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September 5th -
40 miles today, over Union pass (9210', although my maximum elevation for the day was about 9800'). I woke up to completely blue sky! It feels like it's been a week since I've seen that. The map says of the climb up to Union Pass, "Tremendous grunt to get to altitude." Needless to say, I did a fair amount of walking today, probably about 10 miles. I really wanted to get pretty far today, because it's still 46 miles from here to Pinedale. It looks like it's mostly downhill, so I hope I can make it all the way tomorrow.
I've set up camp by Mosquito Lake. Luckily, it seems to be too cold for the mosquitos. About 15 miles back I came upon a sign that said "Grizzly Area: Special rules apply." Hopefully, it will be too cold for the grizzlies, too. I've got my pepper spray handy, and some rocks nicely sized for throwing, just in case. Right now, the most annoying thing is a squirrel (or some other small mammal) chirping at me. He'll get over it.
One thing I noticed is that it's getting dark a lot earlier. Last time I was in camp, I could see enough to do things up until about 9:30, now it's that dark at 8:15. I need to remember to get into camp by 7:30 now.
September 4th -
24 miles today, up over Togwotee pass (9658'). It was pretty cold and snowing part of the time, but it warmed up and cleared up after I got down on the other (eastern) side. The snow (there was some from the night before, too) made everything really pretty, though, so it was worth being out in the cold.
Tomorrow is another venture up into Union Pass (96xx'), but the weather seems to be getting a little warmer, so hopefully, I won't have to contend with any snow.
Pictures of the last four days...
September 3rd -
I took the day off today, because it was only 37 degrees, and still raining (and sometimes snowing). The weather report says it will be warmer and drier tomorrow, so I'll try to make it over the pass. In the mean time, I enjoyed some time in the hot tub, and got caught up on some sleep.
September 2nd -
Only 8 miles today, but it was in the cold and rain, and uphill. I wasn't really prepared for the cold, and my hands were numb, only this time from the cold. Oh well, I was planning to take it easy today originally. I'll do about 20 miles tomorrow, and then a hard day through the next pass.
September 1st -
41 miles today. I was intending to do this leg in two 20-mile days, since the next two days are the hardest ones on this map. The next two days both are about 30 miles, starting with a 15 mile 3000 foot climb each. The three days after that are all downhill, though. Anyway, because the Moran post office wasn't where I expected it to be, I ended up halfway to this stopping point (Turpin Meadow Ranch), so I figured I could just gut it out for the rest of the way. Not bad, considering I didn't get started today until noon!
I was in Grand Teton national park today. The Teton range is so striking! I got some good pictures. Unfortunately, I was on pavement the whole day. I've come up with a new measure - the RRI - Road Ridability Index. To get the RRI for any road, just divide the inches of usable shoulder by the traffic density (I'm measuring it in cars per minute). Anyway, the road I was on most of the day had a pretty low RRI -- near zero -- it was pretty hairy there every once in a while!
Since I'll be walking most of the first 15 miles tomorrow, I'm not sure I'll even put on my bike shoes. We'll see...
August 31st -
36 miles. More walking today, because of the spongy ground in the morning, and because I did some climbing in the afternoon. Walking's OK, though. I get to see a lot more when I'm walking, and I can't complain when I can walk for half the day, and still make better than average mileage.
I said good-bye to Idaho today -- I'll be in Wyoming for the next 15 days or so. It didn't rain today, but it was COLD! I could see my breath at 10 am, and I got started at 7:30. I hope I make it to Colorado before it starts snowing! It turned into a really nice day in the afternoon, though. I had a great lunch break -- I spent about half an hour just lying on a big rock in the sun. I felt like an iguana.
For those of you who heard my earlier rendition of "16 Tons" (16 Miles), here's an amusing (OK - I was amused) fact. I've found that "16 Tons" works really well as a rhythm song when I'm just putting one foot in front of the other trying to get up a steep hill. Well, today, when I started going downhill, it metamorphosed into "Stray Cat Strut". It was pretty cool, the lyrics (that I can remember) to both songs can be sung to each other's tunes, and I found a key where I could just go back and forth between all different versions of them. Wheee!!
