Sunday, June 9, 2013

Missoula, MT

Day 22: Sunday, June 9, 2013
Lochsa Lodge to Missoula: 63 miles

Dennis, Becky, and I were up early, had a light breakfast, and were on our way. They set a good pace, and I didn't see them again until Missoula.

Soon after leaving Lochsa Lodge, the climb to Lolo Pass began. Once again, it wasn't as bad as I remembered it, although the road surface was far from pleasant. After all, this was Idaho. And I was feeling a bit of pressure in my chest. Maybe it was just the altitude.

The ranger station at the top of the pass was a welcome sight. I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate while using their wi-fi to check email. Outside, I noticed a couple of strangely loaded bikes, but could find no sign of the cyclists themselves.

strangely loaded bikes
Two strangely loaded bikes at the ranger station

You can tell where the Montana state line is: the road surface immediately improved. That, and a bit of a tailwind, made the cruise down to Lolo quite enjoyable. It really beat our 1981 experience, where Rick had to wrap himself in a space blanket part-way down!

As was the case when crossing the Cascade Range, the flora seemed different on the eastern side of Lolo Pass. Many of the trees seemed taller and scragglier, and there were large numbers of dead trees still standing. But this lasted for only a few miles. Could it have been a local beetle infestation that killed those trees off?

dead trees
Many dead trees stood among the living.

moose crossing
Are moose really that precise?

In Lolo, at the end of the downhill run, I met the cyclists whose bikes I had noticed at the ranger station. They were Irish, aged 20 and 21, and were trying to get across as fast as they could so that they could spend time in Chicago and New York.

The TransAmerica trail turns south at Lolo, toward Yellowstone Park. As in 1981, I took the optional side trip north to Missoula - I wanted to stop by the Adventure Cycling offices. Of course, this was Sunday and they were closed, but I could catch them in the morning,

You'd think there'd be a hostel here, but they all closed. So it was off to a motel. That's okay - I needed a shower.

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