DAY 55 (8/4/05): Cooke City, MT to Norris Junction, WY 76.9 mi. This morning we rode downhill a handful of miles to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park. After entering the park, we saw some bison and antelope on our way down to Mammouth, with a net loss of about 700 ft of elevation. Mammouth was totally mobbed with tourists and cars, so we left after buying a little bit of food. From Mammouth, we had a 1200ft climb up to a higher plateau. That climb was made more interesting by the fact that several bears were swimming in a lake to the left of, and about 40 ft below, the main road. This caused a tremendous traffic jam, with people leaping in and out of their still-moving vehicles with abandon to view and photograph the bears. Joel and I tried to get through there as quickly and safely as possible. Things improved once we got onto the high plateau, traffic dropped off a bit and we made good time across the park to Norris Junction. Although the signs said that the campground was full, there were two designated hiker/biker sites that were still unoccupied, and we took one of those. The water at the campground tasted strongly of sulfur, consistent with the aroma of many of the springs that we had passed along the way. One of the most interesting aspects of the scenery in Yellowstone is that much of the park burned in a huge forest fire in 1988, so the hillsides now are covered with a thick growth of pine trees only 4 or 5 feet tall, interspersed with the dead white trunks of the older trees that were killed in the fire. DAY 56 (8/5/05): Norris Junction to Flagg Ranch, WY 82.7 mi. I had another little suite of milestones today as Dagny and I rolled across our 4000th mile and Joel and I crossed the Continental Divide twice before lunch. We were awakened this morning at around 4:30 by the sound of a pack of wolves howling to each other in the pre-dawn quiet. The air was unbelievably cold this morning, probably in the upper 30's when we got up. We of course put on all of our gear and then split a whole box of instant oatmeal to help us warm up. We then cruised a relatively flat 30mi to Old Faithful. Although we didn't see that geyser erupt, we did see lots of other hot pots and smaller geysers spewing steam and superheated water into the cold morning air. After Old Faithful, we headed up the Continental divide, crossing it at 8200ft and then again at 8300ft. We met some nice guys on 16lb road bikes who passed us rather effortlessly on the first ascent. They were really nice and stopped to take pictures with us at the top. From the top of the second pass, we descended fairly steadily through the southern part of the park, concluding with a really dramatic drop down to the south entrance of the park. That decent was on a road that must not have been affected by the 1988 fire, since the trees on either side were very tall and thick. Directly ahead of us as we went down we could see the Tetons, framed by the road and trees. DAY 57 (8/6/05): Flagg Ranch to Wilson, WY 65.4 mi. Today we rode across Teton National Park, featuring spectacular views of the mountains, including Grand Teton. The mountains are very rocky, with a good amount of snow still clinging to the tops. Compared to the past few days, today's ride was relatively flat, no climbs over 500ft. We stopped for a mini-break at Jenny Lake, which is a really beautiful blue glacial lake nestled at the base of the mountains. Upon leaving the park, we stopped at a town called Moose and met up with Joel's friend Josh, who came up on his road bike to ride us in to Wilson. We rode together on the windy, narrow Moose-Wilson road and then picked up a bike path that lead us right into the small town of Wilson, which is about a 20 min drive from downtown Jackson. We are being hosted here by two very nice friends of Joel's. After showering and relaxing for a bit, we drove into Jackson to meet, of all people, my father, who flew in this afternoon for an AMC hiking trip in Yellowstone. It was great to see him and we had an absolute feast at the Rendezvous Bistro in Jackson. Joel and I caught him up on our adventures and he gave us the word from Newton. When we got back to Wilson, we stayed up late chatting with Joel's friends, one of whom is a paraglider who spent a good portion of the day soaring around at 18000 ft. DAY 58 (8/7/05): Rest Day, Wilson, WY. Today Joel and his friends decided to go out for a little hike, but I felt like really resting after all the climbing that we've been doing, so I wussed out and stayed home. I did all of our laundry, baked a peach pie, ate some good bagels from Pearl Street Bagels (conveniently just a 5 min walk away from where we're staying), and read a book. The only minor tragedy of today is that I tried to use a card reader on Joel's friends' computer to upload pictures from my camera for the site and I think that some kind of negative interaction occurred between the card and the computer (curse Windows!) and now the card can't be read by either the computer or my camera unless I reformat it, so I think unforutnately for the web fan base there won't be any pictures of Wyoming for me to send home. We still have about 4 miles of Wyoming to ride tomorrow as we head into Idaho so I will try and document those few miles very thouroughly and keep all of my valuable data as far away from Bill Gates related operating systems as possible!