The Latest Plan

After leaving Whiskey Grove Campground there’s only a little over two miles of gravel before the road turns to pavement and pavement all the way to Pinedale, which is only 35 miles. I heard from many sources that the road is either flat or downhill, not so, there are numerous inclines and they weren’t ant hills. Oh well!

Arriving at Pinedale was a shocker when I looked for a room to rent. Nothing under $90. The RV park was right in the middle of town, but it made the Bates Motel look like the Hilton. I was concerned that someone would make off with my things, so I got a $90 room.

Pinedale, according to the author of Cycling the Great Divide, is the last supply point before heading across the 3 to 4 day wasteland known as the Great Divide Basin. So my main concern was making sure I was going to make it across the basin by having enough food and water. This trek has been on my mind since the start of the tour and at times even before.

I bought a couple of extra water bottles, peanut butter, six Top Ramen “meals”, cookies, instant oatmeal, fig nutens, and candy.

The next morning, when I went to check out the motel’s breakfast, I discovered that the coffee machine was broken and so was the waffle maker. I rushed into the reception area and had a hizzie fit. The receptionist was very apologetic and reduced my bill to $64…nice. But the sad part was when she related, tearfully, how the hotel changed hands the day before and everyone was getting canned.

On 9-09-14, I packed my things and rode the 14 miles to Boulder to stay in a RV park at $15 a day. Boulder is basically, a gas station, connivance store, and cafe. It’s also,14 miles closer to the Great  Divide Basin.

By chance, the maintenance staff informed me about the National Weather Service and that all I needed to do was click on the area that I was concerned with and I would receive the latest 5 day forecast.

That’s exactly what I, did and what a shocker the forecast was for the Great Divide Basin. Rain, snow, wind gusts up to 27mph. Everything but hot lava. The storm would start on Wednesday night and clear out on Friday. So my plan was to stay at the RV campground until Friday am and then take off for the Great Divide Basin.

On Wednesday evening, I read over all the caveats regarding the Great Divide Basin and thought I don’t want to really to do it. Moments later I was checking my voice mail, which by the way I never check, and saw a message from my brother. Beverly informed me that Tony is planning on going to Ojai next week and will pass right by our house on his way.  I called Tony and I mentioned that Boulder is almost directly north of Grand Junction where he lives. Basically, highway 191. By going with my brother I won’t have to ship my bike home and will avoid the hassle of flying.

So, here’s the latest plan. Yesterday (9-11-14) I took off from Boulder with the crazy idea that I could ride the 88 miles to Rock Springs. Well, even with the best of days I don’t thing I can do 88 miles, and it wasn’t the best of days. The highway was a roller coaster with some real challenging climbs and then the wind started. Check the photo with the American flag taken in Farson, Wyoming.  Now if the wind was at my back I would have made Rock Springs and points further south. By the way, I spent the night at the Bates Motel in Farson,

The next morning, I knew I was in for it, when I saw all the full size pick up’s and stake bed trucks parked in front of the cafe across from the motel. Sure enough, when I walked in with my Little Lord Fauntleroy bike shorts with leg warmers, heads turned from the bunch of farmers having their coffee. One farmer even directed a comment toward me about riding a bicycle out on the highway, but I didn’t get the particulars and I wasn’t going to ask for a repeat.

I made it to Rock Springs at around 1pm today. It was only 42 miles but I couldn’t make it to the next town, which is Dutch John, Utah because it would have been over 100 miles. Tomorrow I’m headed to Dutch John, which is not a town, but a resort on the Green River, that also has tent camping. Eventually, I’ll make it to Grand Junction and then Tony and I will head to Southern California with bike and trailer.

By the way, the photo with the ruts in the dirt was made by the cover wagons of the pioneers in the 1850s.

