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Old 05-05-2004, 11:52 PM   #72
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
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Beartooth Pass, Chief Joseph and an unexpected Gobble...

22nd April

After a great night’s sleep, I get up to a clear crisp and cold day…



…you just know how cold that seat’s going to be, don’t you? :P I ride carefully out of Cooke City, through clear roads, with snow banked 4-5ft high either side, before descending from the 8000ft Colter Pass, heading towards Cody…



The road is called the Beartooth Scenic Byway, named after the Beartooth mountain range, just to the North. I know the Beartooth Pass, which is on my planned route, is closed, and not scheduled to reopen until May. When I reach the junction with the 296, which heads down towards Cody, the signs confirm my expectations…



I decide to ride the 17 miles, then return and continue towards Cody on the 296, also known as the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. The road climbs steeply, with some spectacular views to the South…



Before long (and before 17 miles), the road, which has often had patches of snow on the surface, is completely blocked by snow…



…as well as frozen slicks of ice, from refrozen melt water. I decide that discretion is the better part of valour, and return to the junction. A scenic pull out shows a great view of Clark Fork…



The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is a great road.



I notice a flash of colour in the woods to my left and turn the bike round. I’m challenged by an indignant wild turkey (wild? He’s livid :P).



He fluffs, gobbles and postures at me until I restart the engine and turn the bike round again. It’s probably the only gobble I’ll get from a redheaded bird this whole trip…

Regrettably, the weather is now getting to be far from good, with squally snow showers blowing in from the North East. As I approach the high bridge over the Clarks Fork River Canyon…



…I notice that a squall is covering the exact area I’m headed for. This road was only re-opened 2 days ago (in fact, the Park Rangers at Yellowstone thought it was still closed) – so I need to get over the next range of hills (via Dead Indian Pass, 8048ft) now – in case the snow starts settling. The road is a series of sweeping switchbacks and, in good weather, would surely attract bikers from miles around…



…today, however, it’s just me. The snow is getting heavier as I take the picture from the top of the pass – you can just make out the road, but on a clear day the view would be spectacular…

I descend the other side of the pass into completely different scenery…



...with the re-appearance of the red sandstone I last saw in Utah…



…however, my old friend the snow squall has not given up looking for me :P – time to go…

I join the US120 heading South East, and the road surface improves – I make good time. I refuel in Cody and, finding nothing of interest to delay me there (it’s the home of rodeo, apparently : ), head south towards Thermopolis, where I intend to stop for the night.

I stop for lunch in Meeteese, where I met Everard Jones and his wife Joan, a retired couple who have a daughter who’s a doctor in the army and is due to leave for Iraq shortly. We talk for a while – they’re good people, like so many I’ve met on this trip. Much as I enjoy the scenery and the riding, the people I meet are the high points of any day’s travelling…

I arrive in Thermopolis, which sounds like it should be populated by super-heroes and villains – but turns out to be the biggest mineral hot springs in the world. In case you arrived at the town unaware of this, there’s a reminder…



I check into the Plaza Hotel, which is in the throes of changing from a ‘Quality Inns & Suites’ to a ‘Best Western’. As a result of this, I ‘m offered a suite for the room price – result . I celebrate by having Alaskan King Crab for dinner :eyebrow…

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All text & original photos Mike Oughton 2004 - 2014

MikeO screwed with this post 12-11-2010 at 03:42 PM
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