Outdoor Philosophy

Harnessing the power of adventure to inspire environmental action

20 July 2006 #2

woke feeling rested from day off and ready to go. barb and don, from florida, swinging gently in suspended wooden seats in front of their cabin, took photos and gave me a bag of walnuts. “we couldn’t think what else to give you”…. cycled out of dubois via food mall for tortillas and bagels and the post office. then couldn’t resist the bighorn sheep interpretive centre. odd to think of sheep as a wild animal somehow! these guys evolved in asia a few million years ago and crossed over on ice bridges, getting stranded in north america when they melted. lots of information about how drastically we humans reduced their numbers and how we’re now trying to rectify that. very optimistic about this being an age of conservation after an age of unthinking environmental impact. hmmmm.

finally got going for real just after 10. glorious easy riding. about an hour later, brought to a halt by a man with a stop sign. road works. a tiny dog in a flourescent vest stood on her hind legs at his feet. the man and the dog – a poodle chihuaha cross and a great hill-dog – took me and rocky across 14 miles of gravel in a truck. really sorry, but we can’t let cyclists thru….a gift of 14 miles and not cheating, fine by me!! another hour or so of riding, steady climbing up the togwatee pass. just thinking, i could do with a cafe, when one materialised around a corner. the chef wore a huge, multicoloured chef’s hat. he made me a huge salad and commented on the hotter than usual weather. my opening! is it global warming? no, i think it’s the sun. the sun is putting out more heat. plus, anything we’re adding to the atmosphere came from the earth in the first place. oil was always in the ground combusting and causing emmissions. what do you think caused the end of the last ice-age, cave-men smoking too much dope?? mulling on this i cycled on up the pass. a longish – 10 miles? climb. flowers everywhere, lilac lupin-like flowers, brilliant yellow flowers and masses of violet daises. the road flanked by huge meadows running up to trees climbing the mountains…a creammy-yellow butterfly flew alongside for a while, >then overtook. the only thing marring this idyll was the swarm of black-flies that accompanied me as i climbed. too slow to get away from them they landed with ease and took chunks out of me with a distinct preference for my left thigh, cycling shorts no barrier whatsoever. bill had mentioned black-flies. do they bite? bite? they drill into you. by the time you realise they’re doing it it’s too late. and the itch afterwards makes a mosquito bite seem like a pleasant sensation. not a bad description.

at the summit, a tiny lake set against the mountains. wandered about taking photographs of flowers. the road stayed high for miles. meadows and mountains. stopped at a vista-point and gazed. would be so good to stay up here. more and more I want to BE in these wild places rather than continuously pass through them. started the intermittent descent towards moran junction. suddenly, around a bend, the most spectacular line of jagged, spikey mountains in grey silhouette across the far horizon. the tetons. one of the most stunning sky-lines i’ve ever seen. cycled towards them for miles, dipping in and out of sight above the trees. just before moran junction, stopped at a service station. the woman inside gave me a hard look. yes? what can i help you find? in a tone that suggested strong suspicion that i didn’t really want anything except to bring my undesirable presence in out of the heat. but they had real ice-cream….i stood against a wall outside in the shade with a double-scoop of almond-fudge and huckleberry, exchanging greetings with motor-bikers coming in for gas. one of those brief times when the snagging and clutching of ordinary life just lets go and you are there, out of the mainstream, free from any “next we must do…s”, just in that moment and at peace.

at moran junction, a stunning ox-bow in the river with the tetons behind. deaply peaceful sense. a place to come back to. turned north into teton national park. next camping, colter bay village, ten miles. arrived there suddenly tired and hot and a touch sun–dazed. colter bay village was a huge complex with rv site, campsite, gift shop, food mall, launderette and showers. lost my way to my designated tent site and by the time i’d put the tent up and gone back to have a shower they’d closed for the night. had a tortilla, put my stuff in a bear box and retreated to the tent. camera card full. went through all the pics looking for deletable ones. the pictures of the tetons are all foreground. the mountains themselves have vanished, like ghost mountains or grey rainbows.