8/16/14 Big Pine Campground to Saltese

Day 13 Big Pine Campground to Saltese
8/16/14 Saturday 66 miles

A very varied day! We started in the Lolo Wilderness on dirt and gravel roads, made it back to the pavement, rode 30 miles west on i90 (both east AND west lanes) and finally made it to Saltese, 66 miles later! There was also some rain, milkshakes and near death by decapitation. Read on for all the details!

IMG_0419The daily routine of packing up is always better when not raining and I remembered to take a campsite photo. Great start to the day, yeah?!

IMG_0420The Champion Ponderosa Pine of Montana and a little Chilly Willy! Big, big, big, big tree!!!

IMG_0427The ride back up the hill wasn’t nearly as bad as we were worried yesterday as we cruised down it, enjoying the coasting. It actually seemed way shorter than we remembered. Here we are about to return to pavement and we are pumping our tires back up to the max inflation legally allowed by law. Or common sense. Or something.

IMG_0430And we’re back on i90 again, exit 66 to exit 61 at Tarkio. Compared to the Overseas Highway in the Keys, this feels super safe! Very wide shoulder.

IMG_0432The next 15 miles of frontage roads sometimes wandered away from the interstate and into wonderfully quiet fields and forest. This was great riding.

IMG_0433Really, really enjoyable riding! I am not sure if this before or after Superior, Montana; but the riding was certainly superior!

IMG_0435Eventually, the pavement turned to gravel and climbed and climbed and climbed enough to prompt us to study our maps and make sure we we on the right track. All seemed good.

IMG_0438 Then the largest climb so far actually crested high enough to bring us up into some rain and wind. The steep gravel descent turned into pavement near the bottom of the hill and we coasted into St. Regis and to a 1950’s style diner with burgers and milkshakes. mmm…..huckleberry milkshakes!

We debated to stay in town  at an expensive private campground (41 miles for the day so far) or to pound out another 25 miles on i90 to Saltese. We finally decided to go for it and walked outside to our bikes. As we started pedaling, the sky started sprinkling. But it soon dried up again.

IMG_0441As the lanes were shifted and the left lane closed, it became very dangerous to be in the right lane. As we approached one bridge crossing with a minimal shoulder, a wide load passed us with a concrete slab overhanging the full shoulder and over the guardrail. Scary. If we had been a minute faster….Fuckshitdamn! Soon we had to switch riding to the left shoulder as it was far, far safer and more removed from traffic and any danger.

IMG_0444Soon we were on the empty and recently paved eastbound lanes and riding west, while cars and trucks were sharing the other set of lanes.This was really nice after the stressful riding earlier with little wiggleroom and very close passing.

IMG_0445Is the Nursery itself historic? Or is this the regular nursery of a Historic Tree? We wondered something to that effect for many miles of these signs.

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This was long awaited as well.

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Home sweet home for the night! Very lucky we even found this place.

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What a day!

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8/17/14 Saltese to near Borax Tunnel

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