Continental Divide Trail - Page 5
I saw a gravel road paralleling the horrible rails to trails ATV course, and gave it a try. It was
nice and smooth. I got a little lost, but soon managed to get myself found. After a brief
stretch of lightly-trafficked pavement, I turned on the worst gravel road of the trip. It was forty
miles of rough, washboarded, busy, and super dusty hell! Halfway through my slog, I
passed a shot up sign marking the Wyoming border. Every sign on this road had been
shot. The forest service should just put up targets instead.
I finally made it through the gravel and popped out at an alarmingly overpriced tourist rip off
gas station. I bought some Ben and Jerry's and set out to do battle with the motorhomes
on the pavement. I was passing through the Tetons, so they were awful. To make matters
worse, there wasn't really a shoulder. After a giant bus-sized brown one pulling a car
passed six inches from my bike, I pulled over, thoroughly pissed off. I ripped a big leafy
branch off a tree and tied it to the back of my bike so that it stuck out three feet into traffic. I
chose three feet since that's what the law says you have to give a cyclist when passing. It
was probably the best idea I've ever had. It worked great! All the motor homes actually
waited until it was safe to pass and moved over.
I made it ten miles before I got pulled over. The cop told me I had to take the stick off. I
explained that it was my motorhome keeper awayer. He asked if it worked, and I told him it
was doing much better than I expected. He said OK and let me go. Only one person hit the
stick. It was an old guy in a Cadillac with Texas plates and a bumper sticker that said I
heart drilling. Sarah Palin would have been proud.
I'm still on pavement, but most of the motorhomes turned toward Jackson about 15 miles
back, so I've removed the stick. The Tetons are beautiful now that I'm away from the herds
of tourists and can enjoy them.
Here are a few observations I've made about tourists on this trip: 1. They wear an XXL shirt
back home, but seem to think a L Yellowstone shirt fits. 2. They either wear sandals or
giant hiking boots with wool socks. 3. They have disturbingly white legs. 4. They like silly
hats. 5. They feel the need to buy something at every gift shop even if it's complete crap,
and 6. They'll park their car/motor home wherever they feel like when they're done driving,
even if that happens to be the middle of the road.
All that's behind me. I talked to Kelly on the phone today, so that was good. I feel like I
didn't make many miles today because everything was so hard, but when I checked the
map, I found I'd done 102. I would have guessed 75. It was because of all the pavement.
Pavement is way faster than gravel.
Today's first 30 miles were on a ridiculously bumpy and washboarded road. I had quite a
few turns, and I kept hoping each one would be onto a better road, but things stayed the
same. I just endured the sore shoulders and super sore ass that come with such riding
Just before crossing the continental divide, I passed over Hell Roaring Creek. Aside from
having a really cool name, it's the most distant head waters of the Missouri River. Its
waters flow through two rivers that I've paddled the entire length of before reaching the Gulf
of Mexico. It made me really happy to be there. I drank my fill from its clear cool waters and
just had to take a whizz in it before I left. From there I climbed over a relatively easy pass
into Idaho. No more Montana!
As soon as I crossed the border, there were trees. Oh, how I've missed the shade! The
road also improved, which my butt was grateful for. So, what do I remember about
Montana? The northern part was beautiful. There were trees (I had to ignore the ever
present clearcuts), the water was cool and clear, and I was either climbing straight up or
straight down a mountain. Southern Montana was still pretty, but had been the victim of a
rape. The trees were gone and replaced with fences. There were cattle everywhere, and
the water was murky and filled with cow shit. There were plenty of mines around, but the
only one that I remember standing out as awful was the giant crater in Butte. Every single
person I've met in Montana has been nice, and I've been wearing spandex shorts the whole
I rode 30 miles of good road in Idaho, passed through one of the ugliest golf
course/horsing developments I've ever seen, then turned onto an old railroad bed and
headed south. This rails to trails path is apparently the four wheeler mecca of Idaho. It's
dusty, sandy, washboarded, and just plain torn up. There has been a constant stream of
noisy smoking ATV's. Everyone has been nice to me, so I can't hate them, which would
make me happy, so I just bump on down the trail. I don't even want to think about how sore
my ass is going to be in the morning, and I still have 18 miles of trail in front of me.
Tomorrow, once I'm off the bumpy trail, I ride onto pavement through Teton National Park
and battle the motor homes. Rather than write a five page obscenity-strewn tirade about
motor homes, I'm going to lay in my tent and read my book. I'll deal with the idiots tomorrow.