Day one: I left the Rooseville- US/Canadian border around 10 am. My friend Billy graciously drove me all the way up there from Flagstaff. I admit I was a bit nervous when he drove off. I was alone with my bike and the goal of riding it to the Mexican border, maybe further. I accidentally stepped too far into Canada and was immediately confronted by three Canadian border patrol agents running at me screaming at me and swearing at me. I actually thought I might get arrested. I didn’t, thank goodness, however, they did instruct me to go through US customs in order to continue. After that little debacle I started my ride into the town of Eureka 11 miles south. I was surprised at how quickly I got into Eureka, I ate lunch and made sure everything was charged. I did have some hesitation about leaving Eureka. I was alone and had never done a bikepacking trip, I wasn’t sure how it’d go and if I could actually even do it. After being told by this old guy riding his atv with his dog that I shouldn’t leave Eureka without a gun, I decided it was time to actually begin my journey and to leave Eureka. I peddled another 13 or so miles and found myself just after Grave Creek Campground. I camped near this guy Ryan and his beautiful dog, Yeti. Ryan kept me entertained that evening with his stories of conspiracies and political ideas very far from my own, nonetheless I was grateful for the company. Day 2- I left camp early because I knew there was a big climb waiting for me first thing and I was eager to get it over with. I pushed my bike up the hill and as I know now, I push and will push my bike up most hills 🙂 which is totally fine by me. I remember getting to the top of that climb, there was still a chill in the air and I sat there for awhile, taking in the peace and beauty that surrounded me. I felt proud of myself for starting this adventure and I was looking forward to how it would all play out. Then it was time to rally downhill and enjoy the breeze on my back, enjoy the ease and excitement of downhill. It was awesome and I made miles after miles. I eventually got to a turn on the route that lead to another big climb and decided to look for a place to camp. I had done 37 or so miles and I was beat. As I was sitting on the side of the route Brent and Ellen rode by, they explained they were going to camp in Polebridge, 5.5 miles off route and even though I was exhausted already my spirits needed the company and pizza sounded good. We camped near the river in Polebridge and ate pizza, candy and had an enjoyable evening. In the morning we went our own ways, they were out for only a few days and I needed to get back to the route and continue on. I climbed up to Red Meadow Lakes and then made the super fun descent into Whitefish lakes and camped there. I met an amazing family camped next to me and spent some time talking to them and sharing stories. It’s always the people you meet out on your adventures that you remember the most. The people that just happen to be there when you are in need of a short conversation, a word of encouragement, a plate of Mac and cheese or a laugh. I also met this couple from Colorado and their doggie, they had taken to life on the road after renting their house out and both of them loved to adventure with their dog. That made me miss Zoroaster a lot but I was comforted knowing he was safe at home and that I was having my time to be alone, to get back to myself and to adventure. I slept well that night 🙂 Day 3 I woke up early, it was freezing out. But I had to get going and I rode into Whitefish from camp. I was a tad overwhelmed at the tourists and crowds and shock of very different people than myself. I felt out of place and after eating lunch and charging my phone I decided to ride to Columbia Falls for the evening, it was a good idea. Columbia Falls is a smaller quieter place and was way more my scene and speed. I stayed at this cute little motel and had a motorcycle gang keep me company for the rest of the day. It was a good day and best of all, I was able to soak my legs in a bathtub 🙂
