Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 49: Wisdom, MT to Stevensville, MT (94 Miles)

Last night was a pretty low-key affair. I got some dinner at Diane's restaurant, played with some local dogs and went back to the cabin to pop in a VHS tape. After some debate, I finally decided on the 1983 film entitled "The Big Chill." What? A movie with Jeff Goldblum AND William Hurt? Sold! All in all, it was a solid film that portrayed a pretty realistic depiction of friends and it made me long for the days of hanging out with the old "gang." It's a shame that distance and time can seperate people like Alex Limage, Jonathan Youngman, and Greg Lanham from my life. I love these guys and it pains me to think that I'll only be able to spend short vacations with them. Oh well, it can only make me appreciate those in my currently in my life all the more greater.

I got on the road around 7:30AM, but had to swing by the restaurant to drop off the keys to Diane. She persuaded me to eat, like any good mother would do... mainly because there wasn't any other stops for the next 40 miles or so. After quickly eating a breakfast sandwich, I said goodbye to Wisdom and hello to Chief Joseph Pass, the last time (I think) I will pass over the Continental Divide. The pass was at 7,241 feet, but had a nice 3,000 foot descent into a valley. The climb up to the pass was gradual enough to convince me to muscle up the entire way. I reached the top without a need for a break and quickly rode down to the other side. The descent had a quick stop and turn onto Highway 93. As I was turning right, I did a double-look and noticed a "Welcome to Idaho" sign about 50 yards off to the left. I hadn't realized that today's trip would bring me so close to the border. Not feeling like backtracking, I'll save my crossing over into Idaho for tomorrow...

The ride down to Sula was thrilling and semi-dangerous. There were several switchbacks, with fallen rocks on the shoulders and I'd have to decrease speed drastically to avoid them. On my way down, I saw a mother mountain lion and her two cubs running across the road and quickly disappearing behind a guardrail. Sadly, I was too mezmerized and had too much momentum to stop and get my camera out... which is a common theme. These photographs are only poorly timed glimpses of the beauty that surrounds me. They fail at portraying the sense of scale and majesty of mountains, valleys, and forests. They capture smiles, but not the voice or soul of that person. It's quite the fool's errand to fully illustrate this experience via photographic evidence, so I hope that my words can somehow help fill this gap.

I spent the majority of the afternoon riding at high speeds, in spite of a slight headwind. I felt energized enough to challenge myself and push my muscles to their quasi-maximum potential. I also only stopped in a few towns for a chocolate milk and snack. Before I knew it, I was already close to my final destination at 3:00PM. I had made good time. But then it hit me, I had completely forgotten a good portion of the last three hours. I had been focusing so much on pushing myself, that I had forgotten to stop and appreciate the beautiful Bitterroot Valley I had ridden through. It's strange how single-track a mind can be...

I arrived into Stevensville at 3:30 and was told to check out the Stevensville Historic Hotel. A local lady with a tie-dye shirt said they had special deals for cyclists and that sounded mighty-fine to me. I found the restored building and walked into the lobby. By the look of things, I instantly thought this place was above my pay grade. Fortunately, it wasn't... I got a room, with a huge bed, and an amazing bath tub with jacuzzi jets! I think I'm gonna soak in this thing for a long time and relax in the bathrobe they supplied (I've never worn a bathrobe before... it's like a comfortable hospital gound, but I have to remember the opening is in the front this time!)


may said...

Enjoy your bathrobe! Do they provide hospital socks too? ;)

I'm so jealous you saw a mountain lion! Oh my goodness.

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