June 24, 2019

Tour Divide '19: Day 11 - Lima Reservoir to Warm River CG

Daylight broke on a brisk morning. These were the toughest to get moving, knowing it was cold outside while lying in a warm-ish tent. Once again my leg swelling had retreated back to normal from cankle state. A few minutes passed and I relented, poking my head out of the tent. Whoa!! Not a single tree to be seen.
I guess an official 'informal' campground is merely a level open space. Works for me!
Today was a big day, a huge mental checkpoint wasn't far away. Today was the day I'd be leaving Montana and entering Idaho. I had told K before the race how the majority of riders who scratch from the Tour Divide seem to do it before leaving Montana. I also noted that if I made it to Idaho, I was going to finish. Period. It was going to take extraordinary circumstances to make me scratch. I had no Plan B, bailing really wasn't an option at all and never crossed my mind at any point. Although on a few occasions I was looking forward to the end of the journey. However, today I was excited to put Montana in the rearview mirror.
Easy miles to get the legs warmed up.

The PRID drawing salve was only marginally helpful. This morning was proving difficult to settle in which was really unfortunate given the fast terrain. I ended up standing and pedaling far longer than I wanted.
The eastward push continued.

It warmed up a bit into a magnificent day.

Home, home on the range...

There was a small outpost of a community by the Refuge headquarters. For some reason it struck me as a strange place, not sure why.

Clouds beginning to build right where I'm headed.

Upper Red Rock Lake coming into view.

One of the many colorful songbirds found in the Red Rocks Lakes Refuge.

Antelope running free in their playground.
Circling around Upper Red Rock Lake.

Quite a few structures fading to time.

I imagine things haven't changed too much over the years here.

Clouds continue their menacing approach over the Centennial Mountains.

A quick reminder at how close to the Yellowstone area I was.

Look closely, you can see the road kick up on the final approach to Red Rock Pass, the MT/ID state line.

Red Rock Mtm, Red Rock Pass, Red Rock Nat'l Wildlife Refuge, but where's the Red Rock Chica??

Closing in on the Idaho state line. 1000 miles after leaving Banff, the 17 extra miles were from Canmore to Banff.

Very cool sign put up for the race. Gives a good sense of how much mileage was in Montana and how little is in Idaho, only 75 or so compared to 700+.

Red Rock Pass, glad I saw it in daylight. This will earn you punch #10 on the Tour Divide punch card. It's also a bit of a geographic anomaly since Idaho is for the most part west of Montana, but we cross into Idaho heading east.

Stoked to have made it through Montana, snack time!!
I was leaning against the sign eating a sandwich, downing a Red Bull and swatting mosquitoes when the rain began to pick up. Drat. It wasn't quite enough to put on my rain gear, so I finished eating and packed up to get off the pass. As I was getting set to leave, another rider came up. It was Justin!! I was surprised to see him and couldn't quite figure out how I got ahead of him since he left the High Country Lodge the afternoon before I did. Come to find out, it was his tent, not Hal's, that I saw the previous evening near the west side of the Lima Reservoir. I snapped some pics for him at the sign and we dropped off the pass on our way towards Island Park or Mack's Inn or Sawtelle, whatever it's called. It's a bit confusing to me as all three seem to refer to the same area.
It was a rapid descent off the pass and down towards Henrys Lake.

Justin has plenty of gravel experience coming from Iowa. It was tough keeping up with him. Centennial Mtns. in the background.

Back in the forest, we ended up on some cool wide singletrack after this bit.

Trailside retention basin.

Large cheeseburgers were calling our names. We arrived at the saloon just as the weather started getting nasty.
It was a nice break. Electronics were getting topped off and I began taking inventory of my food for the next stretch. I had ordered an Arnold Palmer to drink, but the bartender suggested I try a Mountain Dew and iced tea combo. I was a bit skeptic at first, but I'll be darn, if that wasn't tasty.

I had asked Justin if he had called in to MTBCast yet, he hadn't. Said he didn't have anything to say. I said, 'tell them anything, how great it is, how crappy it is, whatever.' People following along love to hear anything LIVE from the trail, while you're in the moment. It's the best way to capture the raw emotion while doing these rides.

