Pavement…How Sweet it is
December 27th, 2014
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.