Cross Country Recumbent

Wednesday July 30, 2003. West Yellowstone MT to Grant Village WY


Start time
8:44 am
End time
6:15 pm
Time pedaling
Average speed
Odometer 1285

This was my first trip to Yellowstone, but I don't think it will be my last.  As you can see by the start time, the morning was lazy.  I didn't actually enter the park till nearly 9:30, after having breakfast in West Yellowstone.  Entering the park was pretty comical; as I and my bike waited in line along with the monster RVs pulling the family SUV.  Even the bicycles are charged 10 dollars to get in.  The route goes mostly through Southern part of the park.  The plan for the day was to ride to Old Faithful, hang out, and then conquer the pass in the evening.  That's pretty much how it worked out.  Somewhere during the early part of the day I entered Wyoming, but there wasn't any sign, so no picture.

The park suffered a severe wildfire in 1988, and the scars are still dramatically visible.  The forest is basically full of four feet trees punctuated by the occasional 50 foot dead tree.  But for all that it is still beautiful.  A shot of the Madison only a few miles into the park:

It turns out that the Madison river is warmed by all the thermal activity in the park.  This is what makes it such a good trout fishing river (the town motto for Ennis is "10,000,000 trout, 1,000 people: good odds").  Of course no visit to Yellowstone is complete without a picture of Old Faithful in full swing:

Interestingly, the period at which old faithful erupts has been growing longer.  Each time the Earth moves (as it does here often) the period gets longer.  I guess this means the resevoir that feeds the spout is getting bigger with each earthquake.  Even more impressive than Old Faithful is the number of people that come to see it.  I estimate there were at least 5,000 people in the vicinity, most of them lined around the geyser waiting for it to go.

Chris met up with me at the Old Faithful lodge and we hung around until about 4:00 before tackling Craig pass and the continental divide.  The pass (actually there are two passes separated by about 500' of valley) was not as hard as expected.  The only challenging part is the air.  At 8300' you can really tell the air is thinner.  Each time I took a drink of water I wouldn't breath for maybe 3 seconds.  Inevitably 5 to 10 seconds later I could feel the lactic acid burn in my legs for a few seconds.  I guess that means it takes 10 odd seconds for each breath of air to dissolve into the bloodstream and get carried around to where it is needed.

I began to visualize myself as this engine: my lungs were the intake manifold and supercharger, the heart the fuel pump, and the legs were the pistons and combustion chamber.  My brain was the ECU that managed the whole thing, keeping the engine running at peak performance.  It is an interesting analogy because the human body really is similar to a heat engine, with all of the myriad problems associated with such a device.  This pass, although not that dificult, is thus far the highest of the trip.  In fact I think this may be the highest I've ever been not counting airplanes.  I'll soon top this though, with Togwotee pass at 9000+ and Hoosier at 11000+.

The day ended with an easy descent into Grant campground; which was full if you are in a car (on a Wednesday!).  However they have a few hike/biker sites so all is well.  I'm not yet sure about tomorrow.  One possibility is to ride down the Teton spur of the route to Jackson, or maybe I'll hole up in Colter Bay with Chris.  Either way I'll end up in Teton national park tomorrow.  When I come back to Yellowstone I'll have to explore the Northern part of the park.