Day 96 August 3rd – St. Mary to Avalanche Campground (Glacier National Park)
Rise and shine! Well… grumble, roll over, rub my eyes, curse under my breath and get up might be the correct phrase at 5:00 AM this morning. After struggling to fall asleep in the busy campground and the waking to yet another thunderstorm and having to scramble at 1:30 AM to pick up my clothes I set out to dry, I wasn’t exactly wide awake this morning. Still, the chilly air and silhouette of mountains had me excited to begin my climb! After a strong cup of coffee and a quick breakfast, Jarle and I headed out. It wasn’t but 3 miles from camp when we got our first glimpse of local wildlife. We sighted what must have been 20 elk and a bear off in the distance.
The climb went well. Perhaps the views were so amazing that we paid little attention to our legs? Traffic was pretty minimal going up and the road construction was hardly noticeable – the hard packed gravel was much better than what I’m used to riding. At the top we donned our warm weather gear for the hasty decent. Traffic had picked up, but it was almost all east bound. What a rush and a view on the way down. In our decent I got to really test out my custom pannier skid plates out as we banked around the many corners tucked against the mountains edge. We actually had a truck pull over to let us go by.
We were to the campground I planned to stay at around 10 or 10:30 AM. I remember thinking Jarle had better move if he wanted to make it through the 7 mile stretch ahead which restricts bikes from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. We shook hands and parted ways. Happy travels to you Jarle! From his blog I later learned he had a bear pass right behind him shortly after we split. I grabbed a campground and set up, waiting for my dad to arrive. Once he pulled in and set up we went for a hike up to Avalanche Lake and then drove down the rode to a chilly swimming hole. Dad opted out of jumping in… wimp 🙂 We finished the night off with some great burritos and some cribbage. It was my turn to dominate the cards.
Acts of kindness: 2 – Dinner with groceries by Dad; MG ride to the swim hole.
Day 97 August 4th – Avalanche Campground to Whitefish, MT
Determined to finish up some apples and a very unripe peach we made some apple/peach crisp for breakfast. It turned out even better than the last batch of apple crisp. Since Dad was to be head back towards the Great Falls area to return the MG we decided Whitefish would make a good destination for the day. Not too far away and plenty of things to do so we’d have some time to hang out tonight. I enjoyed my ride out of Glacier and the 10 mile ride alongside the crystal clear Lake McDonald. I missed a turn out of Glacier and found myself on a sketchy stretch of road which had me a little close for comfort to the passing RV’s. After returning back to the route the ride became a relaxing one with great views of the surrounding mountains.
Once in Whitefish I showered up at the hostel and got a load of mine and Dad’s laundry done by the hostel. We then went to check out the brewery before getting a delicious Jersey style pizza. We ordered the garbage can which was loaded with everything… my kind of pizza.
Acts of kindness: 4 – A lady I talked to while I stopped offered me some Apricots; Brews, hostel, and za on Dad
Day 98 August 5th – Whitefish, MT to Eureka, MT
After a nights sleep in a bed… first that I can recall for 2 weeks, we woke up headed for breakfast at Montana Coffee Traders. They had some great french press coffee and huge slices of quiche. I had to get a huckleberry bran muffin to see what all this huckleberry hype is about; I’ve never had them before. They were good, but they sure seemed a lot like blueberries to me. Perhaps a different taste would be more noticeable if it were not in muffin form?
After breakfast it was time to sort through all the things between my bike and the MG. I made a small pile of things to part with and my dad loaded me up with more food than my panniers could hardly hold! I also gave the bike a little needed love: cleaned and lubed chain, brakes adjusted, and putting on the new rear tread I had my dad bring along. Once packed we set off for the post office so I could ship a few things ahead. Unfortunately my GoPro was one of these. It seems I’ve killed another one, but I’m claiming not to be at fault for this one. While on Going to the Sun Road I attempted to get some great downhill footage, but of course the GoPro decided to start giving out some sort of high temperature alert. Of course it was one of the cooler temps I’ve used the camera so I think bigger problems are at hand… my quick troubleshooting didn’t have success. Maybe I’ll figure it out in Washington.
My dad and I part ways after the post office. Thanks again Dad for taking your vacation to come hang out with me on the road. It was definitely a treat having electronics always charged, groceries and a campground waiting for me at the end of the day, and someone to hang out with over a beer, coffee, cards, etc. Not too many people get to spend good bonding times with their folks after they are out of the house. The time I’ve been able to spend with friends and family over this trip has been one of the best parts.
As for today’s ride? Well it was pretty good, minus my tired legs. Seems even the short mile days I’ve had recently haven’t completely recharged me. It was a warm day with some great lake views along the way. More than once I considered going for a swim. I eventually arrived in Eureka! (my sister claims it needs and exclamation mark after it) and set up camp in the local park. I fell asleep on the picnic table after dinner… guess I really am wiped today. After a shower and some writing, Dan pulled in on his mountain bike. Dan is an Australian who is doing the Great Divide mountain bike route from Banff, Canada down to Mexico. Sounds like his trip is going well. We chatted while he cooked dinner and soon two more bikers pulled in. They were two ladies heading to Banff, then over to Vancouver, and down to Portland before taking a train back to southern California.
Acts of kindness: 3 – Coffee and Quiche on Dad’s dime; Direction out of town (circumventing road construction) from a guy at the post office; Send off with Dad… thanks for joining me!!!
Day 99 August 6th – Eureka! to Libby, MT
Still in Montana… this is one seriously long state! Up at 6:00 AM to get some coffee going and chomp on some cereal while I do a little writing. I waved goodbye to the other riders and hit the road around 7:30 AM. Another hot day of riding and I’m still feeling slow as ever. It was a very scenic ride along Lake Koocanusa which is the result of Libby Dam on the Kootenai River. I crossed over to the west side of the lake which has a windier less traveled road. I traveled over 40 miles on this road and rarely saw other vehicles. Lots of small climbs and quick turns overlooking the lake.
About 50 miles into todays ride I was nearly through my water. I ended up coming across a campground and found water spigots near the campsites. The had a sign for a swim area nearby and my tired legs begged to go check it out. To my delight, it was a nice small beach and swimming cliff. I ended up having a swim, snack, and chat with some vacationers from Alberta. Their kids kept thinking I was biking around the world. Just the US… sorry to disappoint.
I eventually got back on the road and made my way to the Libby Dam which is impressively large. It’s made of 47 large sections capable of standing on their own. From the dam, I fought the winds the last 13 miles into Libby. Found a small campground nestled right in town, the Fireman’s Park Campground. The grocery store is almost right behind me which is convenient. I’m feeling a rest day tomorrow. We’ll see if I actually do it.
Total Miles: ~4900
Day 100! August 7th – Libby, MT (Rest day)
Crazy to think it’s been 100 days since I started this trip. Of course I’ve probably only biked 70 or so of those days, but those days resting and visiting are all part of the trip. I wouldn’t want my trip to have been a single day shorter.
I talked myself into taking a day off. Besides this trip is nearing completion faster than ever so why not take a day. Not sure what the day has in store after some computer work, but a few things in town peaked my interest on my ride through. Theater, brewery, and the riverside. Guessing one, if not all of these may happen. Happy Thursday.