Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 38, 6/15/10 - Essex to East Glacier, MT

Just the Basics: Today we went over the 1000 mile mark and crossed the Continental Divide - about 1 1/2 miles later we observed a stream running downhill to the east! In a way, that's all we need to say about today - but of course there's more!

We biked about 31 miles today and climbed about 1700 feet. It was pretty much a slow steady climb from Essex to Marias Pass - actually, the steepest hills were early in the ride and we continued to have some hills after the pass.

There was a 50-60% chance of rain today and the sky looked threatening much of the afternoon. Moreover, there was a stiff, cold headwind most of the way down from the pass - but it never rained. However, when we arrived in East Glacier, they had had a hailstorm! If we look out the window of our motel we can still see little snow-like heaps of hail under the drainspouts of the cabins across the way!

Today's Pictures: (1) The Pass! (2) A view along the road - we saw stuff like this the entire day.

Tomorrow: There is a 100% chance of rain - about 1 3/4 inch, with headwinds of something like 14 mph and gusts of 30 or so. YIKES!! Depending on what we find in the a.m. we may just stay here or we may go 13 miles to the next town (Browning) and then lie low. It is 46 miles to Cutbank, which is where we hoped to go tomorrow, with a climb of about 530 feet, but it sounds like that's not in the cards. Stay tuned.

For Those Who Want More:
Mountain Goats! Not far from Essex there's a mountain goat viewing area - Goat Lick. In the spring they come down from the hills to lick a certain type of rock to get minerals they need. There's a parking lot and a great viewing area and we stopped there and saw at least 3 different goats roaming about and licking the rocks. We felt really privileged to have arrived at the right time of year to see these amazing creatures. In the past, the traffic was a big hazard, but now there is a wildlife crossing under the road for them and they are much safer.

New Friends: Last night at the Izak Walton we met Martin and Mary Jean Paup, a lovely couple who are on a train trip from Seattle to East Glacier and then back. We enjoyed their company and tonight we ran into them again in the East Glacier Lodge dining room and had a great post-dinner conversation about travel and hiking and books, and homelessness and many other topics. Meeting interesting people is one of the great pleasures of this trip.

Dinner: We are not staying at the Lodge - we're down the road at the much more modest but charming Sears Motel. However, we wanted to celebrate crossing the Continental Divide and reaching the 1000 mile mark, so we went to the Lodge for dinner. We had wonderful Rocky Mountain trout - very simply prepared and served with Asian pickled ginger - delicious! - and a rice pilaf and asparagus. We had martinis before dinner, and wine with dinner, and shared huckleberry bread pudding for dessert. A great celebratory dinner. (We also had a great picnic lunch at the Pass, but were driven out by mosquitoes.)

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