Day 46: Sandpoint, ID to Ione, WA (89.9 miles)

With 6 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $9,700 of our $10,000 goal.

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That's a buffalo.

We crossed into Washington in the late morning, and spent a pretty leisurely day riding through the beautiful evergreen forests of the eastern part of the state. We rode through another Native American reservation, which seemed a lot different than the ones we had seen in Montana. We also saw buffalo there (for the first time on our trip)!

We took an afternoon break at a campsite that we had planned to stay at, but we had decided the previous evening that we would make a push for Ione so that we could have a short day before we got to the mountains. We made it to Ione in early evening and asked around to figure out where we could spend the night. We were told that a man owned an RV park on the outskirts of town and usually allowed tenters in his backyard, so we headed over. While it ended up being the third night of the trip when we had to pay for lodging, we were happy with it. We got showers and a peaceful place to enjoy the 4th of July.

We bought some root beer and chips to enjoy while we played cards into the evening, and listened to the fireworks from the next town over as we went to sleep.

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Day 45: Troy, MT to Sandpoint, ID (89.3 miles)

With 7 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $9,521 of our $10,000 goal.

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Last glimpses of Montana!

The turnoff at Troy was not heavily trafficked at all, so we got to spend a quiet morning saying goodbye to Montana. Spirits were high and we sang songs and reminisced about the beginning of the trip as we rode. Mid-morning we stopped at the Big Sky Pantry, a little shop on our route. We knew we had hit gold when we saw the fresh loaves of bread sitting on the counter. We each bought one (Cyrus bought loaf of banana nut bread as well, just for good measure) and we proceeded to feast on pb&j on the delicious bread.

As we crossed into Idaho, traffic picked up and so did the heat. We made the push towards Sandpoint, stopping in Hope to pick up a care package (thanks, for the third time, to Graham’s god-parents, Betsy and T) and made it there by late afternoon.

We stayed in the backyard of a couple, Therese and Kenny, who usually rent out a cabin in their backyard to cyclists. They were very kind, and, after making sure we were settled, told us how to get to a public access beach on Lake Pend Orielle, on whose edge Sandpoint sits. We biked over for a sunset swim, which was a wonderful change of pace.

We fell asleep easy, ready to enter or last state the next day.

Day 44: Rexford, MT to Troy, MT (86.7 miles)

With 8 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $9,521 of our $10,000 goal.

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Lake Koocanusa.

We left Rexford and biked along the reservoir all morning. We feel really lucky to be riding through such beautiful country, especially at a pace where we really have the chance to take it in. We pass in and out of national forests and conservation areas and, though we haven’t seen all that much wildlife, the calm of the vast expanses of forest and mountain make our days easier, making up for the stressful days of eastern Montana.

By 2pm we had finished 70 miles, and we stopped in Libby. However, throughout the morning and early afternoon it had gotten hotter without us being too aware of it. It was only when we got to Libby that we realized it was over 100°F again. We ended up taking a longer break than expected there (helped along by conversation with the locals and free Pizza Hut), and only left town at 5pm.

We didn’t know exactly what our plan was for camping that night when we set off from Libby. We originally had owned to go to Troy, but it was 4 miles off-route (adding 8 miles total), and with the heat, we simply didn’t feel like it. We tentatively planned on camping somewhere past the Troy turnoff in the woods asking the road.

When we got to the turnoff we were fortunate enough to find a rest stop that allowed camping. It was clean, not to busy, and wee were able to find a secluded spot to pitch camp.

We had some time to play cards (only the second time on this trip!) and then headed to bed. All was well until the sprinklers started at about 2am. While Graham and Cyrus slept through it, Keene secured the rainfly on the tent and waited out the storm.

Day 43: Whitefish, MT to Rexford, MT (70.6 miles)

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Fields, and mountains, and trees, oh my.

With 9 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $8,976 of our $10,000 goal.

We rode out of Whitefish and continued to see mountains all around us, brilliant blue rivers and lakes, fragrant pine forests and, thankfully, deserted roads. Western Montana is truly as beautiful as they say, and we had a much slower pace through the day as our heads bobbed around, taking it all in.

Throughout the day, Keene kept up with or social media pages to run our #donate10 fundraising campaign. Some of you may have seen it. It definitely helped us get closer to our goal: we have only a little over $1,000 left to raise before we get to Seattle! Thank you to everyone who has supported our cause! You are truly taking an active role in making a positive difference in the world. Please keep spreading the word about Conservation International and our ride!

We had to stop in Eureka to pick up another package from the post office (this time a spare tire for Graham) but, again, there was an issue with the delivery. We are learning so much about postal service regulations!

We rode into Rexford, a small town of 100ish people 6 miles from Eureka, and found our host by accident: we didn’t have his address so we asked a man on the main drag whether he knew Richard. The man was, in fact, Richard, the mayor of Rexford and our host for the night.

Richard is a kind and open man, and we had a lot of fun talking with him about his time in Rexford. He was raised in Old Rexford, which now lies under the reservoir known as Lake Koocanusa. Apparently, at the time of planning to make the reservoir, the Old Rexford community banded together to incorporate the town, at which point the Corps of Engineers had to move the town rather than just put it under water.
Despite the weather heating up significantly, we slept soundly, happy to be on a bed again.

