July 31: "Tomorrow’s the Day" actually became today. We got to Eureka, 10 miles from the Canadian border, and checked into a motel early enough on Monday that we decided to knock off the first 10 miles that very day. So we suited up and Dick and Jan drove us to the border and we did our obligatory photos and we took off for a short ride. Kind of anticlimactic to what were anticipating. However, in those 10 Miles I managed to commit a federal offense, we met a friendly local and were chased by a deranged Chihuahua. Just as we were pulling away from the border, an agent came running out of the border patrol building waving his arms wildly. Since we did not actually ride into Canada and over the border, I took a picture of the whole border area to show where we were starting. Evidently, since 9/11, it's a federal offense to take a photo of a federal building. Oops. So he made me delete it. Then he let us come into the building where he stamped our journals to prove we were really there, and wished us good luck.
Down the road 3.8 miles, we were stopped for adjustments and a local guy in a pickup stopped and asked about our trip and gave us his business card in case we needed help down the road.
The Chihuahua, well, he didn't have a chance.
Aug 1: 33.12 miles to Tuchuck Campground. The first real day. It was 44 degrees when we left Eureka this morning. 20 miles of pavement and the rest was gravel, no, small boulders to navigate around. Fourteen miles was uphill to Whitefish divide. We were both nervous about the bears, especially grizzlies. We saw a nice fresh pile of scat (droppings, for you non-wildlife folk) in the middle of the road. We had our bear spray in easy reach and our bells jingling constantly. Every stump, rock and bush along the side of the road looked like a bear. The roadsides were thick with ripe huckleberries, the bruin's favorite food. The scenery was postcard perfect, with steep walled canyons thick with tall, straight, thin lodge pole pine (I think that's what they were-if not, maybe you forestry folks can correct me). The dogs ran a good portion of the day tied to the trailers. The national forest campground was not too crowded, so we were by off by ourselves. I took a sponge bath in a mountain creek. Brrrr. Again, we were nervous about the bears. We were meticulous about keeping out campsite clean, and we pitched our tent way off in the woods away from the table and cooking area. When it came time to hang our bear bag (all our food and smelly things to up in a tree), we had a dilemma, as all we had were these lodge pole pine, with few and thin branches. Our campsite was at the edge of the loop, with a horse loop next to us and no one in it. So at dark, we put our food in the outhouse over there (it was very clean). Our food was all packed in special smell proof bags, supposed to be 2000 times more odor proof than zip lock bags, to keep the critters out. Well, tell that to the mouse who managed to chew through our special bags to get to the dog food!
Aug 2: 20 miles to Red Meadow Lake Campground. We survived our first night in bear country (except for the mouse in the outhouse). We heard something off in the woods near our tent and the dogs uttered a low growl, but nothing else. It was probably a deer. We've seen lots of them. During breakfast, we heard a low hum that gradually got louder. It was a humming bird. About the last thing I'd expect to see in a lodge pole pine forest about 5000 feet. Maybe he was attracted to Jon's red fleece. It was very cold again. I'm wearing all my clothes in the morning. Maybe I need to have more sent to me. It was downhill and flat the first half of the day, so the dogs had to ride. Lander cried all the way. He didn't understand that the last 10 miles was uphill and they would have to run. Afton doesn't seem to mind riding. Stopped at a historic homestead and read about the trials of the family who homesteaded there in the early 1900's. It wasn't open, so we sat on the porch and had lunch. We met a hiker going from Glacier to the Pacific Ocean and three gentlemen going north on the Great Divide trail. They had been working on it for four years, a few weeks a year, and were about done. The campground was right on the shore of a mountain lake, with steep hills all around and avalanche chutes which the grizzlies like to travel through. By the time we got to camp and got all of our chores done, it was time for bed. It cools off quickly at night. The dogs are supposed to sleep at our feet in the tent, but have decided that it's much nice to snuggle between us on the down bags.
Aug 3: 31 miles to Whitefish. Today was mostly downhill, so we made good time. Time to stop at the public library and post this. Will get a site at a private campground so we can have showers (yea!) and maybe hit a restaurant. Three days and have seen no grizzlies. We are convinced that the locals are not near as concerned as us about it, as we have seen numerous people picking huckleberries, biking and hiking with no bells. They even let their dogs run loose. We are getting darn sick of the constant jingling of the bells. Mine is around my neck and I hit it with both knees on every pedal stroke. I'm about ready to through it at the bears!