Starting Location: Saratoga, WY
Ending Location: Centennial, WY
Lowest Elevation: 6785
Highest Elevation: 10850
Today I would be diverting off of the Transamerica Trail to visit a friend who has a cabin in Centennial, WY. In order to get there I had to cross the Snowy Range, so I decided I would get an early start since I assumed the 4,000 foot climb would take me a while. Christopher got up early with me and helped me get all my stuff outside and ready to go. We then went to the kitchen to make some breakfast. Karim came out to talk with us for a while, and eventually Kristen and Dylan woke up right as I was getting ready to head out. All of the rest of them, including the French guys, would be heading for Rawlins today.
I said my goodbyes to everyone, went outside and let Karim take a picture of me and my bike in the morning before departing. What an awesome stay I had here in Saratoga.
I rode down highway 130 for about 8 miles before I took the turn to go through the Snowy Range (which was still highway 130). SHortly after making the turn, I rode past an antelope right on the side of the road. I stopped near him and we stared eachother down for a while. I kind of assumed that he would run away quickly, but he just stood there not threatened by me. I decided to get ou tmy big lens, and I got a lot of cool shots of him!
After the antelope encounter I had a nice short downhill ride taking my toward the pass, and it was beautiful! I was riding towards the trees, I like that! I rode through a nice foresty section before my left hand side turned into really cool rock formations on the side of a mountain. Shortly thereafter, it opened up to a big beautiful open area surrounded by mountains and hills of trees everywhere! I continued on the road and rode by some cows at a ranch. As I was riding by them slowly, they all started to gather together and run along with me. I'm not sure if they were following me for the music, or they thought that I was herding them, or what. I thought it was really funny so I decided I would stop to take a picture, then they all ran up to me at the fence to pose for it!
After the big open area it would be a climb until I got to the top of the pass. The climb wasn't actually too bad since it was really gradual. It was a much easier 4,000 feet of climbing than I had expected, but maybe that's just because I was enjoying it so much!
Getting higher up the pass I started to see snow, then more snow, then it was EVERYWHERE! The snow made for such a beautiful ride! I rode along a creek for quite a while before coming up to some huge open areas of snow. Continuing on, I started to get some views off to my right side where I started seeing some frozen over lakes. One cyclist passed me while I was taking a break for a snack, but he didn't have any gear on his bike, just water bottles and a tool pouch!
I got to the top(ish) of the Snowy Range and it opened up to some nice far views. I continued down the hill passing by some more really cool snow areas. I came around a corner and was punched in the face with the beauty of the mountains at Medicine Bow Peak. I had to stop my bike and enjoy the incredible view for a while, not knowing that I would be getting really up close to the mountains shortly.
At the bottom of the mountains there were some more lakes, mostly frozen over. Lake Marie and Mirror Lake. Riding by Lake Marie was absolutely incredible. I must have been moving at 1 mph, I was going way to slow because I was focused on the amazing view I was cycling past. I decided that I would take a lunch break at Mirror Lake. I had to hike a few steps in the snow to get to a dry patch under some trees where I sat on a rock and enjoyed the view while eating lunch.
Continuing past Mirror Lake, I had to do some more climbing to get to the very top of the pass. On my way up, I saw some people sledding down an area of the mountain and playing with their dog in the snow. It looked like so much fun to play in the snow in the summer! I made it up to the top where I had the most incredible view of Medicine Bow Peak. I stopped at a few different viewpoints to take pictures and enjoy the view before I would head down the other side of the mountains (I ended up losing most of these pictures).
After enjoying the views at the top, then looking over Libby Flats which I would soon be riding down, I headed back to the road to continue. Only a few seconds on the bike and I noticed a fellow cyclist makine his way up the side of the mountain that I was about to descend. The first thing he said was "Please tell me that's downhill right there!" He was happy to hear that he had made it to the top. We introduced each other and talked about our tours for a bit. Matt Lawrence is touring from Prince Edward Island in Canada all the way to San Diego, where he is going to be attending the comicon! He was a very friendly and bubbly guy. We took a quick selfie together and were on our ways! Check out his blog at www.coasttocoastforcomics.com
After talking with Matt I began my descent. I passed by a few really cool lakes. These ones weren't frozen, though they were surrounded by snow! Shortly thereafter I came up to a sign that said "Steep grade next 10 miles" and from thereon I knew I wouldn't be stopping anytime soon. I cruised down the mountain so quickly! It was kind of fun to feel the temerature gradually increase as I got lower and lower.
When I rode into the small town of Centennial it was about 2:00 and I figured I was probably a bit early since my friend Sam was on his way back from visiting family in Wisconsin. I decided that I would go to the bar to kill some time and try to reach out to Sam. Unfortunately we had been communicating through facebook messenger and didn't really have things planned out so well. I also had terrible service in Centennial, I was lucky to get one bar which would disappear quickly every time.
