63.79 Miles / 658.26 Total Miles
2254 Ft. of Elevation Gain / 34,316 Ft. Total Elevation Gain
We woke up an hour earlier, today, so we could attempt to avoid the heat that was forecasted for the afternoon, and it worked–mostly. I forgot to snap a photo of our campsite, so you get photos of our campsite AFTER my tent was packed away. See that nice dry footprint? It rained a lot, last night, and my tent fly was so wet, it probably weighed over 2 lbs after I squeezed as much water out as I could, but everything under it was perfectly dry. We had no access to the bathroom facilities, but thankfully, there was an outhouse (never thought I’d be thankful for an outhouse). Oh, and it was really foggy.
We must have entered Kootenai River Country through a back entrance, because we never encountered a cool welcome sign with a gigantic fishing lure until leaving it today. It reminded me of the fishing magazines my dad used to read and the hours he spent practicing making lures that, for the most part, never landed a fish. He never quit trying, though.
We had no navigation cues, on account of yesterday’s malfunction, but the route was pretty simple. Follow US Hwy 2 to Kalispell, then take US Hwy 93 north to Whitefish. Both roads had way too many large and super fast vehicles on them, and at times, we had no shoulder. On top of that, a good part of the day was spent climbing big hills, which seemed a little easier with rested legs. We did catch a few quiet traffic moments, now and again, and the scenery continued to be breathtaking.
I”m not sure how productive this waterfowl production area is. And how do you ‘produce’ a water fowl anyhow? We cycled beside it for miles and miles, and I never saw a single bird the entire time.
When we came to this retired feed store horse, Ed told me he’d take my picture if I got on it. He didn’t think I’d do it, and I didn’t realise he was talking about time-lapse photography. Fortunately, the wimpy little hitching post didn’t break and the horse didn’t fall over or break, so I could live to see another day. If any of you know where I could find my own personal retired feed store horse, let one know. I would love to have one in my new back yard. I’m not thinking the HOA would approve it for the front.
Up the road a little ways further, we started to see a lot of fresh black circular tire marks–a sure sign that a road crew was at work. Pilot vehicles were leading cars in both directions, and now, we didn’t even have a shoulder to ride on. We feared another chip sealing project, but lucked out. It was just a small pavement repair. We tucked behind one stream of pilot vehicle cars and made it though the construction zone before another stream came from either direction.
As we approached Kalispell, the volume and intensity of the traffic was increasing. Ed was riding ahead of me and found a section of guard rail to lean his bike against so he could take a break from the traffic and hills. When I pulled up, I thought he was waiting for me, so we could discuss whether to keep riding with the trucks and traffic or take the bike route, per the sign at the turnoff. No, he had been so focused on the guard rail that he missed the sign. We checked our cell phones to see if we could find any info on the bike route, because it could be a gravel road for mountain bikes, and that would not be our favourite road surface. And we needed to know where it ended. Between the phone and a man we flagged down, we determined it was the Great Northern Historic Trail, a paved Rails-to-Trail ending in Kalispell. Easy decision: We jumped on the bike route, and were glad to be off the road for a while. We crossed back over to the road for a short section that had a lot of cracks, then hopped back on when the pavement cleared up, and in no time at all, we were in Kalispell.
After lunch, we had just 10 miles to go to get to Whitefish and our hotel, the Stumptown Inn. On overly full and rumbling stomachs, we started a big ascent on the hill heading out of Kalispell, and that is when someone turned on the heater, because I was burning up. Oh, and now, for the first time since leaving Bellingham, we were riding on a divided 4-lane highway, with crazy, high speed traffic all around us. The road was insane till we arrived Whitefish, where it turned back into a 2-lane road, and we were moving faster than the backed up tourist traffic.
The routine at hotels and motels is that the bikes go in the rooms with all the gear. After setting my tent up to dry outside, I showered and took a long nap, then we walked downtown to check out the shops and find some dinner. It was early to bed, tonight, because these bones were tired. Tomorrow is our much deserved first rest day, after 10 days of challenging cycling.