Last blog Simon and I were in Idaho and had decided to skip Squirrel Ranch and continue on over the pass to Flagg Ranch. We arrived at Flagg Ranch, now in Wyoming, just as the front desk was closing around 10pm. The restaurant was closed and all they could offer was some muesli bars. The expensive cabin we got was a room with a bunk bed. There was no lights, no sheets or pillows. I hardly slept, I had so little food in my system I was shaking a bit. We decided it was worth staying until the breakfast opened at 7am so we could get some proper food, resupply our snacks and get a move on. A shame to miss the all-you-could-eat buffet opened at 7:30am but we needed to keep moving.The day started on the tar, heading alongside Jackson Lake with jaw-dropping views of the Grand Teton National Park. This is definitely on the list of places to come back and explore. It was early but already the tourists were out and about. After days on the gravel it made me a bit uncomfortable having huge RVs try and squeeze past and other impatient cars revving around us. The view made up for it but all too soon we turned East, heading towards Togwotee Pass. After a pretty tree lined dirt climb up to Togwotee Mountain Lodge, we stopped for an icecream before heading back onto the tar for the climb. It was a gentle gradient and before we knew it the top came and went. I expected to go screaming down the other side on the road but instead, after a nearly missing the turn, we veered left towards Brooks Lake. The road was a little boggy but it was worth it, the views were some of the best of the entire Divide.
At Lava Mountain Lodge we stopped for a burger. Great place but we waited what seemed and age for our food. Enough time to charge my phone and get a message from Seb saying he was in Colorado having a blast and ‘just cruising’ now that he was ahead of record time. Ha! Here I was slogging my guts out and he was just cruising, nearly an entire state in front of me!
The alternate route, which deviates from the Warm Springs alternate towards Fish Lake Mountain, was another new addition to the route which was completely worth it. Instead of going over Union Pass we headed over the range further to the west. There was a bit of testing hike-a-bike but at the plateau at the top we were treated to views of mountain ranges in every direction. The afternoon sun was shining on the Grand Tetons far in the distance, proof that we had ridden a long way. The wind was picking up and at around 3000m it was getting cold. The Kiwis caught up and said they were off to at toilet block at one of the campgrounds along the Green River. That sounded like a plan to us! The maps suggested quite a few ‘unofficial’ campgrounds which meant that there were no toilets, just spots that were good to camp. We never found the one we were looking for and so camped besides a river with the cows, and awoke to frost covered bikes. Brrr!
The next morning we had a very cold ride into Pinedale for a much needed big breakfast. Mine was so big in fact, that even me AND the Kiwis couldn’t finish all the pancakes!
I rode the day mostly within sight of Simon but alone with my thoughts. It was vast, wide open country, quite intimidating to be out there on a bike. Simon caught up and we rode together into South Pass City where we found no supplies and nothing open except a small tourist office which was closing. The man was very helpful and rang ahead to Atlantic City for us to book a cabin. South Pass City is an old ghost town, most people moved away after the mining boom ended. The man reminded us that there was not much at Atlantic City either. We needed food and water for the basin crossing and hoped that we could find what we needed.
The bar / restaurant next to our cabin was serving food and we were also able to resupply with a few things before Wamsutter. I was scared of the basin crossing, mostly of running out of water. After so many days of sunburn I was now wearing my arm warmers and full length leg warmers all day for protection. I did not want to be out in the basin wearing those and decided I needed to make a very early departure.
If you look at the map, you can see that the basin is the desert gap between the ‘green areas’ of Atlantic City and Savery, quite a big stretch of nothingness!
By 2:30am Simon and I were riding out of Atlantic City. The basin crossing to Wamsutter was spectacular and nothing to be worried by that early in the day. We enjoyed a sunrise of magnificent oranges and reds and spend the first part of the morning riding through unique and beautiful desert flora.
Unfortunately after an epic lunch at the Wamsutter 24hr truck stop, the rest of the day to Savery was pretty foul. It was very very hot, there were no trees, just oil mining rigs every few kilometer or so. I was chased by a savage white dog guarding some livestock and ran out of water at the base of a hot and exposed climb of nearly 20km. For anyone riding this section in the daylight hours, do not underestimate how much water you need and how tough this section is!
The downhill to Savery was a lovely reprieve. I wanted to continue on to Brush Mountain Lodge so much but I couldn’t face the climb. Day 11 had been 259km and that was enough for now. I had some packaged salmon, a bread roll, banana and a muffin for dinner. Surely not the same as Kirsten’s famous pancakes 😦
Simon, Josh and I camped in an open block in the middle of town. There was no shop or accommodation. We spoke to the woman who used to run the shop though it had since closed. She had two houses and it was time to sell up her Savery house. Apparently she had let ACA know many times that the shop was no longer operating, but it is still on the map. After a wash in the gurgling stream I fell asleep easily on the soft grass. Tomorrow morning we would cross the border into Colorado in the wee hours of the morning, and would pass Brush Mountain Lodge way too early to stop in. Next time through I’ll have to stop in to say hi to Kirsten!