Rest Days, Tribulations, onward Journeys

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous. leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.

Edward Abbey

Interesting days. When last entry was made we were sitting beside the road under a tree providing great shade, realizing  the highway was nasty with farm equipment, semi trucks carrying barley, and increased traffic from tourists and winnebagos with no shoulder. We just gave up and decided to wait for James and Jeanne to rescue us. 

The two vehicles arrived much quicker than expected and we loaded all six of us into the vehicles with bikes attached.  It was decided the showers at Tracy and Ian’s  would be quicker and more efficient than over Teton pass and into Wilson.   Thus a great lunch at the Brskeman Cafe in Victor, a trip to bike shop where I got new bike shoes then on to Tracy and Ian’s for showers. 

My shoes were losing the fight for survival. They were ripped, the soles glued on and wearing out. But they were with me for the first great divide, South America, Germany, this trip and numerous trips in between. Maybe 10000 miles in the past 4 years. Hopefully these new shoes will be as good. 

Constance, Dave, James, and Nancy moved on over the pass to friends in Wilson.   Jeanne and I stayed and waited the arrival of the homeowners. It was great to see them and the kids. Rylan 3 years old and Harper who celebrated her first birthday while we were there. 

On arrival home Ian began gathering  empty plastic milk jugs and filling with water and consolidating the freezer foods into the one big freezer. Turns out a forest fire had begun about 4 miles away and they were worried about the power connections knocking out power. Evacuations were being discussed for a subdivision closer to the fire and a mile away.  And the air was thick with smoke. A small bit of ash fell fell as we were setting up the table outside for dinner. 

Tracy very kindly took the next day off and we got to spend the day with her and the kids. Very pleasant!  

We drove to Jackson where Jeanne and I were searching for a new tent. The old Walrus 2 person tents zipper, we had been jury rigging for a couple of years, was finally not reacting to our attempts to save it.  Time for a new one. 

Settled on a 3 person (or as Jeanne would say 2 people and J. R.’s technology.  We set up 3 different tents in the store, climbing in and out, debating, discussing various attributes. Years ago we had a tent with two separate entries and separate vestibules which was great. Have been unable to find since, but now again we have one. Yahoo excited and room inside. 

Met nancy, Constance, and Dave for lunch and discussion of potential future days. Roads still closed and seems best to just drive to Pinedale, skipping ahead basically 5 days of riding. Going back to warm springs camp and continuing from where we left the trail was proving not an option due to the fire at Jackson lake which blew up and closed the roads. Alas!

Tracy drove us up through the Teton park where the mountains occasionally showed themselves through the smoke. James was up climbing there somewhere. We

Returned over the pass to Victor, to find Ian and the neighbors up on the roof watching the planes circle around the fire 4 miles away dropping retardant. Always a fascinating site. I cleaned and worked on bikes and slept soundly.

This am we returned to Wilson, via Tracy who was going to work, and met out group again. Breakfast then to grocery store for supplies for the long trip from pinedale to Rawlins, a remote section of the great divide. While waiting for the shoppers Dave, James, and I called the pinedale forest office for fire update as the web was not updating very fast. Turns out the road over union pass was just opened today.  We could go north instead of south, although not to where we departed trail. We would skip 2 days of riding instead of 5. Whoopee. 

Off to the Turpin meadows camp where Joe and I camped four years ago. An ok camp. But when we drove up signs saying absolutely no tent camping, due to beat activity. We all agreed we have seen no signs of bear activity except forest service signs. Officialdom. We just moved up the road about 2 miles to a bush camp which is probably nicer than the campground with Winnebagos. 

And Warren and Colleen return from Boulder today. We will have another driver. 

Ok writing a few days later (like 3 days). Having internet again which is always a novel idea, especially internet that works at a resonable speed.  Always an issue on the divide.  

But the story continues: we left Turpin meadows on our first riding days in 3 layover transport days.  Within a mile Jeanne’s front tire was spewing whit liquid stan’s fluid all over.  The fluid makes the tires tubeless so small leaks and punctures get fixed before you know it.  A very nice requirement on the divide ride, especially as we enter cactus areas.  But there were puddles and we could not stop it.  Finally I think it lost enough pressure and spinning the tire stopped the leak.  She had not replaced her spare tube from giving it to a rider several days ago heading north.  But nancy had hers, mine are 26″ and would not fit.  But no need.  Onward and upward toward togwotee pass at 9600feet (about 2900 meters), but then Dave noted a protruding inner tube from his back tire sidewall.  This he had a spare tire for and 45 minutes later we were off again.  This was our ninth tire change on the trip.  

