It was an easy roll up and down paved Scenic Pioneer Highway so we decided to call this our “rest” day even though we are still riding. Both of us feel good! Legs, lungs and hearts are full and feeling strong.
Before we fell asleep last night in the tent (sans fly) we noticed ashes falling on our tent from the nearby Wise River forest fire. We quickly put the fly on – good thing we did as we got rain overnight (and no holes). While packing up quickly Tom asked me if it was Friday today and my reply? “Yes honey. Yesterday was Thursday our normally scheduled date night and you took me down the Fleecer Ridge death march.” 😂
We heard a tremendous amount of racket up the way – didn’t know if they were slaughtering cows or tickling them. However the closer we got, we saw cowboys moving a herd of about 75 cows to a new pasture – 12 miles down the road. What was most intriguing to me what that the 10-12 herding dogs knew exactly what to do. Good puppers!
Since it was our “day off” with lots of pavement and mostly flatish roads we decided to be tourists today and stopped by Bannack State Park. The Park features a historic village and we missed the festival by just one day. But… it was worth a stop to hang around for the afternoon and tour the village.
On to Grant, MT to the Stage Stop Saloon, Cafe and Hotel. The saloon is over 150 years old and originally rolled down the road to its current location. It could not have come at a better time. After leaving Bannack we were chased by storms late afternoon and a nice tail wind pushed us all the way into Grant.
Tomorrow we return to gravel and more climbing over Medicine Lodge Pass. 🚵🚵🏻♀️
The day started not with my phone alarm but the from the coyote’s yipping and the cows mooing around our tent. We packed up as usual and started our day with a few unexpected steep climbs but then a wonderful descent down the mountain we climbed last night.
We knew all about the huge challenge ahead of us with the 10 mile climb up Fleecer Ridge, and the bigger challenge of descending the other side. This part of our map offers an alternate route to bypass Fleecer, but that is not the way we roll.
The climb was not too bad for the first 9 miles. We also got to see Butch on his ATV twice during our climb. He is local to Butte and comes RV’ing with his family. He was out for a 17 mile drive this morning in the mountains. He warned us what was at the top of Fleecer, and said don’t even try to ride down the other side, it was at least a 30% grade down and totally washed out. So we made it to the top after a “hike a bike” up the chunky, too steep last .25 mile. Time for the fun (not). With both hands on the brakes, we started the descent. It reminded me of wrestling a steer down a mountainside. I was never so happy to get to the bottom. The rest of the decent in Wise River was much deserved.
As we roll over the actual Wise River, we stopped to chat with a fly fisherman who told us about the forest fire 6 miles away. The town was on alert for possible evacuation. It was definitely a smokey day for us but extra smokey in Wise River.
We stopped at H & J Saloon for pizza (Butch’s recommendation and finally connected to WiFi to open up our forest fire app (thanks Dan). We were going 13 more miles south which seemed safe from the fires.
Prayers go out those up on the mountain fighting this fire to keep it out of town. 13 miles later we found our campground named 4th of July Campground. (Since we started our ride July 4). We found the perfect camp spot along Wise River, a perfect place to take a dip and get cleaned up from a very trying day 😁👍