Friday, September 30, 2016

Day 28--The Obvious Title For Today--Goodbye Montana, Hello Idaho!

We left our cow pasture at the usual time of 9:30 this morning. First the weather seemed like another sunny and warm day. Okay, there were some clouds, but it was warm. I took my leg warmers off (I always put them on when I get dressed), as well as my arm warmers. I even took the sleeves off my jacket. However, by the time we left, it had clouded over, and the wind was making for a lot chillier temperature. The sleeves of the jacket went back on. 

We had about 15 miles to Lakeview. Derik lead the entire way with Connor and I drafting. We made good time. Lakeview is where the Visitor Center is for the huge wildlife sanctuary. We stopped to check out the center, and get water (we had decided against filtering water from the creek last night as there was a large amount of brownish white foam sitting on top of the water just upstream). 

We continued riding toward Red Rock Pass. The road was decent about half the time, bumpy the rest. The colors were beautiful though.

We passed Upper Red Rock Lake campground where we were aiming for yesterday if we couldn't find another place. The British boys had camped there last night. Here's a photo of the lake.

The climb to the Pass was not that difficult. The wind was, at times, very annoying. At one point prior to the Pass, Derik had pulled over at a spot suitable for lunch. Connor, however, rode right by him, even though Derik yelled. When I got there, Derik told me what happened. There was nothing to do but keep riding. Connor thought Derik was ahead of him, so he wouldn't stop until the top of the Pass. 

It was okay though, because the top of the Pass was a good spot for lunch. It was also where we crossed over from Montana to Idaho!

It was also our 7th Continental Divide crossing.

We came down the other side toward Henrys Lake.

We passed by Sawtell Peak which has this round ball thing on top.
I thought maybe it is Idaho spying on Montana.

We came to a stretch of pavement for a handful of miles. The map told us to turn right onto unsigned gravel road. That is always difficult to determine which gravel road is the correct one. But, we found it. It was also known as the Harrison to Henrys Lake Island Park Community Trail. It was more of a double track than a gravel road. 

We popped out onto a paved semi-residential street that took us to Hwy 20. The map had indicated there were no services, but there was a Subway! We decided to have an early dinner there, then go on the last 4 miles or so to the campground. 

We are staying at Big Springs Campground. It appears to be closed (water is off, garbage bins are locked, men's restroom is locked, women's is open, but that seems to be an oversight as there is a bunch of firewood bundles, a garbage can, and a tarp in it). Oh well, another night of free camping (20 out of 28 days)! Water is not a problem because, well, we are at Big Springs. Here, the water just comes out of the ground. There is a spot where we can just fill up our bottles without even filtering. 
Water is just coming out of the ground!

There is a cool cabin and water wheel.

The property belonged to Johnny Sack. It's now on the list of National Historic Places
If you zoom in, you can get the idea of who Johnny Sack was. Basically, he was a German immigrant who bought the land around the Spring, and hand built the cabin and the furniture inside. He died in 1957. The property now belongs to the Forest Service. The cabin is open for tours, but is closed for the season.
The Spring from the cabin. There were trout jumping all over in the water. There were also tons of, I food! Of course, there is no fishing allowed. Seems like a good place to be a trout!

Since we didn't have to cook dinner, we played a few extra hands of Golf. Connor is still winning, but there is still time...

Day 27--Creative Attempts at Finding a Place to Camp

We said our final goodbye to Fred this morning.
A group photo in front of Fred's motorcycle.

We did see him again in Lima. He was getting gas--we were getting groceries. Speaking of groceries, this was another convenience store grocery resupply. We have to get a little creative in our dinners. We had to restock for two nights of dinner. We got some more of the Top of the Hill kielbasa (made outside of Polaris), our usual tortillas, some Frito-Lay Bean Dip, and a new delicacy, Frito-Lay Cheese Sauce. We would heat up the kielbasa, then add it to a tortilla with bean dip and cheese sauce. The lady at the convenience store even sold Derik a half dozen eggs. He can only carry 6 at a time. We also got a plethora of snacks, something a convenience store has plenty of. For our second dinner, we'll have ramen with more of the kielbasa. While we were doing our shopping, the British guys came in. They stayed in Lima last night. We were rather surprised to see them. We thought for sure they were way ahead of us...apparently not. They were doing a bigger day today, going to the campground just beyond Lakeview. We may still see them again. They are very slow to get going in the morning. We had already done 12 miles to Lima before they even left Lima.