Made the top and a bit of a debate as to route.  When Joe and I went 4 years ago we read the map as go one mile from  summit then left .  We did and climbed back a mile and half up the 6% grade to the left about a hundred yards below pass.  My gps said go left, and Jeanne proceeded but the others were not so sure.  I speeded off to catch Jeanne which I did in a mile and as we discussed the return the others came along realizing this was the correct way.  And it was gorgeous, going the ten miles by brooks lake and where Joe and I had stayed.  Again though this time there were no tents allowed due to grizzly activity, of which we saw none except forest service signs all over saying it was so.  Proceeding on down the valley I found the route changed and it turned on a forest road up the other side of valley before the union pass road which Joe and I took.  We were some of the first bike riders to go through the fire area and it was black.

looking back over valley towards brooks lake and togwotee pass
climging through the old lava mountain fire area

This new route was very ice except for the climb through warm springs creek area.  Some very steep climbs at end of day.  We did over 4500 feet (1306 meters) of climbing but the three vehicles found a wonderful camp on warm springs creek.  I was way too tired to even go the 30 yards to clean up.  Gut was off a bit hence limited the alcohol  to one beer to let the carbon dioxide smooth things out which it did.  

The next day was a total misinterpretation.  The book and map said we had a climb out of camp then it was downhill to union pass.  Ugh argh and ugh! You could see the 13% slope rising out of camp which we assumed was the climb.  We chugged up it for a mile then road for a mile or so on some nice forest road reaching the union pass road which then roast at a 7-9% grade for 4 more miles.   We reached the top all disheartened and tired and cold.  We proceeded on down a gentle wash boarded road where the vehicles were waiting.  Apparently this was union pass on the side of the mountain, usually they put passes at high points between mountains but this was different.  Oh well on we went toward whiskey gulch campground some 35 miles away.dropping a few hundred meters in the process but nothing significant and on a washboard rocky road.  We all agreed the descent was as tiring as the ascent.  

But whiskey gulch campground was great, on the banks of the Green river.  

riding by mosquito lake
union pass road with wind rivers beyond
the new cockpit view
And Colleen returned to Boulder to work leaving Warren to help us drive.  7 of us and 2 cars.  Always interesting but it makes for a luxury trip.  

Troubles sort of but interesting 

Well this is interesting. Has been a good couple of days from Lima, actually 4 now. Centennial valley, red rocks wildlife preserve, into island park which was less than good, and warm springs campground which was great. 

But on departure up the hill into the farm lands of Ashton (where I grew up) received a text via garmin GPS (which is connected to )  road closed from flag ranch, our destination for the day 47 miles away, south. James and Jeanne were driving around due to rough road via Yellowstone. I called Tracy , my niece, and she said berry fire in Tetons blew up last evening and evacuating flag ranch now. 

Decide to ride south towards victor until James and Jeanne got word and could pick us up. Currently have been riding highway but sucks as busy with farm traffic but also tourists diverted around. No shoulder. So after about 10 miles decided to just stop under this tree and wait. 

Somewhere in southwest Montana 

“Wise words are rarer than emeralds, yet they come from the mouths of poor slave girls who turn the millstones.”

Ancient Egyptian saying

Nice evening in butte and Hotel Finlan in downtown a good place, one block off track. The new track is good as brings you through Butte. Nice to see the history and story, although I suspect one needs numerous answers because sometimes the story seems a bit over rosy.
A pleasant ride out and up our 5th divide crossing back to the east side although we are heading west. The continental divide curves around a bit. Then the “dive” down 5 miles to go under interstate 15. A whole different viewpoint from driving the ribbon of highway, just staring at the ongoing road, perhaps glancing at the countryside without feeling it. Biking definitely gives a different viewpoint: one feels the hills, feels the heat, feels the asphalt or as today the variety of gravel.

Then the 7 miles to beaver dam camp a nice place, although the loose gravel, washboard and 7% slope was a bit tough at end of day. Good practice though!