In the morning, I packed up and said goodbye to the motorcycle gang, they were headed into Glacier NP and I was heading to Big Fork. It was a nice steady ride into Big Fork, butterflies danced in and out of my wheels and the terrain was pretty easy. First stop in Big Fork was of course for ice cream and I ended up camping at the state park in town. Jesse and Sarah also camped there that night and we had good conversations about biking, gear, traveling and life. Leaving Big Fork the next day was a rough beginning, big climb, lots of pushing my bike and it was very hot. Up and up it went and I was drenched in sweat. It was a rough climb, but it only made the downhill part more worth it. The sweet smells of the forest that engulf you while you are rushing downhill on your bike, it’s an amazing feeling, it’s pure excitement and fun. It makes you feel invincible and wild. It’s extremely freeing! However, sometimes it can be a tad dangerous bombing downhill. I actually almost hit a moose standing in the middle of the route, I braked, I got off my bike and after a few minutes of staring at me, he was not impressed and he ran off. The route was open and clear again and I could keep going downhill. Of course nothing is always downhill all the way and downhill sections never last as long as you wished they would. I was spent by the time I got to Cedar Creek Camp and ended up camping alone right next to the river, which wasn’t the best choice because of the cold condensation the next morning. But the cold temps the next morning were short lived and after an hour or so it warmed up and I made the 1 mile climb back to the route and headed for Holland Lake. The ride to Holland Lake wore me out, but I was rewarded with a great dinner at the lodge, wonderful and kind campground hosts and a little camping spot that made for a good nights sleep. I had read about the next day and how it was supposed to be incredibly hard, lots of climbing and then 4 miles of downfall and carrying your bike up and over downfall. I was not looking forward to that, but, I planned accordingly and headed out early to tackle the day. About 10 miles in a biker named Blaize appeared, he stated how impressed he was that I could hike my bike as fast as he was peddling. We ended up riding the whole day together and it wasn’t as bad as what I had read. The climbs were rough, but tolerable and the scenery. Oh my goodness, hands down prettiest day on route so far. I couldn’t dream these places up. Absolutely fantastic! I wanted to sit on top and just be there forever. I didn’t want to leave. It’s a place that pulls on your heart and awakens your soul. It makes you feel alive and reminds you of how small you are on this earth. The smells, the colors, the rock, the sky, the trees, the flowers. Wow!!! Just perfect!!! No description can ever do it justice. After some time up there among the wild, we made the fun fast run downhill from the magical top. We got into Seeley Lake around 2 and ate a lot of food and setup camp and a nearby forest service campground. Wowzers, did it get cold that night. The next morning, the cold made it hard to start the day, but I packed up and headed towards Ovando. I was thankful for a short day of only 26 miles because I had a terrible migraine that morning and I could feel my body was telling me to stop, to take some time off. Even though it was just 26 miles, it was hard for me, my body wasn’t happy with me. Arriving in Ovando, I was greeted by a super cute Wild West town configuration, generous locals, cold root-beer in the store and my uncle John drove up to have dinner with me. That made my day better. It was wonderful to see family, it made me feel a little less lonely. Though, my body was still tired and I needed to rest. I slept in the biker teepee right in the middle of town that night and in the morning had a warm breakfast at the cafe. My plan for that day was to ride only 17 miles and camp at Cooper Lakes, but as I usually do I pushed on and ended up riding into Lincoln that day, another 22 miles. I got to town a hour or two before dark and decided that I was going to take Saturday and Sunday off, no riding!!! It was a much needed rest for me and I got to spend Sunday with my cousin Rivers, so it ended up being a great weekend of rest and lots of food!! Monday morning I left Lincoln, I rode to the llama farm, a place that allows bikers to camp there and it was a perfect day back on route after some rest. The climb leaving Lincoln was a tad ridiculously steep and unforgiving, it was a pain in the butt actually but the upside was that it was cloudy and the temp wasn’t that bad. Man, that climb sucked. The adorable llamas though made up for the climb and I had a short day and lots of rest. Today, I left the llama farm and rode 40 miles into Helena. Again, rough climbs, lots of ups and downs after the big climb, then at last a 2000 foot downhill into Helena 🙂 I actually ended up getting to 27 miles an hour today. I had to slow down it kinda freaked me out with all those sharp big rocks and flying downhill. This route has been hard and easy at times, it’s made me feel lonely and also connected at times to the natural world and to others. It has made me reflect, question things, it has allowed me time to face my grief of losing mArtha, it has given me a challenge mentally and physically and so far I have embraced it. I don’t know what’s coming but for now, I’ll keep riding south!!!