Sunday, July 31, 2011

To the Yaak and back!

Yaak Valley, Cabinet Mountains, Purcell Mountains.

The "To Yaak and Back with the Dog in the Trailer" bike tour went off without a hitch; oddly, nothing went wrong other than a cut on my finger, a sunburned nose, and a lot of mosquito bites. Five days, 240 miles pedaled, 8 walked (two climbs, one about eight miles long, the other about 13 and at times incredibly steep, were just too much for my knees), 13,000 feet climbed, about 90 lbs. pulled. The trailer actually made it. Cody didn't get heat stroke. I didn't even flat once. Awesome.

Cars at least slowed down to read this.

Cody's not psyched.

Day 1: Home to Murray Lake, Trego, 38 miles.

Day 2: Murray Lake, through Eureka and Rexford, to a slick little spot near the Koocanusa Bridge, 32 miles.

It's gunna be a good day in Rexford.

Got rained on all night at Koocanusa.

Day 3: Lake Koocanusa to Yaak, 44 miles including a 13-mile, 4,000 foot climb, half of which we were forced to walk, we made it!

Get a beer at the Dirty Shame Saloon, eat the best Reuben ever, spend the night, free, eat some breakfast, start heading home ...

Three-mile climb to here, 10 more to go.


Big, big props to Gloria, owner of the Dirty Shame, for the free cabin for the night and a $5 breakfast that included two Belgian waffles with fresh fruit, scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, home fries, toast, orange juice, and coffee. She made me promise I'd call her when I got back to Whitefish so she'd know we got home safely.

Day 4: 60 miles, Yaak to Libby, for pie, Libby to the River Bend Bar for a beer and a veggie burger, the River Bend Bar to 10 miles east of there, the Fisher River.

Potential swim spot near Turner Mountain ruined by horse flies.

Leaving the River Bend Bar with a gut full of veggie burger and Ranger.

I waded out to this rock on the Fisher River, away from the mosquitoes, and sat with my feet in the water for a long time. I ate a peach, drank a Double Haul, and felt good about being here. I suggest you try it, too.

Day 5: 65 miles, no towns, no services, limited paved roads, home.

I'm in Montana, but I'm not sure where I am; there is no town, just coordinates on a map ...

I really hope I'm going the right way.

I cut 40 miles off the trip -- most of which would have been on Highway 93 -- by riding/pushing the bike and trailer east and uphill for eight miles on nameless, dirt forest service roads, dodging the occasional logging truck, not really sure if I was going the right way. I saw a small, hand-painted sign for Tally Lake, I went with it. After three hours of searching, pushing, pedaling, and one wrong turn, I popped out on Star Meadows Rd., 20 miles from Whitefish, pavement all the way home. I hustled back to town to meet the 6 p.m. Jersey Boy's happy hour deadline -- $1.50 slices and $1 cans of PBR. Pedaling my 248th mile, less than a block from Jersey Boy's, I got the first and only earful of the trip: "Get a car you fucking hippie! You're blocking the road!"



1) In 240 miles, I saw three other cyclists -- two tourers and a woman in full Spandex on a three-speed cruiser in Libby.

2) Props are also due to my cute waitresses at Jax in Eureka, the Libby Cafe in Libby, and my bartender at the River Bend Bar on the Kootenai.

3) The pie at the Libby Cafe is definitely as good as advertised.

4) I have now drank at the Stoneville Saloon in Alzada, Montana's most southeastern bar, and the Dirty Shame, Montana's most northwestern bar.


laura said...

beautiful! cheers to chasing the ghosts of the writers who inspire us!

plt said...

nice and fun stories! thanks for sharing!