 

Young LlamasbFarson Ice CreamBates Motel Farson, WYHistorical Marker for PioneersGroup of LlamasHighway to Rock Springs, WYRuts from Wagon Wheels 1850'sRV Campground  Pinedale, WYThe flag doesn't lie

Less Miles…. More Enjoyment

On 9-04-14, after finishing my blog, I got a pizza and Gatorade for lunch and took off for a campground that was only 25 miles away. I thought about going over Togwotee Pass 9,658′ when told by two different people that it was only 11 miles to the top, but decided to set up camp, even though it was only 3:30. Can you believe, that I actually bought firewood. Now that’s a first.

The next day, I started fresh in attacking Togwotee (take the w out to pronounce it) Pass. When I got to 9 miles I thought it’s going to have to get really steep to gain another 1,000 feet. Well,11 miles went by and no pass, which was a relief. Finally, at 18 miles I reached the summit. It was a good decision to be lazy the day before.

It was quite a ride coming down the other side. There was a sign that showed that for the next nine miles there was a 2 to 6% descent. The only problem, was the cold air, that was blasting you in the face.

I stopped at the Lava Mountain Resort to warm up and get some goodies. What was interesting was that it was $15 to pitch your tent and $25 to rent a cabin. It was early, and I really planned on going further, but I asked to see the cabins and bingo. The rest is history.

Besides, the comfort in not sleeping on dirt, I was able to get the funk out of my clothes with the Laundromat. I had diner at the resort’s restaurant which included two beers.

9-06-14, was a tough day. It started with a nice, mostly downhill 15 mile ride on a highway, but after leaving the highway the road turned to uphill gravel for almost five miles. I was able to ride the whole way with frequent stops to catch my breath. It was the next climb, Union Pass 9,210 that got me off the bike and into the pushing mode for over four miles.

I rode as far as South Fork Fish Creek because there is plenty of water and the next reliable water source was too far away. Where I camped was not an “official” campground, but just a fire ring out on a knoll that had a fantastic panoramic view. There was one disconcerting thing that could interrupt your sleep, and that was the sign about 50 yards away informing you about Grizzly Bears.

There were no grizzly bears, at least, I didn’t see any or hear any, but it did get cold. By the time I got my camera out the digital thermometer went from 22 to 24 degrees. That frost not frosting on my bike seat. Because I knew that today’s ride would only be 25 miles I took my  time packing in addition I wanted the sun to defrost my gear.

I left camp at 10am and rode to Whiskey Campground. There was a lot of downhill riding but it was pretty technical. You had to keep your reflexes in overload to keep from spilling. As soon as I got off my bike at the campground it started to rain with lightening and thunder. I set up tent and tossed my gear inside. My campsite was about 40 feet from the roaring Green River. I put my food in a bag with a note that I was a bike camper, in the outhouse, for bear protection.

 

 

Storm clouds Fish Creek, WYA Road Less Traveled Fish Creek,WYCabin  Lava Mt. Togwotee Pass,WY24 Degrees Fish Creek, WYCamp Site Fish Creek,WYCamping Fish Creek, WYGrizzy Bear Sign Fish Creek, WYColt by Big Wind River, WYFrosty Seat Fish Creek, WY

Togwotee Pass, WY

 

 

 

Widow Maker

On Sunday, 8-31-14 the skies looked much better, but there were still some dark clouds hanging around. As I was following Gary and Gail away from the motel, I made a decision not to go the way they were headed and instead decided to take the I-15 to Monida and catch the bike route from there. I was concerned about the 10 miles of mud the sacrosanct bike route took one through.

The I-15 had a wide shoulder, there was little or no traffic, and I cut 10 miles off the route. I learned a lot from Lance Armstrong. Some time after I arrived at Red Rock Lake campground, in strolls Gary and Gail, mud and all.

The camp had its resident kook. He had a nice truck but talked about sleeping in the campground’s restroom because of the rain the night before. I told him that there wouldn’t be any rain for the next seven days. He decided to sleep in a horse trailer that was parked next to sage brush instead of the out house. That night we had thunder, lightening, and rain. The next day this Kook starts yelling at me “you said there wasn’t going to be any  rain”. Oh well.

On 9-1-14, after enduring route 455, which was a poor excuse for a single track, I met up with G&G at a Subway next to U.S. 20. Gary said that they were going another 30 miles and I said that I was pooped and couldn’t go any further. We said our goodbyes and wished each other best wishes and that maybe we might see each other down the road.