August 30th -
39.5 miles. I did a fair amount of walking today, because the wind was blowing so hard that I was afraid it would "blow me down", as Popeye would say. This hard wind was mostly before, but also during the approximately 3 hours of rain that I traveled through. It was a good test for my raingear, though, and it passed with flying colors. (Anyone care to explain the origin of that phrase?)
When I got to my stopping point (Squirrel Creek Ranch, which didn't seem to be a real ranch, like most of the other ones that I've stayed at) for the day, it was about 4:30 pm, and nobody was around. While looking for someone, I noticed that one of the cabins was unlocked. I decided to wait for a while under a shelter with picnic tables under it. After an hour (when I was starting to get really cold), I decided to move into the cabin. After moving all my stuff into it, the proprietor shows up, and he tells me that the cabin I chose is the most expensive one. Since I've already muddied up the floor, I figure I should pay him for it. So -- and what all this is leading up to -- I spent an hour and a half watching pre-season football (Niner's kicked Raider butt) while soaking in a whirlpool bathtub! Just what I needed after a day of cold and wet.
On the map, the trail today looked really easy. It was levelish downhill for most of the way, with some moderate climbing at the end of the day. Plus the levelish downhill part was on another abandoned rail bed, so I figured easy going. Wrong! The problem (most of the time) was that the surface of the trail was a fine gravel, almost sand, loosely packed. If you've ever gone running on a beach, you know how much more work it is than on hard pavement. Not only was it a workout pedaling, but it seemed like I was hanging on for dear life to the handlebars most of the time, because I was sliding around so much. No fun.
Also, a section of the trail was under water (and it was the high point of the immediate terrain). I walked it through this area, stepping on clods of grass, rocks, cow manure -- anything to stay above water. In the end, I couldn't do it. I eventually gave up and just walked through water about six inches deep. So, my feet were cold and wet for the rest of the day.
Also (what -- there's more??), four times, I had to approach groups of cattle sitting square on the trail. They just ignored me, until I was close enough to be uncomfortable myself, even when I was making lots of noise, and trying to get them to move. Often, even though they'd move, they'd just go along the trail in front of me, not realizing all they had to do was get off the trail, and we'd all be happy. Luckily, there didn't seem to be any old bulls there, just cows and their young. Still -- any animal that size makes me nervous, especially when they're only 10 feet away, and nervous themselves.
August 29th -
38.5 miles. I'm in Idaho!
Guys, try this fun trick with your girlfriends:
Him: Do you know what state John is in today?
Him: I know you is, but I was asking about John...
OK, so that was in pretty poor taste... Sorry. I guess it usually isn't a problem, because it doesn't seem like there's a lot of ebonics spoken here.
Well, the rain yesterday cooled things down, as well as the fog that I rode through for two hours. Pretty cool. At one point, as the fog was starting to clear, I got the weird sensation that someone was looking over my shoulder. I turned around, and there was this huge mountain poking up out of the fog. I hadn't even known it was there.
August 28th -
Well, I woke up today, put on my sunscreen, packed up my bike, and went to breakfast. As soon as I got to breakfast (I'm staying at the Lakeview Ranch), it started pouring! We're talking torrential, here. I figured I'd wait out the worst of it, and then go. It didn't start lightening up until about 11 am, and then it would have been a real challenge to get the 35 miles to my next stopping point. So, I took the day off. I guess I earned it after six straight days on the trail, and the long one yesterday...
August 27th -
Whew! 43 miles. Luckily, it was mostly flat, but that's still a long way to go on dirt. It turns out the battery wasn't the problem -- the wire to the sensor is frayed, but it seems to be working OK now that I positioned it differently. I hope it lasts until I get to a bike shop.
