Just in time for the opening of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, we crossed the Rocky Mountains through Logan pass today. At least I assume it was Logan Pass. It started in the town of Logan and followed the Logan river through Logan Canyon from the point it dumped into the Cutler Reservoir as a rampaging river, gorged by the day’s rain and the winters melting snow, until it’s sources, trickling from the summits of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. So if that pass has a name, it is probably Logan Pass. And it was a lucky pass for us to find.

The entire time I was planning this trip, I knew that today was going to be one of our hardest days. I knew that we were going to be in Northeast Utah, and I knew that we wanted to get to Wyoming. But from point A to point B was worrisome. I never knew exactly how we were going to do it… and then everything changed the day before we got there. The plan was to take route 39 out of Ogden. It was a direct, but brutal route over the mountains and into Evanston, Wyoming. No more than 50 miles, but probably about 5,000 feet up. When you get that high up, snow never melts. And when snow never melts, sometimes these roads don’t stay open for the winter. That’s what we found out about route 39. It closes from October through May. (It even says so on our Utah map. We totally could’ve just checked that…). There we were, in Brigham, on our way to Ogden, finding out that we had no idea how we were going to get over the Rocky Mountains in two days. We knew that once we were over, we could pretty much just coast to New Jersey…but we just had to get over them first.

Our first option was to take the freeway. Which we’ve done for a handful of miles here & there, but none of us wanted to have to struggle up for four hours while 18-wheelers wailed by us at 60 miles per hour. We loathed the idea of fixing a flat on those shoulders, and wanted to be able to take up an entire lane when we were coming down the other side at 50 miles per hour. Further north on the map was another route. And it went through what was called “Logan Canyon”. “A canyon,” I thought, “that totally means it’s BETWEEN the mountains and not OVER them. This is going to be awesome!” I was mostly right.

Logan Canyon was phenomenal. As soon as we found the way to edge between the behemoth mountains vaulting up directly to the sky, guarding the Great Salt Lake from the vast country to the east, a cascade of impassable earth folded out before us, thousands of feet above our heads, reaching out from all directions to impede our path. Yet we followed the routes discovered centuries ago, between the lowest points of each of these fingers. Before we had begun, locals would wax wistfully about the beauty of the way we were about to go. Then they’d shudder and twitch at the idea of riding a bicycle through it. Especially with the weather like it was today. Deep dark clouds threatened us from the very first minute we began to ride, and seemed to float slowly from the west only to crash into the tops of the mountains we were about to cross, and sit there, dumping who knows what kind of weather onto our tracks ahead.

We began to climb so gently it seemed like we weren’t climbing at all. The work felt too hard for a road that looked this flat – like I was fighting a flat tire, or a maladusted brake-pad, or an invisible headwind. As soon as I would look behind me, I would see the incline, and rememer that we were indeed going up a hill. For hours, we rode up these flat hills, fortunately avoiding a dounpour, and slowly feeling the temperature drop around us. Patches of snow appeared below us. Tiny, seasonal streams fed the Logan River as it dwindled on our way up. The road twisted and turned and mountains were all that we could see in any direction. Our own mountain gradually turned from green to white. Our legs gradually burned and our sweat quickly felt cooler as it dripped down our faces. It was 40 miles from Logan to our destination of Bear Lake. After 28 miles of climbing, Quinn began to struggle. An off-season lodge had no warm tea to offer (and $89 off-season rooms in case we really were in for a disaster. Pfft.) There were still 6 miles to the summit, and then 6 miles downhill to Bear Lake. Andy & I each took one of Quinn’s bags for the next six miles uphill. It helped a lot.

We finally reached the summit to find Bear Lake and all of Wyoming sprawled out before us. I have no idea how far the human eye can see, but we were seeing it from this peak. Then it finally began to rain. After avoiding the scattered storms all day, it caught up to us at the top of th hill. Before we were to get caught in it, we began to descend. An 8% grade at 40-50 miles per hour with freezing rain felt like a plague of daggers flying at your face. Words hardly can describe the thrill and pain. It seems as if it rains or snows on us every time we come down a hill.

At the bottom, exhilerated, exhausted, and stung by the plague of ice daggers, we warmed up inside the Chevron on the outskirts of the lake. We bought some postcards, coffee, hot chocolate, Hostess Apple Pies, bowls of homemade chili, and beef jerky. We told everyone our story. The people there were quite friendly, and helped us brainstorm campsites, motels & RV parks in the area. They thought we were nuts, but they loved it anyway. (Ogden, where we began the day, was at least a two hour drive for them).

The KOA campground was closed on Sundays (!). Motels cost nearly $80. It was cold out, it was beginning to rain harder, and none of this sounded appealing after a sweaty, 80-mile day. Any other campsite was still 8 or more miles away. The owner of the station, a perky and wonderful woman who was keeping the station open late for 1) us, and 2) her husband to come back so she could go home, came over to us and offered the spare space in the office building across the lot. “It doesn’t have a bathroom or a shower, but it’ll keep you out of the cold & the rain.” Slightly stunned at this startling offer, we looked at eachother, realized the great relief in all of our eyes, and accepted her offer. Her cashier walked us over & gave us a key. The space is an abandoned office space – slightly dusty – but a real roof above our heads. It wasn’t being used, and she told us we could use the bathrooms in the gas station in the morning. As soon as the cashier left and we had settled in our sleeping space for the night, the skies opened up, and it rained heavily for the next hour. Our luck and good fortune could not have been better.