Thursday, July 16, 2009

West Yellowstone, MT

Hello Everyone!

Sorry it's been so long since our last post and that this post is soooo long. We have been without service or internet, as well as completely distracted by our surroundings for quite some time now. But here we are, in West Yellowstone, Montana at the public library finally at a computer! Where to start... The last time we posted we were just getting ready to enter the Tetons and Yellowstone. We followed the Snake River from Jackson, Wyoming all the way into Grand Teton National Park. On this pleasant ride we witnessed two Bald Eagles soaring high above as well as two river surfers carving up a stationary rapid wave! We arrived at Jenny Lake, somewhat early the following day. We had heard great things about the back country camping in the Teton mountain range so we went to the visitor center and found out that we could plan a two day excursion for free! We took the supplied bear box, went to an outdoor shop in which we rigged up our panniers into backpacks, then set off for our hike. The hike was a little over 6 miles of gentle climb through a beautiful canyon. After the day of preparation, night was starting to fall and the further in we hiked the more the crowds of tourists diminished. Just as we started to concentrate more on hiking and less on taking everything in, we were stopped by a massive wall in our path. A huge bull moose was blocking our path. He looked briefly at us, gave a us a snort of recognition and then continued to eat the vegetation as if we weren't there. It was so great to see this beast up close even though we didn't quite know how to get around it. Eventually it cleared out of the path and we kept on hiking to witness porcupines, marmots, streams of fresh snow melt, and the amazing mountain ranges. After a good nights sleep at our camp, the following day consisted of freezing cold dips in the the snow fed streams, hiking parts of some of the ranges and a whole lot of sleeping in the warm sun which in the end left our backs quite burnt.

We hiked out of the backcountry the next morning, and in no rush to leave the beautiful Jenny Lake we decided to spend the night at the hiker/biker site that was right next to the lake. When we arrived at the campsite and started setting up camp we happened to meet two other bikers who were riding from Boulder, Co all the way up to Alaska. The two of them, Loren and Jared, happened to be about our age, and were absolutely awesome company around the campfire. Little did we know, that night was the first night of a series of ridiculous social encounters and coincidences that helped make our time in Yellowstone an absolute blast.

The next day we were fortunate enough to get in contact with a Conner and Lucy, two good friends of Calen's who had spent the last three weeks driving all over the north-west. The timing worked out perfectly and we met up at Lewis Lake, for another night of camping around a warm fire with great company. We hung out with Conner and Lucy all the next day, enjoying the luxury of driving around, and hiked Mt.Washburn one of the highest peaks in the park. We were bummed to leave our friends that night, but were quite content with two nights of socializing and talking with friends. We were not prepared for the absolute circus that we were about to be a part of.

We got another hiker/biker site this time at Grants Village, and as we rolled into the site we were blown away by the fact that the two bikers we had hung out with recently, Jared and Loren were already there. They were accompanied by two other cyclists, (Joe and Carlos), who are biking across the US from the east. Shortly after our arrival, three other cyclists came in, (Jacob, Mike, and Aaron), who were coming in from Virginia. At this point there are 9 of us, all within 5 years of each-other, all with awesome attitudes and outlooks on life, and all heading north through the park the next day. It was absolutely bizarre, first off none of us had met nearly this many cyclists at any point in any of our trips. And second, we all were headed in the same general direction even though we were all going to end up in very different places. We were getting along great and were having a blast. We spent our third night exchanging stories around a fire, getting to know this eclectic group of adventurers.

The morning came and none of us were really sure how the pacing or grouping was really going to go, but as the day went on, we formed a massive pack, and took Yellowstone by storm. We were riding in one huge group for the majority of the day, stopping at the sites and absolutely clogging up any bike rack we could find. As our turn away from the group neared, it became clear that the whole pack was heading west out of Yellowstone, and were going to go see Harry Potter 6 at the local movie theater. We were planning on heading north to Mammoth Hot Springs, but were having too much fun with this circus of riders that we decided, "hell lets head west". We rode 14 miles west in a huge draft line cruising up hills at about 17 mph, and reaching speeds of 25 mph on the flat. We made great time and reached the cinema in time to get tickets for the show. We all enjoyed the movie, an excellent escape from the normal routine of ride sleep ride sleep. Almost all of us completely forgot that we had ridden across the US to get here. We gorged on pizza after the movie, rolled a couple blocks out of town and found a nice group of trees for the 9 of us to camp behind.

