Day 23: Lava Mtn Lodge – Green River Valley

Miles: 59

Climbing: 3911 ft

Wildlife spotted: 1 badger, 1 fox, 1 Elk

Waking up today I had two thoughts: 1) thank god I stopped when I did last night , and 2) I am NOT feeling “back in the swing of things”……

I stalled at Lava Mountain Lodge until about 10, putting off starting (and, by extension, the big climb up Union Pass I had to make for the day). I eventually got moving. Like yesterday, the day started with just a few miles of flat/downhill, then a long/tough climb. While today’s climb didn’t include scary “bears on road” messaging, it was on gravel and steeper than yesterday’s. It did reveal some more of Wyoming’s beauty, though….

The climb came in two parts, though the first was much tougher. I stopped in the middle for lunch at one of the many lodges in the area. Similarly to where I stayed last night, this one had a restaurant, cabins, ATV rentals (or snowmobiles in the winter), and lodge rooms. Feeling like I needed the fuel, I ordered a big chicken tender sandwich…..it was delicious, but I’m not really used to having big greasy meals mid-day, and it didn’t sit well on my stomach for the FORTY MILES I still had to ride. Lesson learned, I guess.

I dragged my full queasy sluggish self up the remaining 1000 ft of Union Pass. As usually happens in these moments, I promptly forgot all discomfort, grumpiness, and misery of the climb, as the summit was BEAUTIFUL.

Wyoming, on days 1-2 has already exceeded my expectations.

The only downside of the pass (get it? DOWNside? Lololol), was that instead of a nice satisfying fast descent, like yesterday, the summit of Union Pass was followed by about 25 miles of rolling hills….no break for the legs today.

My legs were feeling super tired when I finally made the very rocky descent into the Green River Valley. The rocky terrain was enough to loosen up the rack on my fork, which fell right off! Luckily I have plenty of spare bolts and was able to pop it back on easily.

Arriving in the valley, I began looking for Whiskey Grove campground, where I had planned on staying. When I finally made it, it was full ☹️. Luckily only about half a mile earlier I had passed a field where a couple of campers were set up, so I doubled back to wild camp for the first time on my trip. (I get creeped out by the thought of camping completely alone, I’d rather there be someone nearby?)

I was feeling worn out, the road surface was awful, and there was a strong headwind as I went back in the direction I came, so I was feeling pretty grumpy when I arrived in the field. However, once I got my tent set up, it ended up being a really nice spot–right on the Green River, with beautiful sunset views. It turns out I like wild camping!

Because there were no trees around, I went and hung my bear bag off a nearby bridge. Tonight is my last night in Grizzly territory! I could get rid of my bear spray, but I figure I’ll hang onto it, and rename it “creep spray”.

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