Montana Wildhack....ever since I read Slaughterhouse Five in grade ten english while serving an endless detention in the hallway for being a smart ass, I have wanted to go to Montana. I just liked the name.
Well now that I am middle aged and have a line of credit that will allow me to do that type of thing I decided that I better get on with it.
Last year after reading larryboys' inspiring trip report of his epic blast over the CDT and TAT, I have been hatching a similar plan. I had 28 days and an idea to solo the CDT to Salida, intersect the TAT to Lakeview then hit what larryboy calls the Disco (the oregon discovery trails) to end up at Walawala and then head home to Vancouver island. It was a grand idea.
Some unfortunate circumstances cut my trip time to more like 14 days.
Plan B, scour ADVrider for some ideas that would get me down the CDT and then loop back somehow and get me home quicker.
Enter BigDog and his equally inspiring tale of a Mexico to Canada ride that took him north through Idaho on a fantastic route called the Tour of Idaho. A few PM's and a few more emails. A smattering of GPX files loaded into the Garmin and I was ready to follow some dog tracks, BigDog that is. I would flesh out the plan to greater detail while I was on the road. I was going to let this trip find its' own path.
My bike had been patiently waiting for me for about a week. I had torn it apart this winter and put it together with this ride i mind.
So I got up early, kissed the dog and patted the kids and headed for the ferry and whatever that was to come.
There is not much to say about the first few days of the trip as I was riding pavement , I find that rather boring unless I am riding at the limits of adhesion which is pretty easy on a loaded KLX with a worn out front knob and a new trials tire on the back. Nevertheless I did make it to Winthrop Washington in one piece. I camped at Pearrygin park and went and watched the pirate parade in town for an hour or two. I have never seen so many new Harleys in one place. I hit the road the next day and cruised the scenic highway over Sherman Pass
to Libby, Montana.
I am not sure how long it took because I think I was asleep for a good portion of it but when I did get to Libby I took a cruise through town. It was Sunday evening, and the main strip was just that...a drag strip. There was an amazing amount of rubber on the entire length of the street. Hmmm looks as if there ain't a lot to do in Libby. I saw a hotel and started over to it when I was lucky enough to meet Rico2wheels, a fellow ADVrider and all round good guy. He was sitting astride his Yamaha WR250 which was decked with ADV gear, and he gave me a wave. He headed down a little side road so I followed him. the road led to a little RV park that had room for one more tent. Cool.
We chatted for quite a while. It is great how you can just meet someone and in no time you know it would be a blast to burn some miles with them. I got that feeling with Rico. I wish I had taken a picture of the campsite and him...maybe next time.
I was quite tired and I hit the bivibag early so that I could make the short run into Kalispell the next day. Sure enough I woke feeling good. I had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and hit the road about 9 am.
The ride was pleasant and in no time I was cruising into town. I planned to spend the day and night in Kalispell to rest up for some marathon dirt, so I bagged a hotel room and headed off to find Penco's, a bike shop that Rico had recommended for a new front skin.
I left the bike with them overnight so I didn't have to worry about guarding the thing and spent a night out looking around. Penco's was great to deal with and had a good selection of tires. I would recommend them if you are needing bike stuff in that part of the world.
When I went back the next morning I had a nice new MT21 with an HD tube mounted and balanced on the front and I was ready to roll....finally.
This picture is the start of the CDT for me. I was very happy to have finally started my trip after about 1000 KM of riding Satan's Spine.
I rambled on and on just getting to know my new friend on the front rim. It was digging in really well and I was very happy with the way that bike handled with thirty pounds of gear and 16 litres of gas on board. I could still dive it into corners and power out of them nicely, so I was in the zone. I had the odd interaction with deer who managed to spring across the trail and out of the way ahead of me.
I usually say sorry to the deer when that happens, I just feel like I am in their space.
There were many places that I would have liked to have photographed but I was having too much fun to slow down much less to stop.
Eventually I came around a corner and there were some new culverts lying along the road. I started to think back to when I used to work on a grade crew in the bush, installing culverts in logging roads. The next thing I new I had riden upon this.
The bane of the dirt biker...I once hit a culvert ditch on my RM 400 just as I was snicking the thing into 5th gear trying to pass a jeep in a cloud of dust. I remember flying through the air head first facing up watching my bike tumble behind me. I finished that race with one foot peg and the right handle bar pointing straight up, and a Bell Moto3 with a big crack in it.
I hate culverts...
I got off my bike, took off my helmet, and, with the toothiest grin an Englishman can muster, I walked towards the excavator.
The machine shutdown and the operator climbed down with a bigger grin than me.
I stuck out my hand he stuck out his, and I asked if he wanted help putting the culvert in.... I could see he had ditched the road all the way across with no way around. He laughed and said no, and we talked for a while. He could not believe that I had come all the way from Vancouver Island to ride my bike in the Middleanowhere Montana. His name was Mark, and he told me he would be about an hour.... I could not believe he knew where Vancouver Island was and I was thankfull that he was not an asshole I told him I had all day, I also gave him some gummy bears. I went back to my bike and started giving it the steely eyeball and in about ten minutes Mark honked his horn and waved me through. He had filled in his ditching on half the road just to let me by. This would be the first of many acts of kindness that would befall me on this trip.