I was definately still in the wilderness when I set off this morning – I had to stop twice during the first 20 minutes or so to wait for bison to cross the road. Beleive it or not, they are the most lethal of all Yellowstone’s creatures, especially when protecting their young – so I was sure to give them a wide berth.
The first part of today’s ride took me past two awsome lakes, the giant ‘Hebgen Lake’ and the smaller ‘Quake Lake’ formed by an earthquake in the late 1950s which caused an 80 million ton landslide daming the Madison River, and killing 28 campers. It looked like rain right from the outset this morning, and before long I was being hammered. It was a shame because the landscape I was cycling through this morning was awesome, and I think on a nicer day it could have been one of the most picturesque days yet. The rain was cold, and as it seeped into my gloves and socks, it formed icy pockets that made for an uncomforatable ride! I was going downhill for most of the day, and had a slight tailwind, which meant that I made quick progress. I must have looked quite a sorry figure through, as I had a guy in a truck pull up alongside me at one point and ask if I wanted a lift in to town – I declined, I think I’d rather die than cheat at this stage! A warm shower has never felt more welcome at the end of the day though, and I spent the rest of the afternoon in the warm watching the storm outside.
By this afternoon, the weather had passed and I went out to expole the town. The countryside is truly spectacular here, with mountains rising on all sides, lining a fertile valley – this kind of landscape seems to be wasted on the Americans though. In England there would be trails and walkers everywhere, but here the goal seems to be to keep yourself hermetically sealed from the elements. Even those on ‘outdoors advneture’ holidays confine themseles to RVs, only getting out to plug in the water and gas lines at the end of the day.
The name Montana is derived from the Spanish for ‘mountian’, and the state definately lives up to it’s name – while I’ve been able to appreceate the mountains from the valleys so far, I’m climbing again tomorrow and have two mountain passes to contend with.