Wednesday, June 20th
We awoke the next morning with mild sunburns. Since we had applied SPF-30 sunscreen liberally, and multiple times, I could only conclude that the sunscreen (Waterbabies brand) was defective.
We ate at the restaurant associated with the motel, then bought a different brand of sunscreen, which we again applied liberally. We didn't have similar problems the rest of the trip.
We began pedaling at 10:50 AM.
The Gables Motel, where we stayed the night in Jackson, Wyoming
Very soon we were past the town, and encountered the bicycle path we had seen on the way up. It seemed fine at first, so we were lured into its trap. Malcolm: This path was not designed by someone who would actually ride a bicycle there, it was made with the visual appeal, of a spectator, in mind.
Looking South Along the Bicycle Path (from Hell) Near Jackson - It Looks Fine at the Start, But woe unto those who enter therein.....
The bicycle paths we've seen before were really good, but this one was different. It may be fine if you are trying to show off your athletic prowess, but for fully loaded bicycles on a long trip, it was very bad. The main problem was that it abandoned the nice, gentle grade of the highway, and then went up and down every hillock it could find - often very steeply. Malcolm had to get off and push in two places. And I won't even bother to describe the confusing (and dangerous) side-road crossings.
At one point, it looked like the bike path would bypass the hill the highway was slowly climbing to the east of us, because the bike path veered to the right, away from the hill. But a short distance later, the bike path turned sharply to the left, and went directly up that hill (very steeply) to rejoin the highway! We cheered when the bike path finally ended!
If I ever bicycle that way again, I will avoid that bike path. Note that the highway has a wide shoulder, and (more importantly) gentle grades.
The bike path was so strenuous that I again ended up with a sore right knee, and we had to go slower the entire day to avoid hurting it more.
When we rejoined the highway, the going got a lot easier, and we continued our journey south to Hoback Junction uneventfully.
Heading South Toward Hoback Junction
At Hoback Junction we stopped at a convenience store - the last one before Star Valley. It was a pleasant rest, breaking up the otherwise long trip. And then we were on our way again.
In this section, the highway follows the Snake River, with numerous campgrounds and river access points going down to the river from the highway. The scenery continued to be outstanding. It was impressive cycling along amid glades of stately pines.
View Along the Highway, Southwest of Hoback Junction
Where the road turned more to the west after the junction, we encountered our friend, the headwind. The headwind is good in that it keeps you cool, but it also slows you down.
When we drove this road in a car the Saturday before, it seemed quite flat. But cycling it now, we discovered grades going up and down, up and down. It was here that I came to learn a new law of bicycling:
Aere's 4th Law of Bicycling
You know you're getting close to the top of the hill when you begin to feel the headwind.
Though the scenery was great the whole way, the canyon seemed to go on forever. At long last, we began to catch glimpses of the mountains on the west side of Star Valley, and finally we arrived in Alpine Junction, at the north end of Star Valley.
Here we got ice cream (first priority) and other food as well.
Supper at Alpine Junction, in Star Valley
Soon we were on the road again. We debated about possibly staying in Alpine, where there were a number of motels, but we decided we needed to put more miles behind us. So we pedaled south from Alpine toward the town of Etna.
Pedaling Through Star Valley, Heading South to Etna
As you can see from the picture, there are some gentle hills along this route, but nothing as steep as we had cycled over in the canyon. And better yet, our friend the headwind had morphed into a cross-wind, which still kept us cool, but didn't slow us down.
Entering Etna, Wyoming
When we arrived in Etna, we got more camping food from the general store, and more water containers. Somehow, during the ride through the canyon, Malcolm's extra water container (2 liter) had slithered off the back of his bicycle, and with the traffic noise, neither of us heard it happen.
We then checked out the (only) motel. The place didn't look like much from the outside, but the rooms were really nice. The drawbacks were that it cost $50 per night, and you had to pay with cash (no credit cards or checks). Also, it wasn't air-conditioned, but it wasn't very hot, so it didn't matter. Usual for Malcolm, he liked talking to the locals, and answering the question, "What do people do in these places, and why do they stay there?"
The Motel We Stayed At in Etna (picture actually taken in the morning)
We checked into the motel at 7:15 PM. On this day, we had traveled 45.5 miles, with an average speed of 8.8 mph. We were pedaling for 5 hours and 8 minutes. It took us 8 hours and 25 minutes to do it.
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