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Day 37: Jackson, WY June 22, 2007

Posted by jonpierson in Uncategorized.

In one week, a lot has happened, so this is going to be a long post!

So since last post, I left Rawlins and entered  what is known as the Great Divide Basin.  Water drans down into the basin and evaporates unlike the rest of the divide where water either flows towards the Pacific or Mississippi River.  So that meant major water issues.  I entered the Basin with almost 10 liters and never allowed my supply to get lower than 5 liters.  Probably weighed 10-15 lbs.  I also carried 5 days of food.  Lots of weight.  It’s hard to move fast through that desolate country when loaded that heavy.  With the weight, it took me two days to cross the basin doing about 50 miles a day.  The landscape was high desert, lots of sage brush and literally no trees!  A harsh environment and more barren than southern NM.  I must have seen 400 antelope in the last week, no exageration.  They are beautiful creatures.  I camped with2 sheep herders from Chile.  They were 2 of the most kind people I have ever met!  Certainly tested my Spanish, but they were patient with me.  We drank Matte (a South American custom) ate a great supper, and then watched the movie Troy.  Too funny..  I had wanted to watch a movie just as an opportunity to relax, and I finally got my wish in the most remote section of this trip!

Leaving the Basin, I entered South Pass City and was put up by a woman named Helen.  She insisted that I get out of the wind (which was HORRIBLE in the basin) and stay at her place.  After a steak dinner and a hot bath I felt totally refreshed.  Didn’t expect that, what a treat!  A trip to the salon, spa and steak house, it made a world of difference.

The next day I rode parallel to the Wind River Range.  It is all protected as wilderness, no bikes, just hiking trails.  So I had to view from a distance.  Beautiful, but I really wanted to be closer!  I’ll have to return.  I did however bike a few miles off route just to camp closer to the base of the mountains.  It was one of my favorite campsites so far on the trip.  I can only imagine what it would be like to go deep into the Wind River mountains.  In my opinion they are just as attractive as the Tetons with 1% of the crowd.  Very good place to go for a serious wilderness trek.

Now here’s where things get interesting..  The following day, I was biking towards Pinedale and had 2-3 cars stop and ask me “are you Jon?”  Then the’d proceed to tell me how my sister is looking for me!  Turns out my sister Liz and her best friend Jenny were driving cross country, and by reading the blog and calling Laura at the Rawlins BLM, they were able to hunt me down!  I was very impressed that they found me!  It wasn’t easy, and took a hell of a lot of detective work on their part.  Good job girls!

They took me up to Fremont Lake (2nd largest glacial lake in the lower 48) and introduced me to the friends they’d made at the lodge during their stay the previous night.  One thing leads to another, and I got on so well with the Fremont crew that 2 of the guys working decided to join me on my ride!  I couldn’t help but feel like Forest Gump.  I didn’t set out to inspire other people to travel by bike with me, but it’s happened twice now!  After a great night, we all crashed and woke up the next morning, had a nice breakfast and got ready to hit the road.  I was very excited to ride with others, though biking solo from Steamboat, CO was good for me.  The alone time was nice, and it’s great to have the freedom to go as far as you’d like, start biking at 10 am if you want, etc.

Dustin and Axel joined me for about 75 miles from Pinedale to Jackson.  The ride was stunning and easy on pavement.  We did it in a day and a half.  The Hoback River was very pretty, and riding through the Hoback Canyon was as spectacular as any other scenery I’ve come across on my trip.  What an area!  A very nice, lesser used south approach to Jackson with a generous shoulder and easy road grades.  We camped at an abandoned horse corral next to small lake.  Very cool.

The final push into Jackson was fun, they had a bike path on the approach to town.  Riding with traffic on pavement gives me a real appreciation for the peace and quiet I get daily on the Divide route.  Town was crowded with eager tourists.  They made me nautious!  Anyhow, we immediately went to “Teton Mountaineering” where we met Marisa, who offered us her lawn for the evening.  She was awesome!  We went over to her place, all showered and got ready for my birthday celebration.  A good night of food, new friends and lots of fun.  At midnight we had a toast (maybe our 4th) and I cut myself off pretty soon after and hit the sack.