We decided to eat an early lunch at the restaurant in Lima. The waitress made sure to tell us to ride single file on the dirt road. There had been "reports" of cyclists riding 2 and 3 abreast so they could talk. Trucks with horse trailers come around the corners. We told her we can pretty much hear when a vehicle is coming, especially if it's pulling a horse trailer. They make a ton of noise.

We took off our leg warmers and arm warmers before leaving. It was shaping up to be another hot day like yesterday and the day before. This time I put on my sunsleeves, and put sunscreen on my lips, as they were sore from yesterday. Once we were going, it wasn't terribly hot, but that was because of the wind. 

The scenery was similar to Old Bannack Rd.
Lots of fences, grass, and sagebrush. The profile for today made it seem like it was going to be mostly flat.
The middle one from Lima to the beginning of the next one down. Well, it was a rollercoaster. I suppose, overall, we didn't gain much in elevation, but it was not an easy day. The wind was a big factor too. Mostly it was a crosswind or a headwind. We had one short bit of tailwind.

Our goal was to camp at an "informal campsite" at the far end of Lima Reservoir. We went by Lima Dam which was the other end of the reservoir.
The dam and the keepers house.

For awhile, we rode along the reservoir.
And along some red rocks (where, perhaps, Red Rock River gets its name).
We went up and down, up and down, eventually moving away from the water.
Rollercoastering along.
There was a spot where there were 4 horses standing by the fence. I stopped to take this photo because they were 4 different colors.
Pretty horses!

In the one section where we had a tailwind, I couldn't keep up with the guys because I was laughing at the cows. The guys were riding along. One calf kept running back and forth across the road in front of Connor. As Derik was riding, this cow came trotting from the field making a bee line for Derik as if to say, "Wait for me!" I didn't get any pictures, but it was hilarious!

After more of this,
we finally got to the last turn before we would get to our campsite. Of course, now we had a full on headwind. It was blowing dust up from the road. I changed into my bandit look.
It helped a lot.

We got to where the map said there was informal camping, but there was nothing. There was Red Rock River (more of a creek), but not really a suitable place to camp that wasn't covered in cow shit. There was one spot that might have worked, but we thought, since the symbol was on the map, maybe there was another place. We continued on. Nope, nothing. Finally, we were beyond where the symbol was on the map. We came to a deserted farm with a boarded up from house, and some decrepit barns. We decided to check it out. Perhaps we could get out of the wind, and camp beside one of the barns. Getting the fence gate open was very difficult. Both Derik and Connor had to do it while I held their bikes. Well, one barn had a dead coyote in it, and was also full of cow shit. The other had lots of critter holes. The house was no better. We decided it was not a good place to camp. Down the road, we could see a house. I said we would go there, and ask if we could camp in their yard. We got there, and the place was perfect, one was home. We did poach some water from their outside faucet. It was now nearing 5:00. The nearest campground was the one the Brits were going to, another 19 or 20 miles. We were turning, so at least we wouldn't have the headwind. We decided to head for the campground, unless...we passed another house. Sure enough, we did. This time the people were home. My job, as the female, is to seek the kindness of strangers. As I went up to the house, a young boy came around the corner. I asked if his mom or dad were home. He said they were inside. I went to the door. Royce, the young boy (5 years), came and opened the door. They appeared to be getting ready for dinner. I introduced myself, and asked if we could camp in their yard. Dave, the dad, said we could just go across the street through the gates, and camp by the creek. It would be much quieter there. I thanked him and Jessica (mom), and went back to the guys and told them I had secured a place to camp for the evening.

Yes, there is cow shit, but it's mostly dried.
Dave, Jessica, Royce, and Rosie's house.