They took off and I rode down U.S. 20 looking for a camp site. I finally found one, and sat down at a picnic table and looked over the bike map. It was around 3:30 and I thought it was too early to camp. I saw that I could take U.S. 20 to U.S. 47 and end up at the place G&G were headed to without riding on mushy gravel.

I took off on the bike and rode on U.S. 20, which wasn’t the nicest road to bike on, but finally got to U.S. 47 which was a cyclist’s dream; a smooth flat, with occasional hills that went down, road with a wide shoulder, beautiful scenery, and no traffic. My plan was to sleep off the side of the road, but when I got to  Mesa Falls, my destination, there was the Grandview Campgrounds. Wow! and it was starting to get dark. So, I ended up, like G&G, riding 60 miles.

On 9-2-14, I rode about two miles and who do I see drying out their tent, G&G. Today’s ride was from Mesa falls to Flagg Ranch, 47 miles, and as Mr. McCoy, the author for cycling the Divide, writes, there’s some rough road but flat. Rough Road, that’s like saying Hiroshima was a fire cracker. It was the deal breaker, the prima dona, the widow maker, of all the “roads” I rode since starting the Divide. Flat? We gained over 4,000′. I think I pushed my bike more than I rode it. A four wheeler would have a though time on this “road”. G&G left a note on the road which showed that they were an hour ahead of me.

I arrived at Flagg Ranch just after dark and couldn’t find G&G so I set up my tent and went to the lodge, very nice, and had a cheese burger and a Corona.

On 9-03-14, after looking around the camp grounds for G&G for not, I gave up and rode toward the Grand Tetons. When I got to the turn off for Colter Bay, I decided to ride there, because I knew that they  had a good size store.

Stepping back a moment, the night before, after giving it some thought, I decided to give up the idea of riding to Mexico. I started too late, I have too much gear, I’m not enjoying the ride, it’s becoming a beat the clock endeavor. I require more recovery time(age) and I’m not getting it. There’s also altitude that I didn’t give much thought to. I’m riding between 6,000 and 7,000 feet and that takes its toll. I’m doing a blog which takes time and one’s forever looking for wifi. I had less pressure when I worked full time. Off road mountain biking with camping gear is nothing like touring on the road. I could feel myself relaxing when I decided that I would ride to Breckenridge, Colorado and check to see if Kenny would pick me up in a truck.

Listen to this, I decided to camp at Colter Bay, now that I don’t have to hurry off to Mexico. and some time after setting up camp, G&G pull up and have the camp site next to mine. We started laughing. What’s the chance? They spent last night at the lodge and not in the campground. They’re staying the night, but are planning on riding 55 miles the next day. Forget that.

This morning, 9-04-14, We said our goodbyes, again, as G&G were packing their things and I was getting ready to head to the laundromat to work on my blog. Now for the photos.

 

 

Bear LockerRoad to Red Rock Lakeskennedy Lima, MTTrumpet birdsI-15 GridlockUpper Red Rock LakesRed Rocks Lake 8-31-14Gary before Flagg RanchPeats Steak HouseGary & Gail Another Day in Paradisefly fishermanColter Bay, WY 9-04-14 ed

 

 

 

Three Days in Two

Rain at Mountain View MotelThis post so soon after the last one is the result of rain. I’m currently in a motel room in Lima, MT, although, I should be on the road but woke up to rain and, a cold rain at that, and decided to stay put. Originally, I planned on taking three days to ride from the Elkhorn Hot Springs to Lima (as in Lima beans) but the two cyclists, Gary and Gail, informed me that they were going to ride 50 miles each day to make it in two days.

Two days seemed over the top. I stopped at Bannack State Park (see photos), which is a ghost town but Gary and Gail rode on. I wouldn’t recommend going to Bannack, but I would recommend Virginia City, Nevada and Brody, California.