I woke up this morning early, like usual, an made a few phone calls.  Jackson is the only place in WY that I’ve had phone reception!  Sprint sucks.  Anyhow, we went out to breakfast at a nearby coffeeshop, lunch at the brewery and now I’m getting ready to catch a short lift to Driggs, Idaho!  I have a good friend Lindsey who owns a home there, and she’s going to put me up for 2-3 nights.  Actually I have a appointment tomorrow in Rexburg and I’m having a tooth pulled, so it’s very important that I have a place to rest afterwards.  Not looking foward to it.

Other updates: I sent home the tent, and now sleep under a tarp and in a bivy sack.  Bomber!  Its a very lightweight system that takes up no room in the pack yet guarentees a dry nights sleep during very wert conditions.  I lost about 3 lbs by switching systems.  I also replaces my water filter.  No more MSR slow pumping.  I bought the Katadyn hiker pro.  Should be a huge improvement!  I’ll go easy on the iodine water treatment pills, which are supposed to be bad for your liver!  Good to have the backup though.  The Great Divide Race is well under way, apparently there’s a rider who is on pace to beat the 16 day record.  Thats 2400 miles in 16 days, breaks down to 150 miles a day and 13,000 feet of climbing per day!  There’s 21 riders this year.  If you click on the link on the right side of this page, you can follow the podcasts announcing updates on the ride.  Very cool stuff.

Well, thats about it.  Thanks for keeping up with the blog, look out for pictures to be added in the next day or two.  Later!



1. Rob P. - June 23, 2007

The basin sounds pretty intense (and a little freaky – the thought of potentially running out of water in the desert – yikes). It sounds like you’re playing it extra safe tho, I’m glad to see.

I’m looking forward to reading about what kind of adventures occurred during your bday. Happy birthday, jonny boy!

2. Harry Pierson - June 23, 2007


I’m so sorry we weren’t able to make contact yesterday, I pretty much spent the entire day sitting next to the phone just in case you called.

I’m glad you had a nice birthday, and got to spend time with Liz. The trip seems to go from one magnificent adventure to another.

You’re now at the half-way point, I just want you to keep dong what you’re doing, and stay safe, and try to stay with other riders.

My friend Gary is looking forward to meeting you. You’ll like him.



3. Chris from Jackson Hole, WY - June 24, 2007

Jon, I’m glad you could sleep in my backyard. It felt like a gypsy town. It was great. Also, it was great celebrating your birthday. You’re truely an inspiration. Really.

4. Leslie Pierson - June 25, 2007

This was my favorite to read. All your stories and adventures reminds me when you were younger and I read your essays! Now you’re really living an adventure filled life and i’m really happy to see how wonderfully you’ve grown up. Yikes, 25. so what does that make me? Anyhow, glad the tooth story didn’t turn out too bad, except all my colleagues were really bored hearing me say to a gazillion dental receptionists “can you get my son in for an emergency dental appt?” No, no and more no’s. I swear, I didn’t know how many dentists there were in Jackson, Driggs and surrounding areas that are off on Friday and Saturday. Maybe we should think of dental school and practicing in Wyoming. Sounds like you get a lot of time off! Loving your tales and I’m sure everyone else is too! Be safe and let me know what you need on your next package. Sounds like I sent way too much last time!


5. Jason Zaikov - June 25, 2007

I’m catching up on all your stories, pretty amazing stuff man. And Happy Birthday again!

“A trip to the salon, spa and steak house” – you’re living better than most of us lazy bastards are!!!!! 🙂

6. Jamie and Lee - June 25, 2007

Happy belated Birthday! You’re stories are great. Lee and I are on our way out of Rawlins tomorrow. WE ADDED YOUR BLOG! Sorry for the delay. Time limits at libraries make it difficult to get things done. Have fun! Jamie

7. Phyllis & Richard Taylor - June 27, 2007

Hey John,
Finally have a chance to catch up on your trip,,,really glad you are meeting some really “cool” folks who are assisting you with your travels…you will need to put this in a book at trips end…at least seems like a good idea.

Think of you often…wishing you a great trip…if your’e back this way look us up again…you are always welcome. Enjoy your comments describing scenery and lay of the land…Wyoming is a great place!!! Like it that you were able to camp out with the sheepherders from Chile…so cool…strangers are friends you just have not met yet…and what fun to make so many new friends…another quote, author unknown: “A rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least!” You have that down for sure..Happy Travels…will check in with your blog again in the future..hope your dental appt goes well…Be Safe!!!!

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