lørdag 28. juni 2014

Day 17: Bear Aware

91.5 km

The sound on the rain fly this morning indicated that the God of Weather had not yet smiled upon me. Surprised I had not been mauled by a grizzly during the night, I packed up and got going to combat the cold and before long I could feel my toes again. 

The weather was incredibly unstable all day. Alternating between heavy rain, hail and short intervals of sun, I did not know where it was going to end up. I thought that this was going to be a day spent in wet clothes and bad weather but while bike touring, nothing is predictable. 

I cruised out of Yellowstone and took a rest stop at a lodge just outside the park. Here I took something to eat and sat down by a fireplace among a group of other cyclists that were heading west. After chatting a bit, I pressed on again. Just as I got on the bike, it started to poor down so much I didn't think it could possibly get much worse! The temperature dropped so much I honestly stopped to check if my tire was flat, turns out the sudden temerature drop had just decreased the tire pressure, making it feel like something was holding me back. I kept thinking about those other cyclists sitting by the fireplace and I started to think that I should have done the same. What the hell have I gotten myself into?

All of a sudden I could feel the sun shining through the clouds, wondering if my mind started to play tricks on me and as I headed down a descent, I got a spectacular view of the the mighty Tetons. As I try to write this 17th entry for this blog since the start of the trip, I for the first time encounter a standstill when it comes to finding the right words to do this scenery justice. The view of the mountains from across the lake after the struggle I had this morning gave such a strong impression in me, it felt surreal. I sat down by the lake watching how the sharp mountain tops tore the passing clouds apart in awe. I was now in the complete opposite end of the mood-spectrum than just 10 minutes ago. This is a phenomenon that has occurred on all my previous tours. When bike touring you often get to visit the whole mood and emotional spectrum in just one day with often sudden transitions, which I suspect is due to the fact that you experience everything so close.

I still had a spectacular view of the Tetons as I pedaled on in the on-and-off rain/hail/sunshine. After a while I got a break from the traffic as I entered the woods. Ahead of me I saw something I had a dying wish to see before I left the park. On the left side of the road, mere meters into the bushes, I saw a bear stretching up along a tree. Incjected by adrenalin, I opened the bear spray holster I had so handily mounted on the handlebar and ripped off the safety before stopping to take up the camera. I was trembling with excitement (which may explain the horrible pictures) as I turned around to get a better shot. For a little while it was just me, the bike and the bear on a quiet road, and I fired away with my camera in burst mode. This was the second time I had gotten to witness wildlife up close on the road, and I owe it all to the quiet manner of bicycle travel. The passing cars saw me aiming my camera into the woods and quickly piled up making a traffic jam. There were now maybe twenty cars lined up  on both sides. Some screamed "what are we looking at?!" and some actually rolled down their windows without turning down the loud music. I mean, come on! The bear was long gone but I was still elated by the experience. What a day!

I wanted to stay inside tonight to dry my clothes, shoes and tent so I got a hostel room at Hatchet Resort, with a view of the Tetons in the distant. I spent the evening talking to home and recapping on what an incredible day this had been.

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