Cody, WY to Yellowstone to Emigrant, MT...5 days
235 miles..9595 feet climb
4147 miles total...157,224 feet climb total
I have taken up smoking.
There are forest fires all around me in the western states. New ones have emerged in Yellowstone as I approach. The air is thick and heavy with smoke. Distant views are more like a heavy, humid day in the Smokies than the quintessential western photo. Yet to be seen how this may effect my passage.
|Shoshone NF...you can barely see distant mountains|
|Where'd this guy come from?|
I arrive at a campground where it is only me and the camp host. The host is in a hard-sided RV. I'm in a soft, thin, easily torn tent. Though I am camping below the area of more intense grizzly bear activity where the forest service says tents are okay, I look at the sturdy steel bear boxes and read the warnings about how to play dead when a grizzly chases you (yeah...right!!) and have to find my peaceful self to begin and see the beauty once again in this serene place. In the early evening I feel the coolness of a breeze that is probably typical. Then suddenly a blast of warm air displaces the coolness as if I was standing in front of a fire and the smell of wood smoke intensifies. Just before dusk the wind dies down and ash settles on me, the table, the tent. I'm told this smoke is not from Yellowstone but from Oregon and Idaho.
Fortunately MapMyRide is incorrect. The accent into Yellowstone is not overly difficult at 6-9% much of the way to Sylvan Pass at 8350'. I was watching my altitude read out which is not entirely accurate. Thinking I still had 500 feet of climb and perhaps up to two miles remaining, I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at the pass unexpectedly.
|Sylvan Pass behind me|
|2002 fire remnant|
|Yellowstone fire smoke at sunset|
|Hot spring colors|
|Blackie waits for the geyser|
|Lone Star Geyser...40' high stream|
|The air did clear some|
Another instance that I really enjoyed makes for a good story. I think I will use this to show how I as a Christian Scientist think...
My last night of camping in Yellowstone was at Indian Creek Campground, situated about 25 miles from Mammooth Hot Springs and the north entrance to the park. Yellowstone did a great job of indoctrinating me about the grizzly bears and that I would die if I ventured alone on a trail without bear pepper spray, which I had not yet acquired. But I would venture off on short trails and talk loudly to myself to make any potential bear on the trail believe there was a troop of 30 headed its way, encouraging it to leave the trail. When I saw others walking on a trail I would fall in behind and shadow them for a ways. On the evening in Indian Creek I followed and then lost my target but the trail headed to the camp approach road by the river I recognized. There preparing for an evening of fishing was Bob (wearing his bear spray). Bob is a professional outdoors guide between gigs. During the course of our pleasant discourse he tells me about a good bakery in the town of Emigrant 40 miles north of Yellowstone. Someone else has mentioned that I could camp at fishing access areas of the Yellowstone River outside the park. I hoped to make it to Emigrant for an evening bakery goody and then camp at the Emigrant fish access.
|Mammoth Hot Springs|
|Mammoth Hot Springs|
|Boys will travel|
|Blackie at the spa|
However, as I continue on my day's ride at this slower pace I have time to contemplate my many experiences just past. There is a common thread. I ponder the nature of creation and of man. Harmony and order are Inate to our existence. Harmony is a true state of our consciousness...it is the reality of our being. Even if there appear to be periods of disruption, our true state is unaffected. Harmony is a constant, underlying presence in my, in our being. When the needle skips when playing a record, the original composition is unaffected. (I know, this is probably a rather dated analogy.) If I attempt to perform a piano piece by Beethoven I can assure you it will not come close to his original. But with training and an understanding of his composition I might someday perform with perfection.
The bakery in Emigrant is closed. I'm ready for dinner. Emigrant is a very small town, but there is a saloon. Most western saloons will serve simple meals. I walk into a 115 year old bar and order a very good hamburger and fries. Others come in and we talk of the forest fires and such. Later I ask the bartender, James who until last year was a middle school math teacher, if it is okay to camp at the Emigrant fish access. "Nope, that site is not approved for that. You will need to ride another 10 miles down river." Robbie doesn't want to do this...he's tired already from battling the strong head winds. "Oh, why not. Just put up your tent in the grass yard next to the saloon. No one will care if you do." They even have a picnic table. This becomes my lodging and I even have music until midnight.
|Emigrant...a night's accommodation|
Waking, I see customers entering into the saloon for Saturday breakfast, and a few glancing in my direction wondering when the campground was developed. I discreetly pack. Rounding the corner of the adjacent street I meet a baker exiting the bakery and am informed that they will be serving sourdough pancakes and eggs soon when they open, along with some really good baked goods as well. I spend the next few minutes meeting local artists, ranchers, professional photographers coming for breakfast.
While paying for my order one of the bakery staff comes up and excitedly asks "Are you the biker that meet the Chicago family?" " They left money in the till for your coffee." I had not told them I would come to the bakery, but they had made a gracious offering in the event I did. As I ate my breakfast, who should enter but Bob the fisherman met three days before. We continued our life, family, journey, life-style, political discussions from the time before. He offers to perhaps be able to host me on the Pacific coast at my journey's end.
The gest of this story...the underlying concept...is the realization of the constant play of harmony in our lives. We can certainly, and very frequently do, allow the clamor of mortal existence to overshadow the reality of the harmony that is our true being. It takes patience, practice, and the silencing of outside influences to see through that clamor...to replace the phonograph needle to better hear the composition more accuratly. This is what I feel was occurring and when in a place of acknowledgement, the outside noise that was attempting to disrupt my peace, my harmony, was immediately transformed to a different state.
There is no coincidence...
...and traveling is a great way to experience these lessons.
For the bike traveler...
- Cody, Highway 14/16/20 to Shoshone NF Elk Fork campground (very scenic approach to Yellowstone), camp $5
- Shoshone NF to east entrance of Yellowstone NP, Highway 14/16/20 to Sylvan Pass at 8541' (quiet steep for several miles before pass; scene changes immediately upon entering Yellowstone), shower at Lake Village camp, Bridge Bay hiker/biker camp $6.50
- Yellowstone Bridge Bay, Grant Village, Craig Pass at 8262', Lower geyser basin, Madison hiker/biker camp $6.50
- Yellowstone Madison, Norris geyser basin, Indian Creek hiker/biker camp $5 (best hiker/biker camp with rain tarps, covered tables, morning coffee)
- Yellowstone Indian Creek, Mammoth Hot Springs, Boiling River hot spring soak at river's edge (trail begins at Montana state line, 45th parallel...half way between North Pole and Equator), Highway 89, Gardiner, Corwan Spring, Miner, turn off to East River Road #540 (great local road with little traffic), Emigrant, free camp at side yard of Saloon, lovely bakery at back road from road crossing of Hwy 89