Day 1: Fly to Jackson Hole, bike to Signal Mountain campground - Yellowstone and Grand Tetons 2004 - CycleBlaze

August 28, 2004

Day 1: Fly to Jackson Hole, bike to Signal Mountain campground

I got up bright and early in Chicago and my wife Karolyn drove me to Chicago O'Hare airport. I bought two bike boxes from United Airlines. I packed my bike in one box and slipped the second box flat inside with the bike to use for my return flight. My flight departed on time at 10:05AM and after a short layover in Denver I arrived at Jackson Hole airport at 1:30 PM. It took about 1.5 hours to get the bike, assemble the bike, wash my hands, fill water bottles, and store the bike box at the United Airlines check-in area. On the road at 3:10 PM. The weather was partly cloudy and 66F (19C). For the previous two weeks the weather in the area had been unusually cold and stormy, so I was lucky to arrive just as the weather returned to normal.

Jackson Hole airport doesn't have jet gates but it has a great view of the Grand Tetons.
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Jackson Hole airport is several miles north of the town of Jackson Hole at 6400 feet elevation. I never saw the town of Jackson Hole because I headed north into Grand Tetons National Park, following the Snake River upstream with a tailwind. At Moose Junction I stopped at Dornan's store to buy fuel for my stove. A lot of backpackers stock up there so it was a routine thing for them to fill my 1 liter fuel bottle for $3. Then I crossed the Snake River on Teton Park road and continued north after paying the $10 entry fee good for 1 week at Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

Snake river and the Grand Teton mountains.
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The Grand Tetons are a very imposing sight to my west, towering 6000 feet above the road. But I was looking into the late afternoon sun when looking at the mountains. Not good for taking pictures. The road is smooth chipseal with a 3-4 foot shoulder. Traffic was moderate and easy to deal with.

I got to Signal Mountain campground (elevation 6800 feet) at 6 PM and set up camp in a walk-in camping area on a bluff overlooking Jackson Lake. The campground has flush toilets and cold water sinks, but no showers. I didn't think about using my water sack to have a shower until it was much too cold for me to want to have an outdoor shower. When I was setting up my tent a ranger came by and told me I could have the campsite for $10 instead of the posted $16 fee. I told him I didn't have exact change for the envelope, and he said to pay in the morning. The next morning the ranger wasn't in his office when I left, so I ended up not paying for the campsite.

After dinner the sky was starting to get colorful, so I went down to the beach to watch the sunset and chat with a few other campers. After sunset I retired to my tent because it was getting cold. It was great to be in such a spectacular setting,but I was looking forward to see the Tetons "properly" in the morning sun. I was feeling good and happy that the trip started well. Flights were on time, the bike wasn't damaged, and the weather was good.

Twilight at Signal Mountain campground.
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Distance: 24.7 miles (39.5 km)

Total climbing: 750 ft (225m)

Average Speed: 10.8 mph (17.3 km/h)

Maximum speed: 32 mph (51 km/h)

Hiking: none

Today's ride: 25 miles (40 km)
Total: 25 miles (40 km)

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