Here’s an excellent article about the crazy gang from Marin County, CA who started the whole ball rolling. Long but an excellent read.
Today I rode some of the local trails in the foothills of Boulder. I used to ride these all the time but for some reason I haven’t been up here in a few years.
I started out riding up four mile Canyon to the Switzerland trail. This is an old narrow gauge railroad bed that’s been converted. At the Sugarloaf Mountain parking area I rode 50 yards down a dead end trail to a spot that I like a lot. My phone camera did not do this justice ; there are snow capped peaks back there but there wasn’t enough contrast with the sky.
Then I continued on towards the peak to Peak highway. At FS233 I took a left toward Gordon gulch. After a hair raising downhill,
I came to the gg trail.
Gg used to have one short rocky section and then it was all smooth singletrack. The rocky section is just like I remembered.
However, after this there was a lot of torn up trail – – probably flood damage from last fall.
Eventually the damage was behind me and I achieved the state of Flow that gg is famous for.
The flow ended all too quickly and then I was back on Sugarloaf road heading for home.
If you are interested in this ride go to Mtbproject.com and search for Gordon gulch.
When I left the campground today I had two choices: Camas Road northwest to North Fork Rd to Columbia Falls, or ride a little ways on Highway 2 out of the park and take Belton Stage / Blankenship roads to North Fork Rd. The first alternative is about 10 miles longer but avoid Hwy 2 entirely, so I chose it.
Unfortunately, the first ~10 miles of North Fork Rd are unpaved and very dusty. Choking, can’t even see down the road clouds of dust every time a car passed. And the surface was very loose gravel that was pushed into washboards by the traffic. It was horrible to ride on; the only compensation is that I did get to enjoy quite a bit of the NF of the Flathead.
I passed this spectacular rock waterfall on the side of the road. The temperature was noticeably cooler in the spray and so I sat there having a snack and then replenished my water supply.
Eventually the gravel gave way to pavement, and I passed the other end of Blankenship Rd. So if I had taken the other route, I could have avoided all of the dusty section of North Fork Rd.
There was a bit of climbing along the road and then a very long (miles), gradual downhill to Columbia Falls. I went back to the same grocery store to get lunch. Then I called Avis to see if there was any chance that I could pick up my car today instead of tomorrow — because if so, I’d go straight to the airport instead of to Whitefish. They said they hadn’t gotten back any cars yet today, so I headed out for Whitefish. I knew this route because I’d already done it a few days ago and it went by quickly.
A few miles from Whitefish I passed a Hertz rental location that I had mentally bookmarked the last time I went by. This time, I figured what the heck, I walked in and said, “This is completely out of the blue, but do you have any cars that can go to Butte today?” They told me that they own their own cars and don’t sent them out of town, but Hertz at the airport might have something. Amazingly, they did, and even more amazingly, they told me they’d drive it over from the airport because it would be cheaper for me to rent it at the in-town location than at the airport! They said it would be a bit, and I replied “a bit is good, because I’m going to the beach!”. And I boogied down the road as fast as I could to the Whitefish Beach, where I jumped in in my bike shorts and got cooled off in a hurry. About 1/2 hour later I was on my way back to the rental car place and I got there about 2 minutes before the car did. The car was a Dodge Grand Caravan and I was able to load the entire bike without even taking off the front wheel!
So I managed to make it back to Butte tonight and staying at the Super 8 where my own car is parked. In the morning I’ll return the van to the airport and then be on my way back home to Boulder. My vacation is over! :-(
Had a very good night’s sleep at the hostel. Here are the “cabins” behind the hostel, which are really just a bunch of old trailers that have been parked there. To say that this place is funky is an understatement!
First thing this morning, after using the lovely outdoor plumbing, was a ride down to the Merc to get breakfast. Polebridge, it turns out, is the gateway to the northwest corner of the park, and the bakery is packed with hikers and other park visitors.
Then back to the hostel to clean and lube my chain. The road here are incredibly dusty, and by yesterday my chain was so dirty it was making grinding noises and sometimes skipping. Luckily Oliver, the hostel owner, had some chain lube. When I left it looked and sounds like new again.
Since today’s ride is a short 30 miles, I took a detour to see Bowman Lake. It was a steep climb of about 800 feet on a bumpy road with a lot of traffic. But it is pretty :
On the way back I stopped at the Polebridge ranger station again to ask about the road closure sign I had seen. No problem for a bike, I was told. Ha!
