Fifty-One: Petunia! (Jeffery City to Lander)
No sign of Byron this morning when I hit the road around 7 a.m. But there was a basket of bones as a consolation prize. I was up early in a partly-successful bid to beat the wind where I saw my first live snake along the shoulder, and a pair of antelope (unbelievably fleet).
My water stop was Sweetwater Station, on the Sweetwater River. So named for a mule whose unfortunate spill landed the wagon train’s sugar supply in the drink. The rest area is right across from the Mormon Handcart Center. Many paths westward intersect in this part of the country.
A five-mile, six-percent downhill welcomed me at the top of Beaver Basin. The sign said the Wind River Mountains were thrust up 60,000′ 65 million years ago. Hard to imagine a mountain almost 12 miles tall. Because of erosion, today the tallest peaks are 13,000′. Epic view. Hampered by wind, I managed to hit 37 m.p.h. on the downhill. Still, definitely a nice break. Most of today’s ride was downhill — ground I’ll have to retake tomorrow climbing out of town.
I’m in Lander tonight (pop. 7,500), set up in the city park which explicitly permits overnight camping! I grabbed a hot shower at the junior high right before it closed. There’s a wedding happening in the pavilion, and I’m afraid my tent’ll be in all of their photos. Lander sprays for mosquitos, which makes for a pleasant evening.
Today’s biggest treat was reuniting with Jamie, Greg and Petunia (the poodle) in Lander’s sumptuous library. They’re taking a rest day here. The last time I saw them was leaving Lookout, Kentucky, ten days in. They took a week off in Denver while I was in Boulder. We caught up and compared notes. Petunia’s as well behaved as ever, though today was bath night.