We awoke unscathed by bear claws and teeth, and our bags were unharmed as well. Unfortunately, we had no visitors that night. We packed everything up and headed back to the bar where Cheri, the owner, said she would open for us at 8:00. Sure enough she was there, and I ended up getting the same exact thing I got for dinner the night before. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The two other followed suit.
Cheri and her boyfriend Albert were doing a walk for breast cancer in Seattle in a early August. Mark spotted the sign on the way out, and decided to make a contribution to the walk. He said he was being a good samaritan for a change, yet I wasn't sure I knew him in any other light.
We had a 39 mile stretch with no services to get us into Browning, a town a bit southeast of our entrance into Glacier National Park. As we began getting closer to the Rockies again, the terrain became more hilly. Mark got his first taste of the wild west. Yikes. We breaked for some snacks a little over halfway on top of a hill. Although definitely not my favorite setting, there is a certain peace in being surrounded by nothingness. I can only imagine in somewhere like Alaska.
Once we got to Browning, we stopped for some food at a Subway. We filled up on chips and cookies and saved the remainder of our sandwiches for later. Mark went across the street to pick up some sweatpants and a hat as he was a bit chilly the night before (rookie). He was successful in his mission and looking at the gps, we were disappointed to see that we were much farther away from the park entrance than we had thought judging from the map. We also noticed that there was a non major road that seemed to shave off a few miles from what we had intended on. We gambled and went with it.
We began to run into some pretty serious wind for a while, so we slowed down the pace and chatted like old women. Eventually we ran back into the same road we had turned off, and the change of direction, plus mountain cover helped kill off the wind. We stopped briefly at a sign that showed us we had 15 miles to go to St. Mary. We actually couldn't read it so I took a picture and we zoomed in to see it.
This is where the climb really started. We had a couple large hills as damn near cartographer Paul accurately predicted from looking at the map. After the slow going rise, we zipped down a good 1500 feet or more to St. Mary's, the east side park entrance.
In St. Mary's we grabbed some dinner. We bought a large cheese pizza, and the waitress accidentally brought out a pepperoni… A fortunate mistake for us, as pepperoni cost another couple bucks. We put down the pizza easily as Paul and I were finally joined by someone with a comparable appetite.
Before leaving St. Mary's we picked up some s'more stuff since we intended on making a fire that night to make sure senior el marko made it through the night (; Exciting, we'd have a real camping experience complete with s'moreage.
We rolled down the street to the park entrance where I got us all in with my fancy pass that we purchased at Rocky Mountain National Park. We asked up front where the closest campground was, and the response of 6 miles was music to our ears. We wanted to get some more work in before the day's end to start chipping away at Logan Pass, our highest remaining elevation in the trip at 6,680′ that we would cover the following day.
Even before the park, as we descended upon Glacier, we could see it magnificent beauty; but it was truly at its best up close… and we hadn't seen anything yet. The water looked so nice and pure, I was set on getting in it before the sun had gone beyond the mountains that evening.
We quickly made our way to the campground, where we saw two other sets of cycling tourists. We ended up camping next to two, Evan and Evershed, who were coming from Wisconsin. Evershed was going to a 2 week intensive bicycle training school, and Evan had plans of biking all the way down to Tierra Del Fuego in South America, the southernmost city in the world! Craziness, but he would get 3 consecutive summers out of it. Not bad.
After we plopped our stuff down and chatted a bit, I headed towards the lake. Determined to go in for a dip, I paid no mind to the fact that the sun's warming qualities would have to wait for another day as it was hidden behind the mountains. Nevertheless, with my training in mind, I jumped in the lake. I had experienced much colder waters. However, when we began biking back, the wind picked up something awful, and did make it a chilly ride. No biggy though.
When we returned to the site, Ever and Evan were breaking out their soccer ball. Awesome, Paul and I had just been talking about how we wanted to get one for the trip. We kicked it around for a while, and I told them how we were definitely getting one now that they had inspired us.
Afterwards Paul and Mark showered like normal people, and I set up my tent and began theirs. Mark returned with a bundle of wood just in time… my s'mores stomach was completely empty. It was fun making another fire that we got going nicely in no time. We had bought plenty of s'mores fixins so we invited over the neighbors in attempts to pay forward at least s'more favors we had received in the past. Evan was satisfied with just eating the marshmallows, which was fine with us as we had an extra 50 or so.
We poked around with the fire for a while as boys will, and made sure all of our stuff was packed really well and secured in the bear box. It was a little difficult to keep track as Evershed and I had the same exact bags, but better have a slight mix up than attract a 600 pound beast to the party.
With 3,000′ and change of elevation gain the next day, we tried to get good rest. Mark's climbing ability would be tested for his second day in a row, but if he could keep pace with what he had already shone us, he would be fine. Eager to see what some have called "the most beautiful ride in the states", it was beddy time. All bundled up, some more than others, we went to bed under the full moon.
Life was good.