We can hear the cows mooing, but they are across the road (maybe that's what Dave meant when he said it would be quieter here). The wind was still blowing, but we cooked our dinner and played one round of Golf before it was too cold and we retreated to our tents. Here's a final photo.
Goodnight Montana, goodnight cows!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Day 26--A Much Better Day, And Back With Fred

Okay, this is the last I'll say about my sleeping pad/warmth issue. I think I've got it figured out now. I put the Z-Rest on top of the sleeping pad, under my sleeping bag. I was toasty warm, even a little, dare I! I slept really well! This was the view from my tent this morning.
By the time we left, the sun was on us.

Today, we had just 42 miles. We continued to ride along the remote dirt road, gradually gaining elevation.
Again, I was so thankful the road was dry!

I had talked to Derik about them maybe not getting so far ahead of me. Instead, stop, take in the scenery, maybe take a photo, and wait for me to catch up. It was a much more pleasant day for me. Connor and I rode together for a time too. 

The major climb of the day was not too long, but it was quite steep! However, I made it up without walking. I did take one break on a somewhat flat spot. Here's a photo looking back from almost the top.
Basically, you can't even see the lower part of the road. That curve is where I took my break.

The view from the top was quite nice.
This is the Old Bannack Road.
Although we didn't see as many cars as yesterday, there was still some traffic (good if something should happen).

The ride down was a blast. I got up to 42.6, and Derik (and probably Connor too) got up to 47mph! I could have gone faster, I'm just a little chicken. We saw a nice spot for lunch, so pulled over and ate. There was just a few more ups before the long gentle descent.
The next several miles went by pretty quickly. Connor had left our lunch spot ahead of us to make the 1/4 mile side trip to Morrison Lake in hopes that they had a potty shack. Oddly, the boy did not want to did a hole to do his business, something he had to do repeatedly on the PCT. Derik and I did not see the logic of riding 1/2 mile out of the way just to take a dump. Unfortunately for Connor, there was no potty shack at Morrison Lake. We kept seeing holes on the road, and tried to convince him to use one of those "pre-dug" holes for his deposit. He declined. We saw a cabin that had an outhouse. He decided he could make it the rest of the way to the campground. 

The road came out of the desolate nothingness of sagebrush into an area of cool rock formations.

We passed through that area, and came back out to a bit more sagebrush area. The campground we are at is called Deadwood Gulch. Fred planned to meet us here for one more night together. He had actually stayed here last night too. He chose the best campsite--protected from the wind, and shady too (it was another very warm day today--we all got a little sun)! We are right next to Big Sheep Creek and can hear it flowing. 
Before dinner, we taught Fred how to play "Golf". He caught on quite quickly. Our dinner was some sausages that Fred brought, Spanish rice, pulled pork in BBQ sauce, cheese, and tortillas. It was delicious! I'll miss Fred after tomorrow. It was really fun having him join us!

Day 25--Bannack State Park Sure Was Nice!

Too bad we didn't stay there.

This is how cold it was this morning.
Those are my frozen shorts that I washed last night.

Fred was with us again last night. He has the Taj Mahal of tents.

Since the first bunch of miles were pavement, and climbing, I left at 8:40, about 20 minutes ahead of Derik and Connor. I managed to stay ahead of them for the first 1 1/2 hours. I even took a couple of photos.
Sharp pointy mountains over there.
Comet mountain

When I got to Crystal Park, I saw that it was a place where people can dig for rocks. That would be interesting for the rock collector. Shortly after that, the guys caught up to me. That was near the top, so I was able to stay with them through the nice fast descent. I don't know if it was that one, or the next one, but at some point I got up to 42.6mph. Going down, we were taking turns drafting, then passing. MC rolls pretty fast downhill, and I could pass Connor and Derik while coasting (I was going too fast to pedal anyway). Then we had an uphill and they were gone. I didn't catch up to them until they stopped in Polaris. There, Connor and I changed to the next map. We've now gone through 2 maps.

The guys pulled ahead from Polaris to the highway. They had decided we would have lunch at Bannack State Park. Because I was leading on the highway to the turnoff to Bannack, we stayed together. We managed to arrive at the park together too. That never happens! We rode into the park at 12:30 after 36ish miles. That's the most miles we've done before lunch. Of course it helps that it was all pavement.

