Sunday is the day that God rested right? Well I got up and tried to get started with my work a little early knowing that I had a lot of climbing and miles before Buffalo. Breakfast was three packets of apples and cinammon oatmeal and a banana. 10 miles beyond Greybull was Basin and I stocked up with more bananas, beef jerkey and ice water. The gas station attendant told me that Rt 31 was in fact paved so my shortcut was a go. It saved me 10 plus miles on my way to the town of Ten Sleep (named because it is ten nights, or sleeps from the two Indian tribes that used to meet there).
The ride to Ten Sleep was slightly uphill, barren, and hot already. I rolled into Ten Sleep craving food, shade, and water. It was about 12:45 and I'd put in 55 of the 115 miles planned but the toughest (5500 ft of climbing were still to come). I was tricked at Dirty Sally's into a vanilla malt. I should have stuck with the tried and true ice cream sandwich because I would pay the price later. I also had a turkey sadwich with pickles and chips at the Crazy Woman Cafe.
When I finally rolled out of town it was almost 2pm and I was nervous of what lay ahead. I had 5 full, ice cold bottles to get me up 5500 vertical feet. Initially the ride was scenic and ok, not exceeding 6% grades. When I pulled over at a scenic lookout 10 miles up the pass a guy kindly told me I had a long way to go. No sh-t Sherlock! The switchbacks started shortly after and to my dismay I had barely climbed 1200 ft. It was about this time that I started appealing to God to make the suffering end. Apparently he was resting this Sunday because the climbing continued. I tried appealing to all the religious hads I could think of but still the road went up and up. Finally I resorted to cursing the gods for such cruelty but that didn't help either. I put my headphones on hoping music (and getting "The Gambler" out of my head) would help me into a rythm. I started to tick off the miles more easily and feet 1200-3500 were a blur (a 1.5 hour long blur).
The scenery started to change around 7000 ft and the road was wider with fewer switchbacks. That just meant I could stare at each long hill as I ground the pedals. I chose to stare at my front wheel instead though. I started seeing signs for rest stops and lodges offering water but every one was closed. I also started suffering horribly from the vanilla malt in my stomach. There were all these weird caramel looking blobs on the shoulder of the road that only made it worse.
As I finally got above 8000 ft the mosquitos started. By then it was close to 6pm and I was going slow enough that they were enjoying the free ride along with some of my blood. Not wanting to put bug spray on my sweat covered body I pressed on towards the summit, contemplating whether it would be ok to stick the thumb out for a ride the rest of the way.
At around 7pm I made it to the 9,666 ft summit of Powder River Pass. There was one car there and they graciously took my picture and gave me some re-bottled water (it was cld but tasted gross). The mosquitos were in full effect and I wasted no time starting the descent. Did I say descent? I meant the series of false downhills followed by heart wrenching uphills. Yeah, the uphills didn't disappear until mile 95 after 7,800 ft of climbing for the day. At one point I saw a woman by the side of the highway at what appeared to be a driveway. We exchanged waves and I asked if she had water. Of course, so I pulled in to her house (still above 8,500 ft) and loaded up with lots of ice and water while chatting with her and her husband. At this point it was 7:30 and I had 35 more miles to go. I decided to power on past the campsites and finally got below 7000 ft. The last 1500 ft of elevation drop was epic. Twisting roads, setting sun, and speeds over 40 mph for miles at a time.
I rolled into Buffalo and searched for campsites. Not knowing of any free camping in town I chose the KOA again and grabbed a foot long spicy italian sandwich for dinner at the Subway nearby (hard to beat $5). I set up my tent under the only tree in the dark and then showered up and finished off my sandwich. Tomorrow is a short day to Gillette so I can rest and do some laundry.