Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 79 – Montana trails are currently winning

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I think that given we’re in grizzly-land, we’re going to have to start stopping at least 45 minutes earlier than normal as we seem to be completely inept at getting our food hung from a tree. Seriously, we stopped riding at 8:30 tonight and it was well on its way to dark by the time we threw our rope rock many times, had to sacrifice a length of rope when our rock got stuck, and then finally got it hung and tied off. Outdoors people…yep.

Today was some of the most consistently fabulous riding of the trip. These Montana folks know how to take care of their trails. It’s a refreshing change after some of the neglected trails we’ve seen up until here.

Scott woke us up this morning. While I had a master plan of stalling until 10:30 so that we could get lunch at Boondock’s on the way out, Scott had plans of being on the road by 8. We compromised with 9:30.

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We retraced our steps for three miles out to Yale-Kilgore road where we turn left, up into the Centennial Mountains. It was a 10 mile, flat approach which was perfect for warming up. And then up. Scott had promised a lot of climbing. We braced ourselves for hike-a-bike.

But the jeep road climbed nicely and a nice tail breeze cooked us but kept us moving along. Soon it was back onto the CDT.

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“I think that’s our carsonite over there,” Scott pointed to a field of flowers.

“Where?”

I felt blind for a good while, the enormous flowers obstructing my view of the post. We headed towards it, finding a faint trail through the dense cover of flowers. Purples, reds, yellows, whites, completely off the hook. Colorado flowers on steroids. While the trails existence/lack of existence left something to be desired, we were moving.

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Brother Bear caught us as we were having lunch. He was the first one to really pick up on what we were doing quickly. “So instead of doing the dirt road route, you’re doing the trail.”

Sometimes it’s nice to be understood.

After lunch, during which we discovered our tortillas were moldy (yeah, major bummer), we headed up. Knowing we were going alpine, we got ready to hike. But the trail crested a small hill and turned into beautiful switchbacks down. Scott rode them all. I rode all the lefthand ones.

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And we continued to climb. While riding our bikes. The entire way. Well, almost the entire way for me. When the trail crossed a rock pile, they’d built it into a nature trail. It was super-duper awesome. So rideable, in fact, that we ended up nearly catching Brother Bear. Catching a hiker on a climb – unheard of for us.

We chatted for a bit. We all agreed that the trail near Lionshead was perfectly built, both for bikes and hikers. Turns out, we all like the same types of trails.

We left him to his snacks and topped out on the hill. Holy wowsa, what a view!

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We descended an overgrown mining road for miles before turning off onto some more trail. It was bumpy…like sever your brain from your brain stem bumpy, I don’t care how much suspension you have, but still, simply stellar riding. Sun was shining. We were loving life.

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We chose to take the “old” CDT which would have taken us to water sooner than the “new” and signed CDT. There was no water. We were, for all practical purposes, out (Scott still had a small bottle’s worth). We searched, we walked, we returned back to our bikes.

Maybe the next four miles to water will be easy.

They were! Montana CDT, you sure know how to woo a girl.

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We found water in a good sized stream with a wonky bridge over it. All you can drink cold water! Stoked. We ate a danish to celebrate.

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We rode more amazing trail, finding a giant patch of raspberries on the side of the trail. Our off-tune singing kept the bears away as we stuffed our bellies. This is living! More trail brought us to a trailhead and sign in book. Trail Dog and Marmot, who we’d seen last in Pie Town had been there earlier in the day. The hunt is on!

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We rode up to Auldous Lake on yet more good trail (pinch me, the bottom has to fall out from this eventually) and had dinner while being watched over by a bald eagle. We kept telling it to do something cool, but it just watched us from across the lake.

Another 15 minutes of riding brought us to camp. A full moon is watching over us. Tomorrow, another 40 ish miles of trail to get us close to the highway to Lima, then hopefully a nero day into town. That’s the plan at least.

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