2011 Tour Divide Photos

I unearthed a cache of 2011 photos I had taken with a Micro 4/3rds camera I had brought along. 2011 was a strange year, as the snowpack was so great, the route was detoured around most all the mountain passes from near the beginning in Banff, Alberta, CA to after Steamboat Springs.

Me being me, I just brought along snowshoes and thought it obvious to just trudge across them, pushing the bike in lieu of riding. And that’s kinda what I did. No one cared to join me – I assume everyone else valued their life and their sanity more than myself. But taking the actual route when others wouldn’t dare during the Grand Depart was somewhat of a sea-change moment for me and my philosophy of self-powered traveling: it’s OK if things seem hard, it’s a challenge – it’s supposed to! Rise up to the challenge.

Here’s a collection of photos I’ve found, that I’ve lightly edited and re-saved in a higher resolution – I’ve put them up all in a gallery to check out which I’ll archive here. I’ve picked a few of my favorites to comment about in this post. I promised to post these photos about eight years ago, so it’s nice to make good on that!

So things you’ll see: lots of photos of me alone, on snowy passes. This is somewhat atypical – even though there’s an underlying self-supportive lean to the Tour Divide, camaraderie while on the route is bound to happen – everyone is going the same place, the same way! Unfortunately, not for me: lonely days out there. Not by design; just by circumstance.

The Spray Mountains
The Spray Mountains right outside of Banff Alberta and the start of the Tour Divide are breathtaking. It’s almost impossible to ride through this section, without taking a quick snapshot. I had second thoughts even here that what I wanted to do was merely ride by mountains like this, rather than climb them.
The route through the Flathead Valley was in poor conditions. What wasn’t under snow was usually under water, and creek crossings like this were frequent.
Pushing a bike for days on end wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I decided to ride the Tour Divide, but many miles were completed this way. Flathead Valley
Mountains of the Flathead Valley – I want to say these were called the, “Inverted Mountains”? I thought that was a cool name.
Lots of animal activity in June in the Flathead Valley, even though humans might not have been the majority of it.
Always, always, always eating. A brief interim on a patch of not-snow on the route.
Getting to Whitefish, Montana proved challenging. Several old avalanche paths had to be crossed – like this one, on foot.
There were plenty of objective dangers in traveling alone on closed roads. The local wildlife being one of them. Grizzlies get big up here.
Red Meadow Pass, still winter up here. Feet of snow are still floating on top of Red Meadow Lake.
Self Portrait – probably in Whitefish? Can’t remember.
Richmond Peak – I basically lost control and slid hundreds of feet down this steep, snowy route
The lower lands of Montana were still ridable. Hang in there.
Montana
Montana
Idaho!
A pass strangely unadorned with snow. At this point, I had had basically enough with pushing, and went to a local outfitter to enquire about buying an inner tube used for floating down a river. I wanted to use it as a sled. The pass through to the east side of Grand Teton National Park wasn’t even remotely passable by motor vehicle and I really questioned if I could do it even on foot.
Top of Ashton Flagg Road and into Wyoming
Top of Ashton Flagg Road and into Wyoming. Another snowshoe up rotting snow. Several feet were still waiting to be melted out before motor vehicle travel could be realistic. Take a guess who lost their sunglasses.
Grand Tetons – a little fun before Union Pass
The hardest pass to cross engulfed in snow. I actually became lost, not being able to find a road! I looked for a road for hours (still no sunglasses) Had to go back to town, get a NFS topo map, and try again the next day.
Fast forward through the rest of WY and CO – New Mexico! I’m at a Continental Divide crossing (no snow anymore!) holding my pedal that had broken off its spindle. I found some bailing wire on the road, and used it to lash the pedal in place onto the bottom of my shoe. I would then insert the pedal into its spindle that was still attached to the crank whenever I wanted to pedal. My Tour Divide ended soon after this, after I crashed out, due partly to gear destruction; partly to a month of severe physical strain.

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