Bannack State Park was really nice. The weather was sunny and warm. 
The trees were pretty, and there was even a teepee.
The book had Bannack listed as today's stop. Unfortunately, we had decided to do more miles. I would have been perfectly happy to stay there! It was such a nice place. And they had a hiker/biker site too! But, alas, we restocked water (Derik even filled his two one gallon dromedary bags), and headed down the road. 

The area we are in now is mostly sagebrush. Quite a difference from the wooded mountains. From Bannack we were on gravel/hard pack dirt for the next 12 miles. We didn't gain much elevation, but it was somewhat rollercoastery. I was very thankful that the road was dry. If it had been wet, it would have been a muddy mess. 
Pretty much nothing here.

We came back to a highway, but just before it, I took this photo at Cross Ranch.
Nice one, huh?

We were back on a highway for a couple miles. Connor was leading this time (for a change). We got back onto gravel on Medicine Lodge Rd. The guys soon got ahead of me. We were 50 miles in for the day, and it was warm. I was getting tired. We didn't have an exact place where we were going to camp, just somewhere around 60 miles. It seemed like I rode and rode. Every time I'd crest a hill, I would hope to see the guys, but they were too far ahead of me. This is usually the case, but today it was frustrating for me because I was not able to contribute to the conversation of where to stop. I just had to keep going until they had decided to stop, and I caught up to them. They, apparently, don't ever need to take a break (except lunch). The only time they stop is if there is a turn. Then they wait for me to catch up. If there are no turns, they don't stop. Consequently, I get further and further behind because I can't go that long without a break. When I finally caught up to them, I was hopping mad. I told Derik they need to stop and let me catch up once in awhile, especially when we don't have a specific campground in mind. There was a nice farmhouse that I would have been happy to ask if we could camp on their lawn, but the guys were already long gone. So, anyway, we are camped alongside the road in the middle of nowhere.

After dinner, Derik went across the road. He motioned for us to come over. Down in the valley below there was a bull moose.
This one was pretty good (zoomed in). A guy went by in a pickup. He said there is three cows and two bulls that hang out there.

Tomorrow we have less miles to get to Lima--about 41 or so. We'll meet up with Fred for one more night before he heads home.

Day 24--Consequently, I Ended Up Doing It All By Myself

Yowza, it was a cold night last night! I stayed mostly warm, but still have problems with cold hips. I took off my jacket, and slid it down to my hips. That helped some. When I got up this morning, the sky looked like this.
The old saying, "red sky at morning, sailors take warning" didn't pan out. It ended up being a beautiful day. Still, it was bone chilling cold in the morning. In fact, it was a two-cups-of-hot-chocolate cold morning. 
Derik standing in the warmth of the sun.
Connor finding it difficult to eat whilst in Ninja mode.

Once Fred was up, Derik cooked eggs with sweet potato and garlic, then cooked the rest of Fred's brats. I was full from my oatmeal and two cups of hot chocolate (besides, I don't eat eggs as they sometimes make me sick). I knew we had a lot of climbing today, so I thought I'd get a head start so they wouldn't have to wait for me. That hindsight...a mistake.

I took off (realizing my legs were a bit tired from yesterday). I just poodled along, stopping to take off my warm jacket and put on my hi-vis jacket, then later taking that off too. I even took this photo of the nice Fall colors.
I was following the map, and the mileage was correct. I followed the road left to follow Jerry Creek. When I got to the next intersection, the mileage was close for "veer right on much better road". So, I veered right as the road was much better. The next narrative was to veer left following a trail #94/Indian Spring Saddle. I didn't see a sign for this. Then I crossed a cattle grate which the map said I would, then came to a meadow, which the map also said I would. However, at this point I was to cross another cattle grate, and turn to go up a very steep hill. Hmmm...this part was not presenting itself. I pondered the map for awhile, went a little further (going down, which was definitely not right), then decided to turn around and go back and see if the guys were coming. On my way back, a pickup truck came by and I asked the guy if he knew where this Trail 94/Indian Spring Saddle turn was. He said it was back "about a half a block--you can't miss it". I also asked him if he had seen the guys. He hadn't (which told me they had probably made the turn before he had come along). So, I went back to where I had veered right onto better road, and went on the other road. I passed another guy sitting on the side of the road in a pickup. I asked him if he had seen the guys. He hadn't, but when I asked him about the trail/saddle, he said he didn't know, but that I would come to a meadow and then go up Fleecer mountain. I told him that's where I was supposed to go. After that, I was able to see the tire tracks of Derik and Connor's bikes. I knew I was going the right way, but the guys thought I was ahead of them. 

