August 20, 2001

8/20/01 - Big Nelson Camp

46.9 / 6506 miles

Not sure what it was, maybe all the excitement of meeting other Divide riders, but I just couldn't seem to get to sleep.

Woke up deep in my sleeping bag to guard against the cold. Mike said it was in the 30's but I'm not sure how accurate that was. But it was pretty damn cold. It felt weird eating breakfast and breaking camp with so many people. Even as I prepared to leave camp, it was cold enough to have our wind-pants, arm warmers, jacket and full-finger gloves. That's the weird part, how large a swing in temperatures they get here.

Mike and I were the second pair to hit the road. Definitely got warmer as we began climbing. Almost the whole day was on hard-packed gravel. At times, it was smooth, but most of the time it had a washboard surface. So it was hard to find any line without at least some bumps.

I guess the reason our lunch break seemed too soon, was because we didn't get out of camp till 10AM. The Mature Creek was a great little spot for a break. Beautiful stream, lots of grass, and shady spots to get out of the sun. Jeremy went fishing and caught two trout.

Whitney and Todd said that on their downhill ride, they startled a bear and he ended up running just a bit ahead of them. We didn't see the bear but is sure was a nice downhill.

Kind of hot and dusty

Once we descended, the road went through farms and ranches. At Ovando, MT, we stopped at the Blackfoot Commercial Company Store to talk to the owner. One of his older customers had just ridden his lawnmower up to the gas pump to get a fill up. "My father came here in 1900." he said. I would have liked to ask him more, but he must have been hard of hearing because I had to shout every question.

A bunch of previous travelogues had talked about Trixi's Saloon so I had to stop. Just what you might expect - definitely a working man's bar. But good food though. The poor woman behind the bar was bartender, waitress, cook and busboy.

A bit of highway, then straight roads for a long while to get closer to Big Bend Campground. Ended up at camp close to 5:30PM. Good thing Malcolm and Jeremy got there first because there weren't many campsites left. It's a bit hilly and hard to find a flat space big enough for a tent. But the price is right - free.

Campin' among the trees

So Whitney and Todd are down by the lake while the rest of us are camped above the road. Lots of cabins on the lake, probably because of the gorgeous mountains all around. I'm sure Frog and I bored everyone with our Appalachian Trail stories. But with six of us trying to each cook dinner on one table, it was déjà vu, like cooking at one of the AT shelters.

everyone taking a dip in the lake

All in all, a good day.