Eureka, MT - Helena, MT
Apologies if I sound like a broken record but I CAN'T BELIEVE WE GET TO BIKE EVERYDAY! We are taking a rest day today in Helena with the most generous couple, Matthew and Mary Ellen. They have a beautiful home and are deep wells of knowledge in the bicycling world as well as just life in general. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay and hope to one day be as awesome as they are :)
This past week we clocked some good miles and had some good climbs. One of my favorite nights of the week was Monday night when we made it to Red Meadow Lake and rolled in to see Ryan and Sherinne at the lake's shore! We were SO EXCITED to see them! As we were biking the last bit of the climb I noticed that there were tire tracks along with trailer tracks and I had secretly hoped that that meant that we were catching up to them so when we saw them it was the BEST! Ryan and Sherinne are pure comedy and we were lucky enough to spend our evening meal with them over at their campsite. They are the kind of couple that you LOVE spending time with and want so badly to have as friends. Big thank you to them for the comic relief and friendship.
As if life couldn't get better after Red Meadow Lakes, the next day we rolled through Whitefish and Columbia Falls and stayed with trail angels Tom and Patty Arnone!! We literally pull into their yard and Tom is standing there waiting for us and gets us two ice cold Mexican cokes. I'm not much of a soda drinker on the reg but those cokes were divine!!! Patty took us down to the river for our evening shower/laundry ritual and shared with us a bit of the history of the area. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of the wonderful people along the divide! Something that I have gathered from them as well as other trail Angels on this ride is the idea that we are all in this together. Sounds obvious but when someone truly has taken that to heart they live their lives differently and it is felt in interactions. I hope to nurture that within myself and live my life more in an outward direction when I return home.
Other highlights of the week include but are not limited to:
- Turning around as we were biking on Monday morning to see that Ralf was coming up behind us. He had left Eureka about an hour and a half before us so I was SUPER surprised to see him coming up behind us! He had gotten a flat and pulled off the trail to fix it so we had no idea! Pleasant surprise seeing him for a hot second before he took the route to Glacier
- Meeting Tim and his dog Dorrie on a random fire road.
- Ryan and Sherinne. always.
- The ride into Whitefish around the lake
- Visiting the Glacier bike shop in Whitefish and enjoying some cold Gatorades and watermelon while we waited
- Tom and Patty <3
- Detouring into Big Fork to grab a package of food
- Meeting MaryJo at the Bigfork post office. She was SO KIND and had gone on bike tours when she was our age but hadn't in a while and after talking with us felt inspired to go on another one! Go MaryJo!!
- Seeing Flathead Lake. HUGE! Apparently the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi!! So glad we detoured into Bigfork!
- Camping at Peck Lake which was actually a gross marshy lake but we had cool neighbors from Colorado who were super nice and took our trash in the morning :) thanks guys.
- Swimming in Clearwater Lake
- Seeing huckleberry hunters all over the hills
- Discovering that Katie and I climb best to a Disney soundtrack. It's also nice because I have my phone with the music and Katie has the speaker so we need to stay close in order for them to work together. This is really good for me because sometimes on climbs I get into a zone and just bust it up the hills when it would be best for Katie and I to stay together. Disney music. Problem solved.
- Descending Richmond Peak!!! SO BEAUTIFUL! It was a single track descent and parts of it were pretty exposed which made for an even more fun descent!!!!
- Biking towards Cottonwood Lakes we entered a Thunder and Lightning storm pre-rain. It was EPIC!!!!
- Jumping into one of the Cottonwood Lakes as it was raining (no lightning....) and being able to eventually get warm (key word = eventually)
- Having a bomb enough tent to be able to cook in the alcove (thank you Big Agnes)
- "Ovando is Open" a sign that when I read it I'm pretty sure angels sang and the heavens opened
- Devouring food in Ovando. Not sure why I was so hungry since we had only been riding for an hour and a half at that point...had to stock up for the two climbs we had that day....
- Getting a puncture in my tire but fixing it enough to roll down to Barbara Nye's adorable biker cabin
- Meeting Andy, Thomas, Cindy, Todd, Barbara, and ranger Tom. Such an awesome crew that we were able to stay at Barbara's cabin with!
