps 20 minutes.

The Warm River campground was said by Adventure Cycling to be the nicest campground on the whole Continental Divide Ride route. The tree and meadow camping area splayed out along a wide section of the river, far below the highway (a hill to climb in order to leave). The grassy meadow had been mowed, water was easily available from any of the river sites, the vault toilets were brand new, still smelling of fresh paint. Additionally, the campground hostess had this conversation with Paul as he tracked her down in order to pay our camping fee.

Paul, "There are nine of us in seven tents. We're on bicycles. How much do we owe you?"

She nodded her head as she said, "You did say 8 people, right?"

Paul, thinking swiftly, got the message. "Gee, I could be mistaken in my counting."

The price break was at eight people.


July 21st




Hot (90's) and sunny


Warm River campground -> Loon Lake


Loon Lake camping area



Elevation Gain


Outback Oven

Bran muffins

(As I write at 6:45pm sitting on the plank dock of Loon Lake, dangling my feet in the warm water, water lilies pack against the shore, loons are often here (as well as bears). A couple of us sit waiting for dinner and chatting with two men from Ogden, UT and their dog Blue, who is not enthusiastic about swimming - even though she is part black lab. As Al would say, "Life is good.")

We climbed out of the Warm River forest into an agricultural plain where a grass crop grew: rapeseed or sweet yellow clover. The landscape was soft and round with an extra dimension of beauty in its gentleness.

And then acres and acres of potatoes. I developed a new appreciation for Idaho potatoes, grown in what looked to be dark friable volcanic soil. Watching a farmer maneuvering his tractor/cultivator through the rows...I guessed the potato plants on the row ends were squashed with those taller-than-I-am rear tires.

Squirrel Creek Lodge - no longer a bar (as indicated on our map) but a rustic lodge/cabins retreat built with full round-cut timbers and gnarled posts. We stopped for cold drinks and snacks (Pepsi and salty potato chips - soul satisfying if not especially healthy...but we needed the sugar and salt replacement [excuses, excuses, excuses]). The setting was so appealing that some of us could have opted for a rest day right there, right then.

Noon and 99F.

The road along Squirrel Creek was rocky, the kind of road where the only scenery you paid attention to was the three feet of road directly in front of your tire. I pedaled along looking for the best track through, watching for tire tracks of others, this side of the road or that, and which car tracks they were in, if any, or were they on the shoulder?

Dave commented as he went by, "The road has improved a whole lot - now it's just bad." Even 6 or 6.5 mph downhill in those conditions was fast.

We rode into broad meadows with mountains behind, maybe the north end of the Tetons. Like red-orange crayons planted upright, Indian paintbrush colored the roadside. Tall grasses bent in the breeze. We had a wisp of a tailwind. A few large cabins speckled the far landscape. Not many. Just enough to know that you weren't totally alone - which was what it was beginning to feel like as I rode.

Earlier was a sign, "Caution. Multi-use Road." The icons were a car, bicycle, a Conestoga wagon and a motorcycle. I thought "Huh? Wagons. How strange."

At the junction of Loon Lake and Fish Lake, three horse-drawn Conestoga wagons were nearby, walkers following. At the fork in the road, we went left, headed to one side of Loon Lake, while they veered right, apparently to the opposite shore.

No sooner had Rita arrived at the lake campsite than her bike was flat on the dirt and she was dashing into the lake! Bike clothes and all - splash splash splash, joining Melissa and Tom. I followed. Soon we were all in the lake.

Across the lake the Conestoga wagons circled. As we swam, a couple paddled a canoe from across the lake specifically to bathe and wash their hair (in OUR water which we were getting ready to filter). We thought them more than a little rude but kept our mouths shut. And, when they explained that they tried to get some "adventure" worked into their vacations, and this wagon trip was it (they were from New Jersey), we rolled our eyes and nearly choked! Puleez!! Nine people with three wagons and five people to serve them? That was an Adventure?

A chain saw?? Why a chain saw there in the wilderness? Then the reality dawned - the Adventure across the lake was creating firewood.