After, Bannack it was a roller coaster ride on dirt (see photo, in addition we climbed 2240′ and descended 2670′). I just kept riding and riding throughout the day, and saw no reason to set up camp as long as there was plenty of sun and I felt reasonably strong.   Thunder and lightening started to make it’s presence known so I kept riding while looking for a place to set up camp.

After, riding 57+ miles I spotted Gary and Gail setting up their camp on a hillside covered with sagebrush. I dragged my bike and trailer about thirty feet up the hill to a flat area that was bare of sagebrush and steaming cow pies. As soon as I got my tent set up it started with a downpour. I climbed into my tent where it felt cozy as the rain slapped against it.

The rain was short lived, and I went out and set up my stove, and whipped up a bowl up Top Ramen. For dessert, I had fig newtons. The next morning, I flung the rain fly out of the way to check the weather. There were some awesome clouds and I reached over for my camera and took a photo of my trailer with the clouds in the background (see photo).

We started out around 8am for a long day to reach Lima. We got slammed with a nasty headwind as we rode in the open, but lucked out as we turned and rode parallel and close to these cliffs. The valley we were riding in was ranch land, and besides the Black Angus cattle, they grew hay for cattle feed in the Winter.

As we rode, actually, Gary and Gail were a ways ahead of me, a group of four wheelers rode pass me. The last member of the group was an older man who stopped to talk. He mentioned that there are five generations of his family that have been involved with the Hansen Ranch. His grandfather homesteaded the land. He pointed in the distance and said “see that mountain that looks like a tit well just to the right of it is where the road goes”. Thanks.

The road the rancher was talking about, is Medicine Lodge Sheep Creek Divide, and it was one steep road (see photo of Gary and Gail pushing their bikes). To add insult to injury, we were told that it’s all downhill on the other side.  Not so.

After, putting in some miles the road turned into one long meandering downhill snake, that traversed the valley floor and then through a canyon with massive rock monolifts. What was interesting was the number of caves in these granite rock mountains.

The road surface for most of the ride was gravel, which can get old after a while, even if it’s downhill. The cattle on the road (see photo) can be intimidating, especially, the ones without an utter.  So far, the intimidation proves to be in one’s imagination for they move away when you get close enough. Maybe they’re playing Mexican standoff.

After, 43 miles of gravel and dirt you turn on to the frontage road that parallels the I-15. Only seven miles to go and on asphalt, You’re home. Want to bet? As soon as you make the turn you get hit in the face with an unrelenting nasty headwind. I didn’t think that I was going to make it to Lima. I stopped so many times to rest and felt like giving up. When I got within a mile, I picked up steam and here I am in Lima, like in Lima beans.

Photo: On swing at Elkhorn Hot springs

Photo: Shoe tree at Mountain View Motel. Shoes of Continental Divide hikers.

Photo: Pork Chops at Elkhorn Hot Springs.

Photo: Mountain view Motel sign. Sorry, if you were thinking of dressing your deer in the bathtub.

 

Swing at Elkhorn (2)Pork Chops at ElkhornBig Sheep Creek Canyon (2)Horsing around on Highway 278 (2)Gail and Gary Med Lodge Divide (2)Continental Divide Hikers (2)Top of Med Lodge Divide (2)Bannack Ghost Town (2)Stop to filter water (2)Bannack Ghost Town 1 (2)Road out of Bannack,MT (2)Sign at Mt View Motel, Lima, MT (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elkhorn HOT SPRINGS, Montana

       This will be a short update. I’ve been at the Elkhorn Hot Springs for the past two days and it’s been the highlight of the trip so far. I came close to missing this experience when I first spotted the steep climb off the main road and had to think twice before deciding to push my bike up this long gravel road. When I got to the top I checked my phone and noticed that there was no cell phone or internet service, so I decided to take off. When I rode by the lodge on my way out someone yelled for me to stop.

I stopped and when I was informed, yes, they don’t have cell phone service but they do have internet service and the cost for a room is $35 which includes breakfast and the use of the pool facilities, I signed the dotted line.

