The Great Divide

The Path of Totality

This must be the word of the week. It seems on everybody’s mind. Today, I had to travel Southbound on WY 287 towards Rawlins. A constant stream of cars was heading in the other direction, as if there was a tsunami warning or a nuclear event. 

It is interesting to see, how such a rare celestial event can mobilize the masses, more so than other events on Earth that deserve our attention. It also seems to be important to be on the path of totality. 98%, or 99% is not enough, it has to be 100%. As a result, I have seen offers of $200 for a campsite, or $6000 für a house in the middle of nowhere for one night, even the event is in the middle of the day. 

Crossing the Continental Divide Basin

I am happy to be in Rawlins for this event. I camo for free at the Fairgrounds, with warm showers, flush toilets, picnic tables, shade, and a grassy area for my tent. I had amazing Thai food, and a supermarket to shop. This was in extreme contrast to the last 4 days crossing the Continental Basin. 220 miles with only 2 old mining towns with less than 100 summer residents. Water was scarce, pronghorn antelopes were abundant, at least to watch from the distance. Crossing the basin was one of the harder section of the Divide, mentally and physically. 
The bike performs well after a tube-up in Jackson. I will get almost a rest day tomorrow. I will have a nice breakfast with cold fruit juice in the morning, watch the 98% coverage with the town folks, have Thai buffet for lunch and then head out of town in the afternoon for a leisure 14 miles or so. That’s my path of totality. 

The Great Divide

21 days

So much has happened since last time. I am not sure, where to start. I am sitting in the library of the ever popular town of Jackson, while a bike mechanic is trying to get the crud out of my gears. It has been raining, I had frost on my tent. The hazy skies of Montana are a distant memory and I only scratched the wheat and potato fields of Idaho. 

I took a detour to visit my old hometown of Jackson, which I have never seen for long during summer peak tourist season. It’s amazing after the lone trails in the mountains. 

I’ll stock up here for the next 250 miles have limited choices for food and supplies. 

I have been eating well. Maybe that’s why my waist line has not decreased. Biking is not a good diet, unless you do it like the fellow in the picture below. 

Welcome to Squirrel Creek Ranch, ID
I hope they fed that fellow well, so he could continue his journey. 

Ride on. 

The Great Divide

1000 km

After 14 days and 1000 km on the Great Divide a routine is slowly developing. 

The day begins usually before sunrise, as Nature around me and sometimes urban environment wake up. What’s for breakfast? Nutella on bread, Nutella on crackers, Nutella on Naan, you get the idea. Sometimes this gets improved with some jam or other surprises like a banana out of my bear canister. Freshly purified water and breakfast is served. 

The weather has been fantastic for the last two weeks. It was above 30 C   During the day in Canada, too hot riding in the middle of the day. So I stopped in libraries or under a tree for a nap, some writing, a snack, or a big meal, when in town. 

Margaritas and enchiladas on the Divide

In the beginning food was an obsession. Do I have enough, where is the next place to eat. In the meantime I am more relaxed. It has always worked out so far. I can ride all day with a protein bar, if necessary. Yesterday I arrived in Butte, MT, with no food left. No big deal. 

Water was plentiful in Canada, as we were following streams. Now the route often follows ridges with less surface water. I still have only one 1 l bottle, that replenish during the day. The water filter works great and is absolutely necessary. Half of the trip through Montana crosses cow pastures, mooh. 

I am going slower than most of the riders that I meet. But I make my miles every day, arriving just later than most. I have averaged 60 km a day. Some days I finish around 6 PM, which gives me time to read about the next day and contemplate about the moments of today’s stage. One night I stopped at ten, just enough time setup the tent and crawl into the sleeping bag. 

For the last three nights I slept under the stars, no tent. That’s good because there were no mosquitoes and no rain, off course. 

Today, I will take a rest day, explore funky Butte, stock up on Nutella and such and have another cooked me before heading South. 

Ride on. 

The Great Divide

A Fire in the Sky

The Rice Fire near Seeley Lake made riding very hard. Air quality was hazardous. Roads were closed. Getting through such a disaster zone on a bike is not trivial. Going South was the quickest way to get into cleaner air. 

In the end it was all good. A thunderstorm cleared the air at the cost of a strong headwind. Just before dark I found a nice, quiet camp site near Nevada Lake. 

Today it was socks and long sleeves, pants and a hat for the first time. 

Stay cool. 

The Great Divide

To welcome a stranger

  • Some days are just as good as it gets. Today was one of those days. After a refreshing night I got an early start leaving the funky hamlet of Polebridge behind, where every cyclist gets a free fruit fritter. Man were they delicious. 
  • On the way out a fire fighter was kind enough to point out that  I am dragging a buckle. Thank you. I have already lost one. Now, I am supposed to have a buckle check every time I start riding. Just have to remember to go through my checklist. Check. 
  • Following the the Flathead River on mostly paved forest roads was mostly uneventful until I hit a washboard cluster that looked like choppy sea. My front wheel bucked like a wild mustang. My iPhone flew off its holder crashing into the gravel: hairline fracture. Better than dead. 
  • A couple of shirt climbs and I made it into Columbia Falls for lunch: Bulgogi beef and microbrew amber ale. Really? What amazes me is the randomness how one finds these gems. I am using an app to find camping spots and other attractions. Somebody had dound this unassuming eatery. Excellent recommendation. 
  • The best came last: The next official campsite was about a 40 mile ride out of Columbia Falls. Too far for the rest of the day. Nevertheless, I took off hoping to find something beforehand. And there it was: Nirvana for today  coming around the corner I saw the first sign that said “Great Divide”. I had to stop and take a picture. What was that below? “Cyclists welcome to camp”. That was me!
  • Tom Arnone offered me a place to pitch my tent, gave an ice chest with cold drinks, and a tour of his restored Ducatis and handmade wooden canoes. As friendly and nice as it gets. Thank you. 
The Great Divide

39 degrees Celsius

I crossed a border this afternoon. Am I in Mexico already. The thermometer said 39 degrees. Can you drink 2 liters of water in less than 10 min? Yes. 

2 liters of ice water in 10 min.

I had a great morning, though. I rode a few miles to Baynes Lake and had a private Sunday morning swim with some turtles, not sure what species, but they were bigger than my hand, had yellow stripes on their  head and red ones in their feet. They stayed underwater for 3-4 min. Not the wildlife I had expected to see on this trip. I wish I could have taken that lake with me. 

Now, I am waiting in the pizza shop for the heat to fade away. Another gruel gravel byway with a 700m ascent are waiting. 

Another pitcher of ice water, please!

The Great Divide

Day 4

The unbeatable lightness of pavement. 

After washboard roads and gravel and pebbles the silence of black top. Only the whistling of the wind and my sturdy tires. 

Lower Elk Road was just a beautiful cruise on Saturday morning.  


Lower Elk Lake Campsite