Hatchet Campground, WY
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
Coldest morning yet!! 19 F...whoa! There was frost on everything. I tried to start a fire, but everything was either wet or frost covered, and though I got a flame a few times, it never stayed burning long. We took a look at the smoking excuse for a fire, then at our thermometer, and decided to eat at the lodge and hope the sun warmed things up a bit while we ate!
Breakfast was delicious. We split pancakes and a breakfast burrito. When we got back to the tent, it was almost 40. Yay! But the tent was in the shade and still totally frosty. Boo!
Our neighbors, John and Robin, left us a fresh, perfectly ripe peach, but it was too cold for April's sensitive teeth, so I had to take one for the team and eat the whole thing myself! The sacrifices I make...
After moving the tent to the sun, it eventually defrosted and we hit the road about 10:30. It was warming up fast, and we were feeling good. It's a good thing too! Our first 16 miles of the were probably 95% uphill! Thankfully we had a tailwind that helped out some
At about mile 10, we stopped at another lodge, which was also gearing down for the season. The C-store was closed from 10-4, so once again, no supplies. But the gift shop was open and had really thin under helmet hat/ear covers. They are technically made for snowmobiling, but they'll work great for our bike helmets too.
We'd actually been looking for a while for something too keep our ears warm on the chilly mornings, but everything we'd seen started at over $20...more than we were willing to spend. These were on sale for only $12.52 each! Score!
There wasn't an actual attendant at the gift shop, just a friendly note asking us to take any purchases to the front desk. So we went to the front desk.
As I was signing the receipt, I noticed the total was quite a bit more than it should have been. The hats had rang up wrong...by about $4 each! But no problem, I hadn't even finished signing my name, let alone leave the store. A simple adjustment... right?
Wrong. Long story short, it took nearly thirty minutes, five different people, and a phone call to bring in the site's tech guy. The tech guy eventually got things straightened out though, and as he was ringing up the correct price, he kept saying that for my trouble, he'd give me an even better price. When he handed me the receipt, he had given me 5% off, or about a $0.53 discount per hat...oh well, I'll take it!
Since we were already stopped, we decided to eat lunch on the porch before taking off again. Especially considering next on our to-do list was Togwotee Pass, our biggest pass yet at 9,658 feet, we thought it was good to down some calories first! Full from lunch and, in a weird sort of way, looking forward to the challenge of the huge uphill, we set off.
About four miles from the top, we entered construction. At about one mile from the top, we came to a nice flagger who said bikes were not allowed past this point, but we could ride in the pilot vehicle. We were so close to making it all the way to the top though! But we didn't have a choice, so we loaded our bikes in the back of the Ford Ranger and crammed into the cab. April had to sit on my lap with her head in the windshield to fit!
The part we were shuttled through was five or six miles, and it was really rough. April kept saying she was surprised they even let cars drive through this construction zone. We would definitely have had trouble making it if we'd tried to ride on the road, and that's evan if there hadn't been huge machines moving all over the place!
As it was, we were dropped off about three miles before the pavement picked up again. The road was better that what we rode over in the truck, but it was still so rough we stopped twice to make sure everything was still attached and in place. We pretty much rode our brakes the whole way since we were now on the downhill side of the pass.
After the pavement picked up again, it was an amazing ride. We had a huge tailwind, AND it was downhill! It's a really eerie felling to be going 30 mph on a bike and have zero wind noise or feel because you are going the same speed and direction as the wind. The bike is humming along, and the trees and grass are whipping all around, but it sounds and feels just like you were standing still on a perfectly still day! Well, except for the howling sound the wind makes in the canyons. It was a very different feeling. April loved it though and said it made her "feel like the wind".
Every once in a while we took a turn that made for a hairy few minutes of strong cross-winds, but soon the road and wind would align again and everything would be great!
As we approached the town of Dubois (pronounced "da-boys" or "doo-boys"), the landscape totally changed. The hills were striped with red and tan. It was fabulous scenery. Of course we stopped to take pictures. And whenever we stopped, we were quickly reminded just how windy it actually was!
As we arrived in Dubois, April spotted "The Bull Elk Named Sue" which she had read about in a children's book back at Togwotee Lodge while they were sorting out the hat mess. So of course we had to stop and take a picture. Sue is a work of art made totally out of antlers!
We talked to the artist for a while and got some recommendations for places to eat and see and soon decided to take our rest day in Dubois. We also found out Sue was headed for Ripley's Believe-It or Not! Here's a picture of Kurt Gordon, Sue's creator. You can see more of his work here: http://antlergallery.com/.
After calling around a bit, April found a church willing to let us stay even though they were in the midst of getting ready for a visit from their new bishop. Mary Ellen, the lady who got us all set-up, is great! She gave us each a peach (April could eat this one...darn) and a fresh tomato! They were delicious! Plus it was really nice to sleep inside since it's been so cold out in the mornings.
And there was a shower, so of course it was nice to take a shower...sort of. My shower was lukewarm, but April's shower turned ice cold right in the middle! So she finished up with baby wipes anyway.
The church is pretty cool too, but I'll tell you more about that tomorrow. Because tomorrow is our rest day, and we'll get to explore Dubois and check out the places we've heard about!
Thanks for reading!