When I got to the meadow, and began the climb, the guys were not there (I didn't expect them to be there). When I had to get off and push, I knew I had to do it all myself. Since they thought I was ahead of them, they would not be coming to help me. Actually, it wasn't the worst I've pushed up.
Sorry for the finger, sometimes it's hard to hold the brake with one hand while taking a picture with the other.
I got to where a road/trail went off to the right, but I could still see Derik's tire tracks going straight. The narrative said to turn right at the crest of the first hill after the stand of trees. I stopped and pondered again. I decided it was possible that Derik had missed that turn. Instead of going back down to the turn, I just walked MC across the cow pasture. Once I was on that road/trail, I could see Connor's tracks (curiously missing on the other part). Then I could see both sets of tracks again. 

Now was the most challenging part of the day. A very very precipice of death descent. The map even recommended not walking on the trail as it was rocky and very steep, but instead to "meander through the sage brush working your way down the hill".
Looks rideable, right? No. It was very tricky walking down holding the brakes the entire time. I had visions of what might happen if I just let MC go (not good). I did meander through the sage brush when the trail became too covered with scree type rocks.
See the trail? See where I'm walking? I actually ended up following the cow's trail through those trees. They had created a nice soft dirt trail that was easier than the main trail (still very hard though). Before I came to the really steep part, I saw a mountain biker going up. I asked him if he had seen the guys. He had. I asked if they asked him if he had seen me. He said they didn't. At this point, I wondered if they thought I had suddenly acquired super human strength to be that far ahead of them! I mean, really! 

Anyway, I made it down to where it flattened out and began riding again. By this time, I knew they'd be wondering where I was in Wise River (we were having lunch and getting groceries there). I finally pulled into the town, and stopped at the one and only grocery store. No guys. I aske the gal if she had seen them. She said she saw two bikes go by the other direction. She also said there were a couple of restaurants on down the road. I found them at the second one. They had already eaten, but Fred wasn't there yet either. He had also missed a turn. It occurs to me that another title for this post could be, "A Day of Missed Turns". I ordered a BLT. Fred arrived and ordered a burger. I told the guys where I had missed the turn. 

Connor showed me a Post-it note, from the addenda, I had put on his map (I had to take it off mine because my map is not in a case). Had I had that Post-it, I wouldn't have missed the turn. As for Derik's missed turn, he had ended up going all the way to the top of the climb up Fleecer. Apparently, he could see Connor where Connor was waiting at the turn. Since Connor wasn't moving, Derik thought something was wrong with his bike, so he came running down. Then he had to run back up and get his bike when he learned he had missed the turn. 

After lunch we went back to the grocery store (really more like a glorified convenience store) to stock up on three days worth of food. Fred offered to carry some of it (he is camping with us again tonight so we wanted to have dinner for all of us). Then, we had 20 miles of pavement to get to Little Joe campground. We left Wise River at 3:40. The wind was really nasty, and made for slow going. The guys caught up to me (I'd left the store before them) when I was turning on my music. We continued together, but only for a brief time, as I could not go as fast as them. 

I pedaled along by myself, periodically stopping to eat jelly beans, drink water, and take a few photos. Here they are.

The sun was shining!

Finally, I rolled into Little Joe. The guys already had their tents set up. It was 6:10. Tomorrow we are doing a bigger mile day. It's all pavement to Polaris, then I think there is some packed gravel. We'll aim for an earlier start.