23-07 – 29-07-2017
Ovando to Helena, capital of Montana
In Ovando we spent our first night in jail ever! It was a jail from 1890, they call “hoosegow” in slang, but nobody knows why. Now restored for people to stay (you just give a small contribution per person). They also have a tepee and a wagon you can stay in.
It was a good expirience and having the possibility to put everything inside was the best part. The luxury of this town is that at your right side you have the Inn where you can shower with fluff white towels (small contribution), do your laundry, buy some groceries and a great espresso. And across the road you have the best lunch and breakfast at the Stray Bullet. Fred was a very positive host, even if his Inn was full and he gave us more insight in the village.
As we know that we can’t take the Huckleberry pass due to wildfires we buy a fishing license at the Blackfoot Angler together with some flies (artificial). We stop a few times and wade through the river but no fish on the menu! Lack of fish or our poor fishing skills, who knows? Still nice to have tried it.
Lincoln is a small town, spread out along the highway and due to the heat we decide to stay in a small motel. For the moment we camped more than 2/3rd of the time so some extra luxury is welcome. A treat of a very large steak is the next step. The 12 ounce steak Frank ordered was gone in no time.
To Marsh Creek Road we can go again on gravel roads which has much less traffic, only bit harder work. We take the longer, bit less steep way and help Bill& Maggie with the flat tire on their son’s 1995 Dodge Ram 2500. Dave also helped a hand.
He is riding on his own, lives in Maddison Wisconsin and started his adventure with a group of the Adventure Cycling Association, for his first 10 days. Now he is on his own quest.
Landscape is changing, from rolling hills, to downhill in green canyons. The light is brushing the silky cover of the mountain when we hear a voice calling that this is the place to stay! John opens the gate and welcomes us. It is already 18:00 so we decide to accept his invitation. What a welcome and what a treat.
They have a cabin, where Dave is meeting us and a tent with stretchers (which we take and saves us a lot of time in the evening and morning). But even more special is the dinner which is served for us 3 by Barbara & John, homemade tomato tort, great salad, sweet and sour chicken and chocolate cake.
And they don’t want any contribution for this, just return it to somebody you meet on the road! Very special and thanks a million again!
Most special was their love story! How the GDMBR and the divine brought them together. Long story short; John was biking the GDMBR but bypassed Barbara’s place. A bit later he was caught in a thunderstorm and rode back to Barbara’s cabin. He finished the route after that, but returned to Barbara and never left again. If you are ever biking in this region: you will find this pearl between Helena and Ovando.
The way to Helena was long, different and hot. We could do it at our own pace as we already arranged a motel for 2 nights (at Johns & Barbara’s place they luckily had WIFI as there was no cell phone reception in that area).
At the Empire Mine we meet off-the-road motor bikers who are following the same route as we are but from South to North. They warn us for the coming up-hill battle and boy was that an understatement.
Not too much of an incline but loose rocks and no grip forces us to push the bikes up-hill one by one. At 13:30 we are still not at the summit for the next Continental Divide crossing and decide to eat one of our dried food spaghetti’s, which should serve 2.5 persons, but was barely enough for lunch. At the top UK Air Force’s Paul saves us from taking the wrong road, great app this MAPOUT, but especially the fact that Paul plotted the entire route in it! It seems to be a spot where quite some others also took the wrong road. Thanks again Paul!
Riding through cow pastures where there has been quite some rain in the past weeks, gives us altering road surfaces, now everything is dry, but also very rough. You do not have to watch out for bears, but for bulls. We startled one coming around a corner and waited until he cooled down and decided we were not a threat and got off the road.
What a landscape, what a wide prairie. As a special treat we got a second (luckily not so steep) Great Divide crossing (must be confusing; we keep mixing Great Divide and Continental Divide. The first is the Canadian expression, the latter is the American expression for the same thing) before having a steep downhill to Helena. The last 9 miles on the highway with headwind are not a treat.
Crossing the great divide one and two of that day 😉
After one day in this quiet, clean, friendly town we decide to stay another night, to do some shopping and change our hiking boots to mountain bike shoes. As everything is going slower than expected and we want to see more of the city, we decide to stay another night and yet another night. Sending back home 5+ kg and giving away 3 kg at the shelter across the street.
Helena is a widespread town, established in 1864 due to the gold rush and is now the capital of Montana. Helena has less than 30.000 inhabitants, but realize that Montana only has 1,3 milion inhabitants.
With an area of 382.156km2, Montana is 10 times bigger than The Netherlands with 37.354 km2. So 10 times as big and 10 times less inhabitants. No wonder we can ride hours without seeing any people or houses.
Another mission was getting my hair done. Much better, at least Jacinta does not look like Geert Wilders anymore.
After 3 days of rest and great food, we decide to get going again. Best food in Helean was at Lucca’s, where we were very lucky to get a table!
One last detour in Helena past the first log cabin, built in 1864 and off we go.
As it is Saturday there is quite some traffic of cars with canoes going to the lake. With 1080 m ascent and 368 m decent, we decide to stay at Park Lake, basic but with water and a pit toilet. It also has a fresh water lake, where I take the time to look at the transformation of frog eggs into frogs for the first time in my life.
What a different week this was. Now back on the road, we are moving forward again. Find out in next blog if progress is any faster 🙂
New wildlife of this week; a not so famous grouse 🙂
Photo theme of this week; a church