Day One Riding - Union Pass
Miles: 241 miles

When we were coming into Pinedale the day before we alerted to a wildfire burning in the Bondurant area to the point where US191 was closed. We had an order to the routes that we wanted to ride but the fire had us thinking more strategically. When Friday morning rolled around we went to the Wrangler Cafe for breakfast and determined that the Union Pass trail was ok to ride but the fire was in that general area. We contemplated whether we should ride it while we could, or wait until the following week and maybe it would be clear by then. Of course, if we waited it might get worse and who knows maybe it would be closed for an extended period of time. We decided to take our chances and ride it. We started out by going up WY352 toward Cora and took a small road toward Willow Lake thinking we would take a look. Two dead-ends later I was having flash-backs to 2008 when we had numerous dead-ends. I thought I had made a good route looking for the tell-tale signs of gates and avoiding unnamed roads, but here we were again. Without allowing that to get into our heads we simply continued on to Gypsum Creek Road and into the Bridger National Forest. Last time we came this way we were both on KLRs so the DRs felt like not only plenty of bike but also giving us more capability on the dirt. We were down to the Green River Lakes Road before we knew it. Soon after that we were at the Green River Lakes and looking squarely at Squaretop Mountain. We looked at the scenery for a little while and decided it was time to move on. Green Lakes Road is a fairly wide gravel road that any 2WD car could navigate which meant we were riding around 50mph or so. It didn’t take us long before we were on Union Pass Rd and heading up the mountain. The road up to the top had no steep ascents but when we turned onto Union Pass Rd we were at 7700 ft and once on the pass and up a little trail where we took our next break we were at 9700 ft. Once we were up top we could really see the fire, and we thought it was the same one, only to learn later that it was a different fire and one that had a much greater chance of impacting us. We rode down to DuBois where we planned to gas up and grab a bite to eat, but when we were filling up some guy told us that the fire may force US26 to close and we needed to go well past where Union Pass Rd dumped us out on US26. If we were going to stuck it would mean going all the way around making it a huge detour. We decided to not take the time nor the risk and we hightailed it back the way we came. Coming back we stopped at Lake of the Woods and a couple of other spots along the way as we enjoyed a leisurely pace back to the hotel. We had made dinner reservations at Pitch Fork Fondue area (not restaurant). This place was a number of picnic tables grouped together with a cooking area. Matt is the owner and serves up the steaks with the help of some local HS students along with his wife and daughter. Matt is a native of PInedale and traces his roots back several generations in this same area. The idea is to place steaks on a pitch fork and cook them in super hot oil for 2 to 4 minutes depending on how well done you want your steak. They supply all of the side dishes and the best part is you can bring your own beer. Interestingly they had a set of corn hole boards, so we each took one the students as partners and played. I’m pretty sure they were impressed with our display of corn hole prowess. We had a great time and even discussed some politics. This was well worth the visit.