Riding the Great Divide Trail. Day 2.

Riding the Great Divide Trail. Day 2. Bigfork to Cedar Creek.

Jamie had told me the second day on the Great Divide mountain bike trail would be more difficult.

We started at 7:15, and after an hour on paved roads we went off-road and started a six-mile climb to the ridge separating the Flathead and Swan Lakes.

It was my first long climb, up a sandy road through trees with occasional  clearings. I tried to maintain a steady cadence, using my gears. I was pleased I didn’t have to stop and lean over the bars with my lungs heaving.

I took a drink every half hour or so from my hydration pack. But it was hard.

After the long free-wheeling descent we came  down into some winding forest trails and round about 1:00pm we took a break for lunch. Jamie had said we should get  out sleeping mats and rest when we were  maybe two-thirds through each day’s ride.

Then we could slow down for the last third when it would still be very hot.

On this day the tall western larches with their clear straight trunks and bright green tops began to appear among the darker pines, and there were streams where we could get fresh water. Jamie uses a Steripen water purification device, which kills germs and bacteria with ultra-violet radiation.

The campground was just a dry meadow beside the Swan River. The mosquitoes were bad in the campground where Jamie cooked pasta with a spicy sauce on the Whisperlite stove. “Our carbo load”, he said.

This was our second night in Jamie’s Big Agnes lightweight tent that he bought at REI in Portland.

We were all alone at the campground, which, as I said, was just a clearing by a river off a gravel road. I woke in the night. The forest was mostly still, but once in a while there was a crashing in the middle distance that could have been a large animal or maybe just a tree falling.

I thought, a grizzly could wrap our gossamer-light tent round its paw in one casual probe.

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