10/4/2012 to 10/6/2012 – 6:30am is a rough time to wake up on a bicycle tour, especially when its below 15 degrees outside. Rolling out of our sleeping bags in Ferndale, MT was not easy, but we had to get our camp packed up and out of the way for a morning church meeting. So we worked our way through the frost and got moving. We then biked over to the gas station to attempt to make breakfast out on their picnic table. Thankfully, we had an angel waiting inside for us who couldn’t believe we slept outside. The store owner gave us coffee, ham, butter, and offered their stovetop/oven for us to complement our planned eggs and bread breakfast. While we sat in the beer isle and savored the warmth of the food, our Ferndale angel forcibly cleaned our camp cookware because “our mothers would be ashamed of us.” Our spirits were lifted and we were ready for the beautiful brisk day ahead. We hopped on the bikes and headed towards Columbia Falls. The ride went smoothly and, upon arriving in Columbia Falls, we received a call from Dave’s friends Nick and Katie who were in Whitefish and wanted to grab a beer to catch up! So we pedaled to Whitefish, grabbed some beer, then dinner, then they put us up in on their hotel room floor for the night (including an awesome lakeside hot tub hangout)! That day really stood out because of the exceptional amounts of genuine hospitality and generosity Dave and I were presented with. It certainly seems that down deep, people are genuinely good. The next day we headed northbound towards Glacier National Park with glorious views of massive peaks keeping our eyes excited about the road ahead. We biked right along the North Fork of the Flathead River and put in some solid miles. We ended up crashing that night at the Glacier Institute, just south of Polebridge, with friends-of-friends at the camp. The evening spent with Beau and Jill was awesome and included: Packer burgers, free pitchers of beer, wild wolves, sleeping in the girl’s bunkhouse, and POINT BREAK. Again, outrageous hospitality was the name of the game (I certainly do love Montana)! We awoke to a delicious camp breakfast of leftovers from their summer programs and hit the road north, with full and warm bellies, into light snow showers.
We hit Polebridge midday and enjoyed the (highly recommended) baked goods and warm coffee. Then we rallied on towards the border, with frequent short bursts of snow to keep our spirits high.
The views weren’t too shabby either…
After only a couple hours more of pedaling, we suddenly arrived at the Canadian border!
The feeling of reaching our goal was astounding, after having spent over a month in the saddle wandering northbound. We celebrated by pounding free beers (given to us by the Polebridge Mercantile) and partying it up in the clearcut on the border.
The resolution of all that effort was both spiritual and soulful and we basked in that afternoon sunlight. The place was too special not to stay a bit longer, so we did, and set up camp out on a sandbar in the middle of the North Fork of the Flathead river… right on the border. We then rallied our unlaidened bicycles (for the first time in over a month) around on the rocks and bushes for the sheer joy of riding.
Camping on the border that night was glorious, with a sky full of stars and an accomplished feeling in our hearts.
From there, we planned to bike through Glacier National Park on our way back south, to see some views! We attempted to sneak into the park through an ultra-sketchy river crossing which failed due to the 40 degree temperatures of both the air and water in the North Fork of the Flathead. At least it offered some solid off-trail bicycling…
After another swing through Polebridge, we ended up getting into the park and camping up on Bowman Lake. Its solitude and bliss were astonishing.
The next day we rallied over 50 miles through the Inside North Fork Road to the southern end of the park, through West Glacier and Hungry Horse and down into Columbia Falls. That night we stayed on the front lawn of a lifetime cycling enthusiast and Great Divide supporter, Tom.
Again Montana’s outstanding hospitality shown through with a couple of beers, exchanges of stories, fresh coffee in the morning (another chilly night) and a tour of his frame-building and, current, vintage motorcycle obsession!
On the final day of riding, we pedaled the short distance to the Kalispell airport, rented a compact car and tetris-packed our bikes gear into it, then hit the road south.
16 hours, a whole bunch of coffee, and the extensive musical stylings of Kanye West and Lil’ Weezy later, we were back in Colorado… exhausted, elated, and disconnected with reality we stumbled out of the car and straight to bed (to unpack later).
Dave’s face pretty much sums up the ride… 45 days, ~1700 miles, less than 5 days of sleeping indoors, and a whole lot less showers than the civilized world would appreciate made our stint on the Great Divide an unforgettable and life-changing experience. If you can’t pull meaning out of that beautiful smile seen above, then you probably ought to get yourself out on your bike soon! We will be back to knock out the entirety of it (2700 miles from Banff, Alberta – Antelope Wells, NM) in the future… so keep checking in!