Day 42: St. Mary, MT to Whitefish, MT (75.1 miles)

With 10 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $8,080 of our $10,000 goal.

To beat the traffic, we got up at 4am and got on the road by 5am, just as the sky was starting to light up. The first few miles up the Going to the Sun Road were a bit confusing; they weren’t steep and we even saw some downhill. Maybe it was trying to lure us into a false sense of security. In any case, it eventually did get steeper and we spent two hours climbing the pass.

Whatever tiredness we had in our legs from climbing was quickly ignored as soon as we started to get some elevation. The snow capped mountain peaks surrounded us and the valley lay to our sides over the edge of the road as the rising sun cast rays over it all. It was a breathtaking and awesome sight in the fullest sense. We will let the pictures do most of the talking.

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The ride back down, white knuckles clamping our handlebars and brakes as we sped down the windy switchbacks, was just as beautiful. We slowed as we hit the valley floor and this sapphire blue river.

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The rest of the day was spent riding out of Glacier National Park towards Whitefish. As we got lower in elevation it began to heat up again, and we spent the later part of our day slogging through the heat and a headwind (we kind of missed climbing up the mountain at that point). We hit Whitefish and found ourselves with actual options for bike shops (we hadn’t seen this many bike shops in 1,500 miles at least). This was fortunate because we all had a few things to tend to, whether it be mechanical issues or gear related.

After the bike shops, we ride to our hosts, Rita and Chas’, house. Rita and Chas are the most experienced Warm Showers hosts we have encountered; we were their 99th guests. After getting to know each other a bit, we all plopped down on the couch to watch the US Women’s National Soccer Team play in the World Cup semi final against Germany. We had a lot of fun watching the game and were glad that our hosts included us in the event; it made us feel home, a feeling we don’t get much moving to a new place every night.

Shortly after the game we headed to bed. We want to thank Rita and Chas for being great hosts (not only to us but to an astounding number of people). We really appreciate their hospitality.

Day 41: Cardston, Alberta (Canada) to St. Mary, MT (72.5 miles)

With 11 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $7,580 of our $10,000 goal.

Donate here!

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Waterton Lakes National Park

We woke up in Canada quite a bit cooker than we had been getting used to the last few days. With no rain in the forecast we had been able to sleep in our tent without the rain fly on, but we still got the morning dew, making things a bit damp. We had several steep climbs to look forward to before the US border, and we left the campsite wondering what the day held for us.

The climbs ended up being tiring but doable as we made or way into Waterton Lakes (Canadian) National Park, which is adjacent to Glacier National Park, separated by the border. The border crossing was about as easy as getting into Canada, and we so stopped there to eat a snack. We chatted with a driver for a support van of the bike touring company Back roads, and she gave us free bananas before we headed out.

We rode to Babb, MT where we were supposed to pick up new cleats for Cyrus’ cycling shoes, but an issue with the delivery delayed us. We killed time at a local cafe, where we were happy to see the first vegetarian/vegan options on a menu since Wisconsin. Of course, we had to dig in. The package we were waiting for ended up not having arrived, so, even though that meant Cyrus would be going over our first mountains without working cleats, we had to move on. We rode on to St. Mary and through the Glacier National Park entrance to camp at Rising Sun Campground, at the base of Going to the Sun Road, which we would take up the mountains the next day.

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Waterton Lakes National Park

We got everything square away in camp and went to bed VERY early to beat traffic the next day: cyclists are not allowed on Going to the Sun Road between 11am-4pm and we had 46 miles to do before then.

Day 40: Cut Bank, MT to Cardston, Alberta (Canada) (74.6 miles)

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With only one town between our starting point and destination and another hot day ahead of us, we knew we had to make sure we were prepared. With over 2 liters of extra water each, we rode out of Cut Bank towards the border. It took about 40 miles of riding into a headwind (we’ve had over a week of those now) and through farmland to get there, but the shifting view of the Rocky Mountains in the distance provided some distraction from the grind. None of us had ever passed through a border security checkpoint on land before, but getting across was surprisedly easy. The Canadian border guards asked some questions, trusted our answers, scanned our passports and let us through.

We were planning on refilling water at the town just across the border, but, as it was Sunday and the town was small, everything was closed. Luckily, the church was open and after waiting outside for the service to let out, we were able to refill.

We rode into Cardston and headed to the visitors center to find out where we could spend the night. The people at the center were very friendly (one even offered up his backyard to camp in) but after talking to another tourer in town (going east cross country) we decided to stay at a local campground. It was quite a but cooler in Cardston than it has been in Montana (we have increased in elevation quite a bit) and we were able to relax and enjoy sitting outside by the river next to the campsite.

True to stereotypes of friendly Canadians, we were approached by many more people than we usually are through the course of the day, and we had a lot of fun talking to various people, from the other tourer, the guys at the visitors center, the church goers, and the people at the campground. Even though it is past day 40, we still enjoy getting to meet so many new and different people just going about their lives in all these different places.