The old saying, "red sky at morning, sailors take warning" didn't pan out. It ended up being a beautiful day. Still, it was bone chilling cold in the morning. In fact, it was a two-cups-of-hot-chocolate cold morning.
Derik standing in the warmth of the sun.
Connor finding it difficult to eat whilst in Ninja mode.
Once Fred was up, Derik cooked eggs with sweet potato and garlic, then cooked the rest of Fred's brats. I was full from my oatmeal and two cups of hot chocolate (besides, I don't eat eggs as they sometimes make me sick). I knew we had a lot of climbing today, so I thought I'd get a head start so they wouldn't have to wait for me. That was...in hindsight...a mistake.
I took off (realizing my legs were a bit tired from yesterday). I just poodled along, stopping to take off my warm jacket and put on my hi-vis jacket, then later taking that off too. I even took this photo of the nice Fall colors.
When I got to the meadow, and began the climb, the guys were not there (I didn't expect them to be there). When I had to get off and push, I knew I had to do it all myself. Since they thought I was ahead of them, they would not be coming to help me. Actually, it wasn't the worst I've pushed up.
Sorry for the finger, sometimes it's hard to hold the brake with one hand while taking a picture with the other.
I got to where a road/trail went off to the right, but I could still see Derik's tire tracks going straight. The narrative said to turn right at the crest of the first hill after the stand of trees. I stopped and pondered again. I decided it was possible that Derik had missed that turn. Instead of going back down to the turn, I just walked MC across the cow pasture. Once I was on that road/trail, I could see Connor's tracks (curiously missing on the other part). Then I could see both sets of tracks again.
Now was the most challenging part of the day. A very very precipice of death descent. The map even recommended not walking on the trail as it was rocky and very steep, but instead to "meander through the sage brush working your way down the hill".
Looks rideable, right? No. It was very tricky walking down holding the brakes the entire time. I had visions of what might happen if I just let MC go (not good). I did meander through the sage brush when the trail became too covered with scree type rocks.
See the trail? See where I'm walking? I actually ended up following the cow's trail through those trees. They had created a nice soft dirt trail that was easier than the main trail (still very hard though). Before I came to the really steep part, I saw a mountain biker going up. I asked him if he had seen the guys. He had. I asked if they asked him if he had seen me. He said they didn't. At this point, I wondered if they thought I had suddenly acquired super human strength to be that far ahead of them! I mean, really!
Anyway, I made it down to where it flattened out and began riding again. By this time, I knew they'd be wondering where I was in Wise River (we were having lunch and getting groceries there). I finally pulled into the town, and stopped at the one and only grocery store. No guys. I aske the gal if she had seen them. She said she saw two bikes go by the other direction. She also said there were a couple of restaurants on down the road. I found them at the second one. They had already eaten, but Fred wasn't there yet either. He had also missed a turn. It occurs to me that another title for this post could be, "A Day of Missed Turns". I ordered a BLT. Fred arrived and ordered a burger. I told the guys where I had missed the turn.
Connor showed me a Post-it note, from the addenda, I had put on his map (I had to take it off mine because my map is not in a case). Had I had that Post-it, I wouldn't have missed the turn. As for Derik's missed turn, he had ended up going all the way to the top of the climb up Fleecer. Apparently, he could see Connor where Connor was waiting at the turn. Since Connor wasn't moving, Derik thought something was wrong with his bike, so he came running down. Then he had to run back up and get his bike when he learned he had missed the turn.
After lunch we went back to the grocery store (really more like a glorified convenience store) to stock up on three days worth of food. Fred offered to carry some of it (he is camping with us again tonight so we wanted to have dinner for all of us). Then, we had 20 miles of pavement to get to Little Joe campground. We left Wise River at 3:40. The wind was really nasty, and made for slow going. The guys caught up to me (I'd left the store before them) when I was turning on my music. We continued together, but only for a brief time, as I could not go as fast as them.
I pedaled along by myself, periodically stopping to eat jelly beans, drink water, and take a few photos. Here they are.