USA Travel report 1.5.14 - 19.6.2014

El Paso - Columbus (Nm) - Silver City - Pie Town - Grants - Cuba - Chama - Platoro (Co) - Grat Sanddunes - Saguade - Salida - Breckenridge - Kremmling - Steamboat Springs - Rawlins (Wy) - Lander - Dubois - Jackson - Teton - Yellowstone - Missoula - Seeley Lake - Bigfork - Whitefish - Eureka, 4067 km, 36'054 altitude diff. (m)

Visiting our New York friends is wonderful as well as strolling together the newly opened Line Walk in Manhatten. In El Paso, Mike, a warmshower host - meets us at the airport, which makes the start easy. Assembling the bike, shopping and finally we sit in the saddle, first day through Chihuahuan desert, with tailwind we manage the 113km to Columbus. The first crossing of the Great Divide is hardly more than a bump. After Hachita, dirt roads start with all you can imagine; deep sand, gravel, big sharp stones or washboard. Fascinating are the endless, vast expanses of exceedingly remote and thirsty country, the main problem is to find water. Exciting is it, to watch all the many animals and a delight tenting in the middle of nowhere.

In Pie Town we meet many hikers who walk all the way of the Continental Divide. They spend about half a year walking! - and when looking at their feet with all those blisters, we are even more happy to be on the bicycle.

Because we started this route with all the high passes a bit early in the year, always heading north, we got caught by snow in Platoro. But in a cabin with a chimney to keep us warm, at the nice Goldpan RV, it was cosy and very pleasant. Wanting to pay the bill, we were told that Bo Brock, whose ancestors immigrated from Switzerland and also a guest at Goldpan, had settled the score. (Bo is also the author of the book "Crowded in the middle of nowhere", writing about his experiences as a veterinarian in Texas, a book that really makes you smile). Along the way we meet more great people like Becky and Jerry.

Indiana pass is closed because of too much snow, so we cycle an alternative route through beautiful Alamosa Valley, taking the chance with a litte d-tour visiting the impressive Great Sanddunes. In the mornings is the weather always nice and tailwind often helps us up the passes. Landscape changes in Colorado, a lot of forest (treelinde at 3500m), it is much greener and lots of melding water flows down the rivers. Camping is what we love best in this beautiful nature as well as watching all the wildlife.

In Kremmling we meet our friends Jutta and Thomas who are travelling with an RV through USA, and enjoy a short time together. At night it is still cold, so often the water bottles are frozen in the morning. Difficult for us are the strong winds blowing from the west (famous for Wyoming) the direction our route would go. But reaching only 3-5 miles/h, we decide to change direction and cycle north on asphalt. Not regretting that decision, because the landscape through the Wind River Valley, as well as pedaling across Tagwotee Pass viewing the Teton Range, is just stunning.

In Jackson, where we meet up with our friend Adi, we inquire about a campground - there seems to be none - but lovely Karen invites us spontaneously to her and Dave's home and they host us like kings! and even fetched Adi in town. What wonderful people!

First night with Adi, camping at Jenny Lake in Teton, we encountered the first black bear. Teton is very beautiful, but Yellowstone is fantastic with its geothermal features like geysirs, colorful hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles. And once again, the wild animals roaming free - like proghorn, moose, elk, bisons, coyote - just to name a few. And on the 4th of July there was a Rodeo to watch - glad we do sit on a bike and not on a bull!!

Across passes mostly on forest roads - and from Seeley lake up on narrow trails (obvious in bear country, lots of bear poo on the road) with great views - cycling is not always easy but just so much fun, nature and freedom pure. From Bigfork to Whitefish we meet Mary, she invites us to her Canadian familys cabin and spoils us with pancakes +, what a wonderful and hospitable family.

In Whitefish we enjoy a day off in civilisation before cycling another 3 days in the wilderness, and also having to cross 500m of avalanche with debris, snow and fallen trees. Reaching Eureka in best mood, great second last day on our Great Divide trip in USA. Tomorrow we will enter Canada, and our friend Adi will go on by car down to Vancouver, while we might cycle on to Jasper and then across Canada to Vancouver.