Augusta, MT to Missoula, MT
56, 58, and 82 miles
We're following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark! We've been stocking up on every brochure, map, and roadside sign we can. Who knew history could be so interesting when you're out living it? Sure, we have paved roads and modern ammenities, but seeing the same wilderness and wildlife as a historical expedition of over 200 years ago, now that's pretty cool!
We actually crossed Lolo Pass on the EXACT SAME DAY as Lewis and Clark, 207 years later. We expected there to be some kind of parade, but I guess 207 years isn't as significant to anyone else as it was to us.
We joined the Lewis and Clark Route in Great Falls and into Augusta. From there, we had another short day of under 60 miles, but we knew we'd be crossing the Continental Divide. We prepared with a giant breakfast at a diner.
We sat across from the cutest little old lady who turned out to be a long haul truck drive. She told us all about driving the ice roads to Alaska in '76 and how you couldn't go faster than 15 mph or you'd risk creating a wave under the thin ice. When I told her about our trip, she just looked at me and said, "Aren't we just blessed?" I wasn't sure what she meant until she continued after a moment of contemplation. "Just think of the things we get to see. I've been to every state, visited every city, and driven every road in this country. I've seen it all, and all of it is fantastic!" Yes, we are very blessed indeed.
Once we hit the road, we finally saw the Rockies revealed from the previous day's smoke from a few nearby fires. We took a thousand pictures, and then the deer and antelope came out, so we took a few more pictures. We saw something moving against a hillside a few hundred yards off but neither of us could make it out. It didn't bounce like the deer or trot like the coyotes, but instead it moved so fluidly I thought it might be a low flying eagle. When it finally crested the hill, David and I decided it must have been a mountain lion, and since that is the exact distance at which I have always wanted to see a mountain lion, I was happy with our decision.
As we pressed onward and upward, the terrain turned more mountainous. And unfortunately, we had another force beside gravity working against us. It turns out that when the weather service issues a red flag warning for wind in your area, and that wind happens too be heading in the exact opposite direction as you (no matter which way you turn), then consider yourself, well... warned. Both Monday and Tuesday were miserably windy for us, from Augusta to Missoula.
We trudged our way slow and steady to the top and celebrated with a tuna fish picnic and short nap in a sunny spot sheltered from the wind. Even going downhill, we couldn't pick up speed into the wind. When we finally arrived in Lincoln, we stayed inside most of the evening. We stayed in a motel that had a bunkhouse just for bikers and hikers, so it was perfect for us.
We started the next morning with another huge breakfast. We got to swap stories with some mountain bikers doing a 2 month trip down the Great Divide Trail. When we finally left, the wind was bad. So, so bad. And cold. I hardly want to talk about the 82 miles until Missoula, but by the strength of God we kept pedaling.
We got into Missoula and biked immediately to the headquarters of the comany that makes our maps. They took our picture and put it on the wall with the hundred of other cyclist who have passed through their office this year. They gave us a tour, free ice cream, and internet access.
We were staying in a hostel that night and were greatly looking forward to having a kitchen. We spent our whole night shopping and making pasta with bechamel sauce, broccoli, and chicken. I even made a blackberry pie, which I flipped upside-down onto the bottom of the oven when I was taking it out. Le sigh.
Our next morning we had a half day so we slept in (until 7:30am), drank coffee, made a quiche, and ran errands. By noon we were ready for an easy 40 my uphill climb to Lolo Pass.
These adventures across Montana have been sponsored by an old friend and a new friend, Laura and Richard Burke, our friends in Denver Travis and Jill, and my friend from high school Melissa Reseck and her husband Danny. Thanks to you all, dear friends!