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Breathtaking scenery and a tin roof for rain

Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at www.salisburypost.com, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at blog.salisburypost.com/gottarun

I got up early and went out to climb the Togwotee Pass, at an elevation of 9,658 feet, and I did it with four hours of climbing. Thankfully, it was a cool morning. The climb was 18.5 miles. I didn’t get that much coasting on the down side, but that is OK. I will get more later.

After that event, I headed for Dubois, Wyo. It is a small town with lots going on. I counted six motels for a town of less than 1,000 residents. Evidently it is also the jackalope capital of the world. I am going to have to do some research and get back to you on exactly what a jackalope is.

Immediately after filling up on groceries, a little air in a tire, and my water bottles, I headed out to get some miles done.

After the last couple of days in the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, I wasn’t expecting too much in scenery. But what I saw this afternoon on the Wind River Indian Reservation were the most amazing sights I have seen in my life. Suddenly out of nowhere came painted hills, both spectacular and unending. I rode along against a headwind totally amazed at what I saw. As the sun and clouds passed over, the colors seemed to change before my eyes. Check out the pictures. The most amazing thing, almost nobody was there. Very little traffic of any kind, and very few campers and RVs on the roads. I also had plenty of room to ride, with almost a full lane for bikes. This afternoon totally surpassed the more famous national parks. I didn’t see anybody wanting to sell something for two to three times its value, either.

It was a fun evening for riding, and I thought of trying to make the next town of Fort Washakie. I stopped at the Crowheart Store on the reservation, and Laura Arnold set me up with a good place to camp. Storms are all around, but I will be sleeping underneath a roof at the fire department. Laura gave me some tips on distance, roads, and other places to stay later on. All of this while she dealt with a gas pump problem. I left the store with plenty to eat.

After 79 miles today, I am now setting up camp in the fire department overhang. As I mentioned before, you can see forever in Montana. The same holds true in Wyoming. Storms seem to be everywhere, and thunder is starting to rumble. That is fine with me. I love sleeping under a tin roof. I am headed for Lander, Wyo., and beyond tomorrow. Plus, I have a package to pick up at the Fort Washakie post office. This was a good day!

Much of the west was still unsettled when the first cyclists ventured into Yellowstone. The trip was made in 1883 by William Owen, Charley Greenbaum and Kirby Sinclair. They were members of the Laramie, Wyo., Bicycle Club. The three rode bikes with the large front wheels and a single gear. The bikes were “Columbia” bikes. Indians were amazed by the bikes, as the Nez Perce were still four years before their flight to Canada.

The Wind River Reservation encompasses 2 million acres. The Shoshoni were longtime allies of the whites, while other tribes wanted to exterminate the white men who were taking their lands. The government convinced the Shoshoni to move onto the current reservation in 1868. Later, the government reneged on the original agreement and moved the Arapahoe tribe onto the reservation also. The two tribes were bitter enemies at the time, but they still remain on the reservation till this day.

Freelance writer David Freeze lives in Rowan County.

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