The wind picked up sometime around fall-asleep-30. Not just a little breeze, but a full on roar. This was good because it drowned out all the forest sounds, so my OCD-self couldn’t stay awake listening: Is that a bear? How about that? On the downside, it made a lot of noise which made sleeping difficult and dropped the temperature lower than it already was. When morning came, we motivated to move our camp to a more shaded spot in the trees in order to cook breakfast.
While it wasn’t as cold as yesterday morning, it was still cold. This wasn’t helped by the thick layer of clouds that were sitting just above the horizon. Sometimes (most of the times), the best way to get warm is to get moving, so that’s what we did.
We’d had such lovely roads and trails from where we rejoined from our Elliston resupply that I was halfway believing that we’d have nice trail all the way to Highway 12. Muahahahahahahaha.
He said, “It tastes better than beer.” (Scott thinks beer is the most vile thing on the planet.)
I very nearly took his half back from him.
Not long after starting, we hit the biggest blowdown section of trail that we’ve had since…central Colorado at least. Maybe even the Canones National Recreation Trail adventure we went on. It was heinous. But, as it turns out, wrestling bikes over deadfall is great at generating body heat. So there’s that.
We eventually gave up, cut off the trail, and beelined for the ridge where there were no trees and we were able to ride amongst the cows.
After rejoining the trail, we ran into a wildlife biologist from the Forest Service out surveying wildlife travel patterns.
“We saw grizzly poop a few miles back,” we told him.
“There aren’t many grizzlies in these mountains. Maybe half a dozen.”
That felt like a relief.
“It’s the male moose you have to watch out for this time of year,” he went on. “They’re in rut and the males are ornery and aggressive. They’ll come after you. Then in six to eight weeks, they’ll become mellow again.”
We reached the highway fairly uneventfully, crossed over, and proceeded to climb 1,000 feet on a nicely graded road. At the top, we reached a section that had been described as “Death by a thousand rocks.” I think it’s a fairly accurate description, so I’ll leave it at that.
We ended up on Priest Pass and stopped for lunch to see if any GDMBR riders would come by. We’re batting nearly a perfect 100 for finding GDMBR riders whenever we get on or cross the route.
This place seems to have some bad juju.
No riders, so we continued on some “classic” CDT. Some places there was trail, some places there wasn’t trail, some places the trail was good, others, not so good. There was some hike-a-bike.
We ended up on some roads paralleling the GDMBR, except up high. The riding was easy. Life was good. Even the climbing was reasonable. We crested a hill, and looking down, there was a rider.
Not knowing any better, I assumed we were intersecting the GDMBR again. Not so. Billy from Austin had had a rough morning and was looking to bail down into Helena a pass early. I can’t blame him, the route from Lincoln to Helena is steep, steep, steep. He’d flown up to Vancouver to wrench for a buddy at a race (BC bike race?), had ridden over to Banff, and was headed down to CO to fly home at the end of the month.
We continued on nice roads. Climby roads, for sure, but easy climbing. Such a relief. We couldn’t find a spring that we only had a vague description for and eventually found water from a spring at the foot of Blackfoot Mountain.
“We’re going up there?”
We stopped for our 5 pm snack only to discover that instead of buying Fritos bean dip, I’d bought cheese dip instead. An entire container of plastic, yellow, goodness disappeared into our bellies.
The 1,200 foot climb was okay for the first 400 feet. The last 800 made for a nice walk, and since we really hadn’t walked since morning, was okay. It’s only a bad climb if you don’t like hike-a-bike, we reasoned. At least the transition from the top of one hike-a-bike to the bottom of the next one isn’t long.
But as all climbs do, this one ended as well with giant views in every direction. We really were on top of the world. The trail switchbacked nicely down the other side and we found ourselves a nice little camp spot before the next upsy-daisy. There’s only two dead trees near us, which is the best we could do, and luckily the wind died down, so I think we’re good. I hope.
Tomorrow, 10 miles of trail until we drop off the CDT towards Lincoln. It’ll most likely be the last CDT we ride, which is both very exciting and a tiny bit sad. But based on the profile of the next 10 miles, I think it’ll be mostly exciting.