Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day Two Hundred-eight, 090924 - Madison, Yellowstone

Day Two Hundred-eight, Date Thursday, September 24, 2009
Time in Saddle: 5:52
Distance for the Day: 57.52 miles From Fishing Bridge To Madison, Yellowstone
Accumulated Trip Distance: 10,502 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 7662’/6821’, Highest: 8510’ Accumulated: 2923’
Speeds: Avg: 9.8 mph, Max: 40.8 mph
Weather: 25° clear, cold, warming to low 80s
Expenditures: $52

I woke up and got up at 6:29am, and was broke down and ready by 7:08am. I went down to the admin building, and picked up and re-packed my food items. Then I stopped at the Fishing Bridge mini mart for a breakfast of hot cocoa, Danish and muffin, plus some M&Ms peanuts and a couple sodas for the road ($11) – pretty pricey, but not unexpected. I went across the bridge over Yellowstone River at 8am and stopped to take some pictures and look for fish. I saw one cutthroat salmon in the water, but that was all. I then left at 8:26am to continue up over the 8262’ ASL Craig Pass to get to Old Faithful and the Visitor Complex, there. I crossed the Continental Divide and Craig Pass at 1pm and had a quick lunch of meat stick, soda, M&Ms – then, a few minutes later, I crossed the Continental Divide again (it twists around a bit). A fire, which I’d noticed earlier in the morning, had grown quite a bit – so much, in fact, that it had created its own cumulous cloud. Never seen that, before. After crossing the divide, I made much better time (going downhill will usually do that) and made it to Old Faithful at 3:15pm. I arrived with plenty of time to set up my camera and helmet cam to record the next eruption, which occurred about 25 minutes after I got there. Afterwards, I got a sandwich and soda ($10) at the lodge, more food and drinks at the store ($13), and a nylon (food) bag and more rope ($11). At 4:39pm I pushed on towards Madison to camp, 18 miles to the north, which I would need to get to before sunset at 7pm.

After leaving Old Faithful, I was still coming down off the Continental Divide, so heading north to Madison was actually a very nice, mostly downhill ride. The Sun was getting low, so I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t make it in time. However, I made it with plenty of time to spare, and was even able to take pictures of the big fire that had started earlier today. I had to pass by several other neat features of the region, though, to make Madison, which I did at 6:25pm. I registered and paid the $6.60 cyclist’ fee, and was invited to join the staff for a nice spaghetti dinner they were having around back, where the cyclist campsites were. Ohboyohboyohboy! Only my favorite food in the whole *world*, with salad, garlic bread, and lemon squares for dessert. I had two full plates of food (mostly spaghetti), and chatted a lot with the staff from around 6:30-7:30pm – what a fun, interesting, and diverse group. It was starting to get dark, so I walked a few yards over to a pair of trees that were the right distance apart, and set up my hammock (N44 38.733’ W110 51.718’). I then put all my food smelling items into the bear locker, and signed-in my camera and laptop to the registration desk to recharge them. Then I walked through the dark to the amphitheater to listen to a ranger giving a talk about bears. I found out that most of the bears were heading for the high country, to look for and eat thousands of moths a day, to get ready for hibernation during the coming winter. So, maybe I didn’t have to worry so much about bears, after all. After the PowerPoint presentation, I asked the speaker about whether urine would be effective as a repellent or deterrent to bears, coyotes, or wolves. His answer: it’s unknown as to how effective it might or might not be, but if a bear opened up your tent, no matter what type of bear it is, he’s looking to eat, and you should fight. Hokay – I’ll sign up for bear-fu lessons ASAP. (Hitting the bear on the nose, whacking him in the face with a rock or big stick, etc., is what he meant; no use hitting him anywhere else – he wouldn’t even feel it.)
This campsite was huge, and I got lost coming back to my site, but eventually did at 9:30pm. It was quite temperate that evening, but it got plenty cold during the night – down into the 20s. Brrrr! Being a little uncomfortable from the cold, I was kept in dream state more than usual, and had a couple of weird ones (well, which ones aren’t weird). There was a gigantic, black glass pyramid like the Luxor in Vegas, but a mile high. I climbed up it pretty high, and then prepared to slide down. I was a bit scared, but started off, and finally let myself go full speed. As I approached the bottom, I could see a beach with the ocean off to the left. A big wave crashed onto the beach and sprayed a bunch of sand to the right, coating a 40-ish blond woman in a bikini with sand, but she shook it off. Meanwhile, I hit the beach just fine, and we started to talk – seems like I’d seen that face before, like a minor character on a TV show or in a medical clinic, somewhere. Am I getting to specific? Zzzzzzz!

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