July 5, 2001

7/5/01 Whitehorse Campground

64.1 / 4068 miles

This morning, the sun lit up the mountain peaks golden, at least for a few minutes. Then the clouds rolled in and put a shroud on everything.

Said my good-byes to Allen and Maggie. Like Mike from Australia, I couldn't have asked for better cycling companions. I think now, more than ever, I need to renew these special friendships again someday.

Traffic out of Missoula was pretty light because of the post-holiday. But the gloom made it difficult to enjoy it. Got a pastry at a gas station in Lolo and sat outside to eat it, but also talked to a guy on a Harley.

Even though the road was pretty straight and flat, I could tell I was gaining elevation as I rode through the Lolo Creek valley.

Fort Fizzle is a pretty big misnomer. It's not a fort, but a place of fortified rifle trenches built by U.S. troops and volunteers to stop the Nez Perce. But when the Indians promised to move through in peace, many of the volunteers refused to fight because of possible reprisals on their families. That left the Army troops seriously out-gunned. The Nez Perce slipped by, moving into the Bitterroot Valley.

The 5,235 foot Lolo Pass was pretty tame compared to other passes I've crossed. But the views down were stunning. The mountains seem to jut out of the valley like knives. And the trees are huge.

Talked with a family at the Devoto Grove, a memorial of magnificent cedar trees for Bernard Devoto (a long-time researcher of Lewis & Clark).

Saw four guys headed east as I flew down the pass. I didn't have the heart to get them to stop their uphill climb just so I could hear their story. I also ran into Mike and Tim (whom I'd met yesterday at Pizza Hut AYCE). Seems as if Tim had found a bike frame for sale in Lolo, and had carried it some 28 miles to their campsite. Then spent most of the night reassembling it from parts off his old bike. Even though they got a late start, they had planned on some big miles. They started in Michigan and are headed for California.

I'm sitting here on a stump, feeling the heat of the campfire, while the sounds of the Lochsa River serenade me in the background. The rain was on and off all day, forcing me to put on and remove my jacket too many times to count. But now, as evening approaches, I can see patches of blue among the clouds. I must have been more tired than I thought because, once I set up my tent, I couldn't keep my eyes open until I took a nap.