Monday, June 18, 2012

Montana Days 1-4

Well a lot has happened since I last posted. For one I have driven 2400 miles across the United States and then biked about 250 miles through the most amazing country I have ever seen. I will, however, start at the beginning.
Joseph and I left at 8:30 am on June 12th from Harrisonburg, and arrived at Whitefish, Montana at 1:00 am June 14th MST. We really didn't mean to cover as many miles in such a short time as we did, but we were getting enough sleep (barely) and decided to press on. As a result we got into town a full 12 hours ahead of schedule. We crashed in the car till the town woke up, got some coffees, which were much needed, then ate breakfast. We then returned the rental car, unloaded all of our gear, mailed some stuff at the post office, and checked into a motel for some showers and some sleep. The next morning Joseph's uncle picked us up and deposited us on the border.

The Badlands in North Dakota

Eastern Montana

 Motel Room full of bikes

Joseph at the Roosville Port of Entry

 Only about one mile into a 2500 mile ride

The first day was amazing! We started out on the valley floor for about 20 miles or so and then climbed up and over Whitefish Divide. I was scared we would run into some snow but luckily we didn't have to contend with much.

After the descent off of Whitefish in which we saw no bears, (I was disappointed, Joseph was NOT!) we headed toward the tiny town of Polebridge and for a while paralleled the western border of Glacier National Park. In the following picture the snow-capped mountains you see are in Glacier.

We soon ran into snow on the climb up to Red Meadow Lake. We estimated we had to push our bikes for at least three miles or so. That night we camped alongside a lake straight out of a postcard called Upper Whitefish Lake. We also met a fellow Divide cyclist called Gary and some guy from Kansas that said he was having trouble on the climbs. I wonder why! :)

Pushing through the snow

Red Meadow Lake

The next morning we set out from camp at around 8 and pushed the pace to get back into Whitefish to eat a good breakfast. The route that day was fairly flat and mostly paved so we got in a decent amount of miles in spite of a brutal headwind almost all day. We were able to make it to Ferndale and camped at a cyclist camping area. We were hoping to get a shower but were disappointed to see there weren't any facilities for that. :(

Whitefish Lake
During the night the sound of rain woke up at around 3 am. I was able to get in a decent amount of sleep anyway but Joseph, for the second night in a row, wasn't able to get to sleep. We stuffed our damp clothes and gear into our bags and were rolling by 8. The day started out decent but quickly went downhill. Joseph was suffering from some saddle sores and the lack of sleep was starting to take its toll. I felt OK but before too long my Achilles tendon that gave me trouble last summer started to act up. We also soon realized we hadn't allotted enough food for the days ride and had to go off route to get some sandwiches and other calorie filled treats

Joseph suffering in silence. (Notice the ominous rain clouds)

The descent was amazing off the other side!
 As we got back on pavement we were able to cover some more miles but we kept getting sprinkled with rain which did nothing to help our spirits. When they weren't obscured by clouds we were treated with amazing views of the Mission Mts on our right and the Swan Range on our left. Even though we didn't feel very good it was hard to not marvel at what God has created for us to enjoy!

We were planning on a long day but had to adjust the mileage we were able to do. We camped at Holland Lake and tried to lift our spirits with piping hot meal of pasta and spiced cider. It all tasted great but we were soon chased into our tent by yet another rain shower. We took advantage of the bathrooms at the campsite to take some "showers," also known as wet wipes and cold water to sluice the grit out of our hair.

Three Days on the Divide

Imagine waking up to this!

We woke up the next morning, yet again with rain coming down and gear wetter than ever, but with lifted spirits. We ate our customary two packages of instant oatmeal each and looked at the map. We decided to bypass a 6000+ foot pass which was guaranteed to have some snow by taking about 25 miles of highway into a town called Seeley Lake. We made good time and rolled into Seeley Lake at around 10:15. We looked around for a restaurant and were able to find one with the charming name of The Chicken Coop. (You have to wonder what the chances are of getting food poisoning at a place like this!) We ordered breakfast, wolfed that down with the food hardly making a dent in our ever-present hunger, then ordered two biscuits with gravy, each. Having eaten that with relish, waitresses looking on with eyes bugging out, we headed down the the grocery store. There we met an older gentleman who offered to let us bunk in his basement. Even as I type these words the coconut scented body wash I used is suffusing the surrounding air with the heady aroma of the tropics. In other words we are clean! We are taking this welcome shelter to dry out our gear, wash our rank clothing, and get some much needed R&R. We hope that tomorrow we can set out refreshed and ready to tackle the second third of Montana!



James said...

Hey Jim and Joe, keep on climbing.
After that mountain is another... and another....and yet another.
Climb a few for me.


Gray Lane said...

Keep on going! There will be better days. You have a lot of people praying for you. This will be an experience you will remember for the rest of your lives; and, may I add, never regret.