Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rite of Spring

Because spring is so slow to arrive in Jackson we have a few things we do every year that at least mean spring will be coming. The "inside road" in Grand Teton National Park is closed every winter. It is the road from Taggart Lake trailhead to Signal Mountain. In March the park service starts plowing the road by the beginning of April the road is open to hiking, biking, roller-blading, walking your dog (on a leash), etc. So when the weather is anywhere above freezing and there is no snow flying everyone flocks to the park to partake in enjoying the "inside road" without cars.

I was up there yesterday. I have never seen so many cars in all my springs, of which there have been about 30. It was a gorgeous day, the warmest we have seen so far this year, I think. My car thermometer said 56 degrees as I left town, it was cooler in the park. I unloaded my bike, put on the bike shoes and headed off. The first mile or so is always mayhem. There are little kids on tricycles and bikes with training wheels, people with there dogs on long leases wandering all over, slightly bigger kids on their two-wheelers careening all over, one must ride with utmost care and paying total attention to what is happening. After a mile or so the crowd thins out and you can truly begin to enjoy the magnificence of the place. When my kids were little I was up in the park as much as possible. I had the required bike trailer, two kids, many books, snacks and juice. I would go with other friends and their kids. We would spend the entire day playing. Today I feel like riding hard and getting the cobwebs out. This is my first ride of the year so I know I will have tender bones tomorrow, my saddle is just not comfortable.

The air is chilly there is a bit of a side-wind as you pass the different canyons. But the sky is bluebird and it feels great to be riding. I get into the rhythmn of the bike, pedaling, breathing.
I ride to the String Lake turn, and head into the lake. I know if I go to Signal Mountain on the first ride it will be too far. Maybe next week. The snow is at least 4' high on the side of the road. It is sort of like riding in a refrigerator. The mountains are spectacular, the snow is so bright it is blinding. There are many small snowslides on every peak, the slides add to the texture. I take some pictures with my point and shoot as I ride.

As I head back south from Slide Lake toward Jenny Lake there is some snow on the road, we did get several inches last week. Skinny tires in the slush are a bit slippery. I stop at the Jenny Lake scenic turnout. There is a stiff, freezing wind coming out of Cascade Canyon. It will be a while before the lake melts out.

I don't stay long, the snow works as a bike rack. Now I know the rest of the ride is mostly downhill, I really get pedaling. Head down and cranking, it feels like I have a whole winter of stale air inside, pedal harder, look up once in awhile to see what is a head - crank harder - there is nothing like the feeling of sailing along on your bike on a beautiful day. Back to the last mile near the parking lot, I must slow down and pay attention, the kids are laughing, parents jogging next to the scooter bike, dogs trotting....another perfect day in GTNP.

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