Day 12 – Friday, June 25th

Big Arm State Park, Montana, to Columbia Falls, Montana

I am more of a morning person than Malcolm, and while he slept, I 'answered the call of nature', trekking to the restroom early in the morning. When I got back, I saw a 'squadron' of Canada Geese, patrolling the shore.

A squadron of Canada Geese, patrolling the shore, in the early morning light

Malcolm soon woke up, and we ate our other meal of emergency canned food. At 8:40 AM, we were again on our way.

For awhile, it was fairly level, with only gradual hills, as we made our way around the big arm of Flathead Lake. I began to think I had made the wrong decision, and that we could have made it to Lakeside the prior day, but the big up-and-down hills soon returned, and I felt I had made the right decision to stop early the prior day.

Cycling around the big arm of Flathead Lake in the early morning light, near Dayton – this part fairly flat

A person in the convenience store west of Polson had said there would be a place to eat in Rollins, and we looked forward to this, as we climbed each hill, and coasted down each hill's other side.

Flathead Lake, in the mid-morning sun, near Rollins

Soon we saw the sign saying we were leaving the Flathead Indian Reservation, and the town of Rollins was only a few miles farther down the road. This was, however, some of the best scenery of the trip, continuing all the way along the west side of Flathead Lake.

There was a little restaurant there, where we had a good meal. We asked if the road leveled out a bit ahead, but they indicated it stayed hilly all the way to Lakeside.

You just don't get it, Picard. The trial never ends.”

We resumed cycling after the meal, and the road continued its up-and-down motion. One time as we rounded a curve, I saw the biggest, steepest hill I had yet seen, and dreaded having to climb it. As we got closer, we discovered that hill was the old highway 93, and the current highway had a significantly gentler grade. It seems this experience was repeated at least once more. I was glad we had the new highway 93.

Heading north toward Lakeside, on the west side of Flathead Lake

Have you ever wondered what happens to a piece of gum, when someone spits it out the window of a car? It ends up sticking to some unlucky cyclist's tire.

Along this stretch of road, Malcolm was the unlucky cyclist. The same thing happened to me on highway 191 the prior year. You have to try to get the gum off the tire, or stuff which could puncture the tire will stick to it.

There was some great scenery along this stretch. I remember a steep hillside with a guard-rail on the road, and a circular bay called Deep Bay below, with a boat sailing in it.

Up yet another steep hill, then through the deep road-cut, and down the other side, and the town of Lakeside finally came into view. Here was a convenience store, and we stopped for a break, and refreshing drink and snacks.

As we were ready to leave, a sudden downpour came up, and we waited a bit longer before leaving.

At a convenience store in Lakeside, looking back, after a sudden downpour – note the steep hill we came down

Before leaving the store, we asked how much farther the hilly terrain lasted. They said it was hilly all the way to Kalispell. This was a rare case where the local people didn't get it right. The hilly terrain lasted only to Somers (at the northwest corner of Flathead Lake). It turned out to be flat all the way from Somers to Kalispell.

We resumed cycling, and it was hilly after we left the town, though the hills weren't as high as the ones before the town. We came up on the town of Somers sooner than I expected, and soon passed it. There was just one more hill, then we came down onto a plain, east of the hilly terrain.

There was a paved bicycle path paralleling the highway, and we made use of it.

Storms were coming closer, and we began to feel drops of rain. Malcolm kept a sharp eye out for somewhere to shelter from the rain. I saw a place, pointing it out to him, and he agreed. We cycled over to a business that had a roof over its entry-way. There we waited-out the storm, which eventually faded away, and we were again underway.

The weather was good the rest of the way to Kalispell.

Entering Kalispell, in good weather

We stopped at a convenience store soon after entering Kalispell (I had to answer the 'call of nature'). We continued through town, and ate at a restaurant there.

At the north end of town, we turned onto highway 2, which we would follow all the way to West Glacier. There was road construction here, but it didn't present any significant problems. Before long, highway 2 turned northward, and we followed it past the Kalispell airport.

A dissipating storm, at the Kalispell airport – it threatened, but never got us

A few miles farther north, the highway turned east, and we were only two miles from our goal of Columbia Falls.

Entering Columbia Falls, in the late afternoon sun

We stopped at a store soon after entering town, then we watched for a motel as we cycled on through town.

Although people we had asked were sure there would be motels in Columbia Falls, we began to despair as we cycled farther through town and didn't find any. We inquired inside a business, and they said there were two motels a little farther through the town to the east.

We saw an R.V. Park, which would work if there were no motels, but then we saw the Glacier Inn Motel, and were happy to get a room, and a good night's sleep. It was 8:48 PM when we arrived.

On this day, we traveled 55.3 miles, averaging 8.3 miles per hour. We spent 12 hours (including rest time) doing it. It was a long day.

Next Day

(Back to Main Trip Index)