9/25/2012 to 10/3/2012 – After waking up in the KOA we headed straight for Bad Beaver Bike Shop where we had arranged for Dave’s replacement parts to be dropped off. Unfortunately, the parts were another day out from arriving, so we headed to the library to catch up on all things internet. Shortly after checking email, we figured we needed a beer and headed for a local watering hole.
It turns out Quarry Brewing is a great spot with a crazy amount of local love! We enjoyed beers with a couple members of the “mug-club” as well as the owner/head-brewer, Chuck, and ended up staying for a few more beers than originally expected. Then, Dave and I were easily convinced to follow one of the locals, Ryan, to the recently established Headframe Spirits distillery… where we put back a few incredible Montana Mules out of locally mined copper mugs. Now, with our buzz coming on strong and evening approaching quick, we knew we needed to find a place to camp out for the night. Thankfully, our new drinking buddy Ryan offered up his backyard, claiming “my wife won’t say no if we just show up!” So we did and ended up drinking more, discussing backcountry skiing around Butte, eating dinner with his family, and watching his 4-year-old son climb their home-made rock climbing wall. What an awesome night and what hospitable and friendly locals!
Anyways, the next morning we hit the grocer to stock-up, then headed to Bad Beaver Bikes to fix-up Beverly. Ed, Bad Beaver’s owner, was excited about our story and hopped right in to help replace the failed bearings (which was much more of a project than any of us expected)!
After getting Beverly back and rolling, we hit the trail Northbound again. We followed the “Ed Option” out of Butte, which proved to be an awesome avoidance of the highway riding posed by the standard route.
We ate like champions that night and enjoyed a warm campfire.
The next day we had the opportunity to ride some of the first “singletrack” that we had seen in a few weeks. It was techy, trenchy, rocky, and super fun… So much fun that I had my first fully-loaded fatbike endo!
That next night we camped out at Park Lake and enjoyed some swimming in its clear waters.
It was a very peaceful night in another beautiful place, and the morning proved to be the same.
From there we biked into Helena, to resupply. While there, I purchased my first (and only) replacement/maintenance part for Cousteau of the tour – a new chain – proving the overwhelming durability of this glorious bicycle. From there, the trail took us up and over a couple small passes to Lincoln, MT.
The pedaling was powered by a diet of champions – cheese, salami, tang and zany fruits – and the riding was exceptional.
Beautiful fall colors surrounded us and the forests glowed magnificently.
From Lincoln we rode Northwest to Ovando and camped in their tiny town park (next to a museum, teepee and a shepard’s trailer). Then we headed over to Seeley Lake and camped out with a good friend that I hadn’t seen in years – Shannon – who drove up from Missoula to visit for the night! We dined on steak and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful lakeside camping and good company.
The next morning we woke up, said our goodbyes and headed north into the Swan Range. The singletrack leading over a pass in the range was a welcome relief from the more common dirt roads of the trail.
Our ride over the pass was filled with conversation and singing because of the looming presence of bears lurking around every blind corner. Aside from the side focus on bears, the views and colors of the pass were downright beautiful.
After cresting the pass, we continued northwest past Holland Lake and onwards to a random late evening campsite at Peck Lake. The next day presented a cold day on the bikes as we pedaled through the Mission Range towards Swan Lake and Ferndale, MT. On the plus side, we caught our first glimpses of the first snows of winter in the high peaks of Montana, which kept us going (along with a lot of coffee)!
Arriving late in the evening in Ferndale, with no hopes of finding a campsite, we ended up camped out in the parking lot of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. It was a cold night.