Find Your Way
July 16, 2002
Grant Village to West Yellowstone

Today's Miles = 63.3
Average Speed = 10.5 mph
Maximum Speed = 37.2 mph
Total Miles = 3334.5

Once again the mothership crew and I had one of our uncanny reunions. As I was starting my riding day by stopping at the Grant Village Store for some spare batteries, the trusty RV was sitting right there at the gas pump. What began as a series of coincidences is now starting to get downright spooky. Nonetheless, we were all glad to see each other again and we shared our riding plans for the day. Once we set out, however, I naturally found myself as the only loaded rider being left far behind.

I had no worries though, as this was my first visit to Yellowstone and I was more than happy to experience it at my own pace. I had been considering extending my visit to the park by two or three days so that I could see more of it, but I honestly think that in this instance a bicycle might be a liability. I could tell right away that a backpack and a pair of hiking boots would let me see more of the backcountry than I was ever going to get to on these two skinny wheels. I comforted myself with the realization that while this might be my summer to pedal across the country, my summer to explore Yellowstone in depth will have to come some other time.

Despite acknowledging the limits of this visit, I made as much of the day as I could. Every possible trail and pathway that I could legally take by bicycle I pursued. I've heard before that the vast majority of visitors to Yellowstone never go anywhere beyond where their cars can take them, but I was still amazed that when I made even the smallest effort to get a half-mile off the beaten path it was as though I had the park to myself. I took picture after picture, and as the afternoon drifted into evening it became a race to see if my camera would quit due to full memory or due to a dead battery. In the end I filled the final spot on my memory card with a battery so low I couldn't even charge the flash.

Even though I only had a "short" ride today, I had gotten as much out of the daylight hours as I could. Madison Junction would have been the most obvious place to camp, but my food bag was empty, my stomach was rumbling, and there was nothing for sale in the campgrounds. I knew that the mothership had headed to West Yellowstone for the evening so I decided to ride to town and reconnect with Mark and Emily. But as luck would have it, the first time I purposely tried to track the Tioga down I came up empty. Mark had left me a message on my cell phone that was nothing more than bursts of static interrupted with fragments of words. Somehow I was able to piece together that they were in one of the hotels in town, but beyond that I drew a blank.

Joining the mothership was ruled out, and the two private campgrounds in town were vastly overpriced, so I swung by the only hostel in town to see how badly they wanted to gouge me for a bed. I was pleasantly surprised to get a charming room to myself for a price that was less than the campgrounds had wanted to charge for the privilege of pitching my tent.

I'd been looking forward to Yellowstone since before I even set a wheel on the ground in Virginia. It was a special day for me, and one I'd like to try to share with a few extra photos from the road.


Your pictures are fabulous! You've captured some of the spirit and soul of Yellowstone. I am now sufficiently homesick.

Posted by: Laurie on July 19, 2002 11:29 AM

Oh...that is just beautiful. It is simply magnificent, Nick. I can't wait to see all 1,000 + pictures when you get to your stopping place.

I especially appreciate that you included the fireweed, and Ginny is tickled to see the chipmunk (or ground squirrel).

Lots of love. See you soon.


Posted by: Lynn on July 20, 2002 11:25 AM

Great photos

Posted by: Bob George on July 20, 2002 06:35 PM

Here in Billings we have many stories of folks trying to get a closer picture of the Yellowstone fauna. I am pleased to see that your bison photos gave them a respectful distance. I'd feel really bad if your journal ended prematurely as I am thoroughly enjoying it.


Posted by: Ron Burnam on July 24, 2002 09:44 PM

Both of the Bison I came across were basically right next to the road. For the first one I ended up leaving the trail to give him more space, and for the second one I shot my pictures right from the road. What I really need for wildlife photography is a longer lens, but I can only carry so much on the bike.

Take care,

Posted by: Nick on July 25, 2002 07:19 PM
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