Route: Three Forks to Whitehall, MT
Saya’s quote of the day came when we were spelunking in the Lewis & Clark Caverns: “Don’t fall down that big hole, Daddy. If you die, Sho and me will have to ask strangers for directions the rest of this trip.”
After cycling for two days on an annoyingly busy highway, we were rewarded today with a gorgeous ride through towering canyons along the Jefferson River. When Lewis & Clark were in this area, they were in a desperate search for the Shoshone Indians, who they hoped would provide horses and guide them over the Rocky Mountains. Lewis & Clark did not realize how difficult it would be to cross the continental divide, but Sho, Saya and I do! In a few days, we will ride over Lehmi Pass, the first of several mountain passes we will cross on our way to the Pacific Ocean.
We took a break halfway through our ride to explore the Lewis & Clark Caverns, joining a 2-hour guided tour through the fascinating caves. The entrance was 3 miles off the highway, up a series of steep switchbacks. Recognizing that we didn’t have time to cycle up that climb and take the tour, and hoping to avoid such an exhausting ride, we hitched a ride with a friendly family from northern California (see pic). We shared the tour with them and appreciated how lucky we were to meet such generous people.
Lewis & Clark, by the way, never visited these caves. They were wandering around far below in the Jefferson River Canyon in search of the Shoshone tribe, and not faring well. On July 31, 1805, Meriwether Lewis (who wasn’t the greatest of spellers) wrote, “We have a lame crew just now, two with tumers or bad boils on various parts of them, one with a bad stone bruise, one with his arm accedently dislocated but fortunately well replaced, and a fifth has streigned his back by sliping and falling backwards on the gunwall of the canoe.” Sho, Saya and I read the L&C Journals each night, and entries like this one make our sore butts much easier to accept.
Here are some pics:
Sho and Saya by the Jefferson River
We heard the eagle's echoing call, then watched it soar
The friendly family who gave us a ride to the L&C Caverns
Not far from where Saya uttered her quote of the day
Action shot during the ride
Leaving the Jefferson River Canyon