October 20, 2011

Kettle Falls, Washington – We had a short day today as we prepare for the first of four big climbs across Washington.  Tomorrow we will have to climb about 4200 feet to Sherman Pass, the longest single climb of the trip (though Logan Pass was higher).

The last few days have been great, really exceptional weather and interesting people along the way.  Riding out of Whitefish, we stopped in Olney about 20 miles away, only to be flagged down by Joe, an oil worker Joe (Olofsson) and I had met in Cut Bank a week earlier.  As before, he was full of pride for Western Montana, contempt for Eastern Montanans (“Those flat-landers over there, they don’t even know what a tree looks like”), and exaggerations about the abundance of free food to be gathered from the wilderness (“Just drop a bare hook in the water, you’ll catch a fish in no time”).  He had his troupe of 5 kids out back chopping wood in preparation for Winter. Great coincidence running into him again.  Also in Olney, we met Thad, the one-eyed tournament Walleye fisherman.  He talked for about 10 minutes about fishing before ascertaining that none of us actually fished. Undeterred, he then continued for another 5 or so minutes before we could escape. Good came of the encounter, though, as he directed us to a back route from Trego to Libby that supposedly would save us 50 miles.  Turns out 20 is closer to the mark, but it was an amazing road nonetheless, with virtually no traffic and through thick forest the whole way.  I saw a wolf, luckily not too close up.

Joe and Coop had some bike trouble and caught a ride the last 30 or so miles into Libby, and by the time Tom and I rode into town they’d secured accommodation for the night at the home of Bill Pepper, the produce manager at the local grocery store.  Bill and his wife Linda were extremely gracious and hospitable, feeding us and letting us sleep inside, escaping a cold night, while Bill regaled us with stories from different outdoor adventures he’s had.  We ran out of stories long before he did.  By the end I think everyone had decided to move to Montana one day.

Since then, we’ve crossed into and out of Idaho, which is thankfully much narrower than Montana, and are a good chunk of the way into Washington.  We’ve got a lot of climbing left to do, but are within spitting distance of the coast.  (Well, 350 miles, anyway.)

In Clark Fork, ID, we met James Junget, operator of the local bike shop and amateur bike historian.  He had an amazing collection of custom bikes he had built himself, and he fixed a couple nagging problems with Tom and Joe’s bikes.

In other news, Joe has graciously continued to lose at Hearts, thereby treating the rest of us to snacks and beer.

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10 Responses to October 20, 2011

  1. MomLady says:

    Thank you for calling, Christopher. Good to hear that Keith is home safe. It sounds as though he had an amazing ride through Washington..I hope you guys are as lucky..

    4200 feet… nice the way you put it, dear. Just 1400 feet three times…

    • Joshlyn says:

      That’s so great you all are meeting interesting people and hearing their life stories. You guys should collect stories on a recorder and make a project out of it. Just sounds like a really cool experience to gather information and put it all together to share later. Glad to hear all is well!

  2. Caitlin Eide says:

    Did the walleye guy give you any tips? Like how to catch a fish in joe’s lake?

  3. Caitlin Eide says:

    p.s missing you all!

  4. Mary T Johnson says:

    I will post the pictures that Tom had us develop hopefully tomorrow (Oct. 28). Enjoy Seattle guys!

  5. MomLady says:

    Are you chaps heading for Vancouver? If yes, Emily says that Alex’s parents will let you camp in their backyard…..

  6. Molly Spain says:

    Hey Guys!

    My parents, Bill and Linda Pepper, told us of your stay in Libby and mentioned this website. I have been checking it out every so often and living vicariously through you a trip that I would never ever do. Haha!

    My mom and I had a great chat about your stay and thought the timing couldn’t have been better as my family and I happened to “adopt” a band this summer much the same way you were “adopted” by my folks, complete chance. They had just stayed at our house a few days here in Idaho before you stayed with my parents. Your stories aren’t that much different either. You’re all in your young 20’s, happy as can be and traveling the country – you on bikes, them in an 8 passenger Chevy van, just living the dream!

    The band is called Buster Blue – http://www.busterblue.com – and they are touring the west coast right now so who knows, you all might run into each other and have a great conversation about those Peppers! In the meantime we wish you all the best on this grand adventure! You can do it!

    Molly (Pepper) Spain
    Moscow, Idaho

  7. MomLady says:

    Guys–CONGRATULATIONS on making it to Seattle!!!! I bet there are internet cafes there where you could post some updates to this site. We are ALL VERY EAGER to hear what has been happening. In particular, what was it like in Newhalem? The Wikipedia article about the place, if true, made it sound a bit…Twilight Zone like. In fact , when you did not leave that town, we were worried you were being turned into cylons. Please (I am not panicking) let us know you are still human.

    • admin says:

      Newhalem is a ghost town. Lots of houses, but apparently most are empty. 20 people live there. They’ve got a great heated bathroom that we all slept in to keep our gear dry, though.

      • MomLady says:

        That makes it sound more Subtle Knife…thank you for posting so much. I hope pictures are coming soon. Especially from Woodstock or Tomkasket or wherever that was…..

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