Here’s the historic Polebridge ranger station built in 1922.
It survived the fire in the late 90s but the namesake bridge was not so lucky and had to be rebuilt. BTW the bathrooms in that ranger station are the finest in Polebridge. :-)
After riding along for awhile I finally got some nice views of the north fork of the Flathead River. That’s one enormous river!
But alas the road doesn’t follow the river liked I hoped it would, and I spent most of the time riding in heavy forest. Traffic dropped to zero once I passed the quartz creek Campground and finally I came to the closure.
Note the smaller sign in front that says Ok for hikers and bikers. The fine print says, basically, “don’t even think of going in here alone. ” oops! It was pretty freaky riding through the heavy forest and I was ringing my bell like a streetcar! Lol
So it turns out there are lots of downed trees on the closed road, which are a real pain in the butt when your bike weighs 60 pounds!
Also the road kept crossing large creeks, which means big downhills to the bridge and then big up hills on the other side of each creek.
The weather forecast was 90% chance of a thunderstorm and sure enough it started to rain on me. It felt good because it was such a hot day.
However, as it got heavier I decided to stop and put on my rain jacket. No sooner had I done so, the sun came out and I was roasting.
Here I am crossing Dutch Creek. See how sunny it is again? .
You can see the evidence of the forest fire all around.
Finally I made it to the other end of the road closure!
Within a mile I was at the fish Creek Campground. $8 for a hiker or biker including a shower! Fish Creek runs right into Lake McDonald.
Got a very late start today because I was having intestinal problems and so I was very reluctant to leave my hotel room. I finally rolled out of the hotel at 11. I figured it would take about 5 hours to get to Polebridge but as usual I underestimated the difficulty.
The route starts out on a busy paved road in the east side of the lake but there is a bike path as far as the ski area and traffic dies quickly after that. There are lots of multi million dollar homes along the lake shore. Eventually the road turns to dirt and climbs gradually.
There is tons of surface water up here – to the extent that I actually dumped out the hotel water that I brought with me. In some places there was a creek running down the hillside every few hundred yards!
That is one big culvert!
I ran into a section of the road that was being graded and there were first – sized rocks all over the road. Luckily the graders blade wasn’t quite the full width of the road so there was a narrow strip that I could ride on.
Upper Whitefish Lake was too beautiful for words. And it was practically deserted! If I had known about this place I would have planned to camp here.
There was a very tough (and unexpected) climb up to red meadow Lake, then lots of downhill. I began to see my first tantalizing views of glacier np.
I pulled into Polebridge at about 6:40.
I grabbed a quick shower at the hostel.
Then I headed over to the only restaurant in town for a glass of chocolate milk and a steak. Don’t judge me until you’ve cycled a mile in my shoes! :-)
This town is pretty interesting. It’s all off the power grid. Every building generates its own power and they all have satellite Internet and phone.
The hostel has a mixture of electric lights and propane lamps. But it does have an Internet connection which I’m using right now!
Tomorrow I intend to ride the inside north fork road down to the Apgar campground. Since this is a pretty short and flat ride, I also plan to make a detour to see Bowman Lake as long as I am this close. It is supposed to be extremely beautiful.
Rest day today. Kicked off my day with a massage at The Wave health club. Excellent! The therapist recommended that I spend the afternoon at the city beach on Whitefish Lake so I think I shall.
While eating some fish tacos at an outdoor table at the shopping mall I saw another bikepacker riding by. “Hey, divide rider” I yelled. He could not believe I had pegged him so fast. Then I told him I was also riding, but my packs were in my hotel room. He is from NH. He started in Banff and said he had been riding 100 miles a day on pavement because of the flooding in Alberta. Said he hadn’t seen any other riders till now. He was at the mall to buy bear spray at the sporting goods store.
After spending the afternoon at the beach, I went to the library and used a computer there to reserve a spot at the north fork hostel for tomorrow night. Also researched where to go for dinner and found a BBQ joint. Here is the 3-meat platter at Piggyback BBQ:
What a great deal for only fifteen bucks!
Afterwards I went back to my hotel to wash my clothes because I smelled like a smoked piggie. Not good for bear country! :-)