I woke up after a good night sleep, and was excited to get going and finally see some mountains. When I stopped for the night last night, I didn’t realize the mountain views were literally just around the corner. You can see them below if you squint! My first view of mountains and they were even snow covered ones. (Bear Tooth Mountains to be exact).
I was very happy to see them. I was also happy to see the sun and blue sky. Another bike showed up after me; must be nice to have room for a bike cover! lol.
Then my old friends the clouds, wind, and rain decided to rain on my fun. The wind was much worse than yesterday, but not the rain. It rained just enough to be annoying, and fortunately not a soaking. I left my rain gear in the bag. It fits well, but the wind pulls on it more than my coat and it wears me out faster in heavy wind.
I found Reed Point. The large amount of sheep on the side of the road made me pull in to take a peek.
Very run down. Nearly everything for sale. I did like the wooden sidewalks though. You don’t see those very often.
After looking at the maps last night, I also decided to abandon the interstate as soon as possible and get on US-12. I had wanted to take it yesterday, but didn’t. Today, I exited I-90 on to US-89, and started to second guess myself. It was a boring straight road going almost due north.
There were mini-mountains on either side, but the nice snow covered ones I had been drooling on for the last 100 miles faded away in my mirrors. I was not sure I had made the right choice, but I was committed due to my fuel range. I didn’t have enough to turn around.
I had planned to get gas in Wilsall. I rode through the town, but I didn’t see a gas station. It was a very small town established in 1910. I turned around and pulled up the bar. A couple guys walked out and I asked them about gas. They pointed near the south end of town “by the yellow sign” one of them said.
I pulled into the “gas station”. It was only two pumps and a credit card machine; no building or sign. No wonder I missed it. The yellow sign? It said “redit ards ceptd” a few letters missing. No mention of gas.
I got some gas and continued on. I was started to worry as I looked to the west. Those small mountains had snow on top. I would have to go that way soon. hmm. Finally US-89 met up with US-12 and I started heading west. There was a pull off spot to add tire chains. Dang. I forgot to bring those.
I rode up the “mountain” and into a pass inside of Helena National Park. Wow. Stunning scenery. The pictures don’t do it justice since the good parts didn’t have a convenient turn out to stop. (and my gopro was safely in my top case… doh!)
The snow on the sides of the road was a bit distracting at first, but I didn’t have any traction problems. It began to rain again, but nothing more than a drizzle. The road twisted back and forth between the tall canyon walls. Large rocks, tall pines, and snow. A great looking combination.
I made it to the other side and stopped for a snack.
The rain took a break too.
I stared at the trees. It looks like there were burned, but I am thinking disease since the others around them are still ok. I’ve seen this “pattern” many times over the last few hundred miles.
US12 was proving to be as good as I had heard, and the really good parts were on the other side of Missoula over 100 miles way. I hope the weather holds tomorrow, so I can go explore Lolo.
US12 had one more surprise in store for me just west of Helena. MacDonald Pass right on the continental divide at 6320 feet. The heat (66F is heat after all this!) of Helena melted away as I climbed up the pass. I was rewarded with a stunning view. My favorite of the day.
On the other side, I followed US12 back where it turned into I-90 and into Missoula for the night.
It was very rainy and windy, so I found a cheap motel in the downtown area. There was a “Sturgis or Bust” sign from the 50s out front, which helped me decide. $50 after tax didn’t hurt either. A small non-chain motel. It’s mostly clean.
Only saw two motorcycles today just as yesterday, but neither waved today unlike yesterday. Saw antelope, bald eagles, deer, and a rabbit.
I am liking Montana.
The only statue I saw today:
Other Posts in the series: