July 12th, GDMBR South, Day 11

Today I biked 46 miles from the Arnone’s house to the Swan Lake Trading Post campground.

The initial 24 miles to Ferndale were not bad. Mostly flat, a few mild climbs, and one short hill I pushed the bike up. The whole way the weather was cool and it was very cloudy.

In Ferndale I was expecting a small convenience store hoping that I could get some alcohol for my mini stove, but there was none. I read the the most current addenda for the route. Knew the B&Bs were closed; saw no mention about the store. Reread the map services panel closely and saw that the store was part of a B&B. Frustrating. I didn’t want to take the river trail to Bigfork knowing I’d get stuck there for awhile with all the stores, traffic and bikers. Saw that Swan Lake had a store and a campground (if I got in late)

The ride out of Ferndale starts climbing right away. The 1800ft climb all the way up to the top is bikeable. For me I biked a bunch, but I didn’t have enough stamina to do the whole thing. Took me about 4 hours. I was lucky that the sun stayed hidden for half the climb. Was able to duck into shadows for much of the rest. There were only a couple overlooks with views of the Swan Mountains across the valley. The cause was tight tree cover and shrub trees on both sides.

To get to the town of Swan Lake I had to go 5 miles off route. Missed the store being open. Maybe if I hadn’t filtered water on the downhill. I was thirsty, so I think it was the right a call. One of the locals outside the store said he doesn’t think they have Heet alcohol for my stove. I’m going to stick around past 8 to check.

Made up a cold pot of quick oats and raisins. I actually like it soaked, but not cooked. Also easier to clean the pot because it isn’t all sticky. Took a shower after dinner. Last time was Sparwood. Wish I could say I was doing a better job of wiping off at night.

Going to get 9 hours of sleep tonight. So so tired.

July 11th GDMBR South, Day 10

Today was busy. Up at 5:30. Out of camp by 7:45 to bike the largely downhill route. Into Whitefish at 11:30 to have my rear spoke tension checked for free since I bought the wheel there. Picked up a general delivery package containg my summer sleeping bag at the post office at 12:30 and shipped my super warm winter bag out. Ate pizza and tried to transfer photos to the phone at which point I found out the microSD card in my phone is either going bad or the filesystem is corrupted. Out of Whitefish at 4:30. Bought food at Columbia Falls for the next 3 days of biking. To the biking only hostel by 9 fighting a headwind on the way there. Setup the tent to dry. Texted with the family a bit, payed credit cards, downloaded some free albums from Amazon. Been a good day. 48 miles total.

July 10th GDMBR South, Day 9

Today was 36 miles from Tuchuck campground to the free Upper Whitefish Lake campground. Didn’t make Whitefish. Could have, but early in the day I decided I didn’t want to pay the nearly $30 for a campground.

Woke up at 5:30 feeling like I got no rest. My thinking is that I didn’t drink enough water yesterday evening, and I had crazy dreams all night long. First bad evening since starting this trip.

Got going from camp at 8. Chilly morning, so I wore my fleece jacket. The beginning 9 miles was all downhill, so that added a bit more chill. About half way down the mountain the sun came out and started baking the valley. I took the fleece off and squeezed it between my camera bag and handle bars. Mile later I hit a large bumpy rock section and the fleece pops out onto my right handle bar. I start braking immediately, catch the fleece with my right fingers, second later the fleece wraps up under my front wheel causing it to lock up and me to come to an even faster skiddibg stop. Thankfully my first instinct was to brake. Nothing bad happened. Learned my lesson to always put the jacket away into the panniers.

Decently gentle climb the whole way up to Red Meadow lake from mile 9 to 30. I walked the last 1.5 miles because the grade steepened and was more than I could comfortably do. So so hot by the time I started walking. Most of the previous miles I was covered by shade from trees on my left.

After getting to Red Meadow Lake, I sat down for maybe 30 minutes drinking water. Then filtered more to fill my water bag, and then drank more. The hill climb took a lot out of me. The view was pretty. Large avalanche chute dropping into the lake from the right. Mountain peak on the left and right, and another in the middle a bit further of.

Talked with a man a bit about his hiking and fishing trips and how he writes books about fishing. He comes to the lake to rest between excursions. After chatting, I left for the route. Steap washed out downhill for the 5 miles to Upper Whitefish Lake and campgrounds. Jerry and Phil left a white paper note in the road, but I saw Phil’s bright yellow panniers first.

Made oatmeal for dinner tonight. Worked perfectly fine to not cook it. I just added water and let it sit there for an hour. Had some rice and red lentils, but I junked the bad 70% rubbing alcohol, so couldn’t cook my food myself. The other guys offered their stoves, but I declined because I was curious how not cooking the oatmeal would work.

Had to finish these last 3 paragraphs when I woke up. Even though I tried writing at 9pm, I was dosing off. Whitefish today. Need to do: get package from USPS, buy food, turn in rear bike wheel to have the tensions checked, maybe laundromat, buy new stove fuel.

July 9th, GDMBR South, Day 8

Feels like a short day today even though I stopped at 4 and biked 30 miles. 26 were uphill.

Phil woke me at 5:30 as I asked. Packed everything up and made my way to Cafe Jax for 3 pancakes. Ate with Anne, Phil, Jerry and Morgan. Morgan is biking the Northern Tier east, and when he isn’t biking he is a cook at a school. Pancakes were good like last time.

Hit the road at 8. Immediately began climbing right out of Eureka. Thankfully it was mild enough that I could bike it nearly to the top. Walked the last 1.5 miles. Could have cranked away hard and done it, but I don’t want to tire my legs when they are needed for many more miles. The top of Whitefish Pass is also a Continental Divide crossing. Gorgeous views before and after the pass.

Found the crew at Tuchuk Campground at 4. Kind of surprised they stopped here after only 30 miles. I stopped today, but need to put on more miles truly. I’m writing this blog early, 5pm now. Going to eat, setup the tent and go to bed by 8. Wake up at 5 and try to leave by 6. Goal would be to do the 60 miles into Whitefish tomorrow.