Melissa picked 3 yellow water lily flowers (yellow pondlily) and created a nice floral arrangement for our dining pleasure - on the tall log on which we were keeping some cutlery and bowls - a "standing log piece" rather than a "table center piece."

After dinner the Adventurers were entertained by a shoot 'em up cowboy production - two loud shots echoed across the lake. We thought perhaps two clients had complained about dinner and then there were seven guests and five workers.... I didn't know whether the loon was terribly distraught or excited by the noise as loon "chatter" began and continued for quite a few minutes.

(Now as I write at 9:15pm some of us are sitting around the very successful fire Tom has built as we try to discourage the mosquitoes. We don't know whether to sit upwind or downwind in the smoke. Most of the day I rode alone, although Norm and I met an had lunch together by the side of the road. It was lonely riding. There is a loon on the lake, I've seen it and as I write, it calls mournfully. How that sound tugs at me! )



Wednesday, July 22nd




Very warm and sunny nearly all day.


Loon Lake along Grassy Res. Road -> Flagg Ranch -> Colter Bay in Grant Teton National Park


Colter Bay biker/hiker campsite



Elevation Gain


It was difficult to leave our campsite. My 5am wakeup call was a "loon laugh" followed by an "anguished loon" wail. What a magnificent way to begin the morning.

When I finally did crawl out of my tent and wander down to the water's edge, we were able to see two loons, not just the single bird we saw yesterday. Six of us sat lined up on the dock with binocs all pointed toward the opposite shore, "looning." Was that what being loony was all about?

A bit later, more loons made such a satisfying flapping slapping noise as they rose off the water (they had such a hard time getting airborne because their legs are so far back on their bodies - it's an evolutionary thing...they are very old).

The outhouse resembled an old falling-down distillery shack - what you might find deep in the woods of the Smokey Mountains during Prohibition - complete with a new bag of lime, "For," as Rita said, "after you've been in there for Serious Work." Looking left through the gaps in the weathered wood, the door hanging askew on its crooked frame, I contemplated a purple Harebell, perfectly framed by a long gnarled knothole.

Right out of camp was our rutted stony road now with a sign advising, "steep road next six miles." I pedaled. I walked. I pushed. And pedaled and pushed over many nasty steep little hills. My blood sugar was low. The mid-morning Snickers helped, as did the fistful of dried fruit. My mt. biking skills when going 3mph with 60+ lbs. of gear, up a rocky rutted road, needed improving. Even in the best of circumstances they weren't terrific. Some of us actually rode all of it, but not I. It reminded me of last year - the single track scree area where we just pushed from shady spot to shady spot.

It took more than 3 hours to go 8 miles (including all stops for snacking and gasping, "enjoying the views" [translate: more gasping] ) to the lunch stop at Grassy Lake.

We began the long flat downhill along the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway to Flagg Ranch for yet another lunch and camping. Tent sites there were $20/tent, double occupancy. Outrageous. The group decision was to push on the 15 miles to Colter Bay campground at Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park where there was a group site for cyclists.

I recalled it as being relatively flat - an easy ride on a paved road. When Melissa called to confirm hiker/biker sites, she was told, "15 miles, but there's a steep hill." Yes. Miles of hill climbing on a busy road. But the Tetons were in view much of the time making it worthwhile.

I wondered why, in a campground as large as Colter Bay, the hiker/biker sites were located as far as possible from services. The two groups who have the least ability to get around easily....

Tents pitched and food bear-boxed, we dashed off for real showers and laundry. All the conveniences of home under the shadow of imposing and majestic Grand Teton. Standing in front of the shower facility, looking at the Tetons, drinking a Fat Tire Amber Ale - with a mt. bike on the label - waiting for my laundry to dry... "life was good" and clean.

And, to cap off the ultimate return to civilization - pizza and ice cream.

(As I write, screams, yells, shouts and laughs pervade the hiker/biker/group campsite area - even the sounds of a generator. What change from last night's loon.)