Beaver dam camp nice and no one else there. Pleasant sitting around for the afternoon. Then after a beer and two gin and tonics I decided to climb the 100 foot outcropping of rock. Took a bit to find a route which included two tunnels through rocks. Did make it to the top after about half hour. Would have been easier in something other than crocks for shoes and the effects of g&t. Carefull!
Then to fleecer ridge continuing on up the slope. A few cattle guards with broken rails, then hike a bike up. Again, as with Joe, difficult route finding with directions saying going toward lone fence near the top. The lone fence is a single post 90 degrees off road. And the top is 2000 feet higher. Hmmmm.

beaver dam camp

The descent which my garmin said was a 37% slope was as memorable as ever. Keep the back tire behind the front. A lot harder than it sounds. Switchback through the sagebrush. Then down a rocky rideable 4 wheeler track meeting up with a badger ambling up the track. He looked at me and removed himself from our route.

beginning descent of Fleecer ridge
switchbacking off trail
Onto a good gravel road a through the town of Wise River. A visit to sweetwater ranch where Constance and Dave had friends. I asked Levi the difference between hay, Straw and grass. Hay is just mown grass. Straw is the stalk of a different grass.

Another nice day of riding all pavement which was fast. We arrived here in Bannock, Montana about 12:30. Wondrous ride over and through the pioneer mountains. And wifi in the campground. What will they think of next?  But slow and cannot send pictures so think I will wait a few more days. Hopefully Lima in 2 days.

Jeanne drove into Dillon and James hiking while we rode. She went in for supplies. (Gin, tonic, and a few fresh foods). We all arrived here about same time which was too bad for Jeanne, as she wanted to ride back to meet us, but we were too fast.  The others wanted to go to Dillon, but I opted to stay. They wanted showers laundry and the patagonia store for shopping.  Jeanne decided to stay also, so it is just the two of us. Very nice to be alone.

The creek has a great pool so we went and had a great bath and washed the salt out if riding clothes. Sweet. And I have a different view of Montana this trip. Incredible mountains and  Vistas. I think the difference is not as hot as 4 years ago a balmy 85 on arrival as opposed to 100.  Big difference. Montana can be a nice place. As with most things one must adapt and fit not change the state or desert or whatever.

do not losee the shampoo
grasshopper creek
And arrived Lima about 12:30. Was a cold morning. 3 degrees c (about 36 f) and downhill fast.  The road yesterday said bridge out but sign was beside the road so went there anyway.  And another sign saying bridge out about 10 miles from end of medicine lodge big sheep road.  But all bridges intact, guess it was for a bridge a few days ago and another in a few days.   .

More riders along the way; Mike from sanfrancisco riding from Proudhon bay to Argentina.  He also wondered when they will finish the route from north to south and not just banff to Mexican border.  The route is already there, just needs the maps and directions in one place.  And Daniel from Oxford England last eve passed us going up the 15% grade to medicine lodge big sheep pass.  It was only a few miles to supposed camp at Morrison lake which Jeanne and Constance (who were driving the finish of day) could not find and made camp at junction.  We enjoyed an incredible show of caveman tv watching the clouds move about and colors change and sun set awesome.

I wonder sometimes what the locals think of having an international bike route passing through their area.  People from all over riding the ride.  Met a father daughter two days ago riding shout to north.  He was from Dubai, she from Canterbury England. Staying at the motel in Lima, Montana the owner says they started in 2004 and had 30 divide riders stay in the motel that year, this year it has been 200.  And that is only people stopping at motel.

  Having a grand time I found the charge to my big camera and shot about an hour of time lapse pictures ( about 1200 pictures).  Hoping to put on computer and get the video.

daniel from oxford enjoying our hospitality
(photo by Constance)

nancy enjoying the evening (photo by Constance)
evening camp TV 
(photo by Constance)

J. R. photography 
(photo by Jeanne)



Helena Butte Montana

The man who sleeps on the floor never falls out of bed.

Bedouin proverb

Some nice riding.difficult easy hot cold rest in Helena.

Rest day was good nancy and Jeanne went shopping which took much longer than anticipated, 4 hours for Costco and grocery store.  James called me at 4:40 to ask if I could pick up his and Nancy’s bikes as repair shop closed at 5.  Dave and I arrived at 4:57 just as they were poring the beer to end the day.  James had tubeless tires installed and Nancy’s brakes adjusted and new pads.  I had also put on a new front pad on hers and the rear was replaced in whitefish.  She and nancy tend to ride the brakes going downhill as not used to gravel and steep.  Ok.

