“Time means nothing now. It slips away as easily as grains of sand on a wind-swept beach. But those grains only trade places. On my bike, I change the same way—new locations in the passage of time. The pedaling is incidental—like breathing. The hills and mountains come and go -- my legs powering over them in a kind of winsome trance. Grappling with headwinds only brings determination; while riding a tail wind brings ecstasy. There is a transformation into a state of bliss, much like a seagull gliding on the updrafts. I see them standing on beaches or soaring over the waves. Just flying. Just living. Just being. Me too.” FHW, Golden, CO
Denis and Bob after dropping out of the high Sierras. From snow banks to desert heat. They traveled east toward Panamint Valley and on to Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level with temperatures of 112 degrees F.
After my bicycle journey through Yellowstone National Park, what reflections come to my mind?
Traveling through the marvels of steaming vents, mud pots, geysers, turquoise pools and stupendous wildlife—lifted my spirits in multiple ways. I felt the freedom of the animals as they lived their lives free of humans building cities and smoke stacks in their homes. Lakes and rivers ran sparkling clear and clean. The wind rushed through the trees on its endless journey around the world. The mountain peaks of the Grand Tetons inspired my sense of adventure. The great web of nature spun its magic upon my soul.
Looking back into my rear view mirror provided the wonders of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone along with two funny Irishmen who brought great joy and laughter to my life. I can’t help but thank John Muir and others who cared enough to preserve these great tracts of Mother Nature’s magnificent creative process.
Additionally, I am eternally grateful for my healthy body that powers me along the road and my eyes to see, ears to hear, skin to feel and hands to touch.
(Frosty celebrating our entry into Big Sky Montana.)
As Robert and I pedaled out of the campgrounds, we took a picture of a “2 mile, 7 % grade” sign. Cyclists love gravity-powered rides.
After that picture, we stopped at the 45th parallel sign which stands midway from the equator and the North Pole. Near Gardiner, we crossed the Montana state line: Big Sky Country.
(Nothing more exciting to a touring cyclist than a free gravity-powered ride. Robert on our first day riding out of Yellowstone National Park.)
We coasted along the Gardiner River as the morning sun crested the mountain ramparts to spray sunshine across the rushing waters. We rolled slowly along the river when we noticed a mother deer and two spotted babies not more than a week old. They danced behind her and stepped into the river for a drink. The mother noticed us when we stopped, which caused her to pull back and run to the other side of the hill. An array of wildflowers bloomed along her path. The two youngsters followed her until they vanished from our sight.
“Call that sight early morning magic,” said Robert.
“What a way to start the day,” I said. “Look how springy they jump and run on those fresh new legs.”
“You got that right,” said Robert.
(Mama deer and her two youngsters coming down to the river for a drink.)
Robert and I ate breakfast at the Gardiner Café. Animals' heads decorated the walls along with burl wood supports. As I sat in my chair, a monstrous buffalo head not five feet away, stared at me with indolent eyes. At one time, he roamed these sacred valleys of Yellowstone.
After breakfast, the road called and again, Condor’s spokes flashed in the early morning sunshine. Ahead, my new friend named Robert,who saw everything with wide-eyed enthusiasm, powered his mountain bike along the road.
We pedaled out of Gardiner with fresh food, fruits and energy bars. We followed a deep canyon with the Yellowstone River moving crisply alongside the road. We watched fisherman, rafters and kayakers playing in the river. We needed over 60 miles to reach Livingston, Montana.
(Frosty and Robert at the midway point between the North Pole and the Equator.)
Nice to ride along a two percent downhill grade with a warm sun shining down through puffy white clouds. We passed the “Devil’s Slide” which consisted of a curved red-tan rock slide cut out of a vertical mountain uplift. At some point, the Earth buckled to shove flat sedimentary layers into vertical stripes pointing to the sky. If that action occurred over hundreds of years, fine, but if it happened quickly, you wouldn’t want to be around for the action.
Once out of the canyon, we pedaled 45 miles across flat plain while we followed the Yellowstone River that flowed at a very fast clip. We traveled where Lewis and Clark explored the new frontier at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson. They plowed their canoes through these exact same waters. The land teamed with wildlife. Eventually, the Indians found themselves the victims of the pioneers and a horde of settlers.
(Robert riding along the Yellowstone River on the left through a deep canyon.)
By the end of the day, we covered 75 miles, which led Robert to a Pizza Hut in Livingston, Montana for a huge dinner feast. After stuffing ourselves, the sun dropped toward the horizon, which caused us to find a camping spot on the back side of an abandoned radio station building on the north side of town.
(The Devil’s Slide formed by violent uplift.)
“We need the tonic of wildness—to wade sometimes in marches, where the bittern and meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. At the same time, we are earnest to explore and learn all things. We require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us. We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.” Henry David Thoreau
(Historical markers showing visitors what happened during the 1800s in Montana.)
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as nine times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2010, he cycled 3,400 miles coast to coast across America. In 2012, he bicycled the northern tier coast to coast across America. In 2013, he bicycled 2,500 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide, 150,000 vertical feet of climbing and 19 crossing of passes, 10 of the Continental Divide. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com . His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler
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