Thursday, July 23rd




Mostly sunny am Partly cloudy with pm thunderstorm.


Rest Day


Colter Bay campground



Elevation Gain


A lazy day - up early and over to the marina to watch the beauty of the Tetons, a mountain range thrust straight up from the valley floor, with the morning sun tipping them gold.

Melissa arranged for a 10 mile scenic float trip down the Snake River. Like the dog pack we were, we fell in line for the outing.

As the slow current drifted us downstream (this section of the river was a Class One rating - the easiest of the whitewater ratings) our wildlife views consisted of a variety of birds (bald eagles, osprey, red-tailed hawks, sandpipers, bank swallows, and white pelicans - the largest US breeding population of which was quite near by at Yellowstone Lake).

An occasional cloud provided relief from the sun. Each bend in the river gave us a different view of the Tetons and as clouds moved in from the west, the mountains changed minute to minute.

Near the end of the trip, out of nowhere, a thunderstorm pelted us with fat drops of cold water. Unperturbed by this, our river guide quickly tossed large bright blue vinyl ponchos to everyone. Each of the 12 of us turned into a Blue-hooded Clipped Wing Wrafter. We looked pretty silly huddled together at each end of the raft, beady eyes peering out from under the wet blue hoods.

As we left the river, The Grand Teton was engulfed in a gray cloud while nearby Mt. Moran glistened in the sun.

Dave, Rita, Tom and Norm were leaving so we had reservations at the upscale Jackson Lake Lodge dining room for our almost-end-of-the-trip celebratory dinner.

Choices on the menu included: grilled salmon, buffalo prime rib; ostrich; wild boar back ribs; fried trout; pumpkin ravioli, each with creative garnishes. After a too leisurely dessert (equally creative to properly accompany the unusual entrees), we bolted out of the lodge. We had 5 miles to pedal; darkness and possible rain were closing in quickly. In spite of the heavy meal, we smoked along over small hill and dale (more dale than hill and a slight tailwind). Motivation did wonders for pedaling speed. As we cruised, the sunset behind Mt. Moran was captivating - a gold-maroon color slowly and majestically lighting the clouds. And then, gray. We were back in camp.

Nature Note:



Friday, July 24




Cloudy at 6am; light drizzle 'til 8am Mostly cloudy with occasional sun in mid-late afternoon.


Colter Bay -> Jenny Lake


Jenny Lake campground Hiker/biker sites



Elevation Gain


Jenny Lake campground usually filled by 8am, so Ann left camp early to pedal the 24 miles to secure 6 biker/hiker raised tent "pads" for us. Although we were going to miss that time window, we had a 50/50 chance, I thought, of getting sites.

Pedaling down to Jenny Lake, I wondered if Ann were successful. I hoped so. The campground setting at the base of The Grand was overwhelming with the grandeur of those granite peaks looming above. Five of the seven of us had never been there and I wanted to share that beautiful place with them.

Along the way I took time to feast on the scenery. The overcast day made it less impressive, but added an ethereal and ghostlike quality to the mountains. The Grand was obscured. Not the postcard photo of cerulean sky and rocky peaks, but starkly beautiful in an Ansel Adams way.

I wheeled into the campground looking for the hiker/biker area. Before I even saw the sign, I saw Big Duck and Frog perched at the base of the site-marker post. What a welcome! I giggled out loud.

One way or another, we all hiked over into Cascade Canyon across Jenny Lake - hoards of tourists stomped along the trail, but thinned first at Hidden Falls and later most of the rest stopped hiking at Inspiration Point. One woman was being removed from the trail on a stretcher. Hiking the rough trail in slingback heels, she twisted her foot and broke her leg. Hiking in heels?!

Nature Note:

Dinner prep (I was cooking) - just as everything came together, the rain began. We rushed around grabbing rain gear and food and stood under the trees eating our meal. In spite of the rain, Paul started a campfire, both to dry our gear and for our dessert: s'mores, Hershey bar sections melted by a hot slightly charred marshmallow all squished between two graham crackers,

(As I write at 9:19pm, "rain drops keep fallin' on my head" [tent]. Roasted marshmallow remains are sticky on my writing fingers. Rita and Dave left the trip today - perhaps they were the anti-rain members of the group.)



