Continental Divide Trail - Page 4
The first item on today’s agenda was to tackle “The Legendary Fleecer Ridge.” My book
said it is considered by many to be the toughest hill on the divide, and it’s a downhill. I
climbed up into a pretty meadow and turned right to head down the infamous trail. It was
pretty steep for about half a mile, then really steep for a quarter mile. I had no problem
walking the bike down it. I really didn’t find it all that “Legendary.” However, my bike loaded
with gear weighs just over 50 pounds. Lots of people ride full suspension bikes with a
trailer and bring way too much crap. If I were trying to walk a bike that tipped the scales at
over 100 pounds down that hill, it probably would be “Legendary.”
I rolled into the town of Wise River and had an amazing hamburger before heading south
on pavement for 30 miles on a scenic byway. The traffic was light, but I still worried about
being taken out by a wayward motorhome. I made it through with only one motorhome
brush with death.
I pushed uphill for 20 miles before topping a ridge and enjoying nearly 30 miles of downhill
and flat pavement. I sailed by the town of Polaris, which was really exciting, not because
they have a post office and nothing else, but because it was the end of map one. 531 miles
of Montana are behind me and now I can work on Section 2 – Polaris, Montana to South
Pass City, Wyoming – 507.7 miles.
Now that I’m off the hill, I’m in the desert. All there is to see is sagebrush and open empty
nothingness. It’s a really lonely place to be. There’s no water. I found a well at a cattle
trough. The first liter came out clear, but the water was pretty brown after that. I drank the
clear one and cooked with the brown one. It’s pretty out here, but I always feel extra lonely
in the desert. Maybe that’s why so many men in Utah need extra wives. I wish my phone
worked so I could call Kelly. She’s in North Carolina now, presumably looking for our
temporary two-year army home. I think I pass under the interstate tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll
have reception there.
I pedaled 105 miles today. The elevation profile on my new map looks a little more
reasonable than the last one, so hopefully, I can keep doing big days and get back into the
My morning started off with more desolate high desert. I passed the occasional ranch and
wondered what type of person could spend a winter out here. I passed a heavily laden
biker who was also on his way to Mexico. I talked to him for a few minutes, and told him I’d
meet him in Lima, 40 miles down the road. I was in Lima for an hour but didn’t see him, so
I headed on. I feel bad; he seemed nice.
I passed through ten miles of really spectacular canyon today, but am back in the desert
now. I’m camped by a reservoir that apparently needs a damkeeper. He lives on a nice
house overlooking the lake. How a great of a job would that be? I can’t imagine a dam
needs that much keeping.
I talked to Kelly on the phone today. She’s in North Carolina house hunting. I think I made
her mad, because of my attitude about moving. I know I made her mad. I just hate the idea
of selling my farm that’s paid for to live in a rental house for two years, then move
somewhere else for two years, and there’s no telling where the next move could be. It
might be anywhere in the world. I’m OK with leaving Iowa, but I want a home. I want to
plant a tree and watch it grow. I want to make friends without knowing I’ll be leaving for
good in two years. Oh well, I love Kelly and I need to deal with it. We have four more years
of the army to deal with, and then we can have a home. I try to tell myself only four years,
but four years is a long time. We’ll get through it. I’m the one that has a problem with it, not
her. I just have to man up and deal with it.
Last night’s camp was a 6,000 feet above sea level and I was cold all night. Tonight, I’m at
7,000’ and it’s already cold even with the sun up. I think I’ll wear my jacket to bed and not
worry about North Carolina tonight. It will all work out in the end.
|Kelly and I hiked and climbed
in Zion National Park on our
honeymoon. View our photos.
I set out this morning climbing on a frontage road that parallels. It was a decent gravel road
with only a few cars. The highlight of my morning was passing through an old railroad
tunnel. It was long enough to be quite dark in the middle. I was worried there might be a
giant pothole lurking in the shadows, but I emerged unharmed. The gravel merged onto a
paved road for about ten miles before I reached the only section of interstate riding on the
Continental Divide Trail.
With much trepidation, I rode onto the shoulder of I-15 for the eight-mile downhill to Butte.
Aside from the fact that the shoulder is completely covered in broken glass, the ride wasn’t
bad. I was amazed I made it without a flat tire. I was surprised that nobody moved to the
left lane to pass me. It’s a big shoulder and it wasn’t like I was squeezed, but still, I’d move
over for a crazy person riding a bike on the interstate.
I found Butte to be a depressing town. There’s a giant mine on the hill and the town itself is
comprised of strip malls and small houses. None of the buildings are pretty to look at and
none of the architecture flows together. I picked up a tourist brochure at the gas station and
the first thing mentioned was a giant abandoned mine pit on the outskirts of town that’s
slowly filling with toxic water. Fun! On the other hand, I didn’t feel I was in any danger of
getting mugged or shot, so that was a plus.
I needed groceries and water treatment tabs, so I stopped at a ranch warehouse store on
my way out of town. They had both. It was a wonderful store! If I was in Iowa and needed a
gallon of milk, a case of beer, and an assault rifle, I’d need to make two or maybe three
stops. Not in Butte.
I left Butte on a fairly busy paved road with nothing to pee behind. Not even a tiny shrub for
miles and miles. I finally had to ride out into the grass far enough to not be too obscene
and let it go.
I climbed into some beautiful high country and can say Butte looks much better from afar. It
was the prettiest country I’ve seen on the ride so far and I took plenty of long breaks to enjoy
it. The scenery in Canada was more spectacular, but the tourists ruined it. I had everything
up there to myself.
I rode a long steep down hill, crossed under I-15 and started climbing again. I only covered
60 miles today. I would have gone more, but I found a great campsite by a stream with a
hole deep enough for swimming. As always, my hygiene was sub par, so I stopped to
clean up. The weather is beautiful tonight, so I’m not going to bother with the tent. I’ll sleep
under the stars.