After a restaurant breakfast (Roger got the biggest pancakes ever: 10") we headed down the road. John and Roger had gotten to the first turn off, but I asked if they had peeked down the road a little further, because the road located at the correct mileage mark looked like a driveway. Even several miles down that road I was still in disbelief; the road looked brand-new and was incredibly soft with humis.
Jamie had told someone where we were going and the woman had told her you had to be crazy to go over Stemple Pass on a bike, but looking at the map later, we noted that the route directions indicated that you should go up Stemple Pass if you wanted an EASIER route.
Beetle infestations have caused massive tracts of forest for die and the road we took led through a large clear cut of those trees.
The softness of the road and its grade made me get off and push 5x over a 4.4 mile stretch. Above us at the divide crossing was a fire tower and we saw someone in a car with a mountain bike on a rack going up.
A little ways down was a spring, which was being forced by gravity into a pipe and out into a huge fiberglass bathtub.
A small amount of excess water ran across the road; I started sliding sideways and downhill. When the bike stopped suddenly, I was catapulted over the handlebars, but I got my feet under me and gave myself a perfect ten for style and landing. I must have been sleepy or inattentive, because that was one of the several small incidents over the day. 1/5 of the way down a long downhill I realized my front suspension fork was still locked for climbing and later still I hit a large pothole dead-on and thought my rear wheel had come off. What had actually happened was that the pannier's bottom hook had popped out, the pannier had swung out and then slammed back into the rear rack on its return flight.
I have developed a new theme song for my descents; I am the MOST conservative downhiller. It is the Ride of the Valkyries sung in chicken clucks. I will try to post a video.
We rode down through some arid grasslands against a moderate headwind, then headed off the pavement again to wild camp. The property along the road is mostly private, but Jamie and I found a section were you could access the creek to skinny dip, wash our clothes and purify water.
While pitching our tents and making dinner a truck drove up and a man and a woman stopped to talk. They spoke a lot about the real joys of living in Montana, the wildlife, and their excursions.
Jamie only made about 8 attempts to get the bear hang rope up and then proceeded to raise my bag hoist by another 4 feet or so. That is one of the nicest hangs I have participated in and was an exemplar in my book: 10 ft up and 3 ft from the trunk.
Start odometer 830