June 29, 2010 – 65 miles
It was extremely wet when I woke this morning. Not from rain, but dew. We hung our gear in the sun as long as possible before packing it in on our bikes. The trail today started right in the back of our campsite on an old railroad bed. It started on a gentle but noticeable incline following a river upstream.
After a few miles the trail leveled out and turned away from the river. The rocky trail became a narrow rut filled with very loose sand. It took a lot of concentration to keep the front wheel from turning and digging into the sand. While concentrating on the next few feet ahead of me, I saw Mathieu’s tire marks and various animal tracks. Bear tracks! In the sand, on top of Mathieu’s tire marks, were bear tracks! That got me singing real quick. From then on, I nervously glanced through the forest for any signs of them – it certainly didn’t make riding in the rut easier.
I eventually caught up with Mathieu and we vented our frustration with the condition of the trail. We decided to parallel it on a road. It was still very sandy, but we didn’t have to worry about the rut. Now, we had to deal with washboard…
We reached a main road and searched for places to eat. Mathieu, who always had a taste for pizza, saw a sign for a pizza place so we rode over. Closed! Of course the restaurant we found was only closed on Tuesdays.
We rode on and found another place to eat. I had a a large bowl of spaghetti and a grilled cheese sandwich with large quantities of Coke. We restocked supplies at a local convenience store before continuing on. I bought a large bag of peanut MMs to snack on. I doubt they’ll last too long.
A few miles of pavement lead to a dirt road that was, according to the sign chained across it, closed. We passed through anyways and saw why it was closed. A few sections had been washed out. It was like being on a roller-coaster, riding (sometimes pushing) through 5-foot deep trenches cut across the road. It tested our skill trying to pedal loaded bikes up the opposite sides of the washouts.
Beyond that, the road was very fun. It was covered in large boulders and consisted of lots of short up and downs. I enjoyed the technicality of having to plan a path through the obstacles while trying to maintain momentum (on my dump truck of a mountain bike).
That road ended on pavement again. I settled on my seat and pressed through more miles. My saddle sores acted up with vengeance!
We turned off-road once again and started climbing to the MT/ID border at Red Rock Pass, which is a Continental Divide crossing.
It certainly wasn’t a difficult climb by past standards, but my legs were nearly dead. With the help of MMs I eventually made it to the top.
There wasn’t much of a descent on the other side of the pass. The road turned to ball bearing-type gravel, which made the bike skiddish at higher speeds.
The road hooked left and I faced the mountains that made up the Continental Divide. They were simply stunning! I love Montana already!
I pressed onward. Our campground destination was only a few miles ahead. But I was extremely exhausted. I put a foot down to rest a minute. Not 20 seconds later, a truck drove past with two very good looking girls in the cab. They waved and cheered out the window, but didn’t stop. Why did I have to stop right then? They had to see me right as I was giving up…
They my mind started turning. Maybe they were staying at our campground. That was all the motivation I needed to mount the bike and ride the rest of the way without break.
Unfortunately, when I got there they were nowhere to be found. Damn…
I gathered some water and started cooking dinner right as some menacing clouds passed over the towering Continental Divide. I donned my rain jacked, not for the impending storm, but for the hoards of mosquitoes. They sounded like the buzz of high voltage power lines.
A few minutes later, the rain came with wind and lightening. I hunkered in my tent for a half-hour until it passed. I quickly finished dinner and secured my gear under a table wrapped in a poncho. Once again, it started dumping rain. It continued the rest of the night.
The wind was the scariest part. I’ve never camped in this tent in high wind conditions. Mathieu was worried and called over to make sure everything was fine. It was, luckily.
Its funny how the mind dwells on certain things. We were in the heart of bear country and yet I didn’t once worry about bears – only the wind. (Wind can’t bite my head off, can it?)
As it was raining, I realized I had to pee…bad. There was no way I could hold it six hours until morning but now way I was getting out of my tent, though. So I managed to position my body that I could pee out into the rain fly without flooding the inside of my tent. Mission accomplished!
(note to self: bring a pee bottle next time)