Resurrection of Cunninglinguist
In the interest of posterity I want to note the first post-hospital ride of Cunninglingust (aka, "Lowside Sanchez", "dirty sanchez", plain ole' "sanchez", "I'm going South Sanchez", and sometimes "blue dolphin"). For readers of the Bozeman Uprising thread you may not recognize him without adult novelties or in the upright and ambulatory position. Others can search ADV for a full background.
For 2 cents more history its worth noting that CL had a get off about 2 months ago resulting fairly significant injury with broken ribs, ruptured spleen, and indefinitely severed marital relations with a very angry wife. This sucks for him :cry, but he seems mostly on the mend except for the marital relations part whereby his wife still hates him (and me), and you too if you ride motos.
He had strict domestic instructions that he was not riding until fall and would spend his summer gardening, knitting, and licking his wounds. This was not the reason I planned this ride (and if fact if RaeLynn is reading this I did not know he was coming until the morning of the ride!). Although I did at times ask him if he misplaced his male parts while in the hospital, I would never pressure him to ride if he was not ready. :deal
For appropriate sympathies (amusement):
You will note that his ribs on the left side look a little "off" They probably still look like this. These are just the ribs in front....more pain on the backside. My guess is that each rib represents some area where is mojo has been weakened in some way but I'm not very spiritual so who knows. If you need further explanation:
So, onto the ride.
Southwest Montana has a lot to offer in terms of day rides, or week rides, or whatever. This is good and bad because it can be hard to motivate yourself to get around the rest of the state. In 11 years here I have never been to Glacier National Park and this weekend I planned a loop that I hoped would be good dirt forest service roads, a night of camping, and maybe catch a hippie drum circle in an off-the-grid town.
My plan was to ride from Polson MT (we were visiting family) and ride a dirt loop around to Polebridge, come back to the park and get as far as I could up the Going To the Sun Road. Actually, road closures this time of year limited all of the above but the ride up to the "Road Closed" signs was pretty cool.
Leaving Polson.......those Mission Mts always look so good! I like the area around the east side of the lake and Big Fork so instead of heading to Kalispell I swung around the other side. I received a text from CL at 4:50 that morning saying, "I'm loading the bike now", and then one at 4:55 that said "I'm leaving soon". He seemed to be convincing himself that he was getting on his bike, or, laying an evidence trail in case his wife caught up with him before he got up to speed in the driveway and thus out of butcher knife range. I expected he would catch me sometime before West Glacier so I putted along anticipating that story of how he interpreted his wife's no-ride-till-fall rule as June-is-close-enough.
CL swung through Missoula and picked up another friend....Jay....on his sweet KTM and we finally met in West Glacier and looked around until we found bacon.
Jay on the KTM, CL on the trusty veteran of Baja WeeStrom, and me on the butt-killing but otherwise very serviceable DR650. Although I have a WeeStrom myself I decided to leave the old girl at...... ahem, the shop (which is related to the background I provided on CL above). I was happy to finally put some miles on the DR as I have had it for some time and never really had it out on a trip. I really grew to like it this weekend, except for the seat which will need to be upgraded very soon.
From West Glacier it was only a few miles to the start of the North Fork Road which we were planning to take up to Polebridge. I had heard about Polebridge a number of times.....cool place off the grid.....hippie hangout.....awesome mercantile with bakery.....Saturday night prime rib at the saloon.....Etc... Seemed a great place to overnight after a day of riding but unfortunately the "Inside" North Fork Road was still closed.
Although disappointed, we took the "outside" N. Fork road which is mostly good tarmac but some really nice fast dirt as well as it comes into Polebridge.
The Mercantile in Polebridge is a fairly cool place. Quite a few folks drive up to make the pilgrimage for baked goods, and the views and location cannot be beat. The cookies were great (especially the huckleberry macaroons) and although I did not have one myself the huckleberry bearclaws are rumored to be worth the drive alone.
Get gas before you arrive!
Generator and solar powered!
We had time before dinner (verified prime rib to be served!) so crossed the N. Fork of the Flathead and rode south as far as we could on the "Inside" road until we met another closure sign. I'm guessing we likely got about 7 miles or so before we were turned back, the road was great and I really would have liked to have taken the whole route coming north. This will stay on my list for later this summer.
Having been turned back we stopped for a map-check and decided we would ride back north and check out Bowman Lake. CL has been a bit bound up from all the narcs recently with his mishap and requested a stop for nature.
Wow. Poor WeeStrom. Thats a lot of excess baggage to carry. Pretty soon that rear tire is going to look like Jays! I mean really, why spend that kind of money on a dual sport bike, take trips into the unknown, and not replace your freaking tire!
Anyway, the Bowman lake road is very nice coming from Polebridge. Its 6 miles of good dirt with some elevation gain, just right. As expected, the lake was beautiful and we sat for sometime watching people canoe, fish, etc.. The ride out was nice except for quite a bit of traffic and less than courteous drivers on a narrow road.
Back at Polebridge that bar was open and serving prime rib.
What is not to like about a place that serves big hunks of rare meat, gin in jars, and good old Oly in the can! Jay was working on is mojo drinking the Oly....it is good luck you know.
We boondocked for the night, packed, and headed south again with the only goal of riding the Going to the Sun road as far as we could. Turns out we didnt get much further than the lodge at the north end of Lake McDonald before the road was closed. It is worth noting that while we walked around the lodge we met a lady from England traveling the world with her husband via a tricked out Landcruiser. She stopped is in the Lodge and wanted to talk bikes and riding before we got into her story (which is much more interesting).
