I started my journey over the Big Horn Mountains today full of anticipation and curiosity if I could even do it. It was a (very) slow but steady 20 miles up into the shrouded mountain top and I was doing pretty well (I thought) even as the chill started to set in. Then came the rain. At first it wasn't too bad and I put on my rain gear and warm clothes and continued up the road. As I passed a van pulled over in the fog I noticed the driver leaning out taking pictures. He stopped me and said he was a biker as well and knew it would be hard to get a picture of myself climbing a mountain so he took down my email address and said he will send me some (I'll post them if he does). David was driving with his two young daughters and he invited me into the van to warm up for a bit - a welcome invitation I could not refuse. We had a nice chat for a while before I had to continue my assent, the peak of which he said wasn't far.
No sooner had I started the down side of the mountain when the real rain started along with some lightning and thunder - plus it was very cold. It wasn't long before I was soaked through and chilled to the bone. I didn't get but a couple miles down before I realized I needed to stop or I could be facing a dangerous situation. Just then I saw the sign for Camp Bethel. I rode in as a pickup truck followed me in - it was a gentleman who worked there (Mark Boyles) who said I could warm up in the dining hall. There I met the manager of the camp who also offered me a hot shower while I waited out the storm. I didn't realize how cold I actually was until I tried to determine the temperature of the shower and couldn't tell how warm it actually was. Feeling much better after the shower, I waited some more for the storm to pass while I fixed myself a sandwich from my soaked gear. But the storm didn't let up and I was offered to stay the night - another offer I couldn't refuse. I was also invited to join the small crew (the camp itself was not in session this week) for a birthday dinner for one of the employees. After a nice meal the manager and his wife & kids (Matt & Sheri Tremain, Braxton, & Savannah in the picture above) invited me for a drive to look for moose. We drove for quite a scenic while before we did see several moose and also deer, elk and antelope. They had binoculars so the view was fantastic.
I was offered to sleep anywhere - even an empty cabin (which were very cool) but I decided to stay in the dining room as all my gear was spread out to dry. I can assure you I will sleep much better here than I would have in a wet tent at 40 degrees. Oh, and even though there is no cell service in this area, they do have wi-fi!
I also wanted to thank Colleen at Rochport, SD who offered me a free place to camp next to her store last week when strong storms were predicted.
I am so thankful for all these fine folks for helping out a stranger on a bicycle in a time of need. I feel very blessed.