I rode past the machine and on down the trail for about half an hour and ran into another road crew putting the finishing touches on a new bridge which I needed to cross. These guys did the same thing. I chatted them up for a bit told them where I was headed etc. and they filled in the approaches to the bridge just to let me pass. When things like these happen it makes your whole day seem so much more enjoyable.
I was having a blast, standing on the pegs, throttle torqued, letting the bike do its thing, just concentrating on dodging deer and keeping an eye open for oncoming traffic, when I started to think about fuel…. I knew that before I re-jetted my bike a few weeks earlier I could pull 320 KM out of a tank but I had jetted the bike fatter and I seemed to be getting considerably less than 275 on my highway ride to Kalispell.
It is funny how you can be having such a great time riding along, oblivious to the outside world, then, in an instant, when the idea of running out of fuel becomes is a possibility, the fun meter hits zero, and the only thing you can think about is getting the ride done and getting fuel.
Pushing a dirt bike is just slightly less fun than riding on pavement.
In the end I made it down to the highway and a gas station with plenty of fuel left. I rode into Seeley Lake for a coffee and with the skies darkening; I figured a place to sleep might be a good idea. I pulled into one of the many campsites around Seeley and set up my bivi bag on the picnic table and put my tarp up over my bike to keep the seat dry thinking that it might spit a bit during the night.
I wandered around the fairly deserted campsite for a while looking for firewood and chatting with a few people and finally had a meal of Kathmandu Curry dehydrated dinner, and after an evening of watching the fire and thinking about the day, I climbed into my body bag and fell asleep.
The sound of the rain , no, make that buckets of water pouring from the heavens, woke me at about 04:00. The outside of my sleeping bag was wet from condensation but I was still warm and with the knowledge that my bike seat was dry I fell back to sleep for another hour.
When I finally woke up I started planning my exit moves, I was still warm and somewhat dry in my sleeping bag but the inside of the bivi bag was getting drenched. To make a long story short I slithered out of my sleeping bag and into a puddle on the ground, I packed up all my gear in the twilight using the entrance to the outhouse as a shelter. I made a quick breakfast of oatmeal on my stove using the outhouse as a wind break. Hell I have eaten in restaurants dirtier than that!! I packed my bike and rode the four or five miles into Seeley where I produced a puddle on the floor of the office as I checked into the Seeley Lake Lodge at 08:00 in the morning and settled in for a long day waiting for the storm to pass.
This is a good, friendly place to stay. Nice fellow that owns it offered me his laundry and gave me a decent break on the room.
I spent most of the day cleaning up my gear, doing laundry, going over the topo maps and trying to plan out my route on my net book. I spent some time in the pub trying out their chicken wings and a few varieties of beer. It poured all day and all night but in the morning it started to break and about 9 am the sun was out and I was on my way.
I quickly climbed up into the mountains behind Seeley and headed south into the unknown.
The track was starting to change a bit. The ground was getting kind of red, and harder packed and the riding style was more sit down and hug the tank kind of cornering than stand up and let the bike wander in the gravel like yesterday. There were a few muddy spots and puddles but nothing like I had imagined after all that rain. There had been reports of snow at about 6500 ft. so I looking forward to that.
I climbed steadily up and out of that area and eventually came down to this.
I finally hit highway 12 and took an alternate track into Helena for fuel and something to eat. My stay in Helena was just long enough to do both and I quickly routed myself back out into the Helena national forest and back to intersect the trail to Butte.
I followed the track on my gps for a time and the trail quickly became a tight, steep single track. I climbed for a very long time as the trail became a rock strewn path that wound between a mass of roots and mud. The only flat spots were muddy water holes or of camber slick rock corners. My bike was jetted for sea level at this point but I was amazed at the power it still had at 7500 ft. It just chugged up over Lava mountain and back down the equally steep trail to the other side. That would have been a long day on a large bike.
The trail dropped down onto a logging road that had a large road closed sign across it at every entrance. I snuck along it hoping that I didn't run into anyone that might make me turn around. The last thing I wanted to do was to climb back up over that hill. Once in a day was quite enough.
I eventually rejoined the original track and without too much hassle, made my way to Butte.
I stopped for fuel and asked the kid about the Eaglesnest Campsite which is on the track I had downloaded as a good camping spot.He told me that it was now a Frisbee golf course!!
I ended up heading out of town on the I 90 east up to Homestake and Delmoe Lake, where I found a fantastic campsite. I set myself up and lit a fire and waited for the stars to come out.
This was really a good spot. I was told that there are lots of places to camp along the road to the lake, and it is free!!
I spent the night listening to MPR and keeping the fire going, I was up around 6000 ft and I figured it might get cool but I was toasty all night.
I flashed up my netbook and scoured the maps for a good place to cross over from the CDT to Idaho and a taste of the Tour of Idaho route, then went to sleep thinking about the new day to come.