The lambswool seat cushion works great! I was starting to get pretty sore yesterday, but today was fine. Thanks, Mom!
The two towns I went through today were Lima and Monida. Therefore, I had this running through my head all day:
You say LEE-ma, I say LEYE-ma.
You say Mon-EE-da, I say Mon-EYE-da.
LEE-ma, LEYE-ma, Mon-EE-da, Mon-EYE-da.
Let's call the whole thing off!
August 26th -
39 miles today, and it was another hot one. I woke up at 6:15 for hotcakes at the ranch before I left, so at least I got an early start. My bike computer started flaking out on me today -- it says that my maximum speed for the day is 149.8 mph! Luckily, I was off the trail today, so I didn't need to know my mileage exactly. By going on the road today I made up a day on my schedule, as the trail from Grant to Lima would have taken me two days. I'll put a new battery in it, and hope that was the problem. Since I'll be erasing it's memory, I should record here that my total mileage so far is 455 miles. Not bad....
I got two care packages today! One was my food that I sent myself, and one was a lambswool seat cover and cushion! We'll see if it helps tomorrow, since I'm planning to do about 43 miles.
August 25th -
31 miles. It was fairly flat, but there was a horrible headwind. It was also hot again. Luckily I was out of the sun by 3 pm. I just had a great family style dinner here at the Cross Ranch. It's tempting to stay tomorrow and be a "dude", but I think I can get to Lima tomorrow. I'll be going off-route again to cut out a day's worth of travel, plus it should be a little easier, too.
August 24th -
36 miles today! Luckily it was cooler and overcast for much of the day. I continued my streak, and just beat the storm into shelter. Tomorrow I start on map section 2! That means I'm 1/3 of the way done. Woo hoo!
August 23rd -
Only 24 miles today, but this was the best place to stop to set up for the next couple of days. Also, it was a good day for less distance, because it was really hot here. It topped 100 degrees! I saw my first coyote today. It wasn't close enough to get on "film", but I saw it clearly through my binoculars.
Happy birthday, Mom!
August 22nd -
27.5 miles today, from Butte to the middle of nowhere. I'm camping in the middle of a field, about half a mile from the highway. I got a late start today because I was up late last night. I think I should stop taking days off, because every time I do I can't get to sleep the night before I'm supposed to start again. I don't know if it's excitement, or because I'm sleeping in too late on my days off, but this is starting to become a habit, and I don't like it.
On the up side, even though the trail was pretty rough today, I was in good spirits, and saw lots of wildlife, as well as meeting several people. Patrick is a hiker on the Great Divide hiking trail, which is different from the mountain bike trail, but shares some common segments. He just started a couple of days ago, and wants to get to Glacier, and back down through Montana before the snow ends his trip.
I also met Tom, who's a mechanic for the helicopter that they're using to pull dead timber out off of the side of the mountain. They use the helicopter, so they don't have to build roads and clearcut to get to the timber they want. It seems like an expensive solution, but it seems to work.
Oh, I also found out from Tom the difference between an Elk and a Moose. He says that a Moose have a long face, like a horse, and an Elk has a shorter face like a deer. That means that the animal I saw earlier was , in fact, a Moose..
August 21st -
Well, the podiatrist who advertised "Saturday appointments" in the yellow pages seems to have disappeared. Oh well. It wasn't anything serious. I was just going to get my shoes checked out, and see if I could get any inserts or something to make them more comfortable. Since I spent so much more time riding yesterday, I noticed my feet hurt a lot by the end of the day. I think I just need to take a break from pedaling a little more often. Tomorrow it shouldn't be an issue, because I'll be doing a fair amount of ups and downs.
August 20th -
32 miles today. Man! I was getting worried I couldn't do more than 20 miles! Today was easier, though, as the trail followed an abandoned railroad bed (Hi Scoop!) for much of the day. I only had to get off and push for two very short sections.
