Day 1 – Columbia Falls to the Roosville Border-Crossing – Saturday, August 18th

We started out at the closest point of our prior Utah-to-Glacier-National-Park trip's route, to where we needed to go to reach the Canadian border. Though we could have traveled through Glacier Park to reach the border, it would involve bicycling on a washboard, gravel road.

We elected instead, to make use of our old friend (of the prior trip), U.S. Highway 93. This meant we would have to cross a hill west of Whitefish, but the profile I did of the route showed it to be only a 300 foot climb, so it was no big deal.

On this trip, our transport crew (my daughters Emily and Jennifer) would drop us off at the beginning point, and pick us up at the end, so we would only have to cycle it one direction.

Profile of the pass west of Whitefish

Profile from Kalispell to the border-crossing – note the point where the road from Whitefish joins it

The profile above starts at Kalispell, and follows the Farm To Market Road, on the west side of the range of hills that must be crossed if you approach from Whitefish. This route might be a bit difficult to follow, and the very north end of it might be a gravel road, which is why we ultimately chose to come from the Whitefish side.

Given my experience in earlier trips, Malcolm had replaced the rear gear-cluster on my bicycle, which have me a significantly lower gear. This was a very good change, as it allowed me to cycle up the steepest hills with no problem, at times cycling at the same speed he was walking/pushing. Thank you Malcolm!

We started where Highway 2 turns east toward Columbia Falls, about two miles west of the town. If we had started at Kalispell, the length of the trip would have been 74 miles (instead of 66).

Starting out, near Columbia Falls

Our Transport Crew, at the start-point

It was easy cycling from there, west to the town of Whitefish, with no significant hills. It was a good road, with wide shoulders.

Cycling West Toward Whitefish

In Whitefish, though we had eaten breakfast earlier, we ate at Subway, keeping the other half of the sandwiches for later in the day. We did this because I did not see any places to get food when we would need it. It was again a case of not all businesses being shown on the Internet tools, since there actually was a store in the town of Olney we could have eaten at.

At the west end of Whitefish, the 300 foot climb began. It was steep, but thanks to my new gear-cluster, I could cycle it all.

At The Top Of The First 300-Foot Climb

From there, it was a pleasant downhill glide, and on turning northwest, there were only gentle ups and downs.

Heading Northwest on Highway 93, Parallel to the Stillwater River

Though the road followed the Stillwater River, we could not see it due to the trees. Also, the road shoulders were narrow, but there wasn't a lot of traffic, especially as we went farther northwest.

Looking Back After A Short Climb

After a long while, we came to a Lake. We had only a brief view of it, since the highway has tall trees on both sides, blocking any view of the scenery beyond the trees. But the view with the green trees was verdant and pleasant.

Our Only View Of A Lake Along The Way

When we reached the town of Olney, we rested at the store, enjoying the conversation. We could have bought food here, had we known the store was here. We instead, ate our Subway sandwiches purchased earlier. But we did fill our water bottles here.

Rest Stop At The Store In The Town Of Olney

Shortly after the town of Olney, we had our second significant (300 foot) climb. Again, thanks to the new gear-cluster, I could cycle it all.

Beautiful Scenery Along The Way

As the day wore on, it got hot, even this far north. The observed high temperature in Whitefish that day was 92 degrees. Another thing that made this more of a problem, was that we had just enough of a tail-wind, that with our forward speed, we had no wind at all. I even observed a milk-weed seed floating alongside me, motionless relative to me.

Where I have few working sweat-glands, I began to overheat. We used some of our water, rubbing it in my clothes, which helped. Even better was when we got to a bridge over the Stillwater River, I used cool river water to splash on me. But getting down to the river was a bit dicey, since in my overheated condition, my sense of balance was not very good.

From A Bridge Over The Stillwater River, Looking West

Using Cool River Water To Cool-Off

The cool water really helped, enabling us to again get underway. We eventually came to Dickey Lake, which was a wonderful view.

Dickey Lake, Looking Northwest

In this part of the trip, we began to cycle down through a series of terminal moraines.

A terminal moraine is where a glacier stopped growing (pushing its load of rock & gravel/tillite), and started receding. In the basin where the glacier melted away, there are often lakes. It appears the glacier receded farther and farther back south, leaving a series of terminal moraines.

In cycling them, you notice a gradually increasing steepness – steepest at the end, then an exhilarating glide for a long ways down the other side, where the cycle is repeated.

Interesting View Along The Way

Along this stretch, we encountered a convenience store near the town of Fortine. This gave us a chance for snacks and cold drinks, which was much appreciated after the long stretch of pedaling.

Heading Toward Eureka In The Late-Afternoon Sun

Farm Scene, With Horses Grazing

As we got closer to Eureka, there was a really big climb up a terminal moraine, followed by a really long glide, and after that, there was an even bigger hill to climb than the last one. But finally, the town of Eureka came into view. “Eureka!” we thought, but the joy was short-lived, as the town itself is built on several steep hills. I was really glad I had that super-low gear!

Entering Eureka

But even with the hills, it was a chance again for cold drinks (our water was warm), and snacks, which gave us renewed vigor. We needed it, since we knew it was generally uphill from Eureka to the border.

We tried to phone our transport crew to let them know our position, but our particular cell-phone had no coverage in this area. So plans were already not working well.

Fortunately, the steep hills ended, being replaced with occasional moderate hills, as we pedaled the home-stretch.

Pedaling Toward The Border-Crossing, Our Spirits Renewed

At long-last, the border area came into view. We were cautious approaching it, since we didn't have passports with us, and didn't want to go too far where we would only be allowed to move forward, not having them.

Aere At The Border-Crossing

Malcolm At The Border-Crossing

So at long-last we had completed our goal of cycling a contiguous route from Canada to Mexico!

It had been a series of great adventures – vacation time well spent.

We worried that our transport crew had been waiting for a really long time, since it had taken us significantly longer to cycle it than we had estimated. But they were nowhere to be found.

We tried to phone them, but had no cell-phone coverage in this area.

Searching for a place to wait for them, we found the “First & Last Chance Bar”, where one of the employees kindly let us use her cell-phone which had coverage.

They were still headed here, the days sight-seeing having put them farther away than expected.

We continued waiting, but it was a really long time before they appeared, because of having gotten lost. Montana doesn't seem to do so well when it comes to signs telling what highway you are on, and which direction you are going.

But at long-last, we were re-united, and loaded our bicycles into the van, the end of yet another bicycle adventure.

On this day, we cycled 66.7 miles, at an average speed of 9.4 miles per hour. It was a good (but exhausting) day.

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