Greetings from the Pahaska Teepee lodge, the last place to grab a room and a meal before you get to Wyoming’s eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. After a nine hour drive from Boulder, Colorado, it feels good to stretch my legs out on my cabin’s queen-sized bed. And even better to wash down a respectable buffalo meat quesadilla from the lodge’s grill with the Moose Drool Brown Ale I picked on my way through Cody, about 50 miles to the east.
Moose Drool and a buffalo quesadilla – not a bad way to launch three weeks of backpacking, hiking, cycling and mountain biking in Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. Week One of the trip starts officially in Yellowstone with three days of solo backpacking, followed by another three of day hikes and driving in and around the park. Then a southern exit from Yellowstone, with a quick peek at the Grand Tetons, before heading back to Boulder for five days of road riding and mountain biking. Then it’s out west – again – to Grand Junction and Fruita, Colorado for a taste of the epic mountain biking there.
That’s the plan, anyway. No doubt my itinerary will change with the weather, advice from locals I run into and for all I know, perhaps a bear or two.
In between all of this cardiovascular obsessiveness, I also plan to make room for the three B’s in my life: Breweries, bike shops and bakeries. After all, what’s the point of suffering with a bike or a backpack if you don’t reward yourself now and again? And again, and again and again?
For the most part I will be traveling solo, save for Week Two when a biking buddy will join me in Boulder for our Two Man Boulder Bike Fest.
But while I will be mostly on my own, I will have my Mighty Steed – aka, the Tuxedo, as my daughter calls it – with me at every turn: a jet-black 2011 Ford Explorer. If there is a better vehicle for eating up hundreds of miles of western highway in comfort, hauling too much gear for too many contingencies and going anywhere I want at a moment’s notice in any road conditions (while looking darn good, I might add) I don’t know what it is.
Ah – my Moose Drool is empty. Guess that means it’s time to hit the pillow in preparation for a 5:00 a.m. wakeup call. And whatever Yellowstone in the fall can offer.
Rob Lamme is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in Backpacker, Sky and other publications. This fall, Rob is trying to cram as much backpacking, hiking, cycling and mountain biking as possible into a three week trip through Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Look for periodic updates about his adventures on thefordstory.com over the next few weeks.