Seriously, though. I have noticed that since the second day or so, my body seems to have no energy reserves. Today I decided that my low protein diet isn't helping me, and decided to start increasing the protein in my diet so my body can rebuild my muscles. When I got into town this afternoon, I had an early dinner of a big roast beef sandwich, and I'll be packing along some jerky. We'll see if it helps.
August 19th -
Since I was still feeling beat up from the last two days, I spent today in the small town of Basin, MT. I am staying at the "Earth Angel Health Mine". Health mine -- that's an unexpected juxtaposition of those two words. Apparently, the mine is saturated with Radon gas -- Yes, that's right, the same stuff that they have fits over when it's seeping into your basement. They claim that it heals all sorts of ailments, but I didn't feel like taking my chances with it. I figured a day of rest was all I needed without any extra radiation.
I've been noticing the crickets here. Not just at night, when you hear crickets in the distance, but these crickets have been jumping up out of my way ever since I started on the trail. I'm sure I've seen at least five different kinds. Some just barely hop eight inches, some fly for as far as fifty feet or so. Some of them make a clicking noise when they fly, and some are silent. Some are just plain brown, some yellow, and I saw an orange one today. Pretty cool.
August 18th -
When I woke up today, I looked out of my tent, and there were six cows standing about 15 feet away. I found this so amusing, that I burst out laughing. Needless to say this was fairly startling to the cows, and they ran away. They were a good omen, though, because apparently bears stay away from areas with livestock.
Park Lake to Basin. 22 miles. Surprisingly another really hard day. The elevation view made it look (relative to yesterday, anyway) much easier than it was. The problem is that most of the climbing, and also much of the descent, was so steep, and on very rough trail. I did plenty of walking again today. I even had to walk the bike down many of the steeper descents.
Among the wildlife I saw today were a deer and a (I think) hedgehog. While with Steve and Gail in Helena, we saw a badger, and it definitely wasn't that. I was round and furry, and moved with a rolling gait. It looked kind of like a beaver without the big, flat tail. Anyone have any ideas? The deer reminded me of something I've noticed several times on this trip. The larger (game) animals seem to have a much greater fear of man than I'm used to seeing, and I think it's because these animals are actually hunted here. In general, I don't have a problem with hunting, but it's too bad that the animals are always running away from me. (Since I haven't gotten any Pictures, I kind of feel like they're the "ones that got away.")
August 17th -
Helena to Park Lake. This was only 21 miles, but the most grueling day so far. With the exception of one small bit, it was all uphill. For the last 2 hours, I had my head down, and was just trying to put one foot in front of the other. This was another day of almost all walking.
The highlight of the day *(other than finally arriving at the lake) was seeing an Elk, or it may have been a moose. It had no antlers, so it was either female or juvenile. It was just standing in the road, and we watched each other for a few seconds. When I slowly reached for my camera, it scampered off into the woods. If any of you know the difference between an Elk and a Moose, let me know.
Tomorrow is another twenty mile day, but there's less climbing, so I may sleep in.
August 16th -
I got the new BOB trailer today. It sure looks like it will work better, we'll see. I also went to see the doctor, and he gave me a wrist brace for each wrist -- said it was an "ulnar neuropathy", which basically means irritation of the ulnar nerve, which is the one that goes crazy when you hit your funny bone. Apparently it passes fairly close to the surface in the middle of the base of the palm, and so the wrist guards cover that area.
August 15th -
I got a chance to walk around downtown Helena today. I'm waiting for the bike shops to open tomorrow. Neither of them were open today. Since I had some time on my hands, I went to see The Sixth Sense. I liked it. I even cried twice. Cool ending, too.
I'm bummed! I've been having some trouble with my camera. I thought it was from the condensation that it gets exposed to in my fanny pack. It turns out it's the 32 MB card. That means I've lost the pictures from the last couple of days. At least I still have the other card (16 MB), so I can still keep taking pictures. I wonder if those memory cards come with some kind of warranty. Oh well...
