Day 5 of Cycle Greater Yellowstone offered an optional 33-mile out-and-back ride (with 3,297 feet of elevation gain) up Sinks Canyon. The “never quit” side of my personality urged an attempt at the canyon ride, but my butt (and my riding partner) said “no way!”
It was probably good we didn’t ride, as the wind picked up a bit, and I heard the switchbacks at the top of the canyon were a bit unpleasant with the headwind/tailwind flips.
It was a real relief to have a day off the bike. We didn’t exactly rest, though. Thanks to some Chamber of Commerce volunteers, we were able to hitch a ride up to a trailhead in Sinks Canyon and go for a 3-plus-mile hike.
Off the bike for the first time in 5 days, and grinning. #popoagieselfie
We made way for a couple of equine hikers on the trail.
Of course, Bugman had to stop to turn over rocks to search for aquatic insects. We are not fast hikers. We are stop-and-lookers.
Quite beautiful in the canyon. A couple of times, we came upon our CGY colleagues sitting solo on a rock rim above the rushing water. It is a lovely, meditative place.
There were still flowers blooming in abundance in late August, on the cusp of autumn in the high country.
But many of the flowers had turned to fruit already. I began to get that deep-seated urge to gather and store. We were warned by the gent who dropped us off at the trailhead that the grizzly bears in the area were feeling the same. I can identify the wild currant and rose hips for certain, probably chokecherry, and possibly serviceberry and huckleberry, too. The white berries are known to some as corpse berries and are not edible by humans.
Yet again, the mountainous West had something to teach me about pronunciation. Last year, it was Absaroka (pronounced ab-SOR-ka). The river we were hiking along on this day was the Popo Agie. Would you believe me if I told you that name rhymes with “ambrosia”?
A rabbit bush we passed was full of life, with buzzing pollinating insects endangered by the healthy population of cryptically-colored crab spiders.
Another cryptically-colored little dude. This little brown snake happened to cross our path, and we herded him into camera range inside a low-growing shrub.
At our turnaround point at Popo Agie Falls.
As the day warmed, insects became more numerous. An aged fritillary, its wings a bit tattered from a hard-knock life, supped on late-blooming flowers.
Bugman attempted to catch a couple of grasshoppers that seemed to be harassing us on the trail, repeatedly flying around our heads with a loud clacking sound.
This bright-red ladybeetle really contrasted with its silvery perch in the foliage.
It was nearly noon, and we were hungry, so Bugman and I hitched a ride back to camp with another Lander Chamber of Commerce volunteer, skipping The Sinks and The Rise – a curious geological phenomenon in which the Popo Agie River disappears into an underground cavern with a roar and meekly burbles to the surface in a pool a quarter-mile downstream. We’ll go back someday to see it.
Next up – downtown Lander, and ice cream!
We stopped in at Ken & Betty’s, an ice cream shop run as an add-on to a screen printing business. The ice cream was good, and the interior decor was neat, but don’t expect the cute little old couple on the business sign to be behind the counter. The place was named after the owner’s parents, and the scooper might just be an ennui-affected young man. There’s another ice cream place down the street – the Scream Shack – but it appeared to be closed when we were there.
Lovely mural on a concrete block wall abutting a parking lot.
Heavy metal bison!
We didn’t eat here because we had already spent plenty of money downtown (we cycling shoppers were a boon for downtown business) and there was a fajita meal awaiting us back in camp, but I liked the logo enough to buy a hat for my sister. I want one for myself, too.
Our shopping spree included a new piece of art for our collection – a painting of aspen trees on corrugated metal by Cristin Zimmer. Loved her work! Loved the inappropriately named Global Arts shop, too (they have a nice selection of local art, not imported stuff).
When we rode into town the day before, I did not notice the bike perched high atop the former-feed-mill-turned-bike-shop. It took a photo on a greeting card to bring it to my attention.
Back in camp, a quick pic of the bike corral on the tennis court. I heard more than one person comment on the total value of all of those bikes. Here’s another photo of the bike corral.
The Lander police had appropriate rides for patrolling our camp. Check out the fat tires!
I took advantage of the downtime to write some letters. I LOVED these Mimi Matsuda notecards I bought at Fitzgerald’s Cycles in Victor, ID.
Had a little local beer and pizza, too. A pre-dinner snack.
I can’t say enough about our lovely campsite in Lander City Park. I slept really well there.
Our evening entertainment was a local reggae band. They were pretty good, but by the time 9 p.m. rolled around, I was ready to take a hatchet to the speaker cords. There’s only so much amplified reggae I can take when I am trying to get to sleep before another big day of riding.
Distance and elevation gain N/A
Min temp: 54, Max temp: 79, Winds 8-25, gusting to 32 mph, Precipitation: 0.02 inches [data from Lander]
Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw