True False Flats and False False Flats (USA Day 68)
We’re in Dubois (rhymes with ‘choice’) after a long, windy day in the saddle, working our way northwest through the aptly-named Wind River valley. The views were spectacular: we kept the spiky Wind River Mountains to our left, while passing through the Native American reservation grounds, empty of people but full of grand, sweeping views, stunning rock formations, crystal-blue rapid rivers and big skies.
I was particularly delighted to hear a ‘skritch skritch skritch’ from the grass bank at the side of the road, then freewheel past a black and grey hairy mammal with a smiling, sloth-like face, hiding in the undergrowth. I’ve rounded it down to either an American badger or some sort of skunk. Either way, it seemed cuddly enough to get by in these harsh landscapes.
The wind wasn’t playing fair today, and the profile of the road wasn’t one to make that any easier. Low gradient climbs persisted for almost the entire day, so that after 75 miles we’d climbed almost 4000 feet, without ever having felt like we’d conquered a significant hill. All that does, with the wind denting your eyeballs, is grind down the brain’s sparkly bits, and Amy felt the full brunt of this today.
“How is this a downhill? We’re still pedalling!” she yelled, bitterly.
“It’s not, it’s flat,” I shouted back, unsure of anything.
“I can see it’s downhill.”
“I can see it isn’t.”
We had a standing row about gradients until we both got bored and carried on pedalling. When you’re tired, your brain plays cruel tricks on you, and when there’s wind in your face, none of it feels fun.
The rocks approaching Dubois are split into coloured strata, like jars of layered sand you get at seaside shops. I’m guessing each is a sedimentary layer that represents various historical epochs, but honestly somebody reading better help me out with this. All I know is that it’s blinking beautiful, and distracted us from the wind most effectively.
So, Dubois appeared at length, with its cowboy-themed everything and big metal sculptures of bears and moose all over the place. We found ourselves in the most generous of its eight churches, whose community hall is constantly open for bikers on the TAT or hikers on the Great Divide trail. We’re camping indoors, surrounded by our bags, a few friendly hikers who’ve adopted trail names such as ‘Cargo’ and ‘Rainskirt’, and a collection of dense, high-calorie food for the upcoming three days out of town.
The plan tomorrow is to crest Togwotee Pass, then plunge down into Grand Teton, towards a very pretty area called Jenny Lake. We’re going to spend a day hiking there, then ride north into Yellowstone, where the first town, Grant Village, seems to have various services including, hopefully, WiFi. Monday 5th is the first time we can realistically upload the next blog, so don’t panic if we disappear off the edge of the internet! We’re fine.