I slunk out of the camping site and up to the junction where I found a tap at the gas station which was still yet to open, and filled my frame bag bladder. Barely 10 seconds after getting back on route I turned to see Peter, then Tyler, cruising back up to me. The timing was comical. We'd all gone effectively separate ways the previous evening yet here we were back in sync first thing in the morning. First pit stop was a small trailside cafe adjacent a classic vista of a ranch packed with horses in front of a mountainous backdrop. Like a magnetic attraction, the sight of bikes parked outside an establishment triggered us to check it out too. Bikes already out front belonged to Alex and Per whom we found inside demolishing breakfast. Some coffee later, Alex, Per, Tyler and I rolled out just as cowboys were moving a mob of horses from one paddock to another via the main road. Best not to mess with a galloping herd!
The main obstacle for the day was Union Pass, which we were all a little nervous about given that some northbound riders a few weeks prior had taken 9 hours to get over it, such was the extent of the snow. As we climbed higher more unexpected pit stops followed in quick succession; Turpin Meadows Lodge, then Togwotee lodge. Fully refreshed we were ready for battle with Union.
Whilst there were some protracted snow-locked segments with assorted bogs on the fringes, these passed quicker than expected, and the views all round were absolutely stunning as we skirted round the underside of the Yellowstone massif. The protracted descent down the other side was also a bit of a slop fest, but we all successfully emerged at the junction with a more major trail, and took a break to de-gunge frames and oil chains. We set off again hoping to make Pinedale by day's end. Pinedale was significant as it effectively marks the end of the possibility of being mauled by a Grizzly, as well as marking the start of the Great Basin which extends 400 km due south.
We split up somewhat on the descent. Alex and Per were too quick for Peter and I, and Tyler seemed content to travel at a more relaxed pace again. Peter and I enjoyed a rare tailwind, coupled with mostly sealed road and an amazing sunset, to roll into Pinedale late with most things shut, but found Alex and Per already tucking into food at one of the few places that was open. Peter and I opted for the Hotel next door, more than happy to get our own rooms - I was craving my own space, and Peter wanted to avoid my snoring, so it was all good. Another shower at last, and wifi to boot. I was so relieved. I don't think I got to sleep till 1 am.
(224 km, 2537 m)
We leave the Tetons behind
The push over Union Pass
Yellowstone massif in the distance
Alex (above) and Per (below)
Peter (above) and Tyler (below)
(Last 3 photos from Peter Kraft)