MTBCast: http://mtbcast.com/site2/2019/06/24/mtbcast-tour-divide-19-day-11-afternoon-calls/

We restocked at the gas station and found another rider who was calling it quits. She had her knees all covered in KT tape, such a bummer. 

I knew that once we left Island Park we had one hurdle to clear while in Idaho. It's really the only thing Idaho is known for on the route. The Idaho rail trail. A recreational path converted from an old railroad line. Mention it to fellow Divide riders and most will scowl. Why? It's 31 miles long, open to ATV and motorized traffic, it's ever so slightly downhill, but it's covered in deep fine gravel that tends to be washboarded. Sounds like fun, huh? When you complete it, get out your Tour Divide punch card and hit #11, you earned it.
The rain held off as we left town.

Here it is, Idaho rail trail. I was telling myself, 'just get through it'.

Right off the bat we were having a difficult time finding a good line through the gravel.

By far, an early highlight.

Before we knew it, the gravel became so deep and washboarded, we were pushing. This lasted about 1/2 mile.

This was one of the better sections.
The rain picked up and the rain gear came out. Justin slowly pulled ahead of me and I began to struggle. I couldn't sit down much at all since leaving Island Park, the washboard nature of the rail trail meant I was standing and pedaling almost the entire way. It was exhausting. I tried stuffing some calories down, but it didn't really do much. We weren't even halfway through. I was desperately trying to keep the negative thoughts at bay...then the mosquitoes came. Ugh.

Each time we came to a clearing, the wind intensity picked up significantly.

Back to more thick stuff.

This sums up my feelings after 15+ miles.
Justin had stopped and I caught up. It was good timing as it was nice to commiserate with someone else. He seemed to be fairing a bit better. The good news? I was able to keep a decent pace going while riding, it just took a lot of effort, but we were riding and not pushing.

I happened to look left as we came to this clearing...whoa!! Our first glimpse of the Grand Tetons!!
Both Justin and I noted how much snow was on the peaks. We knew the route headed that way and two high passes, Togwotee & Union, loomed on the other side. Would we encounter hike-a-bike through the snow? Early reports came back that Togwotee was clear, but Union still had some patches of snow.

We also knew the route south of here had received historical amounts of snow this past winter. A freak snow storm rolled through the Steamboat Springs area on the summer solstice and dropped 20" of fresh snow!! The race leaders got caught in it, some made it over the Watershed Divide, the pass separating Brush Mountain Lodge and Steamboat Springs, others didn't. They got caught in wheel stopping death mud and had to wait for two days before continuing. My buddy, Chris, was one of the four that made it over the pass. I was stoked to hear that news and hoped he would be in position to win the whole thing.

Finally, after 20 miles the washboard and gravel relented. There were a few rollover, arc'd cattle guards. We love those here in Arizona as they often replace gates. I think it was the third one, but as I came up on it at speed, I noticed a couple of the horizontal grates were missing!! Yikes!! I narrowly missed casing my wheel or worse. That sure grabbed my attention.

The trail seemed to rise over the Warm River down in the valley. The final 10+ miles of the rail trail were a treat, not quite good enough to erase the earlier memories, but it was a nice finish.

Scenic overlook of the Warm River.

Abandoned railroad tunnel.

Well, that explains it. Arizona has a large portion of the Great Western Trail and the running joke here is, it's Western. Same goes for Idaho apparently.

Re-route around the tunnel.

Fantastic view of the Warm River.

Tunnel history. #pewpew

The final miles morphed into 2-track and the hikers began to appear.

End of the line!! Rail trail in the books!! Yes!!

Trackleaders superfan: Ric!! He offered up some cold beers & poptarts. Too bad the mosquitoes wouldn't leave us alone.

We opted to call it a night here.
We both considered pushing on a bit farther, but I was beat after the effort on the rail trail and we had a nice place to crash out. The mosquitoes were obnoxiously relentless being next to the river, but we weren't planning to hang out. Once again, my legs had swelled during the latter half of the day. They weren't bothering me, just looked freaky. Sleep was calling and soon after darkness fell, I was out.

Stats: 89.09 miles & 1,743' gained.

Full photo album for day 11.

Here is a full Tour Divide Index from each day on the route.

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