The staff have been so gracious and helpful…is this a dream? The food was excellent and more than enough. I used the pool several times, which is surrounded by tall pines, well they look like pines. Overall, it has a rustic,Topanga Canyon, feel to it. I included photos.

Today, three other cyclists arrived and we shared our war stories.  Tomorrow, we’re off for more adventure.

Elkhorn Lodge 5Elkhorn Hot Springs Pool 2Elkhorn Hot Springs Carl(1)Elkhorn Hot Springs Pool(1)Elkhorn LodgeElkhorn Lodge 3Elkhorn Lodge 4Elkhorn Lodge 6

Pavement…How Sweet it is

In my last blog I said very little regarding Butte, that’s because I saw very little of Butte. When I got off I-90 I went directly to the first motel I saw which was next to the off ramp. I rented a room and took a hot bath to thaw out my bones. I went to the Safeway down the street to get supplies for the next day’s ride and then got a burger. I hadn’t used the $20 the fly fisherman gave me.

I returned to my room, which looked like a war zone, and started working on my blog. I ran into a bunch of problems to the point that I had to get a hold of Keith. He was able to work the blog on his end. Just minutes before midnight I was able to complete my blog. I forgot to mention that I blew away several paragraphs of text when I transferred some photos to the blog and had to redo the text. Enough of Butte.

The ride out of butte on 8-23-14 went smooth for several miles then there was this brute of a climb.  I had company for awhile when this woman, who is doing some of the Divide, pushed her bike along side me.  She proved to be too young, too strong, and had minimal gear so It wasn’t long before I was pushing alone.

Miles later, I reached a plateau where you actually cross over the Continental Divide. It was cold at the top and when I checked my thermometer it read 44 degrees.

The ride down from the Plateau went for miles through open range land with rolling hills and sage for the view. At times cattle stood in the road way, which was gravel, and I was concerned because it didn’t look they would move, or if they did, it would be at me. Well, at the last moment, they would gallop off.

As the gravel road headed downward, I forgot to mention that I had to pushed my bike up numerous hills, toward the I-15 there were two choices when you reached the frontage road, turn left and end up the next day tackling a real nasty ass kicking, although scenic (like who’s smelling the roses) section, or turn right and take the pavement for the next two days.

Forget the glory, I took the pavement, which turned out to be like riding on carpet, and the only concern I had was there were no campgrounds listed on the map that wasn’t another day’s ride away. My plan was to ride until I found some place off the side of the road where I could camp, but there was a problem, every square inch of land was fenced and festooned with No Trespassing signs.

As I turned off the frontage road, onto U.S. 43, I kept my eyes open for a place to bed down. If you forgot, my tent, tarp, and rain fly, are more than wet from the Merry Widow Campground soaking. Imagine, sleeping off the side of the road inside a dripping wet tent.

After riding a little over a mile, I saw it, but didn’t believe it, Campgrounds. As I turned off the road toward the entrance, I was giddy but still skeptical that there was an actual campground. There it was, and with several available sites. In addition to the find, the sun popped out and I was able to dry out my gear. In addition, the neighbor next to me, brought over some hot dogs for my Ramen.

I took the road less traveled and how sweet it was.

 

On 8-25-14, I resumed riding on U.S. 43 which follows the Wise River. It was only 10 miles to the Wise River Cafe where my plan was to have breakfast. I had a big breakfast and followed it up with peach pie and ice cream. I used the $20 from the fly fisherman to pay for the breakfast. It was just enough.

I started down U.S. 43 and after about 2 miles I decided to check my map and compass and I discovered that I needed to go south on U.S. 73. There’s a wasted 4 miles. This was another smooth as silk highway with minimal traffic. It’s referred to as one of America’s Scenic Byways.

As I was headed south this cyclist going north yells to me, ” are you riding the whole mountain?”. I was thinking what did he mean by that because the road only had a gradual incline. Well, I learned later that there are some tough climbs to get to tonight’s campsite with more and tougher ones to follow tomorrow.

I camped at Little Joe’s Campground, climbing 2100′. This has been basically, a roller coaster highway following the river where fishermen using drift boats with one person using oaks to hold the boat steady while the others fish.

