July 13th GDMBR South, Day 12th

Did 17 miles today. Went from the Trading Post campground in Swan Lake to the free Forest Site on Fatty Creek Road.

Got going late today. Woke at 9:30. Paid for my campsite last night at 11 this morning — the people were really surprised I came in and paid.

Meet John one of the Adventure Cycling subcontractors right as I got onto the route. He was cleaning up the route flags for a tour they have running this week, and invited me to the lunch stand that was 5 miles up the trail. Told me if I didn’t take too long it would still be there. As the trail would have it, the route was all down hill from there. Right when I arrived, I helped them find a brake pad retaining spring for Don’s bike; instead of on the ground it was hanging in the chain. They told me I earned a second sandwich for finding it. I got a laugh out of it since something similar happened to me up in Canada. Sat and talked a bit about the trail, their jobs, and my bike while eating a watermelon. Told them I hadn’t had a flat yet. Helped them take down the awning, since it needed 4 people. Truck drove off, John biked off after telling me I could get dinner 30 miles up if I got there by 6:30.

Biked a bit up a rocky hill, then into some pines with a squishy road of pine needles. All of a sudden it became too squishy. I have my first flat tire of the trip. Any slim remote chance of making it to Condon to get free food just flew out the window. Did the usual routine of taking all the gear off and flipping my bike over to remove the wheel. Got the tube out and aired up some and found the whole was caused by the rim and my silliness. I left one round of tubeless tape in there and it wasn’t installed flat, so the tape caused the flat. Took 900 pumps to seat and fill the tire up. I’ve got a better rythm of holding the pump base in my left hand and the handle in my right. Quicker and takes less energy, but I still had to rest for a minute between each 100.

A big intermediary goal for today was to get to the Condon convenience store because I had heard from some North bound riders that there was a gas station there also. Gas stations normally have Heet alcohol needed for my stove. 4:00 came around and I was still 20 miles away and there was a campsite to the left. I have no idea the store’s hours. Decided the smart thing to do was call it a day. Visit the store(s) in the morning.

What that decision meant was more cold food tonight. Anne was at the camp and offered her stove up, but she is running low on fuel also. I’m not about to use her fuel when my brain is the one who spaced out up in Columbia Falls. Ended up eating raisin oatmeal first. Then I was curious how a cheddar broccoli Knorr meal would taste not cooked. The stuff really needs more than an hour of soak time. The rice hydrated in probably 20 minutes, but the little noodles took much longer.

Not sure my route tomorrow. Currently considering Holland Lake. I hear that it is really scenic.

Looked at the maps here before shutting my eyes. Encourage that the huge elevation climbs go away after Montana and stay gone till Colorado. Was getting a bit discouraged, but checking the future maps has helped my outlook on getting this route done. Read about a long rail trail with a lot of squishy volcanic ash and I’m looking forward to biking it with my fat bike. Still haven’t done any proper sand riding and this rail trail sounds like a good and proper test of my bike. Further down the GDMBR, I’ll probably ride the paved alternate routes in New Mexico to avoid rain delays; suggested to take them if down in that section in late summer like I’ll be. Also noticed the 150+ mile sections with no food options throughout all the maps. Maybe I’ll become superhuman like the Divide racers and cover that in a day. Then I won’t need to worry about how many days of food to purchase.

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.