Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Montana Trip - Day 2

After a bit of a debacle involving lost cell phones and wallets, finally exited Cody with all appropriate belongings with the family.

Martha and the boys would be perusing the tourist sights at Cody, I would be headed up to the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway enroute to the famed Beartooth Pass Highway.

I have to admit, I was not exactly overwhelmed with the sights initially presented by the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, and was thinking perhaps I was too jaded from the glorious sights of Colorado's mountains.  This perception however would steadily disappear and be replaced with an appreciation of the beauty of this byway and eventually the sights of Beartooth Pass Highway.

At the start of the byway akaWyoming State Road 120 aka the Belfry Highway

A little natual symmetry for starters.
 A bit of colored rock strata formations

 There are several hairpin turns going up down the first mountain ranges 
comprising the Chief Joseph scenic byway and once can see distant snow-capped peaks

 As this overlook, I posed my steed next to the metal sculptures honoring the Nez-Perce Indians
Note the flat-topped mesa in the distance, right above Vikki

 Making my way down to the valley, my first view of the rock formation I'd eventually
end up nicknaming Ship Rock.  I think it's actually called Sugarloaf Mountain.

 To me, the houses in this valley reminded me a little bit of Switzerland
I found a county dirt road called Sunshine Road, which would lead me to near the
base of the large formations on the right.  You can see the road, over to the left,
leading off towards the mountains.

 On the Sunshine Road, nicely graded dirt and gravel, I was able to get up to
50 mph on Vikki as I rode to the above rock formations

 Now across the valley from Sunshine Road, you can hopefully see why
I named the rock formation above "Ship Rock"

 The views of distant mountain peaks, with snow per Irondad's wishes, kept 
getting closer as I rode further north towards Montana State Rd 212, aka the Beartooth Highway

 The view as one approaches MT Hwy 212

 My first view of the spectacular rocky peak which is named Pilot's Peak

 Here's a closeup for you of Pilot's Peak, pretty awesome isn't it?

 Motoring closer to Pilot's Peak.

Once I reached Hwy 212, I turned west to let a cargo rig carrying a big piece of construction equipment move east on the road towards the construction sites on the way to Beartooth Pass.  This led me towards Yellowstone National Park and Vikki's second state border crossing:

 Montana, unsurprisingly, has her own gorgeous mountains and scenery to please the motorists' eye

I went west on MT212 through the small towns of Cooke City and Silver Gate, noting the plethora of harley riders out for some scenic riding.  I turned around at the east entrance of Yellowstone park as there was no time or inclination on my part to battle the crowds at what is described as "the world's largest petting zoo".

I'd love to someday make it up to Yellowstone, in the middle of Winter perhaps, when the crowds would be much less and the scenery "snow-capped".

Now heading westward on MT 212, I chose to try out this dirt trail with a "Lulu Pass" sign.  I didn't get very far, a couple of miles perhaps of rocky trail until I hit a stretch of deep snow blocking the road:

Riding alone, I chose not to try and traverse the snow patch and perhaps get stuck.  Had I been with my fellow Uralisti, it would have been a different story.  Still, all was not lost, since this is the view that was present to me as I turned Vikki around to head back down to the paved road:

Panoramic shot of the view of the peaks from somewhere on Lulu Pass Road

 On Lulu Pass Road, before turning back towards Hwy 212

 Here's Vikki ascending away from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and heading towards
Beartooth Pass

There was construction soon after I turned eastward on Hwy 212 but I lucked out in only having to wait a few minutes.  There was this small waterfall providing some nice scenery while we waited.

Vikki by the waterfall

After construction crews let the line of vehicles of which I was a part through, I turned off at this Shoshone National Park campground side to see how close  I could get to a rock formation I'd been admiring for some time from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway:

You can see the topmost portion of this mountain from quite a distance while riding in 
the area of the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway

As I gained altitude, things were getting much windiers and a bit "brisk"
I stopped here to don my windproof riding jacket liner and heavier gloves, I was 
all set and warm after that.  The above picture was taken just after the "Top of the World" store area.

One of several somewhat frozen over lakes up at altitude.

As one climbs further up towards Beartooth Pass, the views of the surrounding 
peaks keep causing one to stop at the many turnoff points to take a picture or two.

Hey Irondad, so, enough snow-capped peaks for ya?

Curiously, never spotted the usual sign designating a spot as "Beartooth Pass"
I did spot the above sign though, and went with it

Here's a closeup view of the distant peaks visible from Beartooth Highway

Taken as Vikki and I started descending down the mountain hugging paved road
that takes one down to Red Lodge, Montana.

This shot should give you an idea of the terrain that the Beartooth Highway Loop 
is cut from, affording its visitors some pretty impressive views.

I arrived safely at Red Lodge, Montana and located our hotel room just a few minutes before Martha and the boys showed up in the Bimmer.  Quite a day's worth of riding today, lots of nice views and a salve for my soul after a rocky morning's start.

Only 161 miles ridden today, but what scenery!  Vikki again did great!


Circle Blue said...

I'm glad Vicki is doing great and hopefully any drama on this trip will come from other quarters.

Sounds like you had a great ride. I'm looking forward to Day 3.

RichardM said...

Beautiful pictures! I've only been through Beartooth Pass once before and thought it was breathtaking. I would second your thought about visiting Yellowstone in the winter. The roads are all closed and you get around on snow cats and snow machines. I went there on a x-country ski trip and had a great time. We stayed in cabins near Old Faithful Lodge after leaving the cars at West Yellowstone.


SonjaM said...

What a wonderful day. Spectacular vistas, and obviously not much traffic. Just a bit too much of the white stuff for my taste ;-)

Gary France said...

I have to agree with you about Chief Joseph Scenic Byway – if this was the first major mountain road you had ever seen, it would be spectacular, but compared to the Colorado mountains and its near neighbour, the Beartooth Pass, is becomes no more than a sideshow for other roads set amongst more fantastic peaks. Your pictures are spectacular and capture the mountains really well, but I suspect that like me, the memories of actually being there and seeing the glorious reality of the Beartooth Pass will far outshine what can be captured on a photograph. The pass is absolultely stunning and a joy to see with your own eyes. Did the Beemer go over the pass as well?

Charlie6 said...

Circle Blue, thanks, she continues to do great.

RichardM.....I hate more than ever. : )

Thanks SonjaM and Gary for your comments....and yes the Bimmer went over the pass as well.

OneGuzzi said...

I rode up from Casper on 11 July. It was 81 in Cody at 11am and I was brushing sleet off of myself and the bike up on Beartooth. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat!