Onward to Idaho

From Cody, we made our way into Yellowstone National Park, where we would be spending 2 days. The ride was a long and hot 80 miles. Upon entering the park, we made about a 3 mile climb to the top, to look out over Yellowstone Lake and the beautiful expansive park. After a day of no cell service, I was excited to reach the top and call my parents to share the experience with them. The day and climb were long and hard, but we made it to our campsite and enjoyed a spaghetti dinner cooked over a fire while celebrating Heather’s birthday.

The following day, I decided to spend the day relaxing at the campsite. I slept in and enjoyed the day and surrounding nature. The park was gorgeous and filled with wildlife; a buffalo was resting just feet from our tent site.

Our ride the next morning started out in the freezing cold. The team huddled together to warm up before the ride. It was almost difficult to breathe, because we were so high up and it was so brisk. I bundled up in all of my cold weather gear – arm and leg warmers and my rain jacket. As we descended the mountain, the views were breathtaking. The fact that Yellowstone is a major attraction became apparent as we were descending and counting the states represented by license plates. It was exciting to see so many far off tourists from all across America enjoying Yellowstone.

Atop the mountain, we met an incredible family of an inspiring cancer survivor, Sam. Sam is 14 years old and two years cancer free. He suffered from a sarcoma in his leg bones. His advice to other kids with cancer is to, “eat a lot and stay strong.” His family was a pleasure to meet and just the motivation we needed to continue riding.

On the ride, we entered the Grand Teton Nation Forest, which was absolutely beautiful. The mountain ranges are unlike anything I have ever seen before. Along the mountains, we battled some tough headwinds, but we were so excited to arrive in Jacksonhole, Wyoming.

Jackson is essentially a valley, surrounded by mountains on every side. It is an adorable, touristy ski town. I wish I had the opportunity to spend more time there. I hope to return at some point. From Jackson onward, we forge unknown territory. Our route is all new to I4K. The 2013 team is the first to experience it. That morning we set out on what will likely be, for me, at least, the hardest climb of our ride. We climbed 12 miles up the Teton Pass, about a 10% grade and 4,000 feet of elevation to the top. It was such an accomplishment to reach the top of the pass. That Saturday morning, a friend of mine, Jackie Hudzinski, got married. Her father passed away from a rare stomach cancer about 5 years ago. He was a big part of our family’s life, as he coached my sister in softball for about 8 years. I dedicated my ride to the Hudzinski family. His battle was one of my first experiences with this terrible disease. Knowing his fight helped me push my way up the mountains.

The downhill afterward led us into Idaho! I never thought I’d find myself in Idaho for any reason at all. However, I am so glad our journey led us there, because the team was blessed with good news after good news and surprise after surprise!

 

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