Day 22: Sula to Jackson, MT - 51.1 miles: CONTINTENTAL DIVIDE!!!

Montana does not disappoint for amazing biking. We started from our cabins early and it was very cold. We got an earlier start today than we have been the last few days. It was dark when we went out for breakfast and just light as we started out on an 8.0 mile climb to the continental divide at just over 7200 feet. The climb itself wasn’t too hard, but the fact that it was early and cold and we had no time to warm up made it challenging. However, it felt great to get to the marker!

The descent was (again) so very cold. I had more layers to put on and it was not raining or I might have taken the same approach to this descent as I did from Lolo Pass a few days ago. However, I decided to suck it up and go down. But I did suffer for the rest of the day. Once my hands and feet get cold, it is like a switch goes off inside and they don’t warm up. Based on what I know of CRPS, I think it is more that the nerves keep sending the “I’m freezing” signal even after they should stop doing so. There is simply no convincing them that in fact it isn’t so cold anymore.

After the amazing climb and freezing descent, the terrain opened up and we were in amazing wide open spaces, with split rail fencing for miles and miles along the road and river. Again, my eyes were peeled for wildlife, but to no avail. I was so disappointed. Then, shortly after the first SAG stop at 23 miles out, there were antelope! And the first couple were just that - I continued to see them periodically throughout the rest of the ride. How great that was! The first couple were young and they seemed to be playing together. Then there were three that seemed older and more interested in the couple of us that stopped to take pictures. Then there were more who were playing with the cows in a pasture along the route. So many antelope! Finally, an animal I hadn’t seen before and that we don’t have at home!

As we turned to head towards Jackson, the road was fairly straight and flat and we were encircled by mountains. No matter where I looked there was a group of mountains. And we really say why Montana is the Big Sky state. All the pictures I took today show the huge expanse of blue sky and clouds. Simply amazing.

The hotel we were supposed to be at in Jackson changed ownership and is closed, so we headed in a variety of configurations to Dillon for the night. That means we will be here for two nights before we head out on Saturday for our final two days of the trip to West Yellowstone. No more rustic cabins. We are in a Best Western here. While the amenities are “nicer” I do miss the quiet of the woods and the excitement of the possibility of bears. Here my room is next to the hotel laundry, so there are huge plastic carts of dirty and clean linen going in and out, with workers yelling to each other in English and Spanish. The rooms are considered too nice to have our bikes in, so they are all locked up in a room by themselves. Amenities come with a price.

I cannot believe that we have just a couple more riding days.