|The storm was in this cloud|
I'd been on the road for less than half an hour this morning when I heard thunder behind me. Minutes later a brief shower of hail descended on me out of a clear blue sky.
I cycled past the Big Hole National Battlefield (1877) but didn't go in as I was two hours ahead of opening time.
The climb from Wisdom to the major pass of the day was 41 km. The first 36 km were very gentle and it was a lovely quiet ride through forested country. The final 5 km were steeper.
Three hours after starting the climb, I reached Chief Joseph Pass (elevation 2,207 m). This was my ninth crossing of the continental divide and I think is my last on this trip. It leaves me on the Pacific side of the watershed, which is where I want to be.
|Sally and Patsy, eastbound|
I had barely started my descent when I saw two women on recumbent bikes coming up the hill towards me. They were Patsy and Sally. I knew about them from Andy's blog and had been looking out for them. They were pleased to have made it up the 11 km ascent without having to walk. (Going uphill is harder on a recumbent than an upright bike.) They are riding the TransAm Trail in annual segments of two weeks. They finish for this year today when they reach Wisdom.
The descent for me on the side they had come up was fantastic. This must surely be the longest and most enjoyable downhill of the whole trip. I had to concentrate, however, as the shoulder was strewn with fist-sized stones that had fallen from the cliff face on my right.
|Amy and Hans from The Netherlands|
At the foot of the hill, I met Dutch cyclists Hans and Amy about to start up it. They are riding from Jasper, AB to Yellowstone. They had some wet weather in Canada.
By this time I was ready for second breakfast and hurried on to Sula where the cafe in the country store has a well-deserved reputation as a good place to stop. I spoke briefly there to cyclist George, on his way to Illinois.
|East Fork of the Bitterroot River|
On this side of the pass I was in another of these scenic valleys, with the long range of the Bitterroot Mountains to my left and the Bitterroot River meandering from side to side of the road I was on.
Trapper Peak (elevation 3,095 m) is the highest mountain in the Bitterroot Range.
Further on I met Jeremy, riding the TransAm west to east as far as the vicinity of Richmond, VA where he will turn north towards Cape Cod. He had a remarkably light load on his bike, although he is carrying a tent, sleeping bag, and cook stove. I envied him for still having ahead of him the great cycling I have enjoyed over the past two months.
I reached Hamilton after a ride of 119 km with a comparatively short and easy day in prospect for tomorrow as I head for Missoula, headquarters of Adventure Cycling.