I built a campfire for the first time since starting the Divide. I spent a lot of time fanning the fire to get it going. I found a log to sit on and wrote notes for my blog. I had to put my down jacket over my sleeping bag to keep warm. I found out the next morning with my digital thermometer that it got down to 26 degrees.

On 8-26-14, I started the day with one climb after another. I climbed close to 1500′ in 8 miles. There was this long steep descent that was exhilarating if not fun. I’m currently staying at the Elkhorn Hot Springs. This was a real find.

 

Get your feet wetFishing on Wise River(1)View from bike routeSign on U.S. 73U.S. 73 Senic BywayScene on U.S. 73Nasty windGrid lock on U.S. 73

 

Toughest Day on the Divide

The weather forecast for the next few days is rain and I’m not staying put in Helena so on 8-21-14 I rode out of Helena into a light rain looking for Grizzly Gulch rd. I found it, and for the first time spotted an official Divide Route sign. It was 24 miles to Park Lake with some steep climbs that required me to push the bike. The elevation is 6150′ and for the first time I had to wear my down jacket. I met some fly fishermen who were loading their truck. One of the fishermen, Dave, showed the most interest in my trip. He asked me if I’m stopping in Butte, and I said yes, and then wondered why he asked that question. He then pulls out a $20 bill and hands it to me, stating it’s for dinner in Butte. He was also very helpful in providing detailed directions for a tricky section of the route.  There was thunder and lightening and rain while I listened to classical music on my ipod.

Left campsite at Lake Park at 8am to a cold, foggy, and light rain morning, although the whole day was like this. In a few miles I reached the section of the route that will live in infamy, as far as I’m concerned. This is a two mile plus motocross course it was not intended for bicycles. It took me three hours to finish this section. One only gets a partial sense of the wanton nastiest this section provides through photos. Every so often the left pedal would hit the back of my right calf while I pushed the bike. My leg looked like someone used a meat tenderizing mallet on it.

I camped at Merry Widow Campground in Bain, which is 30 miles north of Butte. It’s a weird experience riding through the back woods all day, thinking that this is the world, and then entering a clearing and out pops the I-15. It rained all night and it was a bitch packing all my gear, especially, the tent, tarp, and rain fly and the wetness adds to the weight. Just what I need is more weight.

After a big breakfast in the town of Bain I headed south toward Butte. The ride wasn’t too bad except for the constant cold rain. When I checked into a motel I had a very difficult time unbuckling my helmet because my fingers wouldn’t cooperate. As I said it was cold.

 

#1 Baddest Divide Section 2#1 Baddest Divide Section 3

#1 Baddest Divide Section 4# 1 Baddest Divide SectionSign when leaving Helena#1 Baddest Divide Section 5Park Lake Storm

Lay Over in Helena, MT

On 8-18-14 the ride out of Lincoln began on a dusty gravel road that led 15 miles to Stemple Pass. The road,  Sleepy Hallow (sic) Ave./Stemple Pass Rd. leads pass Ted Kaczynski’s former residence. In fact, I stopped to talk to a rancher who was spraying weeds between his property and the road. He pointed to a knoll where Ted’s “cabin” was located.  He remembers Ted passing his ranch, as the Unabomber walked to and from Lincoln, always keeping to himself.

I was able to ride almost 14 miles before the road became too steep and I had to push the bike to the top. I included a photo at the top which has benches for cross country skiers. The top wasn’t the end of pushing the bike for there was more pushing on the road I turned left on. I rode for quite a while on a ridge with a view of the forest as far as the eye could see.

I missed a turn, need to follow the map much closer, and ended going on this, at least ten miles, hang on to the seat of you pants, downhill “run”. The road left the forest and exited into this wide valley. I had no idea where I was, but felt relieved when the road I was on, ended at a T and there was this sign that read Helena 28 miles. All I that to do was turn left and go South. It was around 3:30 and I thought I had a chance of making it to Helena before nighttime. This was a wide gravel road that cut through ranch land. There were these big tracker like combines that were gathering the cut hay into these huge rolls(1500 pounds each) to store for feeding their cattle during the winter.

