Today was another late start, caused mostly by the fact that sleeping in a real bed was so comfortable. I got up around 7 to the smell of pancakes and bacon downstairs. I got dressed and packed then headed downstairs to see the feast John had laid out. Blueberry pancakes and crispy pieces of bacon. It was amazing and we had some interesting discussion about hunting and conservation. John took a picture of me and Michael as we left. The red sun was on full display
I’d later learn this was the road up to the Continental Divide at Pipestone Pass. John had told me there was a rails to trails trail along the route of the old Milwaukee Railroad that I could take instead of the road. I was somewhat worried about the path since it was a dirt semi-mountain bike trail. I decided to check it out. I climbed a steep dirt road before arriving at the trail. It was wonderful. There was some gravel but it was mostly dirt. There were a few hikers and a few bikers but mostly deserted. It wound through the trees providing picturesque vistas when the trees would open up
I believe it climbed up over 1000 feet, but the grade was so mellow I didn’t notice. The route passes through two railroad tunnels and though you could see daylight on the far end of each they were still somewhat intimidating.
The path continued to climb gently for a mile or two before reaching a large trestle bridge over a deep valley
The view from the middle was spectacular, and I could vaguely see the road I would otherwise be climbing. I road for another mile or so. As I got closer to the road I saw two bikers on it, and thought it may be Kristin and Andy. I walked up the final steep dirt climb to the Continental Divide and saw them there having a snack. We discussed the fires and smoke, and the climb then said our real final goodbyes. I got a great descent down the far side of the divide (this was my first time crossing it on foot). I descended through the trees before emerging into a wide valley
I rode for a bit through the valley then turned right onto 41 towards Twin Bridges, a town along the published route I was following, and the end of my reroute around fires. I was immediately met by a short steep climb which then continued for a long way straight as an arrow
This valley is apparently called the Jefferson Valley, formed by the Jefferson River and it was really cool to consider that this river will flow to the Atlantic rather than the Pacific. While riding these long straight roads I had a bit of an existential crisis about what I was doing and why, but it passed when I reminded myself that I’m doing it precisely to have an adventure. I took a right turn onto a different stretch of 41 which had a wide shoulder. I followed it for a few miles into the town of Silver Star and tried to buy an ice cream but there was no one there to pay so I left. I had lunch at a small fishing spot by the river. I got back on the road and saw a sign saying 10 miles to Twin Bridges. Yay! Unfortunately those 10 miles had a headwind of 5-10 miles an hour which made it slow going. It took about an hour to get there. The shoulder was good and traffic light though and I didn’t mind the flat slow going too much. I rolled into town and stopped for lunch. I got a burger which took forever to cook (a wedding party had arrived just before me) but I just used the time to relax and drink too many iced teas. The food was good, and rejuvenated, I left to find a campsite. I didn’t have to go far, the town had Montana’s first biker campsite. There were four other riders there hanging out. They were all part of a group going westbound. I got a shower then gave them all the info I had about the fires. They told me a bit about Yellowstone and other parts of the adventure. I took a dip in the river then relaxed in the sun. The other group was going to dinner and asked if I would join. We went to The Shack and got pizza and salads. It was a huge amount of food, probably too much. The food was great and the conversation good though and the time went quickly. I’m posting this right after dinner. Soon I’ll head back to camp and have an early night. I’ve felt sleep deprived the last few nights. Night!
- Blueberry pancakes
- Cliff bar
- Trail mix
- Iced tea
- Jalapeno poppers