One Elk of a Day – Jenny Lake to Grant Village, Yellowstone

Early morning is the best time for wildlife – as well as Elk we also saw this young Pronghorn

By Terry

We got our mojo back … up at 6, out by 7 (ish), 20 miles before breakfast. A good start, but mainly because for the third day we haven’t spent time having showers. There are various advantages of leaving early … fewer people are around to notice how unsavoury we are, less traffic around and more chance to see wildlife. And within 5 minutes of leaving the campsite, there was a mature male elk with a full set of unfeasibly large antlers just by the roadside, with the Grand Tetons as a backdrop. Perfect.


It was a tough morning for cycling – we met Adam and Jeff also out battling the rain

Over right posh Eggs Benedict in a lakeside lodge we charged up all the gizmos, filled up on decent coffee and sorted out the problem with the current multi-million dollar regeneration of Detroit. By the time we dragged ourselves away from the food, comfy chairs and warmth, it was raining. Hard. OK then, heads down and just get the miles done.


I’ve been trying to find out what cyclists think about on long rides – sadly the answer seems to be not a lot!

Spending 8 to 10 hours on the bike each day, gives you a lot of time to think …  we don’t chat constantly, the novelty of ‘I spy’ soon wears off and working out which parts of your body hurt more today than yesterday is a fairly quick process. So what does go on in our heads for the rest of the time? My straw poll suggests a disappointing ‘not much’. Shame really … bit of a waste of brain power. I’m sure a more focussed mind would have written an autobiography in their head or at least have worked out from first principles why buses always turn up in 2s. Not happening.


Arrival at Yellowstone National Park. Yes I know we are blocking the sign but it’s a selfie so give us a break!

My mind, like Paul and Mike’s, seem to drift with random thoughts, sometimes related to the recent scenery or wildlife, sometimes not. I specifically try (and fail) not to think about my future ‘life plan’ as that involves thinking about home and that way sadness lies … and then I feel guilty about enjoying myself so much and having no responsibilities beyond deciding whether to have another free coffee top-up or not. Selfish or what! (Cut me some slack though … it’s only for 3 months out of a lifetime!)


Yellowstone is busy busy busy – but just off the road the natural beauty takes over

Miles and lunch came and went and by the time the rain had eased up sufficiently to look at anything apart from tarmac and your front tyre, we were in the world’s oldest National Park, Yellowstone. My first impression? … trees, and too many cars and trucks trying to run us off the road. After weeks of small quiet roads, hitting our first tourist honeypot, it seemed like mayhem and madness.


Evidence of the 1988 fire which ripped through this area of the park can still clearly be seen

We were passing through a landscape that was both depressingly post-apocalyptic and also a positive example of nature-in-action … the 1988 fire tore through tens of thousands of acres of forest, the deep ravines being no obstacle or natural firebreak, and reduced countless trees to just burnt sticks pointing skywards. That’s the bad bit … the good bit is that this has happened at least 300 times evidently … and 25 years on, new trees are growing, regenerating the forests. Ain’t nature grand?


Majestic elk like this female, just outside Grant Village were a highlight of a rather wet day.

And just to prove that point, as we rounded the last bend of the day, two elk were calmly feeding in the evening sun only yards from the busy roadside … almost mirroring this morning’s view …Yellowstone was redeeming itself. But then it let itself down again, big time … registering for a pre-booked pitch took over an hour! By then it was dark, raining again and we were cold, wet, hungry and still dirty. To cap it all, the showers were a bike ride away and weren’t free! One was not amused.

Back at the tent, dinner was instant noodles and a tin off peaches (Paul’s favourite) for the third day running, then I pulled on all my clothing to fend of the by now freezing cold, set alarm for 0530, slid into that insubstantial sleeping bag and hoped I’ve left nothing in the tent that would attract Yogi or his mates. Now 10.30 … time to start blogging.

Today’s Miles: 57

Miles since First Landing: 3057

Written by Paul

1 Comment

  1. I love you Dad xxx I can’t wait to see you. Not so long now. Keep it up xxx Hannah

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