Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 9 - July 9 - Up and Over Lolo Pass and onto Missoula

Day 9 - July 9 - Lochsa Lodge, Powell ID to Missoula, 55.6 miles (89.5 kms); total so far; 708.4 miles (1139.3 kms)

Distance: 55.6 miles (89.5 kms)
Total time: 5hrs56mins (including a wait for a pilot car at the top of Lolo Pass, a long lunch stop, and time for the now obligatory Mississippi Mud Pie stop) 
Average Moving Speed: 13.8mph (22.2kph)
Maximum Speed:31.8mph (51.2 kph) 
Calories burned: 2680
Elevation gained: 1988 ft (605 meters)
Weather:  Sunny all the way with temperatures rising from 60F (15C) at the lodge to 90F (33C) in Missoula.  Wind from the north mostly but it seemed to coming from the east in the valley to Lolo.

Powered by: a large bowl of oatmeal with blackberries, a large plate-sized cinnamon roll, and yogurt for breakfast; 1 liter of Gatorade, 2 liters of water, 1 Coke,1 GU gel, 1 protein bar, 1 Mississippi Mud Pie,  and a peanut butter-banana sandwich with a huge dollop of peanut butter (again very messy).

Breakfast at the Lodge was in the company of about 30 forest rangers from the state and federal agencies on some sort of training program.  A very rugged lot, they looked ready to wrestle bears and fight fires; there have been some monstrous fires in this area over the past couple of centuries. I was most impressed with their boots which were the sturdiest I have ever seen.  Compared to Colorado, there is not as much pine beetle kill in evidence.  On the way up to the pass, I heard many woodpeckers banging away on tree trunks and as I read on a US Forest Service sign, these birds are hard at work on dead trees.

Leaving the Lodge about 9:30am, I climbed steadily up the 4-6% grade to the top of Lolo Pass. It's a steady grind and the almost complete absence of traffic made it enjoyable.  A few miles after the Lodge , there is a nice memorial site to Bernard deVoto, a famous US historian who was an expert on the Lewis and Clark expedition and on US Western history more generally.  His ashes were scattered at the cedar grove where he frequently camped, a very quiet and reflective spot.

DeVoto markers at the cedar grove

At the summit, there is a large US Forest Service lodge and a large parking lot.  Like others, I had to wait for a pilot care to take us down from the summit since the first couple of miles were being resurfaced.  The loose gravel required some caution on my part and the road crew held up the traffic going up the pass till I cleared the danger area.  I was in Montana for my first time.

One of the many informative signs placed along the highway that aligns along the Lewis and Clark route 

My first time here.  I like the state outline as the sign

There is still a little snow left on the NW slopes of Lolo Peak (over 9000 feet)

An addiction that I've developed over the past week. I wonder if it's available in the Midwest?

The road down from the pass mirrors the slope on the west side but unfortunately for me, I could not free-wheel because of an upslope wind that grew stronger as the valley widened.   As I approached Lolo, the traffic increased significantly. My stop for a Mud Pie was to prepare me for the nasty ride into Missoula, about which I had read.  It’s a 4-lane highway with a good shoulder (margin) but the traffic is so heavy and deafening that it is very unpleasant.  The south side of Missoula looks like a lot of American city entrances, except the presence of about a half-dozen casinos is quite unusual.

I'll see how 'bicycle friendly' this community is over the next 2 days.

I’ll take a rest day in Missoula tomorrow to get the bike checked out, catch up on editorial and other work, read a dissertation, drink a lot of coffee, and plot a route across Montana, a state that will take a week to traverse.

1 comment:

  1. Wells Blue Bunny, the maker of your Mississippi mud pie, is based in Le Mars, Iowa (the self-proclaimed "ice cream capital of the world"). You should have no problem securing a steady supply in the Midwest!