If you’re reading this blog post, it means Henry and I have NOT been eaten by Grizzlies in the Rockies; we are very much alive still. But while we’re on the topic of bears, I’ll share with you some mountain wisdom we’ve gained from the locals.
“You can tell whether you’re around black bears or grizzlies by their poop. Black bear poop has berries and twigs, and grizzly poop has bells and bear spray. Stay away from the latter.”
To explain, the ‘bells’ once belonged to tourist’s dogs (whom are no longer with us), and the ‘bear spray’ once belonged to a silly human who thought that an aerosol can and some pepper could somehow defeat a 1000 lb. killing machine. Needless to say, Henry and I have learned to hide our scent like ninjas, in order to avoid any furry confrontations while in the Rockies.
As you’ve probably noticed, it’s been quite a few days since our last entry. And as liberating as it is to be void of any form of technology (cellphones, internet, and even running water) we’ve missed talking to you guys. So for future reference, if you don’t hear from us for a few days, it’s not that we don’t love you, it’s just that we’re probably knee-deep in the sticks. But if you don’t hear from us in more than a few days (a few weeks for example), you should probably start organizing a search party. That being said, here’s what we’ve been up to…
– Getting stranded…
After emerging from the Black Hills, we plan a healthy 85-mile day from Custer, South Dakota to Redbird, Wyoming. No tricky trails and not even too many turns. No surprises, right? Here’s what we didn’t plan for…
that's right, 109 degrees fahrenheit.
Okay, a little bit of heat, no problem, we’ve had worse. A little bit of sunscreen and a lotta bit of water, let’s keep trucking. A few third-degree burns and two pairs of chapped lips later, Henry and I find ourselves 85 miles from 0ur start that day, but no Redbird. This can’t be right, maybe we passed it? No, we would have noticed, maybe it’s up the road, ehhh, let’s just ask this cop just incase.
“Redbird? You’re standing in it.”
“Wait this is Redbird? Our map said there should be a town here.”
“Welcome to the west boys. Redbird is that road behind you, there’s not too much else to put on maps around here.”
Here we were. The sun is setting and we’re 40 miles from the next town, oh, and hitchhiking? It’s illegal. Hmmmm. After racking our brains for a few moments, we decide that we would flag down a passing truck, explain our situation, and if they offered a ride we would take it. As long as we didn’t ask for the ride, technically it wouldn’t be hitchhiking. And it worked! An alfalfa/oat farmer picked us up in his truck and was kind enough to let us sleep on his property for the night. The kindness of strangers reigns supreme once again. Lesson of the day: in the west, you can’t rely on maps without confirming with a local first. Not only that, but the towns are spread so far apart, that if you don’t plan carefully, you’ll be drinking dirt for the night.
– Blue skies and… rain?
After leaving Lost Springs, Wyoming (population 1, seriously, look it up) Henry and I start packing in mileage like FedEx. It’s blue sky and crispy white clouds, you know, postcard weather, and all of the sudden we feel raindrops. My first instinct told me that Henry was drooling in front of me (he often rides with his mouth ajar) and that i probably just got hit with some saliva. But I looked up, just to be clear, and sure enough, I could see crystal raindrops falling from a fresh blue canopy. There were a few clouds, but not rain clouds, and the drops didn’t look to be coming from them anyway. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I still can’t quite explain it. The skies are certainly changing. We are officially in BIG sky country.
our view as we approach the Tetons
Our horizons are almost endless now, and the sky is just a drier version of the ocean. Even the animals seem to swim. For the first time, I saw a family of cows walking across an open range, just walking. That may not sound like much, but just think about it. How often do you see cows with enough land to just wander on? They looked like they were going for a family hike, or maybe a picnic on the other side of the farm, but no matter what scenario you dream up, they looked happy, or free, I should say.
– Lessons in the morn.
It’s day 32 (7AM) and Henry and I awaked to the stern but gentle voice of a Parks and Recreation worker, “Wake up. You can’t sleep in city park.” And that’s it. No threats, no attitude, and no blowing the situation out of proportion. I think we’ve all had our fair share of run-ins with “power-happy” officials, the ones who exercise their right to fill the gap in their inferiority complex by making others just as unhappy as they are. And that’s why it means so much more to have a level-headed interaction with a person of power. Henry and I apologized to the officer, and packed our gear up. Nothing more and nothing less. Unnecessary actions most often warrant unnecessary reactions, and that’s just the way things work. So thank you to the Parks & Rec employee for using good judgement and treating us as equals. The system can work if we are responsible with the power we are given.
– The character’s keep coming…
my man francis
This is my man, Francis. He started walking over 70 days ago in Newport, Oregon and he’s not going to stop until Charlton, Massachusetts. He’s walking home in search of some higher truth. Moved by his pilgrimage, Henry and I agreed we wanted to help him. Francis also was quite inspired by our journey and too wanted to help. Since money is so short on the road, we figured we would both give each other $20, an equal exchange and a symbol of our respect for each other’s cause. Stay safe my friend, it was amazing to have met you.
the lone ranger, Jo
Oh Jo, how I miss thee. We met Jo twice in two days, the first time at a gas station outside the Tetons and the second was today in Jackson (while writing the blog haha!) Jo is from Thailand and is biking across a foreign land, America. While talking to Jo today, we asked if he was going to go to Yellowstone and he replied “ehh, it’s too commericial, I don’t think I’ll spend much time there.” That is Jo, he’s not from here and he already knows to avoid the mob. He told us that it gets boring biking by himself and that nature keeps him company. One thing I’ll never forget about Jo was his parting wisdom as we left him by the mountainside “you’re free man, you’re free.”
Pierre our fantastic Frenchman
And last but not least, Pierre. He’s an elderly frenchman who is biking from the top of North America to the bottom of South America on a tricycle of sorts. He’s as tough as he is eccentric and we were lucky enough to spend a night with him in Jackson before he heads off to hitchhike to Salt Lake City (making up for some lost time.) Good luck brother.
Look for another post tomorrow morning before we leave Jackson!