Montana. Say it with a growl, and try and spit afterwards. The minute we crossed from Idaho into Montana, we started to feel a little more cowboy. The road turned to dirt, the sun shone a little bit hotter, and we gritted our teeth and glared at the roadsign saying “Montana SUPERHOST!”, welcoming us to Big Sky Country. The moutains continue: ridges rising thousands of feet above river plains, wooded with mostly conifers, and ridged with the characteristic striations of sedimentary bedrock. We think.
Tuesday, June 25th: 70 miles Clark Fork, Idaho to Libby, Montana
Our route chases rivers–up and down mountains, into lakes, around corners–we almost always have a friendly current leaping along with us, or whipping by in the opposite direction. As we left Idaho along the Cabinet Gorge, we spent a morning slowly riding upstream until, at a small funky store with EXCELLENT breakfast burritos, cookies and fudge, we turned north onto the Bull River. We were back in mountain country. The Cabinet Wilderness features mountains from 8-11,000 feet tall, which we rose through on a mercifully flate grade. We were in Montana, and it was beautiful, if rainy.
Wednesday, June 26th: 71 miles Libby, Montana to Eureka, Montana
It continued to either drizzle, pour, or drip on us through the day as we zig-zagged north and south around mountain ranges, always making some sort of small, eastern progress. In fine watery form we followed the Kootenai River to lake Kookanusa, which made for plenty of bad bike humor. Lake Kookanusa stretches all the way into Canada, puntuated by dams. As we learned, any man-made reservoir means HILLS, because you’re on a road carved into a moutnainside 100s of feet above what used to be a river valley. Lucky for us, the weather was turning, and with it came the prevailing Westerlies, which rushed up the reservoir and pushed us up hills, or so we tried to convince ourselves.
We ended the day camping in a city park, which is as informal as you might imagine. Checkout was 7:30am, or else you got hit by the sprinkler system! We spent a fine evening with Gabi and Christian, two Germans headed north into Canada, and Dan, a cycling fiend who’s headed for Alaska! We relished the company, and stayed up all the way to 9:30pm.
Thursday, June 27th: 65 miles Eureka, Montana to Whitefish, Montana & Friday, June 28th: 0 miles–hangin’ in Whitefish!
We’ve made it to Whitefish, just outside of Glacier! We have been heavily encouraged to take a day off here, and so we are, camping on the edge of beautiful Whitefish Lake, where we swim, wash, eat, and generally zone out. We ran into fellow Trans-Am cyclist Scott, and two new friends Artie and Vince, all headed east! We again stayed up late drinking beerish beverages and enjoying fine company, but while Scott, Artie and Vince had to get up at 6, Christine and I slept in until 8:30am, which in normal life speak is basically noon. Our goal today on our day off: write for you jokers, and find ice cream. Should be a good one.
Until next time! Up next is Glacier National Park, and the Continental Divide!
Ian and Christine