I woke up to the sound of heavy rain on the cabin roof and tried to justify to myself the possibility of staying inside all day. After calling home and relaxing some more, I pulled myself together and got moving. I went to a supermarket in town to stock up on some more food. I have actually come to prefer having some food with me at all times rather than rely on the somewhat unpredictable selection in stores along the way. It makes me much more mobile and self-sufficient, being able to stop anywhere and take a rest instead of worrying about making it to the next town, even though it weighs me down.
I entered Yellowstone National Park at about 10:30, feeling like a kid opening his Christmas presents. I had finally arrived to the place I had read so much about and seen documentaries about at home. Yellowstone was made a national park in 1872, the first national park in the entire world. Luckily, the president at the time; Ulysses S. Grant saw the importance of protecting such a place early on and the fact that this part of the country wasn't very settled yet, made that easier.Yellowstone is so special because it is located on top of a supervolcano in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, with a huge magma pool (relatively) close to the surface. The geothermal activity caused by this makes Yellowstone capable of producing an environment unlike anywhere on earth with unique wildlife.
I joyfully biked deeper into the park with my eyes open in pure wonderment, and soon I came across the geyser fields with the characteristic white smoke rising all around. I took a rest by a creek just as the weather cleared up a bit and got talking with the driver of a van in support of an all female bicycle tour group, just as she was about to set up lunch for the incoming group. She offered to fill my water bottles and give me food, but I told her I already had enough with me.
I took several more stops for pictures along the way and really enjoyed what the park had to offer. After about 50 km of cycling, I reached the famous Old Faithful Geyser. It is the world's best known geyser with eruption intervals of about an hour and a half, give or take 10 minutes. I got there about 40 minutes before its scheduled eruption and managed to get a good spot among the masses that Henk from yesterday had warned me about. With the rain pouring down and the eruption being 10 min past schedule, I finally got to witness the water shooting 30 m up in the air. Just wow!
Cold from the rain, I continued on into several climbs I had underestimated. The traffic in this park was just awful, exactly as people had warned me prior to entering. With narrow roads and little to no shoulder with RVs rushing past, you had to keep an eye on the road at all times. Just as I got a little peace and quiet from the traffic, I stopped at a pullout to look at my maps. Suddenly, out of the woods came a four legged creature which I identified to be a coyote, about 10 m from me. Quickly I got out my camera and snapped a couple of pictures before 3-4 cars pulled up to do the same, scaring the poor rascal off.
The whole episode lifted my spirits and I got going over some more long and slow climbs. The road was following the continental divide, which is a where the continent is divided in terms of which ocean the rainfall eventually will end up in. On one side, all the water will end up in the Atlantic and on the other, the Pacific.
Feeling tired and ready to bunk up for the night, I got a hiker/biker site for 8 dollars at Grant Village. Being in Yellowstone, known for its potentially dangerous wildlife, it was a ritual getting set up with a tent site. The lady at the reception gave me the so-called Bear Speech about how you should not have any food, cosmetics and other items with a strong scent outside or inside a tent. I had been through similar situations before, but here the seriousness of it got to a whole other level.
I spent the evening showering, sorting out all my stuff to put in the bear box, sneaking up on a herd of elk passing by my tent and preparing for a cold Yellowstone night.