I was cranking on the pedals, but at times had to slow down, because the wash board became so jarring that I was afraid of loosing control of the handlebars. Finally, I spotted a store, Canyon Creek, that was around 1/4 of a mile after where the gravel road turned to pavement. Was I in luck, the store also had an area for camping and camping on thick soft grass, not the hard gravel that I was used to. See photo of camp ground. The first thing the owner of the store asked “are you doing the Divide?”. She said she gets a few of them time to time. It was a tough day, for I climbed 2890′. I don’t think I would have made Helena.

On 8-19-14 I rode into Helena and rented a room. My plan was to have a lay over day, i.e., spend two nights here. I spent my time in Helena taking care of business, such as, buying supplies, cleaning my bike chain and lubing it, eating at Panda Express and MacDonald’s. It’s weird seeing all these familiar stores, Home Depot, Lowes, Office Depot, etc. It’s like you haven’t left home.

My big concern is the weather. There’s a storm predicted, with T-storms on Thursday and “regular” rain for Friday. I don’t want to spend any more time in a motel room. Need to hit the road. By the way, I spotted quite a few of these roadside memorials, young people, how sad.

 

U.S. 279 MemorialButterfly on bike seatCatheral HelenaCanyon Creek, MT

 

 

Pushing the bike

It’s been a while since I last  got on the computer mainly because they don’t have wifi in tents. On 8-12-14 I rode 41+ miles mostly on farm roads, which was a treat, from all the riding through dense forest. I camped at a state campground a mile from the quaint town of Big Fork with views of Flathead Lake, which by the way is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.

To give my dupa a rest, I decided to walk to town for dinner. I found a pizza place and besides pizza, I had two beers and two jello shooters. With all the riding and the booze, I was feeling a little light headed and looked like  someone who is failing a sobriety test as I was making my way back to camp. Twice, I had take a break by sitting on the stoops of a store. Half way up this long steep  hill to reach the campground I stuck out my thumb and got a ride.

I was dreading the next day’s ride because of a 6 mile steep climb that is mentioned in the book and on the map. I knew that I would have to push my bike and my ever so heavy trailer for 6 miles and of course that’s what I did, and in 90 degree weather. It took more than a few hours to reach the top. I averaged around 1 1/2 miles an hour.

The top was so sweet with the added attraction of an 8 mile, hang by the seat of your pants, downhill. You had to really grip the handlebars because much of the road surface was crushed rock that was laid a little too thick in places. I think you get the picture.

When I was close to the end of the downhill I happened to look at my handlebar bag and noticed that my bike map was missing. It fits under a sheet of plastic. I went into a panic, because without this very detailed map the ride is impossible. I unhitched the trailer and started riding back up to look for the map, and after about less than a mile, I turned around and hitched the trailer back up.

After riding for a few minutes, I spot a forest service truck, from Arizona no less, coming up the hill. I stop them and let them know my situation. They gave me their blessings and continued on.  My mind was flooded with possible, actually, impossible ways that I could get a new map. Around two hours later I hear this truck behind me, it’s the forest service truck and this guy is waving the map. I did not make this up.

The next day, 8-14-12, I fixed myself, freeze dried Pasta Primavera for breakfast. I was in no shape to fix dinner the night before. There was a light rain that stopped after a couple of hours of riding. I decided to avoid the forest, beating me up too much, and took highway 83 to the next stopping point which was Holland Lake. The highway had it’s own disadvantages, narrow shoulders with speeding cars, trucks, cars pulling trailers, and even a truck pulling a trailer and the trailer pulling a boat.

Holland Lake is a very popular camping and boating spot. It’s a beautiful place surround by majestic mountains. That night, I was in for a treat from mother nature; violent thunder and lightening. Of course it rained, and to my surprise my rain fly failed me. Of all places the water dripped, it had to be on my face. I threw my jacket over my face but then I felt that I was suffocating.  Finally, I got out of the tent; and getting a good soaking as I arranged my ground cloth over the top of my tent. It worked.

