Whoa!! I need my hands to tell this story! It was REALLY frightening!
We left off last night all safe and cozy, having had a great meal, hanging out inside to make sure i could get the WiFi (at the Lodge they call it ,WhyTry' ). . . And off we went tot he tent to read and relax in our sleeping bags. Most of the bicycling teams that showed up were doing the same.
There was a small chance of rain this evening, there usually is I think, the thunderboomers come and go sometimes missing you! I think we actually fell asleep only to be woken up by the lighting flashing and the rumbling of the thunder. Nothing too bad, you could tell it was moving thru fast. Our wonderful REI Big Agnes tent has more than proved itself worthy of the cost and it continued to keep us dry as the rain increased! But then the lightning got brighter, more frequent and scarier! I tried to keep my eyes closed but could see the brightness right thru my old and wrinkled eyelids!! Keep in mind there are about 4 tents all huddled under the huge Ponderosa Pines, and I am sure most of us were shaking in our sleeping bags and then just when you thought it was subsiding . . .the brightest, closest flash of lightning . . .honestly I saw red when you normally see the white flash! Simultaneously, an eardrum shattering, bone breaking explosion of sound that was more than just thunder! It made me squeal!!! I have never ever heard anything that loud and sharp and frightening and it was right overhead! I have experienced jets breaking the sound barrier once and that was a low resonating horrible sound that made the souls of my feet vibrate! But that was nothing like this crack of thunder or the sound of lightening striking! . . .It was sharp and quick and so loud . . I am sure I stopped breathing for a moment! We did not hear anything fall or the sound of a fire crackling, but I know that lightning struck something! You could tell by the sound the storm was moving out as fast as it moved in, thank goodness! I tried peeking out the bottom of the rain fly to see if there was a glow from flames, it was all very unsettling! Scars of forest fires are evident everywhere around us, sometimes I wish I didn't have such a vivid imagination!
Believe it or not, we fell back asleep! I wasn't convinced that was going to happen! Perhaps it was the sound of the gentle rain after the storm that storm soothed us back to sleep,sort of like an apology for scaring the JuJu out of us!! Woke up dry as a bone inside the tent and relatively rested! Mike said a tree was hit near the employee housing just below us. Too close for me!!
First ones in camp to wake up, we packed up quietly, stuck the ridiculously soggy tent into a stuff sack, enjoyed a light breakfast for nourishment and off we went! We had the remaining 2,000 ft of Lolo Pass to finish today! 13 miles to the top and the first 8 were almost like going downhill! We followed a fork of the Lolo Creek and then the last 5 miles were just a little tougher but beautiful, peaceful and quiet!
Our French friends Christian and Marie managed to catch up with us as we neared the top! We thought we had a good head start, I think Marie has some magic French gear on her bike that is just for her because she just motors up those climbs!! Their bicycle experience is in the French Alps!! We all caught up at the top, had some fun with photos, went inside to the welcoming smiling faces of the Lolo Pass Visitorys Center, It is operated by the state of Idaho, but Montana shares the border at the top! Free coffee (and it was good coffee!). Hot chocolate for Mike, comfy chairs and lots of information! We had a quick visit and look around and then Montana and all downhill to Missoula!
Almost all downhill! The first few miles were quite treacherous but then it leveled out and we rode quite steadily keeping up a pace of 18-23 mph just by pedal power (and a little help from drop in elevation!). We made it to the town of Lolo in no time. Had a mail pick up and hung out in McDonalds trying to decide on our next move!
Between the time we crawled into our tents last night and woke up this morning another cyclist had joined our camp! George from Georgia, originally from Bulgaria. He was just off on his own, started on the Southern Tier, got to San Antonio where the temps were hitting 95 so got on a bus and went to Astoria and headed out on the Trans Am. George had every high tech phone app to help him along, he shared all of his info while we lunched and planned!
In the end Missoula won out, it is a little diversion on the map but we want to go the Adventure Cycling Center, that is the non-profit organization that maps out all the fabulous routes we use and they make it east for the rest of us to look adventurous! So tomorrow we go for our visit to ACA, have an appt for a tune up for the bikes and . . . It is our 7th Anniversary so thought we would take a day off! I may take a day off from the blog as well! If anything really cool happens, i will fill you in the next day!