Day 18: Falls Campground to Boulder (101 miles)
Logistics necessitated a longer day today. Because of limited paved road access along our biking route, Anna was going to backtrack over Togwotee Pass and drive via Jackson to Pinedale. That three to four hour drive was the upper limit of what Anna hoped to drive in a day. (Most days, she was able to drive from one campsite to the next in 1.5 hours.) Dave and I decided that we’d just start early and pull a long day to Pinedale (around 100 miles, according to our map).
The night before the ride, we made our coffee (and stored it in a thermos), hardboiled eggs (unsuccessfully as it turned out—despite allowing extra time for elevation’s effects on boiling temperatures, the eggs still turned out half-boiled), and set aside breakfast cereal; the morning of the ride, we had a quick breakfast, packed everything except David and Anna’s tent in the car, and set off for a chilly descent along the highway.
Seven miles down the highway, we turned south onto forest road 532 and began a gradual ascent to 9,000-some feet.
After crossing Warm Spring Creek, we reached a primitive national forest campground.
Here, the official GDMBR route continued east on 532, but we decided to follow another track (which we had downloaded in advance) that took us south from the campsite on an ATV track up to Fish Lake Mountain; while the rougher track required some walking at one steep climb, the route we followed shave some 8-9 miles off the official route; at the summit we enjoyed stunning views of snow-capped mountains to the east and west.
We figured that the official GDMBR route went to Union Pass both because of better road quality (with more gradual ascents) and additional lodging and food options; still—not really needing those services and comfortable walking our bikes for short sections—we were happy with our choice of detour, thoroughly enjoying several open, rolling miles above 9000 feet, before rejoining the route southwest of Union Pass.
Here, we rode along a good quality dirt road through open highlands. Along the way, we passed a number of beautiful primitive campsites—any of which would have been wonderful places to camp.
We reached a final high point after Raspberry Creek, and began a long, gradual descent toward the Green River. Progressively, the road quality became bumpier and bumpier, and Dave and I each rocked water bottles loose along the way. (While we had used compression straps to secure our water bottles below our frame bags, we’d recommend straps on water bottles wherever they are—we dropped water bottles from our forks several times over the course of the trip.)
Upon reaching the Green River, we continued along the river valley on a severely washboarded road for a number of miles, before joining a paved road (352). Here, 56 miles into our ride, we still had 32-33 miles to Pinedale, but given that the majority of the remainder was paved—and a net downhill—we figured we’d make good time.
We made an initial climb out of the valley away from the Green River, but after that short climb a stiff tail wind helped us along and we arrived in Pinedale in no time. (Pinedale has a great gear store.) Noting that the wind was still behind us (and loathe to waste that good tail wind) we decided to tack on an additional 12 miles to the day to Boulder (a much smaller town than Pinedale, but with better camping options). Soon we arrived in Boulder with daylight to spare.