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

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