Miles: 81.9 Total Elevation Gain (ft): 1876.6. Weather: Rainy, Mostly Cloudy, Cool
Hillbilly Insults: 0
Roadkill: 0 Bugs Swallowed: 0
Mean Dogs Chasing: 0
Does a bear shit in the woods?
Racing down the valley between the ridge of the Swan Mountains to the East and the wind-torn cliffs of the Mission Mountains to the West, I pondered this age-old rhetorical question. This is prime Grizzly country and my solo venture was filled with irrational fear.
It didn't help when my friendly SAG hosts, Larry and Patty, pulled out the graphic below. The yellow streaks illustrate GPS bear movement all over State Highway 83--my route. This reminder was trumped by knowing the odds of being mauled are pretty remote, but I did pedal a bit faster as if it made a difference. Deer, which are always standing in the road around corners, gave me surging adrenaline rushes all day. I assumed anything with fur was a bear waiting to perform a vivisection on my flabby frame.
Yet, my level of fear was trivial compared to my rekindled faith in humanity. I think I'll always be a misanthrope but this trip is softening my rough edges. I was checking my map at a local grocer in some village when a congenial couple, Larry and Patty, invited me to stay the night in their log cabin. Condon, MT was about 25 miles away, so I'd pass through their town too early, but I did stop by after a late lunch to chat a while.
Patty and Larry are young retirees and spend time between Missoula and their cabin in the woods. If you know me, you can imagine the thrill I got when Larry showed off his old outhouse and his new electric toilet. You heard right, electric. A human cat box. Instead of flushing, press a button and presto! The offending matter is incinerated into ash. Sustainability freaks should campaign to get these in every household. Gaia's life giving water will be spared the sewer.
I put in a much longer day than I expected. I think the early morning showers jolted me upright. Thank heavens for waterproof socks. See the separate entry endorsing them against trench foot under "Gear," later.
Vacationers take note: While Glacier National Park is the H-Bomb of outdoor places to visit, the locals know that avoiding the interstate and taking Highway 83 from Missoula Northbound, is like having a 120 mile Road to the Sun without all the traffic, tour buses and pasty Europeans. It took me through
the Lolo, Flathead and Swan National Forests. The pictures say it all and they were shot haphazardly with an iPhone. I didn't make stops for the best lakes, streams and mountains. I was too busy outrunning Smoky and praying for a bear whisperer like that buffoon Grizzly Adams to appear. He didn't.
Tomorrow, I plan to deviate from the Adventure Cycling Route. I'm staying on the Grizzly Hwy 83 to Columbia Falls, rather than getting close to the interstate and the relatively pedestrian and suburban Kalispell, MT.