West Glacier, Lake McDonald and Glacier National Park
From Whitefish we started our journey to Glacier National Park. A part of the trip we’ve been anticipating for nearly a year now. Since we got that awful storm the week prior (remember, when it was raining for 244 hours straight and I lived in a groceery store?), we heard that the weather in Glacier had been pretty bad with avalanches wreaking havok and causing road closures, so we didn’t know what to expect.
The ride down the 486 to Blankenship road and the 2 was great. the 486 and Blankenship are scenic, and you’re only on US2 for about 2 miles before you hit West Glacier and enter West Glacier National Park.
Once you turn left off US 2 into West Glacier, you’re on the infamous Going-to-the-sun road and you’re basically in Glacier National Park. Once in Glacier National Park……. you’re basically in Disney Land. Which means there’s tourists everywhere and RVs and traffic and little kids eating Chicken in a Bisquit crackers and it’s kind of an Americian mess. (Unless you’re into that kind of thing.)
We knew going into West Glacier that Sherman Pass was closed and that we would not be able to ride down the Sun road and over the pass to continue our journey eastbounnd (bummer!) but we did want to explore the Sun road anyway just as an up and down daytrip since we’d heard so much about it. I am so glad we did!! Seriously. The scenery on both sides of the sun road from Avalanche campsite to the Loop is some of the best I’ve ever seen.
- The Sun road from Avalanche Campsite to Sherman Pass was closed to cars but open to bicycles and hikers (amazing!) This meant we could explore 16 miles of Going-To-The-Sun road without any fear of getting run over (!!) We could stop whenever we wanted to; we could use the whole lane; we could swerve all over looking at waterfalls without having to worry about Cruise America (or CanaDream) running us off the road. It was better than anything else I could have ever asked for.
- The weather was perfect. No rain; not a cloud in the sky.
- The elevation from Avalanche to the Loop is no big deal. We couldn’t ride from the Loop to Sherman Pass, so I don’t know what it’s like up there, but the Sun road up to the loop is not even comparable to a climb like Washington Pass. (We saw people riding the road with their families on cruiser bikes with four year olds and baby wagons. You can do it.)
- We camped on Lake McDonald at the Sprague Creek campsite ($10 per night for two people in hiker/biker camping!) and it was amazing. That lake looks like a postcard. If it’s not full, skip Apgar and camp at Sprague Creek for sure (and if it says it’s full… the hiker/biker spots probably aren’t full so check it out anyway).
Cut Bank, MT
As mentioned, due to a huge storm and lots of snow, we couldn’t get over Sherman Pass on the Sun road, which means to continue eastbound we had to go down the Sun road and all the way back out to West Glacier to get back on US2.
Good ol’ US2….. also known as Maria’s Alterate. Also known as the Highline. Also known as the longest, flattest road ever to run straight across Montana from West Glacier to infinity and beyond.
- Riding on US2 from West Glacier to Cut Bank is……… alright.
- After climbing Maria’s Pass we crossed the Continental Divide (!) which was exciting
- East Glacier is….. not West Glacier. There’s an Amtrak station there and a convenience store and one (beautiful!) view of a big snowey mountain, and then it’s done.
- The scenery turns real plains-ey real fast.
- Shortly after East Glacier US2 takes you into the Blackfeet Indian Reservation where not much changes scenery-wise.
- A big truck blew by and shot wet garbage juice all over us.
- Cut Bank was exciting for us because it was the end of Map 2 (out of 12) and on our way into town we rolled over 1,000 riding miles!!!!!! (We celebrated with a hotel room and a shower and some bathtub laundry.)
Shelby, Chester and Havre, MT
From Cut Bank we headed toward Shelby, MT and then on to Havre, MT. All on the US2…the road that never ends. On the bright side…. at least I don’t have to navigate anymore! Now we just turn left and keep going. It’s like playing roller derby (with less hitting).
- Arriving in Shelby was exciting because two of my best friends are named Shelby. (That was pretty much the most exciting part.)
- From Shelby we rode 45 miles in relentless non stop rain to Chester, MT. Seriously, it started raining before we left, there were supposed to be “scattered thunderstorms” throughout the day, and it never stoppd raining!
- In Shelby Dustin rolled my glasses up the tent (my fault not his) and I didn’t realize I wasn’t wearing them until we were about five miles into the ride, so that was…say……exciting not knowing whether my glasses were at the campsite or smashed inside the tent I have bungee-corded to the back of my bike. (Good thing I couldn’t see anything anyway because of the rain!)
- We played the name game (also known as “drink while you think”) for four hours. We played so long that we couldn’t think of any more S named and I was using shit like “Sonya from Mortal Kombat” and “Sylvester the cat.” Oh, and “Stonewall Steve Jackson” which was a rain-brain mashup of Stonewall Jackson and Stonecold Steve Austin that Dustin and I still find really, really funny. The game kept us moving and not dieing on the side of the highway.
- Since it was raining cats and bigger cats, the traffic wasn’t too bad. That’s a bonus!
- When we got to Chester we stayed in the MX Motel in a clown-car room where I had to shower with sandles and step around my panniers to pee. (But it wasn’t in the rain!! So that was awesome.)
- After Chester we pushed onward 60 miles to Havre — “the gem of the highline” — a “college town” with a population of 7,000-ish and a Walmart. I say “college town” in quotation marks because I haven’t seen a college yet (?). What I have seen are lots and lots of “Lucky Lils” Casinos and dark dive bars. Like… one every block. But! They have handmade pie here and an IGA with fresh produce and doughnuts so I’m not going to kick the little big city out of bed for eating crackers.
- I saw antelope on the side of the road between Chester and Havre!! (So cool!!!!!)
From Havre, MT we’ll turn left and continue down US 2 toward Chinook, MT and then onward through the rest of Eastern MT until we hit Glendive where we’re going to rent a UHaul to haul us across North Dakota and into Fargo (a manuever we’re taking for a couple reasons, but primarily so that I can make it to Michigan to see my best friend get married August 7th). More on all that as it transpires…..
I’m going to try to be better about updating this blog on a more regular basis so the posts don’t have to be so epic. Until then…. comment! I (we) love to hear from you. It makes us feel loved and it brings a little bit of home to whatever small town we happen to be in.