Glacier 05': Posted: 6/28/05: The entire Mexico journal starts at -> Mexico 05' <-
Hayward, WI to Glacier National Park – Pics: I had a little free time and I’ve always wanted to see Glacier National park. The Sporty is running good. I had no excuse.
Monday AM, I’m packing up and ready to go but rain is moving through the area. I wait until afternoon until I saw an open slot in the radar between here and Duluth. At my first gas stop in Solon Springs I have a chat with a few bikers. After one biker figures out Glacier Park is in Montana he is adamant about warning me of towns Not to go to in Montana. The guy was really trying to scare me. I think to myself about the 6 months I’ve just spent driving through Mexico. I smile and thank them for the advice. The guy tells me of another town, I think trying to impress his girlfriend that he was once in Montana and survived.
I make it out of Wisconsin without getting wet but then hit steady rain all through northern Minnesota. The temperatures were cool and I had the electric gloves going full blast. I was getting cold and was glad to take a cheap motel that night somewhere just before Fargo.
Tuesday AM was cool with a little drizzle. I pound down a protein bar, sport shake and some coffee before hitting the road. I’m trying to make time across North Dakota and the winds are blowing like crazy on my front quarter. I can usually do a hundred and fifty miles or more before hitting reserve but once I hit it at 97 miles. And then I get the ultimate Bonehead award for not switching the petcock back to ‘Main’. Of course I’m flying down the highway in the middle of nowhere when the engine starts to sputter. My face sinks when I discover I’m already on reserve. I slow down to fifty. When the engine kills I try shaking the bike back and forth while coasting along. Bingo, I’m going again. I do this spastic shaking dance move 2 or 3 miles down the highway, up the first exit and down that road a mile or more to a rural outpost along some train tracks. I coast to the tracks totally out of gas. I walk to a home across the street and an old man sells me a gallon of gas from his lawnmower can. How am I so lucky? A good lesson learned, mind the petcock.
This is I think my first time in North Dakota. People here like to ask me where I’m going and where I’m from, real friendly. I’m getting waves from everyone, cars, trucks, people on the street.
I ride fast about half of the state until I hit the Louis and Clark trail route. From there I ride a series of state highways and farm roads. In North Dakota you need to do a little off road riding to get to the good resting spots. This one was just a small dirt track leading down over a hill toward the lake. I had the whole lake shore to myself.
I make it to extreme northwestern North Dakota the second day and found an idyllic oasis in the middle of nowhere. I camped on the tip of a peninsula jetting out into a small lake. A couple blocks away are a few bait shops and bars. The camping is free here and the beer tasted good.
On the third day the skies cleared and the temperatures rose. North eastern Montana landscape is plain but the motorcycle cruising is great. There are 70 MPH speed limits everywhere here. On a rural highway you barely get out of town before you see the sign for 70 MPH.
Seeing the snowcapped mountains in the distance raised my spirits. I know I’m going to experience some country I have never seen before. I have backcountry camping equipment and plan to hike up into the park a night or two.
Glacier National Park:
I ride into the Blackfeet Indian Reservation on the east side of the park. Again if you are willing to do a little off road riding you can make it to some great hanging out spots. On this trail I was wishing I had my knobby tires. I stop and have a little lunch and coffee near the river. A final look at the map and I’m off to Glacier park.
Glacier National park is beautiful. I passed a few camping spots right away into the park. I didn’t want to stop wanting to take advantage of the long mid-June sun.
The more I drove into the park the colder it felt, it felt like it could start snowing. I didn’t want to camp in this and it was getting late so I turn around. I pull into a lower elevation camping spot, Rising Sun camp ground.
I had a great camp spot with a lake just a hundred yards away. I did some hiking around the lower park on some of the marked trail. The hiking was nice but the marked and posted trails were crowded with people. I can’t imagine what it would be like in high season here.
Getting ready to do the summit: The temps got up to around 60 deg. F. at the camp site but I had a feeling it was going to be cold at the top. Long johns, down vest, scarf and electric gloves, I’m ready.
I see a lot of waterfalls in the distance.
At one point the snow was pilled more then ten feet high over the motorcycle.
