Over the Rockies

Over the Rockies

posted in: Bicycle Touring, Montana | 17

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.

IMG_8028Jarle and I from the previous night.

IMG_8034Fumbling with cereal while I try to wake up.

IMG_8038Getting some neature views early into our ride (Elk).

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IMG_8060Jackson Glacier in full retreat.  One of the 25 remaining glaciers in Glacier NP.  In 1850 there were 150.

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IMG_8079Jarle checking out the views.

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IMG_8090We get to go down all of that?  Sweeeeet.

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IMG_8109A truly amazing descent.

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IMG_8126Jarle didn’t get his clothes brought into his tent before the rain last night… hence the stack of laundry drying on his rear panniers.

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IMG_8129Picking up some mud this morning.

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IMG_8131Who could hold back a grin after that ride?

IMG_8136Snacking before some hiking.

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IMG_8150Bouldering boulders.

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IMG_8164Appears an avalanche had come through in a recent winter.

IMG_8167Leprosy tree?

IMG_8171This dead tree’s bark was lying beside it like a pile of bricks.

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IMG_8178All sorts of fantastic moss everywhere.

IMG_8186Chip or Dale?  Some previous hiker was sloppy with their peanuts and this guy wasn’t shy about getting them from beside me.

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IMG_8191The thinker.

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IMG_8205The swimming hole.  Chilly jump, but refreshing!

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IMG_8209I had to polish it all off.  So much… so good.

Summary
Miles: 35
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.

IMG_8212Cookies for breakfast?  How about apple crisp.

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IMG_8223Lake McDonald and it’s picturesque views…

IMG_8224and water like glass.

IMG_8228Watching some rafters fishing upstream before Columbia Falls.

IMG_8231I think I could handle some views like this from my window.

photo 1Nice little hostel for tonights stay in Whitefish.

IMG_8232Stopping in to sample some brews from The Great Northern Brewing Company.

IMG_8236This one was interesting and delicious.  Dad decided I should have one for the road… thanks!

IMG_8238Sweet MG!

IMG_8241Ahhhh a bed!

Summary
Miles: 45
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.

photo 3Coffee with Pops before we go separate ways.

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IMG_8254Water stop in Olney, MT

IMG_8260Dickey Lake

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IMG_8265This sign screams Continental Divide Trail.

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IMG_8278Dan and his rig.

IMG_8280Tucked away for the eve.

IMG_8282Did I show you my sweet new bottle cap?

Summary
Miles: 64
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.

IMG_8283Visitors this morning while I have my coffee.

IMG_8295Lake Koocanusa

IMG_8296At the right angle, the water is a magnificent blueish green.

IMG_8299Bear repellent is a new kit addition for this leg of the trip.

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IMG_8344Nice protected swimming beached tucked away near the campground.

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IMG_8351Damn! That’s a big dam.

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IMG_8360Makes me want to strap on waders and go fly fishing.

Summary
Miles:  80

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.

17 Responses

  1. Tom Jakab

    Those mountain views are Amazing!!! I will have to take a trip out there sometime. Glad to see you got some bear repellant! Enjoy your rest day!

    • Thanks Tom I will! Definitely worth a visit! Drive your Fiero over Logan Pass on Going to the Sun Road 🙂

  2. Gramma & Grampa K

    WOW ! Beautiful scenery….the water is so clear…..I love the little chipmunk! Also glad to see the bear repellant, just hoping you don’t need to use it.
    You will be in our thoughts everyday as you head out on the rest of the journey, ……Sure Krista is “patiently” (not so) waiting! Proud of You Brad!!!!! Love to you!

    • Thank you! Pretty sure the bear spray will stay in the sleeve… unless I see a fit use for an angry dog.

  3. Way to hang in there Brad! Al and I have once in a lifetime memory of coming down the Going To the Sun Road late afternoon in late June with the sun sparkling thru the snow run off waterfalls coming off the mountains-of course on a motorcycle , not bikes! Enjoy each moment and watch for bears, put some bells on!

    • Thanks Chris! Going To the Sun Road was awesome! Definitely a highlight of the trip.

  4. Erik Lewinski

    Wonderful photography! You’re so close now! Stay safe.

  5. Glacier is a beautiful place. You have some awesome pics. Keeping you in our thoughts as you create great memories.
    Glad you and your Dad could share that time together. Love ya.

  6. Gene Dankbar

    Wonderful pictures and stories from Glacier National Park! Looking forward to catching up with your dad upon his return! Glad the MG made the trip okay!

    Gene Dankbar

  7. Enjoying the beautiful photos and commentary as always. The water in some of those shots is absolutely gorgeous! Hope you enjoyed your rest day. But as you start cycling again I don’t want you to disappoint those Alberta kids. So after the wedding you should continue your bike trip to Hawaii, and then on to Japan. Be sure to pick up some shark repellant for those legs of the trip.

  8. I’ve never had a chance to drive, better yet ride a bike thru Glacier National Park. Looks you had a great time soaking in all the views the Park has to offer.
    I like the Bear Repellent idea, just hope you never have to use it.

  9. Paul Phillips

    Just beautiful…

  10. Jean Ryan

    I hate how Google has decided to organize my life. They’ve been dumping your posts into promotions or something like that. For a non computer person such as myself it doesn’t make it easier. I’d rather get it in my inbox. Just caught up with the last two posts today. They were worth waiting for. But Brad–don’t get so close to the edge! You could fall off!! Awesome views. I can imagine Krista is eagerly awaiting your arrival. You’ll probably need a haircut before the wedding. On the other hand the grizzlies might take you for one of their own. Ha!
    Love you, Grandma Jean

    • Thanks Grandma!

      I think there’s a way to go back to the old style inbox. Haha yea I’m sure she is being very patient. Love you too. Brad

  11. The photos are beautiful! I love the chipmunks 🙂

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