And a good conversation with Joe to update him and compare rides.  He asked if as hot (no), how early we left (8:30 usually), and if bikes holding up.  Nice to say hello and compare different trips and remember.   Warren had to return to Boulder for some work stuff and Jeanne now driving truck, which seems ok with her.  Heat and she does not have the drive to ride like we do.  She just wants to have fun.  Ok. 

Enjoyed watching nighthawks fly overhead as we ate dinner at outside restaurant. Have ever seen them before. 

departing Helena going by civic center of Iranian architecture
J. R. departing Helena

And we were able to leave  by 8:40, James and Jeanne having to drive around due to rough road we would travel.  We climbed for 7 miles, down 5 then began what, for Joe and I was the worst due to heat, climb 7 miles of 5 to 10 % slope, but temps were a balmy 90 degrees and we survived. Made it to where Joe and I camped by lunch at the little creek.  Then on and soon off the little forest service road to a rough 4 wheel drive off-road route for 3 miles.  Very rough and walked a very significant portion of it up and down.  I told the others Joe’s advice: “keep the rear wheel behind the front wheel”. Not necessarily that easy.

climbing lava mt.
a reprieve at the top of lava mountain
nancy ascending lava mountain
lava mountain trail
descent of lava mountain
constance nearing the end of three miles of lava mountain trail forest road 544

Shortly after lava mountain we met James riding up to us.  We still had about 16 miles (25 k) to go but theoretically mostly smooth and downhill.  Jeanne was waiting a short while later and they were a bit concerned at our lateness.  But all good.  Arrived camp about 6 pm exhausted a 47 mile (76kilometer) day with 5300 feet Of climbing (1760meter).  We were tired. 

And a mile from the end the trail diverged from Joe and mine. Used to parallel the interstate and the six miles of downhill riding on interstate into butte. Now the route although 20 miles farther is delightful with campgrounds all along the route.  We stayed at Mormon gulch an old unfunded site, which was delightful.  I slept outside for first time on trip to watch the Perseid meteor shower, but unfortunately my eyelids refused to open for most of the night.  But stars are always nice to view.  I do like looking at old friends in the constellations and discovering old friends.  

Then into Butte arriving about 1 pm and the new route ride right through town which is delightful.  An old historical mining town. Shortly after sowers and a bit of rest we will walk to the Berkeley put which closed in 1982.  Almost two killed meters across and as one book described it an open gaping oozing wound on the earth.  Old mines drain into it a toxic conglomeration.  Apparently nets are over it to prevent birds from flying into the water, as the do not leave.  Ugh.

above butte

And a thought on cattle guards.  They still scare me. Dozens a day at various speeds and wonder when a rail will be missing, or loose, or a open area. But they are always interesting. 

Addendum: discussion of next big town on route. Looks like pinedale wyoming, although will have visits with people in victor Idaho Wilson Wyoming and a rest day somewhere. But Internet will be questionable. 

13 august ride profile

8 –  10 August  2016. Days 12 – 15

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The work is the same.”

Carlos Castaneda

Great ride out of Seeley Lake although the climb seemed hot, although temp only 72 F (21 C) must be quite humid.  Colleen had departed as planned about 6 am and returned to Boulder, Colorado and back to work as a real estate agent there.  After about 10 miles Jeanne gave up unable to keep the sweat off her glasses.  We all have bad days and she was having one, for whatever reason, and returned to town.  Was able to get ahold of James and Warren via cell phone text, when she approached town.  

Dave, Constance, Nancy and I continued on,reaching the high point shortly later and had a great ride through the forest.  A nice road.  Warren and Jeanne met us a few miles before the community of Ovando (population 50 and over a hundred dogs).  Joe and I had come across the bar there ,”the stray bullet” and had a delightful lunch and nap, with Joe falling asleep on the railing in front.  I repeated the picture of Joe substituting myself, and we had some great sandwiches, and beer.  Highly recomended.

the stray bullet bar

A ride on, missing the exact turn Joe and I missed returning as Joe and I did after 1/2 mile down wrong road. Then across main highway and a wonderful ride across the ranch lands of the Blackfoot valley. Met James biking towards us. He,Warren and Jeanne had separately visited the big Nelson campground and deemed it unworthy of us. The had proceeded on the route about a mile further and taken the 100 yard side road to a hiking trailhead. Where we eventually stayed. Nancy was thrilled as it had an outhouse. Small conveniences.  