Coming down the west side of the park the road follows a stream.
I find another great spot for lunch. To me this is much better then any touristy town café and I like the added adventure of trying to find the spots.
Most of the backcountry hiking was snowed over until mid to late July. Oh well, a couple of days in the park was nice, at least the roads were not crowded. I will have to come back sometime later in the year to go backcountry.
Big Sky Country:
I had enough of the cold temps in Glacier Park and decided to make a run for Yellowstone. I was looking at a map in West Glacier when a local biker offers assistance. He suggests a route to Yellowstone I would not have picked, how nice. I buy some lunch for the road and blast off out of glacier along the southern park border road, a great biking road.
The pavement was dry but dark clouds were brewing in the hills and the wind was kicking up. I get out of the mountains and was hammering south just east of the continental divide. Montana sure is big sky country. While cruising along I can see the weather systems build and move. Sometimes I had to stop and wait for one to pass but this time the dark clouds were thick and wide and looking like they were coming right for me. I find a farm road that leads away from the highway and pull off.
I remember using this same technique when I was 16 while cruising solo to Yellowstone. After recently rereading “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance” I realize where I learned the technique from.
The storm with a lot of wind came and went. I stayed warm and dry while eating lunch in my little lean-to shelter. One rock I chose for a tie down was insufficient. In the middle of the storm I had to lash one end of the tarp to my boot. It was a little tense but it worked.
The storm passed and I was happy. The rest felt good and it was fun thinking about what I was doing and where I was going. I like having a loose destination and time schedule. Planning the route hour by hour while out in some new wilderness is just fun to me. I always think about the pioneers traveling on horse back and needing to find water and shelter. People think I’m nuts for liking this type of thing. I wonder where it comes from, genes or imagination or is imagination a product of genes? This type of activity just feels good.
All and all the stop cost me about an hour and twenty minutes. This is a long stop for me but worth it, I’m still totally dry.
Yellowstone national Park:
The next day I made a shot for the west entrance of Yellowstone Park. All around Yellowstone is beautiful with a lot of opportunities along the road to pull off and chill or hike around.
Lots of water in Yellowstone.
Geysers are everywhere. I imagine what ancient people must have thought the first time coming on to this place.
Bubbling mud pots are all over.
And turquoise colored sulfur pools.
I saw a grizzly bear off in a distant field bouncing along, a bunch of buffalo and a couple of moose. I was happy and the temperatures were much more pleasant here.
A good spot to study the map.
The fields seemed to be glowing.
The road out of Yellowstone on the northeast side was closed. Bummer, that road is listed as a scenic byway. I will have to save it for another time. The drive out of east Yellowstone is also super, the landscape constantly changes.
I left Yellowstone late and made it over the Bighorn mountains of northeastern Wyoming just before dark. The landscape is flat now and I just hit a freeway. I thought I would do a little night driving. I like driving into the night on US freeways but I was pushing hard and getting tired. I stopped at a truck stop for some breakfast and a pot of coffee. Back on the road I started to feel like toast. I was far from the next town with a motel. I knew I had to stop. I was nowhere. All the roads pulling off the freeway had names with “creek” in them, Crazy Woman Creek, Indian Creek, Whisper Creek. I finally pulled off on some Creek road and started looking for a spot to crash. I had dirt roads and open field on one side but it was close to the highway. On the other side a dirt road went inland. I find the first side path type road leading off, it went up a big hill. I stop on the top of the hill and find myself on a totally flat spot of sand, perfect! I had my tent up in no time. It was warm with a little breeze. I. watched the moon sink into the far snowcapped mountains at about 2:30 AM
I wake up the next day to perfect conditions and a great camp spot. If I would have continued ten more yards before stopping the road turns to twelve inch ruts and goes steep down hill into a gully. Again I luck out.
The rest of the ride was uneventful. I do the back roads through South Dakota, Minnesota to home in northern Wisconsin.
The fields in SD were rich with color.
A great camp spot in eastern SD, Sandy Shore camp ground.
I hit a few biker bars with free live music while coming through Minneapolis, fun.
I highly recommend the Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park, Bighorn Forest loop. It was A great ride. I hope you enjoyed.
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