Last week ended on the hope that we would be lucky enough to find an elusive bear, hiding in the snow. Wait no more, we found one!! Setting off from Darrin and Janets, we headed into the forested area just outside Hinton which had been turned into a winter wonderland over night.
Janet was first to spot a coyote bounding through the snow which was pretty exciting. Then came some white tail deer, more impressive elk and bighorn sheep. Feeling pretty lucky we drove on into the mining area, still hopeful we would find what we had come for.
Driving over the rise, Darrin slowed the truck and just on the side of the road ahead…….. a GRIZZLY BEAR!!!! I was so overwhelmed, and slightly scared, that I screamed in the back! Pulling over we all had the thought that he would see us and make a run for the forest. Instead, he strolled across the road and proceeded to dig in the thick snow looking for mice.
Giant paws made short work of the snow and ground cover until he found what he was looking for, thankfully he wasn’t hungry enough to see us as a couple of appetisers. We sat and watched, in awe, this giant king of the mountains go about his business. Having named my bike after a bear it has been a bucket list thing on this trip to see one, I couldn’t have been happier.
Heading back to town we met most the crew from the night before for a late lunch at the newly opened micro brewery. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snow with a log fire burning, I could get used to this….. If only I didn’t have to ride.
At lunch it was decided we would all meet one last time the following day and Andrei and Andrea’s for lunch. Darrin would load Yogi into the pickup and I would stay the night and leave the following morning when the roads had cleared.
My new hilarious friend Twyla was there so there were loads more laughs and even more eating. It had been a wonderful weekend filled with fun and friends. I felt incredibly privileged to be welcomed into this amazing group of people. Saying goodbye to Darrin and Janet, I felt sad but I know I will see them again, hopefully in the not too distant future. They were absolutely wonderful hosts and it had been a great week.
During our time in Russia, Andrei had lured me to the north when I got to Canada with the promise of a fire and hot-dogs. With the cold damp weather we made do with the inside fire place and cooked a late supper over the flames with a glass of wine and endless stories of travel and places we wanted to go. I once again felt so welcome and at home, how lucky have I been to meet such wonderful people.
Waiting for the temperature to rise ever so slightly, I packed up the following morning. It was time to make as many kms a possible and get to the USA before the weather moved in once more and I became really stuck. Setting off it was cold but the roads were dry and my new gear did it’s job well. I kept up a steady pace and after a long day we managed to cover almost 700km.
The big day meant we only had an hour to ride to the border. Making sure I had all of mine and Yogi’s paperwork in order we set off towards the mountains. The ride fantastic, the autumn colours were on full display and the hour ride took almost two, with many photos stops along the way.
Stopping a few kms before the border at a lookout, we said goodbye to Canada and our new friends, it had been a special time on the trip.
Rolling up to the remote crossing there was not another vehicle in sight. I waited at the stop sign and was motioned forward. The gruff questioning began and I wondered how long this would take. Satisfied I was simply a tourist from Australia, the border guard relaxed his demeanour and told me to park up and come inside to do paperwork. Once inside the small hut another processing guard, similar to those you go through the airport with, started with the same questions. Where am I going, how long will I be here, etc etc.
Satisfied I had no intention of staying, without so much as even a glance at Yogi let alone taking his details we were through! With well wishes for a safe trip, we were now in the USA. Our final border crossing could not have been easier. It was once again a milestone moment for me, we had made it, on our own, from the other side of the world to our final country.
For all of our hard work we were rewarded with a sensational ride. Following a famous motorcycling road which takes you through the amazing Glacier National Park, the afternoon was the perfect welcome into the states.
The ‘Going to the Sun Road’ winds up and down the great continental divide. With views to the glaciers and the changing colours on full display, I was smiling in my helmet.
My original plan for this section of the trip had been to camp but with sub-zero overnight temperatures that wasn’t going to happen. We found a hotel in a small town in Montana and planned our trek to Yogi’s home, Yellowstone National Park.
Breaking the ride into two parts we had another scenic ride alongside Flathead Lake to the small town of Butte where we got super lucky and stayed in a brand new lodge hotel which was heavily discounted to get new customers. A massive Montana steak for dinner and we were ready for the park!