August 14th -
Here I am in Helena, the capitol of Montana. I didn't expect to get here until tomorrow, but I was helped out by a nice couple who I met biking. After grunting up Flesher Pass, and making it most of the way down, I had stopped to put my raincoat away, when Steve and Gail came from behind me. They had done a loop and offered me a ride when they got back to their car. Since I was only 8 miles from Canyon Creek, and it was mostly downhill, I said "No thanks." When I got to Canyon Creek, I stopped at the general store (and Post Office), to ask if there was a place to camp nearby. Who should I see in there but Steve and Gail again. They re-extended their offer, and this time I took them up on it, since the (by now it seems to be daily) thunderstorm was threatening. As I am typing this, I am sitting in their living room, since they insisted. It's a beautiful place, and I actually took a BATH tonight. I stayed in just long enough to prune up. It felt great.
Tomorrow, I go looking for a bike shop that has a BOB trailer. My trailer is too heavy, too unstable, and I'm worried that the coupling between the bike and the trailer isn't going to last much longer. I think I'm also going to see if I can see a doctor about the numbness in my fingers. Maybe s/he can give me some kind of strap or brace or something. Hopefully s/he won't just say "Stop riding your bike so much." We'll see.
August 13th -
Nothing much exciting. Due to an alarm clock snafu, I slept in, and then decided I didn't want to travel in a rush. I decided to stay one more night at the Lincoln Lodge, which looks like it was built out of Lincoln Logs. Coincidence?
August 12th -
Well, it turns out I'm in good company. If any of you follow mountain-biking, you'll definitely have heard of John Stamstad, an ultra-endurance rider. Anyway, it turns out that he's doing the trail right now. I'm planning to do just over half the trail in 7 weeks. He's doing the whole thing in 17-19 days. That's an average of about 150 miles per day. Talk about giving me an inferiority complex! If you're interested in checking his progress, take a look at airborne.
I know all this, because he stayed at the same B&B as I did in Ovando. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to meet him, as I was passed out when he arrived, and he left before dawn. I thought I was being industrious setting my alarm for 7:15. He left at 4 am! His camera crew slept in though, so I got to meet them, and chat for a little bit. They even gave me a quickie 3 minute interview, which may or may not appear anywhere, but it was kind of cool. Then we all hit the road.
For me, this was definitely the hardest day yet. There was a 2000 foot, 6 mile climb that kicked my butt. I ended up walking almost the entire way up. Of course, this gave me plenty of excuses to stop and rest and take pictures. At least the last two days have ended with good downhill. That's a great way to end the day. I'm eating lots of bananas and drinking V8 tonight to replenish my Potassium. I was on the verge of cramping up for the last 5 miles.
August 11th -
Since I got to sleep late, I didn't get the early start I wanted, but it turned out just fine. I started at 10 am, and met up with the trail after about 2 miles. It felt like I was climbing all morning, and at about 2 PM, I finally got some serious downhill. (Whee!) A few days ago, I found some wild huckleberries(a variant of blueberry) by the trail. Today, I found some wild raspberries, which were even better! It's good to know that I wouldn't completely starve if the bears ate all my food.
I spent the last hour today wondering if I was going to get to shelter before the approaching thunderstorm overtook me. I just made it to Ovando, before it started raining. I had called the night before to see if there were any rooms at Trixi's saloon, which was the only lodging listed in Ovando. They didn't have any rooms available, so I was just planning to sit out the storm in a restaurant before going a couple of more miles to try to find a suitable place to camp (there were no campsites in range, so I was just going to look for a flat spot). As it turns out, the general store here also has a couple of rooms, one of which was free. So -- here I am. I'm really glad that Trixi's didn't have any rooms, because they're little shacks that are half falling over. I went over there for a bite, and to shoot a few games of pool, and I was really glad to come home to my cute little well-kept room.
Check out the pictures.