Johhny and her husband retired in their late 50's and have traveled to N/S Africa, all over Europe, and Russia. In a period of 30 minutes we heard more stories than were related in both The Long Way Down/Around films and developed a genuine affection for this woman and her lifestyle. As we asked question after question she seemed surprised that anyone would be so interested in her travels, and when she got wound up with her English accent and tales we were all three immersed.
They are headed to Alaska at present via Canada and do not take main roads!
Diesel land cruiser with custom top that rises to tent.
Nav system for driver with mini-mac hard wired.
Water filtration system so they can load water from about any source.
Johhny explaining her kitchen/sleeping arraignments.
Thats it. We rode out of Glacier and headed back to Polson. I'm always amazed at how much it feels like you can pack in to 24 hours on a bike. Polebridge is worth the trip, doing a loop around the inside/outside North Fork Road would be well worth combining with a more tourists agenda for Glacier. I expect the CL will chime in at some point with more pics or new and insightful thoughts about this report.
In my defense that rear Heidenau (ONLY) has 8783 miles on it, besides I was drinking Oly. I hear its a Good Luck Beer well maybe not with all the Hippy chicks in PB. None the less I figure with all my savings drinking beer that nobody else will I should be able to buy a rear tire real soon. BTW I am still a bit perplexed about the kid running with the Bear Spray that would not talk to us, I did not see anything in the news about a Mauling, oh well another one of lifes mysteries. It was a great ride with you 2, I had a blast you put a hell of a rr together to boot.
Ahhhhh.....and he comes out of lurking! You get the award for post to tenure ratio! It was a great ride and I appreciated that you came along. Don't sell that bike, let's do more.:freaky
Oh ya, that kid w bear spray in condition 0/1....crazy. So we are stopped on the east road heading south in the park and a young dude comes running out of he woods w bear spray at the ready. Following him was 2 dudes that looked like they just got done training in an Idaho (no offense intended) militia w rifles and leg- strapped sidearms. I was looking for cameras like this was a scene out of "Surviving the Game" and the kid was losing the chase. Weird.
Damn... missed you guys and you practically rode right by the house...
<iframe src="http://www.dualsportmaps.com/embedMap.html?id=110570" title="Whitefish Lakes - North Fork Loop" height="600" width="800"></iframe>
There are various options to the west of the North Fork road, including a quick jaunt up to the now-closed Trail Creek border crossing, paralleling the border through to the south end of trans-border Frozen Lake and then on to Eureka, etc. The one above would probably have fit most seamlessly with your timetable.
Most of the "hippies" you see at Polebridge are actually Neon Peons from the Whitefish/Columbia Falls/Kalispell area.
Was the beargrass in full bloom while you were up the NF, or were you a bit early? The peak is just now over, but about a week ago in some places there was so much it looked like snow. One of the best years for beargrass that I can remember.
If you do head up this way again this year, drop me a line if any of you are looking for local company or just general information. I'll make a bit of effort to get some of the other routes through the North Fork mapped up on DualSportMaps.com as well.
Guess I should chime in now that I've spent long enough waiting to edit what photos I took...
As stated by Duke, there was a hint of marital discord upon my decision to ride. I would have none of it! Since I could not obtain the originals from her for the ride, I got myself a set of these so I could confidently make my own decisions...
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That taken care of I moved on to packing for the trip. 0530 I was up and called Bitterroot (Jay). I woke him up and told him he had three hours to pack and meet me in Missoula. He made some excuses and I hung up on him. By Butte he'd called and left a message and we made the plan to meet at Hwy 93 North. Against my terrible judgment I skipped the inviting atmosphere of Freds while waiting for Bitterroot.
No matter how many times I've driven that highway, I'm always struck by the beauty of the Mission Valley as I crest the hill North of Ravalli. Made good time and didn't make many stops as we were trying to meet Duke along the route. Try as we might we were always a town behind until West Glacier. Didn't stop for photos but here's one looking east from the Ninepipes area from a few years back...
Duke covered the ride to Polebridge and a bit of the ride after finding out the wait time for the slab of beef.
Here's a view North from the bridge crossing the North Fork of the Flathead river at Polebridge.
Bitterroot on the bridge waiting for us to stop blocking traffic while we shot photos like tourists...
The initial plan had been to head for Bowman. Bitterroot used his keen sense of direction to take us in the opposite direction, and Dukes reliance on technology somehow ensured we continued on that path. I just sat back and followed, which according to my wife (with some additional adjectives) I am rather good at. Great views along the river from time to time, but a lot of this view:
I believe this was crossing Crystal Creek
Should we be concerned that a bike Duke dub's the "Assmangler" gives him a smile like this?
After getting our bearings straight (I advised them that I noticed the Forrest Circus sign indicating Bowman lake to the Left when we went Right) we took the dusty route to the lake.
Aside from the beargrass blooms, my favorite part of the trip was the ride to Bowman lake. The beargrass was absolutely incredible. particularly in the early morning light the next day. I still kick myself for not taking any of the shots I envisioned as we toured along. Anyways the Bowman road was twisty with slight banks to the corners. The surface was a nice packed dirt that was a bit damp still from the shade. Good traction and cool air made 25mph or so an absolute blast to me. Of course I may have sustained a closed head injury from the accident that they declined to tell me about.
All in all it was a great ride. As Duke said, it felt like a few days rather than basically a 24 hour ride. It was great to get back on the bike and stretch my wings (ribs).
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