Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sparwood to Tuchuck

Leaving Sparwood, we had two choices for our route.  One was an easy 75 miles through 3 towns.  The other was 110 miles on a gravel road known as "the grizzly bear highway" by the locals due to its high bear population.  

To decide which route, we put it to a vote on Facebook. The majority wanted us to take the grizzly bear highway but like Berny Sanders voters, your votes didn't really count. Yeah, democracy!

The low road was a better choice since rain was in the forecast.  More options to get out of the lightening if it became necessary.  It didn't.  

Saturday. 

We crossed the border into the USA excited and thirsty.  The campground we stayed at on the Canadian side had no running water and we had both run out shortly after arriving.  Rather than filter water, which we could have easily done, we opted to ride a couple miles to a nearby store. It was closed.  

But just two and a half miles from there was the last restaurant in Canada (first if you're heading north). It was closed and also had become a quilt shop. 

But just three and a half miles from there was the border and a restaurant next to the station. Closed. 

But the bar was open and they had coffee and water and they microwaved a couple of breakfast sandwiches for us.  So that was good.  

The bartender excitedly told us about a brewery and pizza place up the road on our route.  HA Brewing. Say no more (she did anyway) and off we went.  We got there at about 1:30 in the afternoon, hungry and thirsty.  It was closed till 3. Not deterred, we killed some time. Checked out a local campground we might stay at after spending too much time at the brewery (it was full of people who looked mean enough that grizzlies wouldn't bother them) and managed to get pizza and beer 20 min before opening!  

And then we went uphill, heading deep into the Montana wilderness with a bunch of new friends. A local bunch was having a small group ride and we ended up in the middle of it.  It made me feel good to be able to ride my 65 pound bike uphill and not get dropped (some of them were slow). Paul pedaled with just one leg to make it fair. 

And now we are camped at Tuchuck Campground in some national forest.  There is no one else here and for the second night, rain started just after we turned in.  I'm sore from the riding but I feel good in the morning so that is something.  Tomorrow we hope to make it to the town of Whitefish, 60 miles away on dirt and gravel roads. 

Sunday

It's happened to all of us at one time or another.  You go to sleep with a light rain on your tent, worried just a little about bears.  And you wake up with an inch of snow on your tent, mud puddles, steady drizzle, 40 degrees, and 60 miles to ride your bicycle.  Don't you hate that?

We detoured to the "town" of Polebridge (population 484) and found space at a hostel.  They have cabins for rent too but $80 per night with no indoor plumbing... Pass.  

The hostel was very nice.  The owner was a laugh a minute and baking cookies as fast as he could in a wood stove. 

The place has running water inside but the toilet is still an outhouse.  Kind of a clientele-filter perhaps.  

The owner encouraged us to hang our wet clothes around the fireplace in the main room so they would dry.  Very nice.  

Us: "Could we maybe build a fire in the fireplace?"  

Him: "No, the kitchen fireplace is already burning and the house will get too hot."  


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