Days 23-25: Little Victories

About a week back, a group of motorcyclists who were traveling the Great Divide (apparently that’s a thing and no one told me) passed me while I was biking. They stopped and were shocked I was going as far as they were, but only using one horsepower — I told them I was more of a donkey, but since this is a family-friendly blog I’ll let you finish that comparison.

One question they asked me was, “how do you stay motivated?” especially since we were all staring at miles and miles of nothing but grass and hills. At first, I immediately thought of the finish line and how competitive I can be when faced with a challenge.

But, the real answer is the little side adventures that I have gone on along the way. Whether it be meeting new people, getting lost and traveling to new places, or scaring the heck out of myself by camping alone in the wilderness. These are the little victories that keep me engaged and wanting to push forward.

Here are a few of those small victories.

Day 23 - Idaho

As quickly as we entered Idaho, we left it for the Teton Mountains and the Great Basin of Wyoming. This means that there are only three more states for me to conquer in this journey: Wyoming, Colorado, and the infamous, New Mexico.

The departure from Idaho put me back in the woods — where I felt more at home. Though the day consisted mostly of uphills, I was happy to have some shade on the road for a change.

As I neared the end of my ride, an important thought dawned on me: “Oh (explicative). It’s Labor Day Weekend — the last good camping weekend.” And, sure enough, my target campsite was filled with people looking to take advantage of the nice weather and the extra day off from work.

Biting the bullet, I decided to glamp and pay for a small cabin. However, there was a nice perk to this splurge — I could give my nightly, anti-bear routine a break and stare endlessly at the stars. Though the picture doesn’t do it justice, I swear there were thousands in the sky that night.

Nightsky on the Great Divide Trail

Day 24 -  Son of a Beach

The previous night, I had dinner at the lodge where I had rented the cabin. It was phenomenal and I had to go back for the breakfast buffet — buffet, a magical word at this point in my journey.

But, in my pursuit of good food, I overlooked one small detail — my credit card, or lack thereof.

About 15 miles into my ride, I stopped at a general store to buy some supplies (and by supplies I mean huckleberry jam). That’s when I realized I had left my card back at the lodge and was now faced with another decision: go back and take a 3-hour detour, or push forward and figure it out as I go.

I opted for the latter and asked the lodge to mail me my card to a hotel in an upcoming town. They gave me a solid, “probably” and asked me to hang tight for a few hours to confirm.

Embracing life’s little adventure, I saw a sign for a beach and headed there to wait. There, I caught this incredible view of the Teton Mountains. I found it remarkable that you could barely make out Grand Teton through the smoke from the nearby wildfires.

Grand Tetons - Great Divide Trail

Fortunately, the hotel was eventually able to approve my request and I made the short ride to camp. It was there that I started thumbing through my guidebook and learned that I was entering the territory of legendary “Bear 203” (nicknamed Cownivorous) who allegedly took out 6 cows — and maybe a person — in the summer of 1990 before his tracking collar mysteriously went dead. No one is quite sure what happened to Bear 203, but one thing is certain — I am definitely not planning on finding out.

Day 25 - Togwotee Pass

Based on a recommendation from a park ranger, I camped at a very friendly spot right off the highway where multiple campers greeted me and asked about my trip, including one guy who called me, “Obi-Wan Kenobi” — based on a Netflix series where Ewan McGregor (the actor who plays the Disney+ portrayal of Kenobi) goes on a long distance motorcycle adventure.

With my ego sufficiently boosted, I set out to tackle Togwotee Pass, a formidable climb to just over 9000 ft. Not sure if it was the easy day yesterday or the confidence boost from my neighbor, but I flew to the top of the pass.

At the top, I learned why they call this route the “Great Divide.” It’s the middle point where water drains to either side of the Rockies. If rain falls to the west, it eventually winds up in the Pacific Ocean. If it goes East, it flows to the Atlantic. Look at me learning stuff!

Per usual, you never quite know what you’re getting into when you start a climb on this trail. Will it be hours of trekking up sand and rocks, with no reward at the top? This time, we lucked out and got an impressive view of the Tetons, Wyoming’s youngest but fastest-growing mountain range (I’ll be on Jeopardy soon enough).

Togwotee Pass - Great Divide Trail

Unrelated, but still important notes:

First, a huge shoutout to Clemens. Don’t call it a comeback, but I got word his elbow has recovered and he is back on the trail. We may not cross paths again, but I respect his determination to carry on.

Second, I found Apollo a friend. This is Spunk the Chipmunk. He was abandoned at my campsite and is now on a one-way train to Mexico. Glad to have ya aboard.Spunk the Chipmunk - Great Divide

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