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Glacier National Park & Missoula, MT

Sorry for the lack of update. So much has happened (good & bad) since my last post. Malta was the last of my tailwinds.

After Malta, I fought daily, brutal headwinds that dropped me to ~50 mi/day–slowing my transition from the Montana plains into the Rocky Mountains to a 7mph crawl along the flats for an annoyingly long stretch.

A awesome local family in Cut Bank shared their home with me (ty!), and I rode a 72 mile stretch with no water services up into Cardston, Alberta–crossing the Canadian border at Del Bonita.

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The next morning I rode with Gord, a local Canadian cyclist training for a randonneur through France until Mountain View, Alberta. I then proceeded to climb Chef Mountain Pass (my first Rocky Mountain Climb since Colorado) back over the US Border, crossing from Waterton Lakes National Park into Glacier National Park. Halfway up I met another tourist who was on her way to LA for a flight back home to Britain after an 8-month-long holiday.

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That night I made it to Babb. When I arrived, my knees were buckling as I tried to walk through the local convenient store–hungry, thirsty, & exhausted from climbing Chief Mountain. As I ate dinner in Babb, it got dark & cold fast. I decided to skip the last 9 miles to St May (the start of the “Going To The Sun” road).

The next morning I was on a time limit; a cyclist restriction on the tourist road means I had to be up to the top of Logan Pass (~2,000 feet climb) by 11:00. I woke up at 05:00, hit the road by 06:00, ate breakfast in St Mary at 06:45, and started my climb up the pass by 08:00.

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A few miles in, I turned into Rising Sun to get enough food to hold me over for the climb. Parked outside the convenient store was a beautiful, blue, 1970s Schwinn lightly loaded with 2 rear Ortlieb panniers. This is where I met Joel.

Joel just finished 4 years of school in NYC, and he was cycling home to Seattle. We rode together for a few days before splitting off in Kalispell, MT. I went south off-route to Missoula, and he stuck to hwy 2 toward Seattle. Joel & I agreed: cycling “Going To The Sun” road in Glacier Park, MT was perhaps the most fun thing we’ve ever done in our entire lives.

joelAndI
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We crossed the Continental Divide over Logan Pass at 6,664 ft. We took a break at the Logan Pass Visitors Center before proceeding down our 3,000 ft decent, carving down cliff sides with spectacular river valley views. The road was still under construction, so it was (mostly) a slow decent, with constant, amazing vistas. …and I got it all via HD helmet cam

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My stove’s fuel pump started leaking in Kalispell, so I rode down hwy 83 (a magnificent road through the Swan Valley, following the Swan River–located in-between the Mission Mountain Range and the Swan Mountain Range) to Missoula–poorly fueled by a diet of PB&Js and water. During my ride, I was leepfrogging a couple cyclists that were riding south following the Great Divide by street, and I met a few cycle-tourists coming up from Missoula.

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Highway 83 ended at hwy 200–39 miles east of Missoula. My ride in was slow & lethargic, but high on hopes–with a pleasant downhill for the last ~20 miles. I’ve been couchsurfing in Missoula for a couple days. My first day in Missoula, I had a chance to visit 1 of the 7 bike shops in town for a new tire & tube, visit the Adventure Cycling Headquarters, fix my stove with help from the local hiker shop’s staff, and chill pretty hard by the river flowing snow-met through the valley.

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Anyway, Missoula’s been great, but I’ve got to get up early tomorrow to finish off these last ~600 mi–that is if I want to be in Seattle in 9 days.

3 comments to Glacier National Park & Missoula, MT

  • dad

    Glad to see you are meeting people on the route. Sounds like a ‘time of your life’. Give Danny a shout with your contact info (I’ll email you his info) and an ETA so he can meet you in Seattle. Stay warm in the mountains and safe on the road.

    Love,
    mom & dad

  • What up Michael!!
    I made it back to Seattle on Tuesday, Aug. 2. I hope the rest of your trip has gone well.
    Awesome blog.

    Also you should upload the helmet cam video! I’ve been telling all my friends about it and I want to see it again.

    • Michael Altfield

      @Joel congrats! I need to do some editing to that video first, but I hope to upload it within the next few weeks. I’ll let you know when it’s up!

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