Day 76, to Hatchet Campground: The Tetons' grand revealing - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 7, 2022

Day 76, to Hatchet Campground: The Tetons' grand revealing

Still a good 10 to 20 miles or so east of the edge of Grand Teton National Park, we sailed downhill on U.S. 287 with this amazing view of the Tetons. The blue, snow-capped mountains loom over the horizon as Dani, the orange and black figure on the shoulder on the right side of the road, is passed by a light-colored van.
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Thursday stats

Start: Church of Christ, Dubois, Wyo.

End: Hatchet Campground, east of Moran, Wyo.

The Daily Progress: 48.5 miles

Cumulative climb: 3323 feet

Cumulative descent: 3317

Elevation at endpoint: ?

Ice cream flavors: Mint chocolate crunch "loaded sundae" by Blue Bunny. I always assumed these loaded sundaes would be a disappointment, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It hit the spot. At half a pint, it's a satisfying serving, assuming you're not having ice cream for dinner.

Lodging expenses: $12

Food expenses: $13+42

Thursday thoughts

We climbed today over the Togwotee Pass, which had an elevation of 9,584 feet. It was about 30 miles of pretty consistent climbing, but it was pretty gradual until the last few miles. The first big descent after the pass was thrilling — I hit 44.1 miles per hour, no pedaling required. Soon enough, we were pedaling along a flatter stretch and got our first glimpse of the Tetons. With all the mountains we'd approached and passed, I had wondered if we ever caught a glimpse of the Tetons, but when we finally did see them, there was no mistaking them. They loomed over the landscape, jagged and blue and streaked with snow. And then more descending was in store, and the looming Tetons loomed slightly more and more closely over the trees around us. 

Dani zooms down U.S. 287, from the left edge of the photo toward the right, as the jagged blue peaks of the Tetons tower over the treeline on the right.
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Dani snapped this photo from just behind me and to my right, showing me on Blue, rolling down U.S. 287 toward the distant Tetons on the horizon ahead.
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What a thrilling way to close the day's ride! We stopped at a National Forest Service campground about 20 miles outside the national park, putting us in what should be a great position to enjoy a more leisurely ride with more grand views as we approach and enter the park tomorrow.

This morning, we were the first ones, out of twelve cyclists, to leave the church, at 6:05 a.m. (yay, us, for leaving early!)

Mike ("Rock Doc") caught up with us on one of our breaks, and he mentioned a restaurant just a few miles ahead, where he was planning to stop for breakfast. We considered stopping there too but when we arrived Dani said she probably shouldn't go in because she was afraid she was coming down with covid. So we decided not to stop there after all, but I wish I'd thought to go in and find Mike and let him know the situation. (Dani later took a covid test and came back negative.) 

I kind of assumed we'd see Mike on the road again later today — we've been running into each other pretty consistently for a few days, as you might expect for people riding in the same direction at roughly the same speed on the same trail — but alas, we did not see him and he is probably past us now and will probably stay ahead of us. I'm sorry we did not get to say goodbye.

We did run into a group of college students from Illinois who had also stayed in Dubois yesterday. They were friendly. Also fast.

At camp this afternoon, we met Mary Beth and Brentley, who are doing their own path from Astoria to New York, with the RAGBRAI thrown in there. The mosquitoes at camp here are vicious, so much so that we are going to the bar next door for dinner not because we want their food but because we don't want to attempt to cook and eat while we are being eaten. Mary Beth and Brentley said they would see us there for a drink. I wonder what stories we'll hear.

I look forward to tomorrow's ride but am glad that a shorter ride means we can start later. That makes tonight much more relaxed.

(Two hours later:) Relaxed evening or not, we are in bed by 8 p.m. anyway. Another camper just walked by, saying, "F—ing mosquitoes everywhere."

Dani's notes

I slept really well. Remarkably well for a person sleeping on the floor of an unfamiliar room with at least ten other adult humans. I fell dead asleep the moment I closed my eyes and woke up just a few minutes before our alarm was scheduled to sound. Listening to the soft snores of my roommates in the early morning, I felt like I had slept in a pile of kittens. 

Shortly after waking, I noticed my throat was a little sore. And, like everyone alive after March 2020, my first thought was, "oh man, do I have COVID?" The fact that about half of all cyclists we meet have a story that begins, "I'm a few days behind schedule because I got COVID in..." also heightened my paranoia. And sleeping arrangements that remind me of piles of kittens certainly don't help. 

I was feeling run down during the first ten miles of today's ride. I lagged notably behind Chris, wondering to what degree COVID/exhaustion/headwind was responsible. 

Climbing the Togwotee Pass was the challenge of the day. It was a long but manageable climb (about 3000 feet over 30 miles). I did much better than I did climbing to the pass in Colorado, which was gratifying. 

I saw two elk. Conveniently, they were sharing a meadow with a white-tailed deer, facilitating a size comparison that increased the confidence of my identification. 

We also appreciated the electronic signs regarding bears. The first one said: "DO NOT APPROACH BEARS ON ROAD. REMAIN IN VEHICLE." The second: 


In exchange for the climb, we got a beautiful lunch spot and a thrilling descent with show-stopping views of the Teton Range. For hundreds of miles, I've been wondering if the snow-capped mountains on the horizon were the Tetons, but once we finally laid eyes on the actual Tetons, they were unmistakable. And commanding. I felt magnetized by the mountains. 

We got to our campsite shortly after 1. The goal was to spend the afternoon resting and relaxing but the mosquitos were horrible so the plan changed to spending the afternoon resting and relaxing in the shelter of our tent. We played Skunk. I took a COVID test. (I'm negative.) We bought ice cream at the general store at the resort down the road.

We met two cyclists, Mary Beth and Brentley, at our camp. We ended up getting dinner with them at the resort down the road. They are planning to incorporate RAGBRAI into their cross-country ride, which I think is ingenious. 

Two other notes:

We botched up our chance to say goodbye to Mike, the retired Penn State geologist who has been keeping the same schedule as us since Jeffrey City. We led him to believe we were going to eat second breakfast with him and then made a last-minute decision not to because I thought I might have COVID. I feel bad about that. He was a kind dude and I liked chatting with him. I would have appreciated the chance to wish him well.  

Today our ride overlapped with a big group of students from the University of Illinois. We chatted with the student driving their SAG wagon at several of our breaks and talked briefly with many of the students at our lunch break. They were a fun bunch.

Today's ride: 49 miles (79 km)
Total: 2,854 miles (4,593 km)

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