Today we four climbed huckleberry pass and descended a through a gorgeous forest of Douglas fir.  I was amazed I could not remember this area at all remembering it as another memory.  Different trip.  James, Warren, and Jeanne met us about 5 miles before Lincoln.  We held a bit of meeting in front of post office deciding where and how far to go. It was still early, about noon. Folks were concerned about 50 miles and three passes to Helena, our next planned layover day.  Joe and I did it in one day but ? 

I encouraged us to go where Joe and I had camped at poorman creek reading from my book it was the third best camp we had had.  I did remember the large number of private properties with no trespassing signs all along the route through the forest.  We decided to go for that keeping in mind the inaccessabilities of the van and truck.  11 miles later we made the turnoff for poorman creek and the vehicles were waiting at the junction.  They had driven the tiny road and turned around about a mile up the road in only place available amongst the private residences and no trespassing signs.  From looking at the map it seemed to me they were just short of where the camp was.  There was a no trespassing sign on the right but the left side looked open and flat, and we decided to stay there.  It might be possible for the vehicles to continue up the main road to stedman pass and rejoin our steeper and rougher route in 5-6 miles.  Or drive way around to Helena and return backwards to meet us.  And a mile farther was not going to make much difference to us riders, so we sat on the bridge and had a beer.  

A couple on motorcycles came by and stopped.  They were from Seattle, had been out two weeks thus far and riding what they could of the great divide and continuing on to South America.  Great talking with others  and their methods of travel.  They were not staying in motels but camping and having a great time. 250cc yamahas outfitted specifically for this trip. 

We moved up the open space a few hundred feet and set up camp.  The awning went out and tents dried, as it had rained most of last night and they were put away quite wet.  I confess I missed being at the camp Joe and I occupied when I read we had both taken wonderful bathes and had felt cleaned of the sweat, dirt and grime of the days.  This creek although clean just did not have the topography to bath.  But the gin and tonics came out and pleasant conversation ensued.  Then after about half hour a strange man appeared to say we were camped on private property.  I suspect he thought us partying hard, but discovered a bunch of “old farts” and said we could stay the night.  He explained this whole area was developed from placer mining hence the private property and his place had a water plant generating 300 watts of power.  Later James and I walked up the steam a bit and found the intake.  A 4 inch pipe with slits allowing water to then run down the 50’foot estimated height to generate his power.  

Another gourmet meal and all tired retired to tents about 7 pm. 

Day 3 out of Seeley Lake

Good night although intermittent rain again, but stopped by the time to wake up.  We wake up to the door of the sprinter van sliding open as James prepares water for coffee.  Walking about, the grass was wet but generally a nice morn.

Departed at 8:20 although a bit chilly.  Totally missed the camp Joe and I stayed at.  Good thing we did not go looking for it.  Was looking forward to seeing it again. 

Reached the top in an hour and half where van and truck were waiting with James, Jeanne, and Warren. They had hot drinks for us and a cheering section for the last 15% slope.  They had driven around to accompany us today.  

 A CDT ( continental divide trail,  a hike rather than GDMBT which is biking) hiker came along enroute to Lincoln today, another 16 miles. He does 35-45 miles a day and must return to Minnesota by 20 September for work.  Trying to get to banff before that.  Says someone took over from Sam in Hachita New Mexico, delivering water.  The biker who we met the other day who had hiked it, say Sam died a few years ago.  He was a wonderful person and had been incredibly helpful with Joe and I.

Short break and we went quickly passing the vehicles on the rough downhill.  Discovered the memory I had yesterday coming off of huckleberry was actually of today.  Dropped down through a forest onto to ranchland valley.  Grady ranch.  Then up to the second climb of day, which proved somewhat rough,, again walking a significant portion.  The vehicles were going to wait for us and meet at top, where we could all have lunch together.  Hoping to get to Helena for a rest day. The map said 9 miles to the top and the climb started 4 miles from top and the second continental divide of the day.  But the climbing started soon after leaving the valley, 9 miles before the top.

grady ranch

Reached the top (actually only a meadow where trail splits) about 2 p’clock.  Map said turn right but there was a private drive sign there so continued on for 100 feet where a ranger was driving about.  My GPS said I had passed the turn.  Constance came up but Dave was not to be seen.  He always waited at intersections when he was ahead, and I had last seen him just a few hundred yards ahead of me.    