August 10th -
Well, I lied. Last night I was up 'til about 2:30 am finishing up the web update and returning email. Since I was going for an early start, I decided I'd rather go on a full night's sleep. Big mistake! As I write this, it's 4 am. So much for leaving with a full night's sleep. I'm going to go anyway, though. I'm really eager to get back on the road.
August 9th -
My legs are feeling better today (and my saddle-sore butt, too), so I'm back on the trail tomorrow. I walked into town (5 miles round trip) to retrieve my first food shipment, and my batteries (thanks Lauren!). I just saw "Destiny Man" on TV. It's along the lines of "Miracle on 34th St.". It's basically about how different your life would be if one event were different. It makes me wonder what would've happened to me if I chose to sing vocal jazz instead of barbershop back in February, 1991. My last three jobs, the house I own, and most of my friends (at least indirectly) are because of the people I met in that first chorus. Makes you go "hmmm".
August 8th -
Lots of sleeping today, and I'm still really sore, so I think I'll take one more day off. The motel is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but I did some walking around to try to loosen up my legs.
August 7th -
Well, the early start helped, plus I only had to do 27 miles. I'm really sore, and looking forward to my day off. I guess I'm going to have to learn to ride in a more upright position, 'cause my hands are getting numb at the end of the day. Here are some pictures of the last couple of days.
August 6th -
19.1 miles today. I decided to take it easy because yesterday was really draining. 30 miles a day may be ambitious, but it's just an average. I hear that the trail gets easier farther South. Met another couple coming Northward along the trail, they're almost done because they're staying on the roads now. Speaking of which, I decided to stay on the road today and tomorrow, until I can let my body catch up on my day off. I had a warm reception at the Condon Ranger station, where one of the women wants to do the GDMBT. I showed her my maps, and she and another guy were helpful pointing out places of interest along the route. Found this place with a little sign that says "cabins for rent". I got the last one, and tonight is the only night it was available. The cabin has a kitchen and a shower. The shower felt great, I had it on almost all cold. I still have lots of bumps on my shoulders and upper arms. They could just be mosquito bites, as they were pretty bad the last two days, but I'm worried it's some sort of rash. We'll see if they go away. I also secured housing for tomorrow and Sunday nights in Seeley Lake. Made a concession to Mom, and had a turkey sandwich for lunch today. (OK, I really just wanted one.) I plan to get an early start tomorrow (up at 6, out by 6:30) to beat the heat, and so I don't have to rush to get in the 30 or so miles I have to do.
August 5th -
Did 35.7 miles today. Yikes. I bonked hard. After lunch, I had to walk whenever I came to an uphill. There were lots more elevation changes today, so I did a lot of walking. Near the end of the day my calf started to cramp up on me. I found myself singing"Meet in the Middle" a lot today. It's got a good beat, and the sentiment was appropriate.
You start walkin' your way, I'll start walkin' mine,
we'll meet in the middle, 'neath that old Georgia Pine.
We gain a lot of ground when we both give a little
Ain't no road too long, if we meet in the middle.
I was worried I wasn't going to make it to the campground today. It took me almost ten hours today to do thirty five miles while took only 5 or 6 to do 31 yesterday. I met a guy doing the route from South to North. His name is Josh, and he came up from Arizona, and is about five days from finishing. He gave me lots of pointers about the trail ahead,and was happy to see that I was going solo. He's solo too, and lots of people called him crazy for it (sounds familiar!). Today was the first time I used the GPS, because the trail was kind of sketchy (even with Josh's pointers). I felt like I was lost for about half an hour, and it was betting late, so I figured I'd better check. I found the campsite at about eight thirty, leaving me just enough time to make camp. I bathed in the stream by the campsite, while getting tenderized by mosquitos. It turns out that my thin shirt, while great for keeping me cool on the bike, isn't very good for repelling the little critters. My back and shoulders were completely covered with bites.
