Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Day 72: Jackson, MT to Hamilton, MT (95 miles, 3373 total)

Since we stopped 18 miles short of our destination yesterday, today we rousted early to get on the road and blast miles. We woke up at 5:30 and it was really chilly and rather windy. It was cold enough that packing up stung our fingers and the gusts of chilly air blew right through our warm clothes. Fortunately, all the plumbing in the lodge uses the hot springs water which has no sulpher in it and is probably 95 degrees. So washing our hands and sitting on the toilet provided some relief from the cold morning air. One problem with the use of hot springs water is that there is no temperature control in the shower. You just turn the water on and there you have it.

Anyway, we said goodbye to Javier and rolled out of town by 6:50. Dale was lagging a bit, so we told him we'd see him in the town of Wisdom for breakfast.

AK and I zipped the 18 miles to Wisdom. The roads were almost totally empty and we actually got to ride side by side again for a few miles. For the first 9 miles the gusty winds pushed us along, but suddenly the wind died. I was worried that this might mean that the wind was about to completely change directions, but it held off for us and we arrived in town at 8AM.

We had breakfast at a nice little cafe, and AK declared it one of the best breakfasts she has had on the trip. Dale arrived shortly after we ordered and shared the table with us.

After breakfast, we made a turn and changed our direction from due north to due west. The wind at this point was a bit puffy in different directions. As we pedalled through this huge valley between mountain ranges and headed for our first and only pass for the day, the wind started to become slightly in our favor, but not consistently so. We zipped the first 24 miles to the pass up a very gradual incline. With the puffs at our back, I was able to keep my speed above 18mph. At one point, I was buzzing along feeling great and a deer jumped in my path. I think he was suicidal. I wonder if deer are as good at boxing as squirrels? I bet the white-tail deer would beat down the mule deer.

I stopped to wait for AK and Dale a few miles after the deer incident. Before they arrived, a couple on bikes came down the pass. Tom and Janna were both excited and jealous about our trip. They've done little bits of the TransAm trail, but never the complete route. We did nothing but encourage them to do it as soon as they possibly could. We gave them a card for our website and told them that they must stop in Jackson for the hot springs.

Anyway, the last several miles got a bit steeper and curvey. I arrived at the top of Chief Joseph Pass (7241 feet) and pulled out the peanut butter which, by the way, I have lately discovered goes well with anything. Soon AK arrived as two hikers of the Continental Divide reached the summit (the pass was also another CD crossing for us). They were trying to hitch a ride to Wisdom in order to get to the post office. Dale arrived at the top and we all discussed the oddities of trail names on the Appalachian Trail and the tasty applications of peanut butter.

The descent down from the pass was fantastic. First, we zipped down about a mile and came so close to Idaho that we could literally throw a stone at it. The road flattened out for a moment for us to join route 93. At that point we saw a sign indicating a 7% descent for 7 miles, and what followed was glorious. We flew down a nearly empty road for 7.5 miles at 40mph. It was epic. The road was smooth, the turns were not too sharp and the traffic was light; it doesn't get much better for cycling.

After the epic descent, we rode a tailwind into Sula for lunch. A family owned campground served us up some nice burgers, ham and cheese sandwiches, and chocolate chip cookies.

After lunch, the wind became rather flukey. At times the wind was at our back and minutes later it would be in our face. It was really odd. We got a great view of Trapper's Peak on our way into the town of Darby. Trapper's Peak is an awesome mountain with very Teton-like features.

In Darby we stopped for a quick Gatorade and then pushed the last 17 miles to Hamilton. The terrain was relatively flat, so we made decent time. Before we knew it, we were in the market buying fresh brocoli, bread, and roasted chicken for dinner. Then we were off to the Black Rabbit RV Campground for the night. The place is right on the Bitteroot River, so I went for a swim while AK waded. All three of us sat down for a nice camp meal, while Dale played some of his favorites on his iPod. The roasted chicken was a good call.

Today, AK and I realized that two weeks from today we will be done with the trip. That is amazing. It feels like just last week we were embarking on this trip that was so long imagining the end seemed impossible. Well, the end is coming and it is coming fast; what a shock. I know I am going to miss this trip as I find myslef already thinking about my next bike epic.



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