Took highway 83 to Seeley Lake on 8-15-14, where believe it or not, nothing event full happened.  I’ll be back in the forest when I leave Seeley Lake.

On 8-16-14 I left Seeley Lake at 8am and didn’t get to Big Nelson Campground until 6pm. I rode through the forest most of the way. I rode 47 miles and gained 2580 feet with a lose of 2060. This campground leaves much to be desired. There’s only 10 camping sites, and two of them, mind being one of them, are situated below the roadway. I had to unpack most of my things on the shoulder of the road and carry them down on these homemade steps cut into the embankment.

Sometime later, the neighbor campers came over with a 32 inch chain saw and an axe. Good thing I wasn’t camping in Texas. They cut up firewood for me and even got the fire going. Also, they brought me a bottle of Kona beer. The next day they came over to carry my bike and trailer up to the roadway. Their names are Paul and Josh. I gave them a free copy of my blog.

It’s 8-17-14 and I’ve been cooped up in a motel room working on the blog. This am I left Big Nelson and rode and also, pushed my bike to get to Lincoln. I had 5 miles of pushing. I met a couple from Spain who are doing the Divide. Now I have left to do is to upload some photos.

Sunset on Flathead LakeHolland Lake MTBig Fork, MTCoffee on Holland LakeMontana MailboxAlmost Home SignJosh Cutting fire WordMontana FarmKilroyPaul Spliting FirewoodResting on Climb

Finally into the Backcountry

On 8-8-14, I left Eureka for the first leg of the Divide, Tuchuck  Campground. I didn’t make it. The map gets 1/2 credit for me taking the wrong road.  I was wasted and demoralized and decided to forget about the first three legs and take the highway back to Whitefish and start from there. The third leg finishes in Whitefish anyhow.

I rode back to North Dickey Lake and camped with the Canadian family. Besides riding on their Seadoo they fed me chili dogs with cold beers. We sat around discussing health care systems. They just loved my company.  When I got into my sleeping bag, I had an epiphany, don’t ride back to Whitefish, ride to where the wrong turn was made and go the right way.

On 8-9-14, I finished the day’s ride at the Divide’s first destination, Tuchuck Campground. The two mile section before reaching Whitefish Divide was Nasty. I had to push my bike and trailer the whole way.  The “road”  was steep and paved with loose gravel and rocks that varied in size between potatoes and misshaped cantaloupes. I kid you not. There isn’t a number for the number of times I had to stop to catch my breath.  I got a real treat when I reached the top. There was snow lodged in the roots of a fallen tree (results from an avalanche), so I made myself a snow cone with my Powerade.  From there it was downhill to the campground.  My back didn’t appreciate pushing the bike.

The next day’s ride was from Tuchuck to Red Meadow Lake. It was quite a down hill ride, but it was pay back time with the last two miles, which I had to walk. Actually, the elevation gain was 2190′ and the loss was 1560′.

While at the lake, this guy walks up and asks if I met a man driving an old blue pickup. I said yes, that I met him while I was pushing my bike up Nasty Hill. He then tells me that the man is his father and that his father told him about a guy a year younger than him, who’s riding the Divide. This is incredible, since Nasty Hill lies more than 36 miles and over a mountain from the lake. The son gave me two ice cold sodas and a couple of hot dogs that I would add to my Top Ramen. The cold sodas were heaven sent because I was over heated from pushing the bike.

I’m writing this blog from a bike hostel, Montana Bike Hostel, which is around six miles Southeast of Whitefish in Columbia Falls. I have my own cabin out from the main house which sits on an acre. The place is surrounded by horse farms, the kind one would see in Hidden Valley. I finally got to take a shower. It was 37 degrees this morning when I left Red Meadow Lake. It was an incredible long down hill ride into Whitefish. This should be the last time you see the word Whitefish.

Bear Locker Tuchuck CampgroundTuchuck CampgroundBike HostelMontana SignageRed Meadows Lake 8-11-14Hot Dog RamenSeadooing with CanadianWhitefish Divide, MT

 

 

 

 

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