As I can’t cycle off road until my broken thumb fully mends we have done a side transfer west to Missoula, home on the Adventure Cycling Association, to pick up some maps of their trans-America route and the Great Parks South route which run almost parallel to the Great Divide route for a while.
We said farewell to Bob in Helena, Montana, he went to a good home! And I celebrated having the full weight back on my bike by spending a happy afternoon climbing 4000 ft up Chief Joseph Pass and across the Great Divide! Finally, made it to the top of the pass and crossed the Continental Divide
We left Missoula in the first rain we had cycled in since the day after we started
We tried a little bit of easy gravel road to see how I would get on. It was nice to get away from the cars
We have passed a lot of old cars rotting in the fields. Judging by the bullet holes this one must have been used by Bonnie and Clyde
While it had been raining on us in the valley it was snowing on the surrounding mountains
The terrain in Montana is very different now, with wide open dry valleys surrounded by high mountains. This area had been named Big Hole by French trappers.
You can see the storm clouds building for another thunder storm over our camp
Followed by a lovely sunset, and a good view from our tent
It got really cold overnight, when we woke in the morning our water bottles were frozen. I know my sleeping bag is togged down to -10 but I am more of a +20 person.
We have seen a lot of wild life, plenty of eagles
A herd of Elk
Prong horn antelope
Blue birds, I hadn’t realised that these were real!
And this little baby elk who was just wandering round the campsite.
It is now the start of the hunting season, and we found this grizzly scene next to our tent. Time to wear our high viz jackets I think
Guns now seem to be everywhere. Several other campers have showed us their guns and say they would never travel without one. I would feel much happier if they did!
Gallons of water are sprayed onto the fields to grow enough grass for the cattle, while the rivers and reservoirs are nearly empty
Without irrigation the terrain looks like this
As soon as we climbed the pass to leave the Big Hole plateau the weather became really hot, and there was no shade
Montana is called Big Sky Country and you can see why
We cycled through an old gold rush area with towns with mis-leading names such as Virginia City, which now have only 100 residents. This machine turned the valley literally inside out sifting for gold until the whole area looked like the picture below
Spoil heaps left from the gold rush