August 4th - Big Fork, MT -
I decided to treat myself to a bed and a hot shower after pulling 31.7 miles on my first day, so you get an update. Luckily, my rafting injuries don't seem to affect me on the bike. However, I am really tired, and I'm pretty saddle-sore.
Well I'm officially a road-warrior. I was blooded today. Nothing serious, just another clipless pedal incident. This one looked uglier than the last one, because I fell on a rocky dirt road (at a velocity of zero). No knee injuries this time, just some road rash. I won't even notice it after tomorrow.
The weather was GREAT today. I was nice and cool, and rained on and off for most of the day. Since it's been really hot here the past couple of days, the rain was a real blessing. Everything that was supposed to be waterproof seemed to hold up just fine. It was a good first day. I found that the trailer gets pretty squirrely if I try to go over 20 mph, but I rarely want to, so it's no big deal.
I've got some new photos for you. Also, the link for this date takes you to a map of where I went today. The red is my actual route, and the yellow is what I had originally planned.
I went rafting today down the middle fork of the Flathead river, which abuts the southern border of Glacier National Park. For most of the trip we were traveling through the John Stevens Canyon. I tried to convince them that it should be the John Stevens Hazen Canyon, at least for the day. The rafting guide agreed with me. (Of course, maybe that's because she's my cousin.) The rapids weren't very big, but because of fairly low water, the rocks were an issue. I was thrown in on the first big rapid as we hit the big rock we were supposed to go around (thanks Kelly! ;-)), and scraped along the rocks some before getting out of the rapids. I've got some river rash on my back, and I bruised the base of my thumb. I'm icing it right now. I hope it won't hinder my progress -- "Look, ma! One hand!" <disclaimer: If you're my mother( Hi Mom!), don't worry. I'll really be using both hands. :-) > Luckily, my bike gloves have lots of padding.
The bike came in today. They're putting it together as I type, and I will pick it up at 5 pm. YAY!
Sorry I've been so lame with the pictures. I'll try to get some up here before I leave tomorrow morning.
I've had a relaxing 24 hours in Whitefish. Actually, most of those hours were spent in Hungry Horse, where Kelly lives. It turns out that that's about 25 miles from Whitefish. The good news is that this won't throw off my schedule, since I can meet up with the trail in Columbia Falls, which is about the same distance from Whitefish and Hungry Horse.
The bad news is that my bike hasn't arrived at Glacier Cyclery yet, so I'll be spending another day here. The good news is that I'll get a day of rest in the first week that I wasn't planning on, since I can't pick up my mail in Seeley Lake until Monday. The other good news is that now I have time to go rafting with Kelly tomorrow. I've got nothing better to do!! (Of course, very little would be better in any case, but especially now.)
It's been nice unwinding. I was really short on sleep in the several days before leaving, and was frantic trying to get everything done. It took getting off the plane yesterday (for the third time) before it finally hit me that I'm really on vacation now. I still have a schedule to keep, but how I get there is totally up in the air.
I've got about 15 minutes until the airport shuttle gets here. It's hard to believe I'm finally on my way. Thanks for all of your good wishes. I'll post a real update in a couple of days (maybe sooner).
Everything's coming together. The bike and trailer are on their way. About 30 hours until I leave the Bay Area. I added a new page for my itinerary. If you want to send me a care package, or just an old fashioned letter, this will tell you how and where to send it. Or you can just send me an email.
OK - I have a funny story. (No, I didn't fall off my bike again.) I bought an extra can of bear-repellent pepper spray (at the recommendation of one of the books I read) to test-fire it. This sounds like a good idea -- get used to the action of taking off the safety, and the sound it makes, and how far it sprays, etc. I went out to test it in my back yard (by the defunct pool). The first shot made me realize that there was a slight breeze (of course in the wrong direction). I dodged most of the cloud as it came back toward me, but I still started crying and coughing. I can see why the bears don't like it. I can't imagine getting a shot right in the face.
