Tour 2019 – day 11

To glorify the Way what should people turn to
to words and deeds that agree
but oceans of greed never fill up
and sprouts of delusion keep growing
plum trees in bloom cleanse a recluse
a garden of taro cheers a lone monk
those who follow rules in their huts
never see the Way past the mountains
translated by Red Pine in The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse

On the spine of the world
I was about five miles away from Fleecer Ridge, which runs right up to Mount Fleecer. The gravel roads climbed steadily for about four miles and then I entered a clearing. Across the clearing was a herd of elk including a stage with the most impressive rack of antlers. They looked up as I entered and then ran off, a few stragglers and fawns bringing up up the rear. Just magical.

On Fleecer Ridge

I entered a grassy field next to the woods and again the elk were still trickling across. The road turn sharply upwards to the ridge itself. I managed to ride up to the ridge and then everything just opened up. The road continued right up to the base of Mount Fleecer and I inadvertently went a ways up that before I double checked the route and found I should have turned along the ridge. The views from 8000′ were amazing. Green hills, bare Mount Fleecer with a few patches of snow, a big mountain meadow of sage, flowers and grasses. I just sat up here for a spell. If it wasn’t so hard to haul water up I’d just stay here.

Gazing down from Fleecer Ridge

But the way beckons and I undertook one of the most difficult descents of the route. Basically a rock strewn dirt path at some insane grade. I walked/slide the bike down to where it flattened out and the road was merely the equivalent of a dry stream bed. It was rideable and at times I cross small little cricks. Where the water had gotten on the path there would be clouds of butterflies drinking that would all disperse as I rode near.

Rocky outcropping on the foothills of the W. Pioneer Mountains

All in all though it wasn’t too long a descent until I hit pavement and then the little town of Wise River. The Post Office, two Bars with cafes and a mercantile–it had all I needed at the moment. The next bit of the route was a long stretch up the roads up the Pioneer Mountains Scenic byway a long valley between the Eastern and Western ranges of the Pioneer Mountains. This was a long hot slog against the wind most of the time. At the end there was a 2000′ climb up switchbacks but with beautiful views of the Eastern Pioneer mountains.

East Pioneer Mountains

Descending from there I headed into the Grasshopper Valley. I stopped at Elkhorn Hotsprings were I was able to stay very reasonably. The hot springs were so nice. I really needed a long hot dip. I left those pleasantly drained and ready for bed.

sit and gaze
into mountain valleys
losing yourself where
deep blue
merges with dusty greens
it’s not that no questions
it’s that they
into the

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