I awoke on day two anxious to see more of Grand Targhee. We met for breakfast at Snorkels. Instead of my usual oatmeal and eggs I got oatmeal and a breakfast burrito to go. Employing a bikepackers strategy – the one for here, one to go concept. Which turned out to be overkill of course, but it helps me to know I have delicious calories in my bag and I get sick of just eating ride food. The weather was even more perfect than the previous day. Not too hot and not a cloud in the sky. I was stoked because we had a nice, big ride planned and we were going to pedal from the resort and get a ride back, so basically we were doing a luxury shuttle that would allow us to check out a bike shop and a couple of the better food spots in Driggs.
For those of you interested in doing this ride, you should just grab my track and follow it. Seriously. It’s that good. The views alone are worth it and if you like meadows and switchbacks and Teton views, this ride is for you. We started in the woods on “Andy’s” (yes, named after trailbuilder extraordinaire, Andy Williams) and climbed steadily over to “Peaked.” Right where the trail meets Peaked is an epic wildflower-studded view of the Teton valley. But the epic view is at the end of all the switchback climbing of Peaked – and ”Ain’t life Grand,” which we skipped, just to make everything flow better for our group. Actually we did a little OAB on Teton Canyon Overlook Trail for the epic view. Alex pointed off in the distance and said his mom just did Table Mountain yesterday. Apparently she’s an ultra athlete of some kind, so NBD for her. We were impressed. It looked fairly serious from our vantage point. I ate some of my breakfast burrito and prepared myself – I thought I was prepared, but there is no way to prep for “38 Special.” I thought maybe 38 was the number of perfect switchbacks we would do, but as I count now, there are about 50. Turns out trail names are whatever Andy was listening to at the time. I can’t help think about trail work and just this summer I’ve been learning about how to make a proper rideable switchback – and this is a study in well made and very rideable switchbacks. Also, I’ve been wanting to work on my switchback turns, so this is it – massive switchback practice. Again, my only regret on this ride is that the riding was so much fun and you really got into a groove, that I didn’t stop enough to take photos. And once we got into the Mills Creek section and the trail got a bit more technical, and we started to share the trail with other hikers and riders, I got focused on the riding and keeping up with the group. Don’t get me wrong – the trail was an absolute blast and I had a hell of a time. This is just my internal struggle. We got to the Mills Creek trailhead at the bottom and had two vehicles waiting for us, ready to take us to a fabulous lunch.
We had delicious burrata burgers at Forage. Forage is Lisa and Christian Hanley. Christian making burrata burgers happen and Lisa making sure everyone is happy and fed and watered. I’m grateful for trips like this where I get to sample some of the nicer places to eat. Thankful that Grand Targhee wants to show us a good time. Note for the future: Forage has a brewery called Citizen 33 slated to open in November – so keep an eye out for that. That’s one more reason to look them up. It’s clearly a family affair and I love places like this where you can tell it’s their life. They care about what they do.
Dustin was excited to share one of this favorite rides close to Driggs. I think it’s his chill after work ride that has good views of the Tetons from across the valley. The ride starts at Idaho Canyon just off of Old Horseshoe Road. I’m happy to do this ride because I learned on our last roadtrip that the Big Holes range has some amazing riding, right out of town from both Driggs and Victor. Victor is close to the south end trails and Driggs is near the north side trails. I’ve only done two small rides in the Big Holes so far, but from what I’ve ridden it’s all been good. The more southern section was way steeper and more dense with trees and brush. But this ride is the perfect capper to the day, nothing epic, just a nice spin in beautiful place – a relaxed climb up and some fun trails in the woods. I love the feel of this area – the openness, the grasslands, the vistas…At some point I remark that the wooded section reminds me of riding in the Midwest – tight trees, not too steep. It’s a pretty big contrast to the stuff we’ve been riding here. We finish up with a fast, ripping descent and finish with beers at the car.
After a little cool down and hang out, our sprinter returns and whisks us away to Habitat for some more hang out time. I’m restless and feeling like I don’t have much time left to explore Driggs, so I go take a walk in downtown Driggs. It’s a charming little town, and a nice contrast to the sheer density of tourists in Jackson Hole. I guess it’s still far enough away from the ski resorts? On my ramble I find an old fashioned drug store across the street that has a soda fountain. They’ve been in business since 1906! I love old timey places like this – especially the small down general store feel, where they have a pharmacy and toys for kids and misc. things to buy. I guess it’s that in a time when online sales are taking over, it’s cool to see locally owned businesses still doing it their way – and the place was packed. I strolled down main street and found a snow cone shop in a horse trailer! I enjoy poking around back alleys too. I love checking out all the historic buildings, the cars folks leave sitting around in empty lots all the beautiful decay. Driggs is still real enough to be interesting. I’m grateful for places like this. OK, I’ve wandered off the grid enough. I’m pretty sure our group has gone off to dinner by now. Sure enough everyone is up at Tatanka Tavern working on local beers and chatting it up. Tatanka is a sweet place upstairs from Habitat and they make delicious wood fired pizza. I was stoked that they invited Andy for dinner. I wanted to ask him more about his trail building work. I wanted to take his portrait, but I hesitated, since I didn’t want to put him on the spot. In hindsight I wish I had. He has a face with character!
This trip has been sweet and I don’t want it to end. Since I live in a city, I don’t get enough time in places like this. I’ve done a bunch of camping for trail work this summer and it’s been fantastic to spend time in the woods, but this feels special some how – maybe because I’m staying so close to world class singletrack and it feels like vacation – a work vacation, but still very special. It’s been great to experience Grand Targhee and learn a bit about Idaho trails. It’s been on my list, but I guess this was the year to start exploring. Notice I said start, since I plan to come back as much as I can. I still need to check out Grand Targhee fatbiking trails in the winter.
They have 13 miles of groomed trail (4 miles of singletrack and 9 miles of Nordic trails) that they plan to expand even further. A day of fatbiking followed by a day of snowboarding sounds incredible to me. I love festival atmosphere at Grand Targhee. They do a Wydaho Rendevous Teton Mountain Bike Fest that went down Aug. 31 – Sept. 3 this year. The festival features skills clinics, group rides and guest speakers It will happen Labor Day weekend next year, so if that’s interesting put that on your calendars.
The only thing left to do was pack up my bike, but besides that being a chore, I thought how often do I have sweet singletrack out my door? I could sneak in one more quick ride before heading to the airport. I set my alarm an hour and a half earlier that I would have normally and snuck out the door towards Rick’s Basin. The sun was just creeping over the hills and through the aspens and I had it all to myself and it was sweet. Those perfect turns on Permagrin, those morning views! I made it back in time for a cappuccino and a breakfast at Snorkels. I could get used to this mountain living. Life is good at Grand Targhee. I’m already planning my next trip.
Also, check out my ride buddies’ sites from the trip:
Rich Dillen does Team Dicky Find out about east coast MTB and Rich is hilarious.
Dave Tolnai does NSMB.com Learn more about mountain biking in Canada. It’s a smart site if you’re not already familiar.
Thank you Grand Targhee Resort! I'll be back