After a month of heatwave the rain, then heavy snow, that met us as we cycled up the Togwotee Pass were a bit of a shock. We had woken that morning to find our lakeside camp awash,
and our tent groundsheet under an inch of liquid mud.
We wrung our tent into its bag and wearing full waterproofs set of for the pass. By the time we were half way up we were drenched through and frozen. The snow was getting thicker but not settling on the road yet.
We were wondering if this would be a classic rain shadow example and we would get to the otherside in sunshine, but the sight of a warm, dry lodge changed our plans and we stayed there for the night. Probably a mistake as more snow had settled overnight.
We were right about the different weather on the other side, it wasn’t snowing there it was just icy rain so we had to limit our descent speed to 30 mph to avoid wind chill. The following day was heatwave again! We stayed at the tiny town of Dubois at the bottom of the pass. As in most small towns around here they had an antler workshop, as all deer lose their antlers each year.
We had been going to turn back on to the Great Divide Off-road route once over the pass as my hand was feeling a bit better, but for once common sense prevailed as that route carried on up back into the snow. Looking back we could see the route that we would have been taking was white.
Once over the pass the land changed dramatically. Gone were the mountainous forested slopes. In Wyoming the land was a crinkled flat with massive rocky outcrops punched up through it.
You can see the millennia of rock layers in these outcrops as beautiful coloured strips. There are no trees, and the only vegetation is long, dried, golden grass and sage scrub which you can see for hundreds of miles.
We had a big day after leaving Dubois as we were passing an Indian Reservation where we were not allowed to camp, so we had to make 80 miles. The final 20 miles were against a strong head wind but we finally made it, chased into the campsite by black rain clouds. The next day was very hot again
and we had to climb over the Beaver Divide to Sweetwater. Here we found the campsite was in the Mormon missionary centre called The Mormon Hand Cart Centre of the 6th Crossing. They were very kind to us. I have to say that having been to a Catholic boarding school I am immune to missionaries, but the film about the early Mormons pulling their hand carts across frozen terrain for thousands of miles was fascinating. Walking along their river trail we saw mule deer, herons, hawks and beaver lodges (but not the beavers unfortunately).
We thought we were going to have an easy day after leaving the Mormon camp, but we reached our proposed camp at Muddy Gap very early, and the second proposed camp was shut
so this left us no alternative but to cycle the 90 miles to Rawlins, which also meant crossing two Continental Divides.
We are cycling from Canada to New Mexico to raise money for the humanitarian charity ShelterBox. Since ShelterBox was founded it has responded to 270 disasters and humanitarian crises in 90 countries. They provide emergency shelter and vital supplies to support communities who are overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis around the world. An example of this is the refugee crisis currently unfolding in Europe. If you would like to donate to ShelterBox click on the Donate Now button at the side of this blog, or on the Shelter Box Charity tab along the top bar. This will take you to the Just Giving Site so the money goes directly to ShelterBox. Thank you.