Nancy arrived and we went down the road which quickly split into two.  The map said go left on the unsigned road to dog something and not Ophir and hope.  But there were no signs.  And no bike tracks.  We were pondering if Dave had gone up the road more, as it was a bit difficult to determine.  Constance, nancy and I proceeded down the left road which was steep but seemed correct and on the gps.  Quickly though after no bike tracks we stopped.  Nancy stayed there while Constance and I pushed bikes back up to the meadow. I remained there while Constance road up the road to check for Dave.  After a few minutes James and Warren came riding up the road where we had left nancy.  They had not seen Dave.  Constance returned and we pondered.  Three choices of road with numerous further choices on each of them.  Dave did not have a map. It was complicated.

Warren road his bike down to where vehicles were a short distance from where we left nancy.  He came back with truck and drove up the road where cell service was available at top and a message from Dave saying he was at top and numerous roads but do not know which one we were on.  But that was a while ago.   Getting complicated and we all came up with ideas on how to get back together with Dave.  I stayed at the meadow where wind was blowing and cold, Warren would drive a loop up to near top and come out near where vehicles were while James and Constance roads bikes down to sprinter.  

I was eating what food I had left and putting on all my clothes, when warren returned in truck saying he had message from Dave saying he was other side of marysville (10 miles off route)  and would meet us in Helena.  He did not realize the distance it was for us (another pass, and 25 miles).  Thus Warren and I decided he would take truck and go recover Dave, bringing him back to our camp which we would find just below where Vehicles were now.  

Found a superb site. Off the road on a side road and pulled in, marking the site for Warren and Dave with stick arrows and a chair.  

Thus another great day. 

Made it to Helena and exact motel Joe and I stayed at and same room with porch.  This time we have the whole house, 4 bedrooms

meadow view
signs on main road nitifying warren and dave of camp

The same very different ride

If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.
Lao Tzu

Well bummer, had a post written out covering past three days and somehow totally erased it. Of course it made perfect sense and explained the ride excellently, and was very eloquent. Such is the Internet or in this case the lack thereof. Alas. Now for reality. 

Rode out of Columbia Falls, after a delightful rest day and visit, although seemed busy and rushed. Ambled through delightful rural roads with square corners as in flat lands. Met up with our shuttle cars at prearranged site over Swan River bridge. Warren and Colleen went ahead to find a campsite in the forest. 

James was delayed in Columbia Falls with sprinter maintenance.  Remember the check engine light after Jeanne and I left anchorage and caused us such concern. That time it was in calibrated tire pressure monitors. This time it was more difficult and expensive. A exhaust port injection jet. 

Warren and Colleen had looked for a campsite in the town of Big Fork along flathead lake. Unfortunately campsites are reserved over a year in advance. Certainly no spontaneity there. A different world from the one I grew up in.  But then later I found there is a tent only site there which apparently was nice. Several groups of riders passing us told us about it, as they had stated there on a walkin basis.  But they found us a delightful spot on a closed logging or fire road, and it proved great. 

great camp

Nice thing about public land, i.e. Forest service or BLM, is that it is open for use and you can camp just about anywhere. We just crossed the boundary from private to public and found a good spot. 

Day 2 out of Columbia Falls: day 12 since departure from Banff, 5 August.

We left to begin the remaining 5 miles of 6 1/2% grade to top. Delightful and then we descended a six mile descent. We are now riding through amazing forests of larch, ponderosa pine, lodge pole pine, Douglas fir, alpine fir, and cedar trees. Much of it is spectacular old growth. Flowers continue to brighten the way and the multiple butterfly’s flit along and with us. But hit a hill we forgot to see on the map and the sun and heat hit us. Our thermometers were reading in the high 90s (high 30s C). We were dying, sweating and pondering how we missed seeing this hill which went on and on with switchback after switchback. I kept thinking if Icarus getting to close to the sun. 

tall trees

Finally made the top and we turned downward again. Had told Colleen and warren to start looking at pine lake and we were dying to get there only to discover and verify it was awful for camping. Warren said 8 more miles to an awesome camp next to a stream which both he and Colleen had bathed in. 