We have now separated from the pack, and are headed back into Yellowstone Natl. Park, and back east. We are definitely going to remember the awesome group of people we met,the ridiculous jokes and stories we heard, and the fun we had cruising through the park with such a pack.

We have about two days of riding ahead of us to get back through the park to the north-east entrance, we will be riding the Beartooth highway in which parts are rumored to be elevations of 11,000 ft. Someone also told us it was once called the most beautiful highway in the US. We are excited to start making some more miles, but have enjoyed our slow cruise through these beautiful National Parks. We will try to keep updating the blog a little more regularly. Our next big stops will be Mt. Rushmore and Badlands Natl. Park in South Dakota, we should be there pretty soon. Yesterday was exactly 4 weeks that we have spent on the road, and it has flown by as if it were only one week, this trip has been great so far and we are looking forward to what is ahead. We miss everyone back home, talk to you soon.

calen and nico


  1. We feel better for seeing you in good shape and above all happy! Renzo e Daniela sun bathing in the beach of Rimini (italy)

  2. you saw conner and lucyyyy!! no way that is awesome!

  3. Looks like you are having a blast! We're happy to see your latest posting.
    If you go through Redwood Falls, Minn. you can stay at Marjorie's daughter and son-in-laws, Ron and Sandy Mannz. We check in everyday. grandpa

  4. wow. you guys sound stoked on life and it makes me smile. rock on!

  5. Glad you are back to posting your news.You guys look and sound so happy...makes us happy too. And what a coincidence to meet up with so many like-minded bikers! Take care. We're thinking of you.xoxoxCeleste

  6. Ragazzi, it was great to talk to you Nico last night, but also great tot see the photos and hear more details of your adventures in Yellowstone. Remember the report you did in 7th grade about geysers? Little did you know that you would actually see some one day. We saw Adriana the other day and found out that you guys were the talk of Umbertide for several weeks after you made your appearance there with Elena and her friends. We will continue to follow your progress as you head into the great mid-west. Dad will see if he can contact his friends in Iowa City when he is not throwing big rocks around. Forza! Baci e abracci da la Mamma

  7. Awesome...
    I spent a good part of today riding on shitty rocky roads during a hailstorm in the remote mountainous Turkish far-east, hoping that I would hit a town to get anything at all to eat and was thinking that maybe I should have opted to join your expedition! Keep up the amazing work, and thanks for the photos. I have relatives in ND but I suppose you will be going more south from the look of your map. If that changes let me know.
    PS you two must be in amazing shape by now your legs are gonna be like steel posts by the end of the summer

  8. Just came back from a trip to Mt. Lassen and thought of you guys in Yellowstone--stinkin' mud pots and boilers! I'm talking about the landscape, not you two...

    I am so vicariously enjoying your trip through your wonderful writing and pics. Keep it up!!

  9. This post was the best pick me up after 8 hours of cutting up magazines. I love all the photos and i can't believe you found a moose! I love moose... mooses, meece?... moose i think! Let's make a moose shaped pancake when you return.

    Thank you for being my inspiration to hop on my bike, for reminding me to slow down a bit and really see the world and for being infectiously positive, energized and stoked on absolutely everything. I am so happy that the trip has been going so well. Keep writing! I'm thinking of you guys.

  10. Yellowstone is great for coincidences.

    When Karissa was a little girl the summer of 1992, we passed through the park on our way to MN from Arcata. An old high school teacher of mine worked summers as a smoke jumper so I tracked him down and asked if there were any hot springs we could bath in. He told us about a pool right next to Mammoth Hot Springs called the 45th parallel since it's at exactly the halfway point between the North Pole and equator. It was a massive flow of very hot water coming up from under the Mammoth bed dumping into the Yellowstone River, too hot to get into at its source but a large area where it mixed with the very cold river water that was a delightful 100 to 105F. We got there late in the day as the big crowd was thinning, and as the sun set we found ourselves all alone save for one other couple who'd been enjoying it all afternoon. We struck up a conversation with them, and where do you think they were from?


    This world just ain't as big as we think it is.