After a slow drink at the bar I decided that I would go to the small convenience store and then try to find Sam's place so I could at least wait there and start writing out some blogs in the meantime. I looked at the address that he gave me and found out that his street was back up the hill a little ways. Going up hills after drinking a beer is always so much harder - or maybe it was the fact that I had already climbed over 4,000 feet today. I got up to rainbow valley lodge road and turned onto it and followed the gravel road to where google maps led me even though Sam had warned me that google maps doesn't take you to the right place.
I ended up going down a private road that only had 3 houses, none of which were his cabin. I tried knocking on the doors of the houses to see if someone could point me in the right direction, but had no luck. I decided to go a bit further down the gravel road, which went up and down a couple of hills - no fun on a touring bike with the gravel road. The numbers for the houses kept counting up way past 10, which is his address. So I decided to turn back and head towards the highway. I got closer to the highway and road up to someone who was working outside their house. I asked him if he knew where 10 Rainbow Valley Road was, and he sent me back to where I had just came from, but said I needed to go a little further and cross a bridge and it was probably back there. So I went all the way back up and down the hills and back to where I was before. I continued over the bridge to a private road area and realized that it was not the right spot either.
I crossed back over the bridge and came up to someones cabin to ask them if they had any idea where the cabin was. He said that he was cabin 75 and the lower numbers are closer to the highway, and there was a spot up there that I didnt check so I should go there. At this point I was getting incredibly discouraged about eveything. I started to regret going off the course of the TransAm because it was starting to feel like there was no hope. I started getting myself ready for the idea that I might have to continue all the way to Laramie for the day, another 27 miles.
I went closer to the highway and found some of the lower numbers, though they stopped at 4. This is when I accepted that I would have to give up on the idea of staying at the cabin. I had just spent more than an hour searching for a non-existent cabin. There was a lady outside one of the houses I was by at this time so I decided I would make one last ditch effort to see if she might know where it was. Unfortunately she did not know either, however she told me about a family that has a little room seperated from the house that they sometimes use for Airbnb. She also said that if that didn't work, then I could come back and stay the night in their RV as long as I didn't have any weapons. She didn't want me riding all the way to Laramie after a day of crossing the high pass. I headed over to the house to see if Lisa and John were home.
When I got to the house Lisa and John weren't home, but I was greeted by their daughter Anna. I told her that I was sent by one of the neighbors closer to the highway that said they might have a place for me to stay for the night. She was really happy to help me and showed me to the cottage that they let travelers stay in. Turns out, they were actually the only WarmShowers host in Centennial! I didn't think about reaching out to the Centennial host because I figured I would be staying at Sam's cabin. I finally felt like the day wasn't going to end terribly.
When I got all my stuff put into the cottage, I went into the house and Anna kindly showed me where the bathroom was where I could take a shower. They had such a beautiful log home, and Anna told me that her father built it a little before she was born. I took my much needed shower then grabbed my laptop from the cottage and came inside to talk with Anna and start writing out my blogs, and tried to reach out to Sam again though I wasn't counting on it anymore at this point.
I had a good time getting to know Anna. We talked as she did some homework for an online class and I uploaded pictures from the past few days. I found out that she skiis professionally which I thought was super cool! She has been skiing since she was two years old, so I'm sure that helps. In the midst of our conversations I managed to irrecoverably delete all of the pictures from today's ride over the beautiful Snowy Range - though luckily I got a portion of them back the next day with a recovery software.
After a while I received a call from Sam over facebook messenger. He had just gotten a new phone the next day and just installed facebook messenger on the drive back from Wisconsin. He said that he would be back in about an hour and a half and explained how to get to his cabin and that I could just let myself in and wait for them to get back. I decided to hang around with Anna for a bit longer to kill some more time, then got all of my stuff ready to go. Anna generously offered to drive me to Sam's cabin so I wouldn't have to go all the way down the gravel road again, so I threw my bike and bags into the truck and we headed for the cabin. I was pretty sad to see how close I actually was when we got to the cabin. Sam's cabin was about 100 yards away from number 75, the guy who sent me back to the highway.
Anna helped me get all of my stuff in the cabin and said that I was welcome to come back to the cottage if I didn't have a comfortable spot in the cabin. I gave her a hug thanked her for everything she selflessly did for me. If it weren't for her I probably would have been on the road to Laramie - or I guess in an RV for the night!
I gave myself a quick tour of the cabin, but this point I was incredibly physically and mentally exhausted from the trials of the day so I layed down on a couch and waited for Sam to return. I woke up with his roommate Jim got home, though I was half asleep at first and probably not making much sense. He was super friendly and welcoming to me and said that Sam should be home soon. Just a few minutes later Sam and his girlfriend Taylor arrived and we all started talking and catching up since I haven't seen Sam since studying abroad in Costa Rica almost two years ago.
After some talking Sam started to cook up the dinner that Jim brought home for us all while Jim packed for a trip to Jackson. We had and AWESOME dinner. Salmon, brussel sprouts, rice, couscous, and some wine. It was a perfect meal to end the day. I did the dishes since I didn't have any part in making the food, then we all listened to music and hung out for a while longer before going to bed for the night.