We made it exhausted and declared it our second hardest day after Galton, Cabin passes and wigwam valley. The stream was named cold creek and it lived up to its reputation. But it felt wonderful to rinse off dusty salty clothes but by morning we found the humidity high and clothes still damp. What is that, they should be dry in minutes. But felt good putting in cool clothes this am.

Day 13. 6 August

Mapping navigation and coordinating cars and bikes on different routes. James wanted to do a hike in mission mountains wilderness area which Steve Penner said was best in area. I tried not to but could not help but talk about Clearwater lake where Joe and I camped four years ago,but is half mile off road via trail, this cars cannot get there. The town of Seeley lake is 50 miles but with two climbs between and after the day before, we determined it too far in a day, and when I mentioned a potential motel night there all jumped at that idea. Time to wash clothes. Thus two shorter days. 

And so here we are after 27 miles (44k) beside the forest road about a mile beyond Clearwater lake. The truck of Constance and Daves and the sprinter van. The van of Colleen and Warrens took them to the hike back across the valley. We are now next to the Bob Marshall wilderness area. 

Thus we have a wondrous afternoon to just contemplate life. Stopped and biked hiked into Clearwater lake where I went for a swim, fully clothed as others around. Much warmer than cold creek. Then another mile of riding to this spot picked by our intrepid shuttle drivers. Which brings me to I can’t help but think of the trip 4 years ago. I try not to compare and contrast or bring it up but I can’t help it. Now that it is a memory it was wonderful and a somewhat life changing event. I ride by places where joe and I did something and it floods my brain with memories. The heat, the bath in glacier creek, the camp at ferndale, clearwater lake, the climb up from Hollander lake. Memories, sweet memories.

another camp near clearwater lake

But this is a different trip. As Constance said at Clearwater lake, camp in this spot with minimal lightweight gear or have a shuttle to carry our stuff including beer, gin & tonic, extra clothes, and gourmet meals breakfast and dinner. Lunches are pretty much the same: nuts, jerky, various candy bars, dried fruit. And with this shuttle we give up the freedom of stopping anywhere anytime. Who knows which is better: I guess the one at present must be best. 

the cockpit
But our shuttle drivers seem to be enjoying themselves.  James and the sprinter go hiking or biking nearly every day.  Yesterday went up to turquoise and glacier lakes in the mission wilderness area.  Today he drove backward on our route from Seeley Lake to the single track and rode bike up to pass then went hiking up from there.  It was beautiful there. Colleen and Warren are enjoying the country and seeing sights not normally seen when travelling.  They have their bikes and do rides almost every day, after they have driven ahead and procured a campsite wherever that might be.  Tonight it is a motel in Seeley Lake.  Same place Joe and I stayed at and same wifi password.  And least I hope those three and enjoying themselves.  

And more riders than when Joe and I were here, or more seen. Two nights ago 3 fellows from England, France, and Arizona stopped in for a beer. Next day passed by a delightful couple, from Netherlands, flying along carrying on a pleasant conversation laughing there way along. They were on day 3, we are on day 12.  I watched them fade rapidly ahead peddles just cranking at about 90 rpm. Last night two fellows from California shared our camp and 2-3 others passed us by. Busy trail. More bikers than cars. Nice and a fellow passed us who says it is his first bike ride.  Just finished the Appalachian trail and has done the continental divide trail but wanted something new.  

Another thought is that, as I was in 2012, I seem to have fallen into place as the navigator. Not because I am better or more proficient, Joe and all these folks can navigate just as easily, but I have the GPS and maps on handlebars and glasses I can read with while riding (let’s not go into the dangers which I have experienced first hand).  How far to next turn (not necessarily next junction). What is the days ride going to be like other than what is in map. Where are hidden camps. I have the map (we all have maps, the others are recent, mine are 2011), the garmin GPS with loaded routes and courses, and most scary and used the most is my memory.  I am finding I have the ability like my dad did to remember places from years ago. 

beautiful smooth single track
nancy and the single track
dave and the single track
nancy, dave, constance, and jeanne at clearwater lake
clearwater lake hike
enroute to seeley lake
pass near richmond peak

Rest days

The only important world is the one behind your eyes. And no one can access it but you

Neil Gamen

A few days off.  My sister Barb drove up from her home in Columbia Falls to eureka, Montana near the border, met me and we returned to c falls with my bike.  Unfortunately all bike shops were closed in the area as it is Sunday.  I though, thought that is strange for a tourist town.  At her house I made a sleeping sheet for our sleeping pads, and my bag exploded all over the bedroom and I got to totally clean it out and see what I brought.

