Rise and shine! No wait a minute . . . Not so much shine, there is fog down to the ground this morning! But it looks like it will clear before we are ready to go! Might as well have breakfast at the Sula Cafe while we wait! And it was delicious! And they packed us a sandwich for lunch!
As you may or may not have detected, i had a rather feisty day yesterday feeling unsettled and not ready to stop for the day for unidentified reasons. Perhaps getting stopped early by rain showers or was it just simply disappointement that we didn't get to the Hot Springs . . Whatever, i was not at my most amicable best yesterday afternoon. I tried to tell myself, we really only stopped 6 miles short or our destination so it really was no big deal but obviously did not convince myself! Maybe I have just had too much "rest" and now am ready to go!
So after a light breakfast we set off. The fog was just lifting, the radiant blue sky showing thru and the climb steady and gradual, for the time being at least. We were headed up the Lost Trail Pass at 7,014 ft and immediately following that we continued up the Chief Joseph Pass to 7,241 ft and The Continental Divide!
I gues climbing a pass is sort of like childbirth (really?) well not exactly but what I am trying to get at is no one can REALLY tell you what it is going to be like. Everyone has a different ideas and definitely different ways to describe what is ahead! When I saw a friend take a picture to try and indicate how steep the grade was, and he was an experienced rider, I thought to myself, this is going to be ugly! Passerbys in Sula had that crooked, knowing smile when they said, "yep, 13 miles". Let's just get this done!
I guess when you expect and anticipate the absolute worst, it can only be easier! Both Mike and myself found it relatively easy all the way up! It was long, but it was steady and consistent. We both agree as long as we can keep our pedals moving freely and don't feel we have to really push into the pedal, we could do that for a very long time! Before you know it we were at the top! I know we are getting stronger and there will be some big challenges ahead but it is so encouraging that we are making it up and over these obstacles!
The downhill side was pretty quick and short and it leveled out rather quickly as we approached the Big Hole Valley. This area is historic and remembered by the Historic Big Hole Battleground. As we came down from the mountain top the pine covered hills were very close on either side of us and then suddenly they dropped off and in front of us lay the Big Hole Valley as wide, open and expansive as the mountains we just crossed were tall and dense..
May I recommend you look up the Battle at Big Hole for a quick lesson in history. We stop to read all the historic signs posted along the road. Most of them indicating battles between army and natives over land where Indian tribes had lived for probably centuries. I find it all deeply emotional and thought provoking and effecting me in a way it has never touched me before. I certainly don't want to turn my blog into a soapbox but simply use it as a way to share experiences we have and maybe encourage a deeper look into the history of this great nation.!
We had lunch at the visitor's center and pushed on to Wisdom, MT where we would re-evaluate the day and the destination! We continued to move along at the great pedal power rate of about 25-28mph! I just wanted to stop and photograph all of what surrounded us! This immense valley lined with the snow capped Bitterroot Mountain range, expansive green fields and grazing cattle all capped with the blue haze of distance! But how could you possibly capture it all in one photo?? You can't, so I have posted several. they may all look like the same photo but they are different places altogether that is how far reaching this valley was!
As we got closer to Wisdom (the town!!) there suddenly was a woman standing on the side of the road next to her truck waving wildly at us! It was Sally!! From Sally's Pedal Stop in Hamilton!! How fun and how cool that she recognized us! We tried to have a quick chat but the MOSQUITOES!!!! Swarms of them! NEVER have I seen that many mosquitoes!! It was absolutely disgusting! They were hitting your face, sitting on every surface of your skin, back, clothes it was just horrible!! So we made it a quick chat and got back on our bikes and tried to get up to speed again and outrun the little buggars!
We did a pretty good job until we got to Wisdom and had to stop again. I just got off my bike, grabbed my phone and maps and ran straight into the market! We could not stand outside for even a minute without being engulfed and attacked!
Let me interject a slightly interesting fact I have observed . .. . Well it may be interesting if you are bothered by mosquitoes and it may be even more interesting if in fact it is true. right now it is only my theory! I have always been truly bothered by mosquitoes, they always seek me out, bite me and I itch for days! BUT . . .i have noticed they fly around me but just don't really land on me other than one or 2 maybe. Why is that? My theory, and I have thought a lot about it! I have always wondered why mosquitoes are attracted to some and not others and think it must be blood and scent and heard a long time ago that vitamin B helps keep them away. The only thing that I have done differently is I take a vinegar supplement everyday. I was drinking apple cider vinegar everyday before we left and obviously can't carry a bottle of vinegar with me so found it in capsule form. My theory is, that is the difference! The nasty little blood suckers just don't like it!!! Just thought I would throw that in there! Really they are so bad, we could not even stop on the road to take a drink, you just couldn't stand the attack!
To make a long story short, we got to Wisdom . . .tried to make a quick decision and not get lost and sidetracked like we have for the past few days. I found a hostel for the night in Jackson the next town 20 miles on and we agreed to push on. Mike made a decision to make me happy even tho he was obviously tired and done for the day. I thought the road was pretty easy with a slow incline to the next pass but very gradual and we knew we were headed to a place where we would not have to deal with these mosquitoes because we just were not dealing with them and no intention of doing so!
Well, we did just fine for the first 14 miles, we were clicking off miles a a great rate until we hit that headwind! Ugh! Went from 18 mph to 4mph just like that! The rain was falling ahead, you could see it. But we pushed on! The rain clouds parted, the wind dropped and we rolled into Jackson to find the cyclists only camp/hostel is a historic Post Office and once again so cool and interesting! Everything here we need! Great host! Homemade muffins made by local grandmothers for sale, beer and wine, Rose's Cafe next door and the without a doubt best Prime Rib we have ever seen on a menu! We are in cattle country!
There you have it! Great accommodation, food and sidewalk conversation with Rick the owner and Amy and Rob the cycling/running duo travelling by van. Amy drives the sag wagon while Rob lives out his dream riding the road by cycle! Ah but Amy just doesn't drive! Being an Ironman participant and runner, she drives ahead and does her running while waiting for Rob! People are so creative in getting what they need and doing what they want! It's not about the destination it about the journey and the wonderful people you meet along the way!
Another successful day and amazing addition to the journey. There is no way to describe the beauty, you have to come and see for yourselves!
Thanks for checking in!! Sweet dreams!!