Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 24 Bannack State Park - A Ghost Town

Our cabin at Jackson Hot Springs had a fireplace and we were toasty!

A serendipitous meeting with our new friend Tom and his other geologist buddies out on a rock hunt.

Gregory finds a bike he doesn't have to share with Mom and Dad.

I'm holding the bike so Mike and Gregory can have a break after the first leg of our Big Hole Pass climb.

Are we having fun yet? Gregory and Mike aren't too fond of having their pictures taken when we are working hard climbing those passes.

Check out the sideways B.O.B. flag. It was a cross wind today.
Taking a break from the wind and climbing

Panning for gold with Blaine

Desperado Gregory aka The Polka Dot Bandit

Deaperado Mike aka The Cranky Captain

Desperado Dorrie aka The Desperate Bike Wife or The Sore Stoker

Bannack School

Class is in session.


Tee Pee Camping

Date: Aug. 12, 2009

From: Jackson

To: Bannack State Park - A Ghost Town

Route: Hwy. 278 S.

Passes: Big Hole Pass (7,360’)

Miles: 30 Miles

Top Speed: 47.7 mph

Weather: Sunny and Windy with a brief shower in the afternoon

Lodging: Our first Tee Pee

We had breakfast with our new friends, Penny and Steve. Breakfast was the only restaurant in town just across the street from the Hot Springs where we had a good night sleep in our cabin. As we started to cross the street Mike told Gregory, “Careful crossing the street.” This was funny because though the “street” was Hwy 278 you could look up and down and there was not a soul for miles. Steve and Penny graciously treated us to breakfast and then headed out for Dillon (further than our destination) and we hope to cross paths again.

Serendipitously, Tom (our geologist friend whom we met in Missoula) ran into us out in front of the Lodge, as we were about to leave. He and some friends were camping in the hills near Jackson (out looking for rocks) and only came in to town for directions. We couldn’t believe our eyes. We gave each other a hearty greeting and chatted for some time before we were on our way.

Big Hole Pass was a good climb today with only a few stops to get to the top. I can’t say we weren’t “feeling the burn” and there was definitely some heavy breathing going on but WE DID IT! We stopped to read the historic marker about Lewis and Clark’s passing here and laid the bike down for a rest. “Uh, guys I think we should keep moving because we are going to get dumped on.” These were my exact words as it started to sprinkle. We threw on rain gear and flew down the pass and out of the rain. It was a “radical downhill” as Gregory would say and we clocked a record-breaking speed of 47.7 mph. That sounds insane I know but the bike is solid and it is an unbelievable experience. It is also very gratifying after a long climb. You feel like you deserve that downhill.

Bannack ghost town (5,780 feet) was just as special as Mike and I remembered from our visit in 1994. It is a preserved town (not restored) so has the feel of the way it used to be back in 1862 when a gold strike sent a rush of settlers to the area. The town died when the gold ran out. We strolled the streets and went in and out of the hotel; school, church, jail and various cabins and we did a little panning for gold. We didn’t find gold but we did find some garnets. Gregory found a gold pan on the side of the road just yesterday so it really came in handy! Blaine, Gregory’s panning partner, also gave us a tip that we should pan for sapphires in Alder outside of Virginia City.

After touring the town we rolled in to camp and splurged to stay in this huge canvas tee pee. Our mattresses and bags take up only about a fourth of the area inside and Mike even strung a clothesline to air out the bike clothes.

We are headed down to roast marshmallows with the neighbors (Michael, Vivian, Max and Lulu) right now. I hope the skeeters don’t get under the canvas and eat us alive tonight!

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