16th of July till 22nd of July
Glacier National Park was beautiful.
Happy we stayed in Whitefish to visit Glacier. It was very easy to take the shuttle from Whitefish to the visitors centre of west Glacier, followed by two other park busses to Logan Pass (6646 ft). Reason not to bike the 65km distance from Whitefish to Logan was the fact that you are not allowed to bike the “Going to the Sun” road in the park between 11:00 and 16:00. It would have taken us 2 extra days going in and out of the park on a very busy/narrow road and most importantly we wanted to hike and be even closer to nature.
Hiking the Highline Trail of 12 miles gave us some spectacular views of the park. Not too steep but on altitude 6646 ft together with several photo stops it kept us busy for the remainder of the day.
At 2/3 of the hiking trail there is a chalet where you could sleep. Only thing is you need to bring your own food and water, as there is no running water in the chalet. Great to see a ZOLL AED, the team working there is also very happy with it and hope they will never have to use it.
Even on this altitude Frank is eaten alive.
Being back in Whitefish we did some final grocery shopping and could leave the next day from our Chalet Inn, refreshed but with sore legs from hiking.
From Whitefish to Big Fork is a long but easy ride between vast plains of sweet smelling dill. This in combination with the mountains and blue skies really proved Montana to be the “Big Sky Country”.
Mini drive-thru, best espresso in ages.
It was recommended to go off the trail and visit Big Fork and the Flathead Lake, as it is the biggest lake of the USA, West of the Mississippi. Flathead Lake is 510 km2, more than twice the area of Amsterdam with it’s 219 km2.
Big fork is very small and very touristy but fun to see how people can change. Frank was the first one to spot Sweet Peaks and suggest to have an ice-cream! Things are changing, as Frank never liked ice-creams very much 😉
Suddenly we heard quite some people coughing and we also started. A bit later we discovered somebody “tried-out” bear spray and even on such a distance and in such a low amount you would still feel the effect of the pepper spray. After a few more miles (and some small hills) we finally arrive at the camp ground of the National Forest, indicating that it is full. But at this camping ground they have a separate area for bikers and hikers so we are lucky we still can pitch our tent (and have a swim).
Opposed to other camp sites, the cooking is to be done centrally here and this gives even more opportunity to meet people and we spend a nice evening with Lieven from Belgium who is biking the GDMBR from South to North. He is giving us some good tips on what we could avoid but also what we could try to do. Lieven is also biking on a Santos!
Biking from Big Fork to Cedar Creek is more of a challenge. First getting more food in the grocery store and biking back to the trail is adding 10 km to the day. And then we don’t have much more to say because an endless climb between trees starts, it is warm and there is nothing much to see. We don’t have to push the bikes but the heat and enclosed setting reminds me of some nightmares where you are in a labyrinth where after every corner you see the same and you don’t remember the way out ☹. Next day is the same after we have slept at Cedar Creek. It should have been a basic camp site for which we made a detour but there was nothing, not even a pit toilet. Next time maybe just camp along a river (if there is no city to go to). At Cedar Creek there are also the two Italians who passed us during the day. With 2 very small tents and they invite us to camp also next to the river, not really any other choice. we do this but during the night we are a bit concerned as they leave everything laying at the campsite (also their food and garbage), Frank still finds a tree to pull the food up into. Frank is bear aware 😊 Fun to see how locals start a day fishing from here on the river.
From Cedar Creek to Lake Holland is not as steep but still winding through the dense forest with the same feeling a the day before. The washboard and heavy load for Frank is draining his strength. Seems that that day I was setting the pace (and I thought he was considerate and stayed behind so I would not be totally discouraged if he would be way ahead). Deer and a small snake give some distraction, otherwise it is just spinning.
After finally reaching Holland Lake, 4 miles off the highway there is an indication it is full but we continue as we hope that also here they will have some GDMBR tent sites. We meet the manager on his Quad and he does not want to squeeze us in. Frank told him he should put up a sign at the highway exit to the camp ground that is full, it would have saved us 8 miles of biking. Then we are referred to Owl Creek Packers campsite (horses/bikers/hikers, only 1.5 mile back). Only benefit is it is for free but no lake view or access to the lake.
We do find a nice spot between the trees and stay another day so we can visit the Holland Lake Lodge and have a wonderful lunch with beer and wine and a great view of the lake. Build in 1947 with 9 rooms and a few cabins. We listen in on a discussion the manager has with some friends of a potential investor. Now everything is still small and compact but there is more interest in staying here and especially dining. Dinner is booked until Sunday.
This shot makes not staying at the lake site worthwhile!
When they fly around your head it sounds like a big dragon-fly but we were so amazed it was a hummingbird, we have seen several before but never any luck to get them framed.
Fun of being on the Packer campsite is to see horse people returning from a trip or leaving. Like Jason who is 9 and will go on a week trip with his granddad and uncle, 3 horses and 2 mules. Would also love to do this!
We are also very happy with our workhorses, Santos, travelmaster 2.9 build in our village!
If we can’t camp at Holland Lake we will try our luck at Seeley lake, no GSM reception so we need to bike to the village to look at possibilities. As we want to arrive early we don’t take the trail but bike HWY 83.
Trying to find a campground is challenging and forest service says everything at the lakes is full, they suggest to return to the trail and as we bike we can camp were ever we want as long as we don’t leave any trace. So no motel, no camping, no washing… but finally after some extra miles we can pitch our tent close to a small lake and we were able to find some clear spring water so we have a nice quite evening in the wild. We can do some washing in our Ortlieb rack pack but I really need to wash everything soon in a washing machine…On our way up we meet a Slovenian couple riding South to North who informed us that the pass in a few days is closed to wild fires and we will have to take the highway.
The day starts great as Frank has not only prepared a lovely breakfast even when it is very cold but more special … do you see the detail??
Compensation for the last day of grumpiness? We start to accept that not every day is as we anticipated and that we are not as fast as most of the riders we meet. Frank still has too much to carry especially on the food part. He says his bike feels like a 10 ton truck and wags it’s tail like a puppy. When we will be in a big city we will try to send more stuff back home.
Saturday is a very relaxed day to Ovando.
Lieven had given us the tip that you can sleep in an Inn (full but we can shower with real towels! And do our laundry!) Fred is very supportive and suggests that we stay in the tippy tent or in jail.
Ovando city of 50 people! Fred sends us across the road for great lunch and they send us to him for great coffee!
Find out in the blog of next week which accommodation we chose!
New wildlife spotting
Photo theme this week