Having named him after the resident bear of Yellowstone National Park, it felt like an achievement to be riding up the entrance after almost 35,000km across the world. Yogi posed in front of the sign, we paid our fee and in we went. Unfortunately our luck for bears had run out, actually there were literally no animals at all, but that might be due to the time of year. It was chilly and thankfully the park wasn’t too busy. I can’t imagine the nightmare of trying to get through this place in peak tourist season.
Stopping to see the famous geysers, which emit steam, boiling water and sulfur gas from the volcano underneath the park, it was certainly something totally new to me. The colours were unbelievable and this is one of the most beautiful places I have seen.
Of course no trip to Yellowstone is complete without a viewing of Old Faithful, a huge geysers that lets out a massive stream of steaming water high into the sky on the hour.
With the temperature once again falling we still had a couple of hours to ride through the park and its neighbouring Teton National Park to reach the lodge for the night. If I didn’t know it was a national park I would have thought it was a track built especially for motorbikes, complete with jaw dropping scenery at every turn. My want to arrive in the daylight was the only thing that stopped me from taking more photos than I already had, and just as the light faded we arrived.
In the middle of nowhere we stayed, amongst bears who apparently had been spotted the night before wandering through the carpark. I didn’t see any but it certainly felt like the kind of place they would be, deep in the woods. I went down stairs the to Red Fox Saloon for dinner and oh my what an experience! Like something straight from a Clint Eastwood movie, the bar/diner was an old west movie set.
I was desperate for some veggies yet looking around and seeing the huge ribs, steaks and burgers I didn’t hold out much hope. My lovely waitress took my ‘any kind of vegetable’ request back to the kitchen and within minutes the chef was at my table! She was more than happy to fill me full of greens and I was spoilt with more veggies than I could eat.
After a good sleep, the sun was out and the sky was bright blue from the cool mountain air. We packed up late, trying to wait for it to warm a little and set out towards southern Wyoming. No more than 10 minutes down the road we were greeted with a wall of fog. Thick, damp air with visibility of no more than 10 meters ahead I reminded myself that we had ridden through worse. I put on the hazards and rode on into the white abyss. The mercury continued to fall and more than hour later the conditions had not improved. If anything they worsened, as snow bounced off my helmet and the air was quite literally freezing.
Having expected a mild day, I had only worn my heated jacket liner and gloves. My legs were absolutely frozen. I checked the sat nav for the next petrol station which turned out to be almost 50km away. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could ride being half frozen. Finally coming down off the ridge the fog cleared and gave way to views I didn’t expect to see until we reached the deserts of Utah.
Not only were the views great, there was also a large pull over area. I am sure that it was intended for tourists to take photos from, but I saw it as a chance to finally get my heated pant liners on. Grabbing them from my bag, I took off my boots and riding pants, no doubt much to the amusement/confusion of passing traffic and slipped on my precious warming garments!
By the time I got everything back on my hands were like ice and it took several minutes sitting on the bike with everything turned on full blast to get some feeling back. I am certainly very pleased with my new gear and so happy to have the luxury of my heated liners in these early season cold snaps.
The afternoon’s ride took us from one small town to the one we are staying in, Rawlins, Wyoming. A 200km stretch of perfect road that was all but completely deserted. Just Yogi and I humming along enjoying the sun, the cool air and the beautiful savannah like surrounds. The colours were pastel and ranged from soft mauve to gold with the low lying shrubs and grasses covering the hills and escarpments keeping me interested for the whole trip. It might have all looked the same for someone rushing through in a car, but as always when you are on a bike you really connect with the environment.
Rawlins is something of a half horse town but it was a good stopping point on our way to Denver Colorado where we will spend the weekend. I had wanted to ride through the Rocky Mountain National park on our way but gale force winds and fires have made that unlikely tomorrow. As usual one changed plan means we see something else which is great.
Next week is all about heading for the Utah desert and it’s many geological wonders. This is a part of the USA I am really looking forward to exploring. So far the scenery has not disappointed so I am sure next week will be no different.
Yogi and I are in good spirits. Feeling a bit road weary but there isn’t far to go and there is still so much left to see.
Love Kylie and Yogi x