Monday we drove to Whitefish and a bike shop which I felt comfortable with.  He mentioned to remove the star nut, which was causing the problem with a loose front fork, often require the use of a piece of rebar and a sledge.  Hmm.  I asked about the rear brake giving out and he mentioned he sees that fairly often on downhill rides at the ski area, especially when one rides the brake as I was doing.  Another mechanic says it heats the fluid to boiling and vaporizes which then destroys any braking ability, but given 30 seconds it returns to liquid and braking returns.

Thus we left the bike in the care of glacier cyclery  and proceeded to drive up the valley to find some cyclists we knew.  Stopped at the polebridge bakery to obtain sustenance for the riders.  Found them just before the steeper part of the climb to red meadows campground and pass.  A few beers were shared and we began descent (us in car) to upper whitefish lake camp where the riders had decided to spend the night.

On return I began to worry about the rebar as a tool on the bike.  That just does not sound right.  We arrived and all worked well, with a seemingly full repair plus.  Turns out the bottom bracket was loose with a few replaceable broken parts but unfortunately the shop does not carry the specialty brand “Chris King”, so parts were unavailable except on order so installed SRAM.  Ok although I still had to do the electric portion of the repair to get the generator hub to work.  Seems bike shops do not do electric or electronic repair.

And we dropped off James front wheel, as apparently in a backup maneuver the wheel was smashed a bit and was way out of true.  It was determined it could be tried but would probably not remain true.  Thus a new rim and rebuild is required.

Tuesday I hoped to finish the electric work but alas took longer than anticipated with a couple trips to stores for parts.  Finished it just as bikers arrived from their 35 mile ride.  Went for short ride and again worked well charging phone from 38% to 42% in about 5 minutes of riding.  Yahoo.

Thus we are all together again and taking a rest day.  Everyone is excited.  9 days in a row of riding.  Eat sleep ride even with support can be tiring.  Duties today include taking the van into dealer to determine why check engine light is on again, pickup James’s wheel and obtain more oil for chains etc., and get food for next days, probably at Costco.

Discussed future days with potential trial campsites.  Seems all the forest service official campgrounds are reserved, hence unavailable. And we are not sure how far we will or want to ride a day, hence even if we could reserve a site perhaps it would not be there.  The sites Joe and I used on this section were bikers only sites.  We will probably camp along the road as forest service land and pretty much open.

And interesting to see the number of riders on the trail. When Joe and I did this in 2012 we saw very few others although we knew they were there as people along the way would relay information that other riders were on trail, including a unicycler a few weeks ahead of us.  But we all seemed to be travelling at about the same speed.  The other day in Whitefish I saw probably 3-4 groups, as I did here in Columbia Falls yesterday.  Amazing how popular it has become.

And life is good here at the Penner rest stop.  Steve and Barb are taking very good care of us, feeding, driving, giving us excellent places to sleep, providing support, and generally making us feel good.  Awesome!

departing banff
Jeanne & Nancy
Spray lake goat trail
lunch break
Closed bike trail, must ridethe road
Descending Galton pass
riders departing Eureka, Montana


Was a rough rest day.  Visited mom in the alzheimer home and she was not having a good day.  I admit it is hard to see ones relative in such a state.  She does not recognize me or basically anyone just staring into space today.  Two days ago was better as we congratulated ourselves for making her smile.  As with everyone we have good days and bad, but it hit home.  I had to say goodbye and we depart tomorrow for more rides.  There is nothing more to be done here.  My sister, Barb does a spectacular job of visiting mom and I appreciate it, but not much reward.  Sometimes life is not all a garden of rose petals.

Warren and Colleen joined us today as shuttle drivers so we have two cars now.  tomorrow we begin riding again.  Will be nice to be back on the bike.