August 19, 2001

8/19/01 Seeley Lake, MT

33.5 / 6456 miles

Life is good. Life is grand! Life is kicking ass! Today has been my best day yet. But I'm getting to that later.

The morning mist coming off the lake

I must have been very tired last night. After writing in my journal, I could barely keep my eyes open to read a couple of pages. And this morning I slept later than normal. But it was probably also because it was pretty chilly. Mike's 'bozo-puter' said it was 53 degrees F.

I thought the climb back up to the road was going to be too hard to bike up, so I walked the bike up the trail. Actually it didn't seem that bad this morning and Mike was able to bike up the whole way.

Lookin' a little rough

Today called for some steep climbs, then we hit a section they label as "rough", "arduous" where there are "downed trees" and the "road has failed." We had some mild climbing up to the base of a six-mile stretch of "steep climb." Just as we reached the turn off, up rides two cyclists pulling B.O.B. trailers.

Malcolm and Jeremy are a surveyor and architect from Vermont out to ride for about a week, probably to Butte, on the Divide. Malcolm had done this tough stretch ahead three years ago, and loved it so much, he wanted to do it again. As we all started taking pictures, the disaster of all disasters occurred. My camera expired. As I turned it on, I heard motors move, something crunch, then nothing. No amount of resuscitation could bring it back to life. And this just before and area they say "looks like a piece of Glacier National Park." Nothing to do but hope the rest of the guys would send me photos of today.

Jeremy & Malcolm

It was a hard climb but not as bad as the guidebook led you to believe. Malcolm was giddy with excitement. He just loved it up here. We followed an old jeep track around the northeast flank of Richmond Peak. Most of the road was gone, washed down the cliff-like sides of the mountain. A few downed trees made you climb off the bike and push. One section was just a bit too scary for me to bike because of the narrow ledge and sheer drop off, so I walked the bike along there too. But, I have to admit, the view was spectacular.

Then we began our descent over some of the roughest trail I've ever imagined speeding down. By the end, we all had cuts and scrapes from the trees you literally fly through. I could hardly see the rider in front of me the trees were so thick. Too bad we were going so fast because I'm sure the view of the basin was awesome. The fact was you had to give the ride 100% of your concentration or you could end up doing a free fall off the side of the mountain.

Checking out our descent

Eat my dust!

When we reached the gravel road, I was pumped. That had to be the best cyclig I've ever done. I wanted to do it again! Even though the rest of the descent to the valley wasn't technical single-track, it was very fast hurling down the gravel road. At times I had to put some distance between me and the riders ahead because of the dust cloud we each stirred up.

Near Grizzly Basin, we ran into a Forest Service researcher radio tracking a male-female pair of Lynx. He was busy downloading activity data from the animals radio collars. By measuring heart rate, they could determine all sorts of info, like feeding, hunting, movement up or down terrain, pregnancy, etc. By adding in other factors like weather and location, the naturalist could piece together what they think is the life of a Lynx.

As we get closer to town, I think food was on everyone's mind. The four of us decided to camp together at Big Lurch Campground. So after re-supplying at the grocery store, Malcolm and Jeremy went on ahead to get a campsite, while Mike and I went in search of lunch. But on the way, we run into two more cyclists pulling trailers.

Frog and Ed were also doing the Divide. They were feeling the miles, so decided to do today's mileage on the road. Too bad because they missed a great section. They're both from Texas and Frog did the AT last year (Frog was his trail name). No sooner than he said that and we were swapping thruhiker stories. "But did we see the other couple cycling the Divide?" they said.

Todd and Whitney were camping in the site next to the one picked by Malcolm and Jeremy. Todd's pulling a trailer with most of their gear while Whitney has rear panniers. Todd's been a bike mechanic (a good person to have around). They're both looking to head to Nicaragua after riding the Divide to work with a non-profit that coordinates short-term volunteer projects. Whitney speaks fluent Spanish, so maybe I can get some lessons. Todd has his language tapes too.

Mike and I ended up eating at Lindsy's Landing Bayburgers, not once, but twice. Nothing fancy, just huge, half-pound burgers. Yum! At lunch, we talked with Todd and Rick from Park City. And at dinner, I ended up chatting with a huge family from Minnesota, who knew all about D'Amico & Son's whose hat I wear. They said it was a very good restaurant, highly recommended.

One last stop to call home and get a cookie for a night-time snack. Talked a bit more with Jeremy about my fund-raising ride as we both caught up on our journals. Mike ended up talking with his girlfriend in California for what seemed like hours. It's got to be hard, knowing they won't see each other for another two months. I think Mike was happy to talk to her but sad at the same time.

I don't know if the group will stick together but it's nice knowing there are others out here with us. I wouldn't have wanted to do today's section alone. Because of the remoteness, safety is on everyone's mind. But that same remoteness gets us to places few people go. I was bummed about the camera, but they say trouble travels in threes, and we also had the tube blowout and pedal falling apart. So meeting all these other cyclists was a sweet reward after the other stuff. As Mike and I said later, "it's going to be hard to beat today" ride and camaraderie.