- Barbara's homemade cookies
- Barbara's cabin
- Ranger Tom brought us peach huckleberry pie with whipped cream! Check him out in the latest edition of Time magazine which highlights the National Parks for the anniversary. He is featured on page 84 :)
- Having a shorter and more casual day on Saturday as Andy, Thomas, Katie and I rolled into Helena at a party pace :)
- Meeting Matthew and Mary Ellen! Such a generous couple with a beautiful home and great conversation!!
- Taking a shower for the first time in two weeks!
- Enjoying a rest day in Helena
- Cutting six inches off my hair. FEELS SO GOOD!!
- Letting my left knee rest a bit...it began giving me grief on Tuesday so I'm taking it easy and making little adjustments to help it
It has been an amazing week -- a week with a lot of miles (380 in 6 days) and some fun climbs but overall SO GOOD! We're getting into more of a groove of sorts but are still able to stop and enjoy little moments. I love our little lunch breaks at streams and taking in the changing scenery. This week as I was riding I realized that I had missed seeing most all of the Olympics yet I felt more patriotism than ever before. I guess that’s what will happen as you bike through some of the most beautiful land and interact with some of the most kind people in the US. This upcoming week will be a nice and mellow one with some more gorgeous views! I am SO EXCITED!!!!!! Can't wait to see who we meet!
- Meeting Tom and Patty who have been hosting bikers since the 70's
- Learning to sleep with less clothing which contrary to my beliefs allows you to be warmer in a down sleeping bag
- Getting my bike tuned-up
- warm showers in Helena with Matt and Mary
- Listening to our favorite Disney songs as we climb over passes
-Richmond Peak downhill biking
-Biking with Andy and Thomas
-Realizing my phone isn't working and I only get calls and texts from a handful of people (on a good note maybe my friends haven't forgotten me)
- Being a girl in the forest
-Rain as we rolled into camp, but luckily it wasn't earlier
-Sore legs and saddles
The week started out great with clean clothes and a nice break so we felt refreshed going into week 2. My knee has felt better this week and we've had some cushy miles to help us continue plugging along.
We've had a lot of fun chatting with another biking couple at Red Meadow Lake, Ryan and Sherinne from London, and learning about the lives of Tom and Patty who have been hosting bikers since the 70's. Andy and Thomas who rode with us into Helena and Matt and Mary who've been such gracious warm shower hosts in Helena who have such a great knowledge of the history of cycling. We've been blessed by all those we come in contact with.
It's fun to be in beautiful remote areas just to get back to heavily populated areas, and by heavily populated I mean towns of 3,500:).
On this ride you have your "moments"... Moments of not thinking you'll make it. I've had some of those as we plan for the next day and see the huge passes we are going over or as we roll into camp and it's raining and you get up and have to put on damp clothes. However, I've also had my moments of greatness where I realize I couldn't have an experience like this anywhere else. One day we were biking towards Sealy Lake and got to ride in the midst of a thunder storm, no rain yet but the thunder was brilliant. As we descended down Richmond Peak I saw some of the most beautiful views and know I've never seen biking like this before. It's a one-of-a-kind experience to say the least. Getting to be out in nature being able to let everything go for a while, really helps you get some perspective. Everyone should get out there and do something like this!
- Great Divide Milestones -
- FROM: East Palo Alto, CA
- DOB: 2016-01-01
- OCCUPATION: Arborist/Mechanic and Social Media Communications
What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure?
When Laura called me on the phone and said, "Hey I found this Ranger program while I was on the train today and I thought that you'd be a good PIC (partner in crime)."
Have you traveled by bike in the past?
Yes -- a couple of smaller bike packing trips
What is your goal for the route?
Our goal is to morph all of our random outdoor skills into a successful ride of the Great Divide!
What do you hope to get out of this journey?
I see this as a soul-searching adventure for 2 months. I want to be able to get away from my normal 6am-3pm job and be on an adventure that separates me from life's distractions. I want to share my experiences with various biking communities along the route and hope to learn from them as well.
- Great Divide Milestones -