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« Jackson Hell-Hole | Main | Butte - Ireland's Fifth Province »

The Road to Jackson

As I rode through remote country I felt like a passenger. While it wasn't without its hard efforts it was simply a case of sitting back and watching the scenery change as I travelled south-east. Leaving Big Sky country the route made a short 115k incursion into Idaho before sneaking between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in Wyoming. I was making my way to one of the few hostels on my route near Jackson in Wyoming. Unfortunately Jackson is off-route by about 65k but I was always using it as a way-point to get out of the weather, rest my legs and regroup my scattered thoughts. I haven't had a day-off the bike since Polebridge and being a city-boy I tend to look for something of size on a map as a place to stop for a while. Bizarrely, the opportunity to stare blankly at concrete provides a welcome change of scenery.

The visit to the ghost-town of Bannack suggested the route would be very remote and while it was isolated it felt remote only in terms of services. I was on backcountry roads but there still seemed to be a reasonable amount of folk around for one reason or another. I hoped that once I got over Medicine Lodge Pass that I could relax as it was the last serious climb for a while. However, I simply traded the climbs for rough roads. There is just no let-up on the Divide at all it seems. The difficult 50k rail-trail made of extremely soft volcanic sands I was expecting but the hellish surface along the John D. Rockerfeller Memorial Parkway I was not. Sand traps are a disaster for a cyclist as they require a considerable amount of effort to power through. Often one loses traction and thus, the bike. I had written off the afternoon to tackle the rail-trail so the frustrations were easy enough to take in my stride. Biking through sand is hard enough but having to walk and push a loaded bike through it is worse. Talk about going nowhere slowly. While I was catapulted from my bike a few times it was really the bumpiness of the trail that sapped my resolve. I'm not a fan of foot-down bike-touring at all. Thankfully the last section was more hard-packed and slightly down-hill which made it just about bearable. It felt like riding over cobbles so I tried to Fabian Cancellara my way over it. As the rail-trail had exhausted both my legs and my patience I was left fuming at the effort it required to bike through the Jedediah Smith Wilderness the next day. It is soul-destroying having to ride over this crap. Unfortunately the highway would have been just as stressful as its proximity to Yellowstone made it thick with traffic. I couldn't win and I certainly wasn't happy about it. I was definitely looking forward to a few days off the bike in Jackson Hole.

I have posted photos to the gallery to give you a feel for the ride. There is also a separate gallery with some shots from my visit to the ghost-town. Bannack was a mining town in its day and the properties have been preserved the way they were found as opposed to being reconstructed and turned into a museum.

I'll let you know how I get on in Jackson Hole next.


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