Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 69 – Into Grizzly country via luke-warm springs and the GDMBR

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I have the hiccups. This is a case of karma, as Scott had the hiccups all throughout dinner (he gets them when he eats spicy stuff), and I just laughed and laughed and laughed as he tried to eat between hiccups.

We’re camped in a giant grassy meadow looking up the barrel of a long hike-a-bike up a grassy and brushy drainage first thing in the morning. We stopped because I didn’t feel like hiking my bike tonight. But, we haven’t seen any sign of bears, which is good, because we’re definitely approaching grizzly country, and are probably smack dab in the middle of it.

I feel like during Tour Divide, I just ignored the fact that I was scared of the bears. This time around, I’ve accepted that it’s okay to be scared, and I’m working on sitting with that fear and being okay with it.

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I had talked Scott out of taking an adventurous route north through on the Wyoming Range Trail. I think that the BS factor would have far outweighed the benefits of it, and anyhow, I wanted to see Yellowstone, even if it’s touristy and going to be filled with RVs. (Plus, we’d get to ride about 20 miles of official CDT this way…thus we’re once again sitting in the middle of a meadow with no sign of a trail.)

We had another wonderful breakfast at the Rivera Lodge. My stomach is failing me though, it no longer seems to hold the massive quantities of food that it once used to. I guess that’s what happens when 3 out of every 4 days is light on food.

We packed up and rolled out, sending our box further north and cruising out on the Great Divide route. Tail breezes helped our progress, first on pavement, then on dirt, and then back on the nearly deserted highway. We passed a couple of other cyclotourists who were dead set on making it to Pinedale as soon as possible for lunch.

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Pavement turned to dirt and we arrived at the intersection. To the left, Union Pass road climbed. To the right, Kendell Warm Springs, just two miles down the road. We debated. “Let’s go check it out. It’s only an extra four miles,” I declared.

Unfortunately, the warm springs are more like tepid springs, and anyhow, they’re home to some tiny fishies that only live there, so there were big signs saying no soaking or wading. D’oh.

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It was still a neat spot with all sorts of cool red dragonflies, blue dragonflies, birds, and tiny fish living in the two inches of water. So we had lunch and it was lovely.

Back on the route, we headed up Union Pass. It climbs for a while, and then levels out and rolls around for miles and miles and miles. We ran out of water and decided to get some at the Guard Station. Said Guard Station wasn’t on the road, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t have water any how. We kept holding out for better water, but as we went on, the first river that we’d turned our noses up at started looking pretty good. Murky ponds were all we could find. So we went thirsty.

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We turned off the GDMBR and within 2 miles were back on the CDT where we ran into Southern and Not So Bad. We debated the merits of the official CDT (described by the Lay maps as not a good idea, and that “hikers who go this way tend to get frustrated”) and the Lay alternate which promised good roads until Leeds Creek and then “good game trails” up the creek (for the record, I don’t see any game trails from my perch right here). We opted for the latter.

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The roads were infinitely more scenic than the GDMBR with views of the Big Titty Mountains to our west and jagged craggy mountains to our north. I need to figure out what those peaks are, they’re spectacular.

We finally found water in the form of a lovely little spring. Given that we’re in bear country, we decided to make dinner there and then ride a little farther. It was a lovely spot for a meal with groves of flowers surrounding us.

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It was very, very romantic.

Packing up, we kept riding and the road quickly deteriorated as it dropped towards the creek. And then we turned off the road, “We need to go down this drainage and then turn right up the next one.”

We found a long abandoned road bed to follow down to the creek and climb out of it…and then it disappeared.

And so we sit in a field of flowers, bikes and food far away. Tomorrow should be a memorable one.

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