July 25




Warm, sunny, a few cumulous clouds


Jenny Lake campground -> Jackson, WY


Bunkhouse Hostel in basement of Anvil Motel



Elevation Gain


Outback Oven

Morning coffee cake

It rained. The normal "tapping tapping tapping on my rainfly door" had been "nevermore" until last night. Quite a change from the weather we had been having!

It was a morning to sleep in. Only 20 miles for our journey to Jackson for shopping and seeing Tom and Norm through their last day. It was hard saying goodbye as people left.

After a fast downhill ride to Jackson we checked into the hostel, showered, and left as soon as possible, with a plan to "meet at the town square-NW corner, decorated with an antler arch." After a Laurel & Hardy run-around, eventually we found each other - all except Norm. Al made the rounds (squares?) around the square to ascertain that Norm wasn't on some other corner. Finally, after an hour and a half of trying to get everyone together - one person and then another would wander off for an errand while we waited - we were off to lunch. At last the Pretty Good Seven (Paul's description of us) were all in the same place at the same time. A minor miracle.

Dinner at the Snake River Brewery and Pub. Good food. Good beer. Good company. Their Zonker Snake River Stout - heavy, potent and dark. What a great name for a beer - Zonker.

I hadn't been to Jackson in a number of years - how sad to see what a boring tourist trap it had become. Most of what was unique about the town had been replaced by cheap shop-'til-you-drop t-shirt stores and tourist junque. The galleries were a redeeming feature, but little else.

(As I write, sitting in the Bunkhouse Hostel, the depressing basement of the Anvil Motel, Paul and Al are sitting at the table - Al sending off rolls of film and Paul making cycling notes; someone is screaming on the t.v., the man on the phone is speaking Spanish. After being outdoors for the past two weeks, it is not pleasant being in a place without windows, with a television!)



July 26




Sunny and mild


Jackson -> Colter Bay (GTNP)


Hiker/Biker site at Colter Bay



Elevation Gain


Jackson was a nicer place to be at 6:30 in the morning than 6:30 at night. As I wandered about a number of galleries looked to be worth exploring in the quietude of decreased tourist activity.

In one of the tourist shoppes, Paul spotted a stuffed toy beaver in a can. He was determined to buy it for Melissa so that Buck, her beaver mascot, would have a companion (an emergency backup beaver). But first, Buck was "stolen" and replaced with the canned beaver. Once the antics and fuss died down (Melissa was very protective of Buck) and Buck was rescued, I named Melissa's new mascot: TinBuck II - Buck in a can. Clever, I thought. (No modesty in my family....)

For the first time in the travels of the Divide Ride Dogs, the women on the ride (Ann, Melissa and I) rode together in a paceline. The DRBitches. We laid rubber and left the DRDogs (DRStuds), Al and Paul, somewhere way behind. Just imagine the sight of three fully self-contained female cyclists, on mountain bikes, speeding along in a paceline at the base of the Teton Mountains. We laughed and laughed as we talked about a special t-shirt with DR Bitches and Girls Kick Butt designed on the back.

Nature Notes:

(As I write, sitting on the shore of Colter Bay of Jackson Lake, a slight fishy smell penetrates the air, fading pink reflections ripple across the water as a single fish jumps. Boats fill the marina. Most tourists seem oblivious to the splash of colors above and below eye level. A pink-fading-gray sky settles through the clouds, an arc of pale pink curving along the line of Ranger Peak. As I get up to leave, rain drops begin. Our group has shrunk again; we said "goodbye" to Melissa at Jenny Lake as she spends a day or two of exploring and we head north.)

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Forward to Week 3: Colter Bay, WY, through Yellowstone Park, and back to Jackson, WY

Copyright Judith J. Colwell, 1999. All rights reserved.
Last Updated: February 15, 1999

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