Ranger Kathryn's Arches

August 16, 2011

A Day in the Gravelly Range

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:37 pm
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Steam escapes distant fumaroles as we pedal toward Old Faithful.

Never been on a nice bike tour? I hadn’t, either. But I will again. Here’s a glimpse of a day on a Western Spirit Cycling tour. (Keep in mind that this somewhat easier trip was rated for those “fit but new to biking.” Many other difficulty levels are available.)

We started in the Gravelly Range of Montana and pedaled our way southward, pushing, pushing, destination Old Faithful. Bird songs and coffee smells awakened us at every wilderness campsite. Within the hour a multi-course breakfast magically appeared, different every day, and we gladly fueled our bodies for the miles of pedaling ahead. Another hour and we had our tents down and packed, and soon our bikes carried us away. A few hours of hard work through breathtaking scenery — while carrying bear spray just in case — earned us lunch.

Andy's iPad played "Here Comes the Sun" at just the right moment each morning. Yes, it's cold...

Every day the noon meal (make-your-own deli sandwich bar) was a welcome break from pedaling; only a few more hours’ exertion got us to the afternoon’s campsite where assorted beverages quenched our thirst. I would then earnestly tend to my self-appointed task of collecting a large quantity of dry firewood. Evening fires were what I/we always looked forward to, and good wood fueled our lively conversation times.

The only other woman and I daily relished the experience of a couple of solicitous men looking after every detail of our comfort. They made morning coffee or tea before we were up. They assembled afternoon appetizers while we rested our legs. They chopped and diced veggies while we told stories over our beer or sparkling water. They washed dishes while we ate chocolates or dessert. Heck, I had Suzi pinch me once to see if I was dreaming, but the attentive/witty/accommodating men were reality. Somehow we never grew tired of watching “Guide TV.”

Chef Ed's blueberry buttermilk pancakes

When the light began waning, we took to our tents; often rainclouds chased us into bed. Life takes on a different rhythm when it is dictated by nature’s whims instead of by a clock. A couple of mornings we woke with ice on our tents and tablecloths. My ten-degree sleeping bag was just right for the high elevations and brisk temps. I relished not coming indoors for five days, avoiding a shower for 107 hours. If you’re grossed out by that, we may need to re-evaluate our friendship…

Would I recommend such an adventure? HIGHLY. Anything that moves you out of your comfort zone will stretch you in a good way. You say you are not daring, not a risk-taker, and like your familiar surroundings? All the more reason to step toward something completely different! I am glad, very very glad, that I tried something I’ve never done before. Maybe it will be a jumping-off point for future bike adventures for me.


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