Canada/USA: Elkford to Whitefish

What a ride it’s been. In Elkford we ran into Katherine, a hard-core American lass travelling solo and sleeping under a tarp, who told us she has a more up-to-date map than us with a more interesting route – along the Flathead Valley instead of down the highway. The next day we rode on to Sparwood, intending to shoot through to Fernie to meet our friends but we got a phone message that that wasn’t going to work out….. so we waited for Katherine to catch up, and joined her on her alternative route instead! Good for us, as she had the map and is fabulous company; good for her as she was glad of company along what is know as the “Grizzly bear highway”.

What followed was 4 days of fabulous riding, with solid rain for the first, then dazzling sunshine the rest of the way. Three big passes to go up and over. Stunning wild campsites with mountain scenery, alpine flowers and fresh water. Cold dips to clean off at the day’s end.

Creek crossing - disaster about to happen... (photo K.Cook)

And what about the bears? you ask. Yep we saw one: just a cub….. hmmmm, where oh where is yr Ma little fella? We waited 3 abreast with bear spray in hand, but no sign of her. Also I must note, that the ideal of a “bear hang” (hanging a bag of food from solitary tree branch from solitary tree) is rarely achievable. Never mind; we and our food remain intact.

The toughest bit of riding was some single track on Monday morning….. rough, muddy, rooty and STEEP….. it took most of the morning and bucket loads of energy to do the first 2km of our day’s ride! The 600m extremely steep bit required pushing bikes and gear up separately.

Katherine and "Lolita" (photo S.Hedges)
Brute force, and much, much ignorance. (photo K.Cook)

We crossed the US border uneventfully (except that Sarah had to be fingerprinted 3 times cos the machine couldn’t deal with her greasy biker’s hands! – bit of a shock being fingerprinted in the first place) and rolled into Eureka on Monday. Tuesday we had a “rest day”, which actually means racing around like headless chooks all day doing washing, shopping, internet and bike maintenance. There were 6 bikers all camped in the town park Monday night and we all went out for a bite together.

The possie coming down from Whitefish Divide with Glacier NP ahead.

We’ve travelled from Eureka to Whitefish in 2 and a bit days, and keep crossing paths with Katherine and Phil & Mary, another couple we met in Eureka. We all needed some bike maintenance done here today, and are planning to camp together again tonight….. so it’s time we got outta this library and hit the road!

(Blog text. S.Hedges)


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