July 2, 2001

7/2/01 Missoula, MT

89.8 miles

Got up at my usual time, but decided to wait for Allen and Maggie to get up. Last night we had a little excitement in the campground. A few guys got in a drunken brawl and the police were giving chase when the guys pulled into the campground. Two jumped out and ran for the fields, while the third one got caught by the police.

Our route followed the Bitterroot River down the valley. A few times, when we were sheltered from the sun by the towering mountains, it was quite brisk riding. I hadn't realized till today that the magnificent snow-covered Bitterroot Mountains are in Idaho. One of the best being Trappers Peak.

Met several couples heading east. Darren and Nickie were headed east, but also stopping in her hometown of Pittsburg, Kansas. Todd and Bonnie were both pulling bobs. We met John and Nancy (from Ohio) just outside of Florence where they told us there is a bike path all the way to Lolo, Montana.

We hadn't left Sula very long when a gentleman stopped to flag us down. "I just didn't want you to miss this," said Dusty Samonce. We were standing next to a big tree full of Indian fetishes thrown up into the branches, plus tobacco and money pushed into the cracks of the bark. It was called the "Wisdom Tree."

The "Wisdom Tree"

The story goes that the Ram and the Coyote were going to do battle to see if the world was going to be good or bad. After several days of fierce battle, it looked like the Coyote was in trouble when he was backed into a tree. But when the Ram charged, the Coyote jumped straight up, causing the Ram to bury his horns into the tree. And with the Coyote's victory, the world was made good.

We stopped for breakfast at the "Montana Café" in Darby. We rode through Hamilton, Corvalis, Stevesville, Florence, and Lolo, all against a headwind, but generally on a flat downhill through the valley. It was hot and we were tired, but decided to try and make the 90 miles to Missoula. The bike path to Lolo was a pleasant surprise, but we still had a busy 12 miles into town on a major highway. Those last miles to the campground were tough.

But, about 7:30 P.M. we made it. I've already met several cyclists here. John, a special ed teacher from Kansas City, is heading north for Banff. Phyllis is an older Texas woman headed east on the TransAm.

I'm sad because I say goodbye to Allen and Maggie tomorrow. I'd write more, but the miles are taking their toll on me. More later.