Anyway, I moved to the other side of the yard, to spray downwind. I was happily spraying and watching the wind take away the pretty orange cloud (I hope the neighbor's dog was inside). After a couple of bursts I decided I had the hang of it, and put the safety back on. As a walked toward the screen door to reenter the house, I only got about halfway before nearly collapsing with a coughing and crying fit. I retreated around the upwind corner of the house. I made my way around to the front of the house to recover. After about 5 minutes, I could open my eyes. Another 5 minutes and I stopped crying. Since I was still coughing, I decided to go inside for a glass of water.
I got as far as the kitchen before I realized it was getting worse. It took me a minute to figure out (how many of you saw this coming when I mentioned the screen door?) that the aforementioned breeze was blowing (at least some of) the pepper spray into and through the house. I quickly retreated to the one room in the house with no open windows, and closed the door. After another 5 minute recovery period, I decided that I could get that drink of water by holding my breath. A quick dash into the fumes, and another retreat. At this point I decided to leave the house to do some errands. When I came back, it had dispersed enough that it wasn't really an issue anymore. Whew!
The Moral: Make sure you close your windows before releasing irritants into the air in the back yard.
Well, it looks like I'm actually going! I bought a ticket today! I leave San Jose 6:40am on the First, arriving in Kalispell at 2:30. Once there, my cousin Kelly will pick me up and take me to Whitefish. I'll spend a day and a half with her, and then hit the trail Tuesday morning.
My bike and trailer are at the shop being boxed. I'll ship them tomorrow. I also called all of the post offices and got their hours and addresses, so I can pick up my care packages along the way. I'll ship them on Friday. I still have lots to do, but it's all coming together.
I made arrangements with Glacier Cyclery to ship my bike and have them assemble it and give it a tune-up. They're gearing up for a tour that leaves Sunday, so they'll be able to get to my bike on Monday. I should be able to leave Whitefish first thing Tuesday morning, the 3rd. They also said that this is a pretty busy year for the Great Divide Trail, which means that there will be plenty of folks on the trail to look after me. So you can stop worrying, Mom! :-)
I bought some raingear today, which will also keep me warm. Nice and light -- hopefully I won't need to use it much.
Added the photos page, since this updates page is getting crowded enough to drown out the links to photos.
I got the second solar cell today. It's the larger size (Expedition). Unfortunately, in order to run the laptop or even charge the battery, I've got to use both! Since I'll be stopping in civilization periodically, it turns out that it's going to be significantly lighter to just take extra batteries. The batteries will also be less bulky. While I was ordering them from Sony, I decided to get more memory, too. This means fewer hard disk accesses, and therefore greater time of use on each battery.
I just finished installing a CGI script to save your photo_size preferences. This probably won't affect most of you, but I wanted it for myself, since I like to look at the "small" index instead of the "thumbnail" index.
Last night I picked seven towns which (according to my maps from Adventure Cycling) have post offices, and which are fairly equally spaced along the route. It turns out that two of the towns don't actually have post offices, according to both Yahoo, and 00-info. Since I'll have more room in my panniers (since I'm not taking the solar panels), I can actually get along fine with only 5 care packages. (Actually, I could do it in fewer, but the less food I have to carry the easier to get up those hills!)
Spent 3 hours on the bike with the trailer. My butt and legs are a little sore, but I feel pretty good. I had a great time exploring the foothills of Saratoga.
Bought and read 2 books about traveling in bear country. I feel much more informed, and hopefully I know enough to handle myself well in the (unlikely) event of an encounter. I also spent a couple of hours riding with the whole setup. It's definitely more work, and it's a little less stable with the trailer, but I'm getting used to it. All in all, I feel almost ready to get on the trail.
As it turns out, my decision to not cook food significantly reduces the chances of a bear encounter, as cooking odors are what (apparently) most often attract bears to a campsite.
Just worked out (most of) the kinks in my script to process photos. Check out the first installation. These are from my early preparations.
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