Jackson to South Pass City, WY

Left Jackson, with a face I don’t entirely recognize and without a razor that no longer works. Cycled north to a campground with hiker-biker only spots, no one else is there, though the drive-in camping spots are all full. Stop just outside the campground to chat and join the Logans for cocktail hour, who provide salmon and peanuts for appetizers and buffalo jerky for the road ahead, which comes in handy a few days later atop one of the passes. I eat dinner right before I crawl into the tent at night to read/write/whatever. Lately have been cooking or eating at least partially by headlamp, but now everyone’s pretty much back at school and there are no more immediate deadlines to meet so hopefully the days of cycling will get shorter with more rest time and earlier stops.

Back on the Divide the next day, this week getting mostly out of Wyoming involves climbing over nearly one pass per day, and hence at least one crossing of the Continental Divide. The fourth day out has two crossings. Climbs overall not bad, the narrative makes the climb up to Union Pass sound ominously difficult but it’s just long and gradual, not too steep at all. Maybe would be a different story if the road was wet and muddy. The area between Tegoetee Pass and Union Pass seems to be caught in a round of storms, the sky overhead constantly going from blue to black. The storms generally only last about 20 min or so, just have to bike with a constant eye on the sky and watch for stands of trees or building overhangs to take cover under when the storm lets loose.

Depending on how long the climb to the passes takes, sometimes I end up camping right near the top after going through, if there’s no time or energy left to descend. Hence my highest camping spot has now been at over 9500′, and it was cold in the morning until the sun came up. Camping on the southern side of Union Pass made for an interesting night; finished dinner and had just climbed into the tent when the circling storm clouds let loose. First just thunder and lightning right around the tent, then a bucketing of hail that turned all the ground white. Some patches were still left in the morning, though thankfully no ice in the water bottles so must have been just above freezing. I picked up some winter mittens in Jackson and they do indeed work.

Am back to riding with Virgil and Marion again, caught up to them five days after Jackson, on the ride to South Pass City. South Pass City marks completion of the second portion of the Great Divide, and wow, what a ride. A tailwind pushed us through high, sage-filled grazing grounds, almost deserts, expansive with no end in sight except the mountain ranges on all borders. We dart through the ranges at South Pass, right where two of the ranges seem to intersect, and the desert starts immediately after. After South Pass City we have a two day ride with little water, so we’re loading up with 2-4 gallons each. Good to be riding with company again.

Colorado looms next in the distance. Feels like a promised land of sorts, means successful completion of several portions of the Divide and some wonderful people to visit. Plus I flew out of there almost three months ago for Alaska, didn’t really expect to be back so soon. Have to do some route planning once I hit southern Colorado, options for immediately after include going south-east, south, or south-west. But good to have options.

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5 thoughts on “Jackson to South Pass City, WY

  1. Greetings Sam! I have a few questions that I was hoping you can answer on your trip so far.
    How many miles do you try to average a day? or is there no real mile minimum?
    You’ve been traveling since July, what has been the most challenging aspect of the trip thus far ? most rewarding?
    Also, Great Update! Keep at it!

    • Generally, I’m doing about 60miles/day right now, though this depends on the weather/road conditions/how many hills there are. If I’m riding alone trying to catch up to other cyclists/friends, I might do somewhere close to 100miles. But that’s then a long day, getting up early, cycling until dark, probably pitching the tent and cooking dinner by headlamp now that the sun is setting earlier. But 60miles is a good full day of riding.

      Crazy to think that it’s been two and a half months. Most challenging aspect so far has been feeling lonely sometimes, though this usually hits at night if I haven’t eaten enough and am low on energy. I definitely miss friends and family, but meet a lot of people cycling solo so making new friends too. One of the most rewarding so far is just biking the Great Divide- amazing scenery, and opening up a whole new world of off-road bike touring. I’m looking forward to how the rest of the trip unfolds. Thanks for following along! Hope all is well!

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