Route: Lost Trail Pass to Hamilton, MT
Saya’s (age 6) quote of the day: “I want to be a singer and a cowgirl and an animal rescuer. I want to take ducks stuck in oil, clean them off, and set them free.”
I woke up around 6 a.m. and quietly left Sho and Saya sleeping in the tent to hike around Lost Trail Pass. The top of the snowless black diamond ski slope above our campsite was already glowing orange from the rising sun. I wanted to lose myself in the mountain scene, but revving engines from a nearby logging operation marred the ancient sounds I hoped to enjoy. Still, I relished the chance to walk around the mountain pass alone, finding a sense of calm in the solitude.
When I returned to the rest stop where we had set up the tent, I came across a man standing beside his motorcycle staring at a flat tire. He had spent the night in a sleeping bag not far from our tent. Pointing at his tire, he said, “I woke up to find this. I have an air compressor, but I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t have an extra tube or patch kit.”
“This is your lucky day,” I said. “I’m well acquainted with flat tires and would be happy to help.” After he removed the tube, I used my bike pump to inflate it just enough to find the hole. The small patches I typically use were too flimsy for a motorcycle tube, but I had a heavy duty patch kit in my tool bag that did the trick. It’s a major operation to remove a motorcycle tire, and the entire process took him about 2 hours. In that time, I ate breakfast with Sho, Saya and a few fat chipmunks, disassembled the tent and loaded the panniers on our bikes. We left the mountaintop at the same time.
Today’s 48-mile ride down the mountain and across the Bitterroot Valley took us about the same number of hours as yesterday’s 14-mile ride to the mountain pass. And it was much less exhausting, although we did pause several times on the descent to rest our straining forearms and numb hands from squeezing the brakes. Towering mountains surrounded us, the most impressive of which stood in the distance off to our left. Trapper Peak, which stands over 10,000 feet above sea level, is the highest peak of any in the 200-mile long Bitterroot Mountain range, and cuts a majestic figure against the skyline. I fantasized that someday I might climb to the top of that beast…
I mentioned two days ago that I hoped never to use the words “flat tire” again in this blog. Let me just say that I replaced the old tire on the trailer cycle after another blowout. I’ve become so practiced at messing around with tubes and tires that I hardly blinked when I heard the gun shot ring out and saw the shredded tread. I put on the other spare tire I had acquired from the kid’s bike in Gibbonsville, replaced the tube, and we were on our way in less than 5 minutes. It’s no big deal, as long as you have the right equipment.
We ate lunch in Sula, Montana, site of Ross’s Hole, where Lewis & Clark were the first white people to meet the Salish Indians in September 1805. Clark noted in his journal, “Those people recved us friendly.” Sounds like the experience Sho, Saya and I have had repeatedly on this trip.
Here are some pics:
Sunrise at Lost Trail Pass
With Ernie, after he fixed the flat on his motorcycle
View during the ride
Another one bites the dust