I perseverated all weekend on which route to take from Kalispell to Missoula.
Montana is yet another area of the continent where the biking should widely be oh so good but the road system simply wasn’t set up for it. Throw in 2 lane roads that are posted for 70 mph and trucks, and you get the picture.
Ultimately I decided on the west side of beautiful Flathead Lake…more traffic but more shoulder. The road was a killing field through which I walked, pushed the bike, pedaled defensively, and then for the last 40 miles was able to actually finally pedal while being able to think, given that the shoulder stopped oscillating from one foot to three feet wide and improved tremendously to about 5 feet wide and on a divided highway. I say the road was a killing field because Montana DOT marks highway deaths with white
crosses, which are everywhere on this road, and because for an average of one per mile I passed a dead deer on the side of the road.
So it was not my most pleasant day. The eclipse actually helped me out, it kept things cool and got tourists off the road to check out what was essentially a non-event here in Montana. The other thing that helped was an early start…I said goodbye to Jill at the airport
and was pedaling in the semi-dark at 7 AM, navigating my way over dirt, pebbles, anything to keep off the super busy Highway 2 which goes right through the surprising sprawl of Kalispell-Whitefish-Columbia Falls.
When I had time to daydream today (as opposed to look in the rear view mirror) I kept on coming back to those beautiful scenes in Glacier National Park. Including this one… the crimson colors of later-summer huckleberry bushes in the foreground, endless groves of fir trees, and the hazy high peaks of the interior of the park off in the distance.