Day 46 – Wisdom, MT to Hamilton, MT

This morning was so chilly that we decided (without any discussion) to sleep in after the alarm. So we left at 9:00, well after all the other bikers who stayed in Dillon. 

There was a forest fire not that far away yesterday, so although we were in no danger, we saw the mountains in the distance to the west through a haze of smoke and ash. We talked to people yesterday and this morning to learn what we needed to know about the fire in relationship to our route, so we knew that the highway was open to traffic this morning. 

We passed the couple we’d met last night as they were taking a snack break. (We found out later that we had witnessed their only snack break of the day! How did they stay sane all day?) These two were on a tandem recumbent bike, which they say is amazing on the flats, extremely challenging on the ups, and a bit sketchy on the downs. But they are comfortable in their seats. To recap – they’re comfortable in their saddles. All day. Comfortable. 

Our sense of competition kicked in, and we really enjoyed cranking up the Chief Joseph pass. And we were met at the top by a sign announcing the Continental Divide! 

On our way down the other side of the mountain, we saw signs for Idaho – we’d spent a few minutes in a new state without even realizing it. 

We also came across what we believe to be bighorn sheep! None of them had the distinct big horns, but there may just have been females and babies there.

We welcome any input on identification!

The descent lasted all the way into the town of Sula, where we said hi to the other 5 bikers from yesterday, then continued on to the next town. By the time we got there, it was getting quite hot out, so we retreated to the shady banks and depths of a river for lunch. We spent a couple hours there, then biked in the direction of Missoula. The smoke got closer and closer, until we had an amazing view of the valleys from which the smoke was pouring out. The sun had also begun to sink lower in the sky, which caused the clouds to light up.

As it sank lower, the sun moved behind some of the smoke, and turned a brilliant shade of red. It was definitely an awe-inspiring sight, both for its beauty and its destructive power. And Aidan’s photos are magnificent. 

Just as we neared Hamilton, we found good fortune to be with us yet again. We stopped to talk with two people and their granddaughter who had noticed us from the stop sign, and they ended up inviting us to spend the night at their house a few miles down the road! A couple of genuinely kind and interesting people, who might one day do a bike trip of their own! Thank you, Joe and Denise!

10 thoughts on “Day 46 – Wisdom, MT to Hamilton, MT

  1. Wendy Bratt August 2, 2016 / 2:43 pm

    Your photos are breathtaking ~ The sun on fire is a winner! Is it possible the animals that aren’t big horn sheep are female caribou (without horns)? Is there a prize for the first to correctly identify?!


  2. Tom Powell August 2, 2016 / 2:47 pm

    Amazing photos and great description of the fire. I’d be interested to hear if the locals consider this a “normal” event, given global warming and the drying of the west. It looks awe inspiring to me.


  3. blandine August 2, 2016 / 3:17 pm

    Aidan you are a amazing photographer and Clara is a super model! You make us a part of your incredible trip. Bravo and thank you. Keep snacking your way to the coast, drink your electrolytes and you will be forging ahead of everybody. You are Champions!
    And they ARE female (ewe) Bighorn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis). Also, fire is a natural “expression” of nature, that we (as human race) have suppressed too much because of our encroachment in places where nature wants to take its course. The fire opens up the forest floor for other trees and plants to grow and to natural cycles to start anew.
    Pedal West Road Warriors, all the way with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. James Fecteau August 2, 2016 / 3:20 pm

    From a blacksmith friend:
    Goat mountain is hot. We were going to hike there this afternoon because it’s a shady hike. Fire season starts here the end of July.
    He has pictures of the actual flames. He has never seen that before.
    I’m guessing Elk.
    Happy travels!!!


  5. Al August 2, 2016 / 4:09 pm

    Wow, really cool photos! I hope Lolo Pass into Idaho is open and not blocked by a forest fire. Maybe you’ll check out the hot springs near the top? Missoula must feel like a metropolis compared to all the small towns you’ve ridden through. Happy trails!


  6. Dino Furlan August 2, 2016 / 4:29 pm

    Hi Clara and Aidan, this is Dino, Mary and I hosted you on your last night in Canada. I wanted to thank you for introducing us to warmshowers, we had another cross country cyclist spend the night with us last night. He was very interested in your blog as his route will follow much the same path as yours did. I look forward to reading your blog everyday, and I hope you continue to find warm hospitality the rest of your trip. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Meg Berlin August 2, 2016 / 8:30 pm

    I remember Hamilton MT being nice little town with great views to the west of the Salmon River. Gosh, you’re almost in Missoula!! Cool pics, Aidan! By the way, those are big horn sheep – probably females /ewes and their young. You guys amaze me everyday!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Andrea Kerin August 2, 2016 / 10:06 pm

    I love that you “enjoyed cranking up” an over 7200 foot Pass.
    I do believe your perception of challenges has changed.
    To keep you going for at least a few miles a box is on its way to Walla Walla. Should be there by Friday. Protein packed GF and dairy free cookies. If they’re crumbled, consider it granola.
    All the best to you


  9. Nancy Vanderlin August 2, 2016 / 10:20 pm

    If any of your friendly hosts ever ride through PA, they are welcome to stop over in Williamsport for showers, shelter and a hot meal!


  10. Laura/Mom August 3, 2016 / 12:13 pm

    Is that frost on your tent??

    Aidan’s photos are incredible. I can’t believe you were biking along a road that had recently been closed for the forest fire! It’s amazing how different the various parts of the country are as you cross. Thank you for the reassuring info about how there’s this huge forest fire but you’re safe! 🙂

    Happy trails!
    xoxo Love, Mom/Laura

    P.S. During our bike ride yesterday, Julian and I kept laughing about your little recap. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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