Starting out from the Montana border...
We drove down to Eureka, MT on Saturday 27 June in a rental car with our Surly Pugsleys hanging off the trunk on a folding bike rack. These racks always scare me and I kept looking back to see if the bikes were still attached to the trunk! My fears were unfounded and they made it to our motel safe and sound.
We had a poke around town for some nightlife, but came up empty. There were a couple options, but they were a bit scary and people smoking inside bars is something we can’t handle so we grabbed a case of beer and headed to our motel room for the night.
I slept fitfully and woke up a bit dazed. By the time everyone had a shower, we ate breakfast and grabbed some final supplies it was 11am. Not exactly a crack of dawn start – something we’d regret later in the day. Eventually Kurt’s GF dropped us off at the border and she headed home in the rental car [thanks for the lift SN!...=-)].
We rolled across the border into Canada without any troubles and started our CDN GDR tour in earnest. It didn’t take long for us to turn onto a gravel forest service road [FSR]. We were just getting used to the handling of our fully loaded Pugsleys when the climb to Galton Pass started. Little did we know we’d spend the rest of a hot hot afternoon slowly cranking and pushing our rigs uphill from shady patch to shady patch. Yikes!
Given our lack of touring this year, the heat of the day and how unexpected this was [we didn't have much info on the newly proposed CDN GDR route] our morale took a beating. I did my best to keep it inside while I laboured uphill trying to remember why I wasn’t on a patio at home sipping a cold beer with my GF?
Every chance we got we doused ourselves with cold creek water and soaked our t-shirts to keep cool. We also plowed through our daily snack supplies at our frequent rest stops. One of the benefits of bike touring is getting to eat anything you want in large quantities while losing weight.
Finally we reached the summit in the late afternoon – tired, but happy to have overcome what turned out to be one of two really hard sections of the whole ride – the other being Elk Pass.
Kurt rides the "good" side of Galton Pass
On our way down the backside of Galton Pass we rode some very smooth and scenic double track FSR. The views and lack of pedaling made us smile big time! We met our first CDN GDR riders at this point. They turned out to be the only other riders we met on the newly proposed CDN GDR route and happily we met them just before our only potentially difficult route finding section. They explained roughly where to look for the singletrack connector that joined Phillips-Rabbit FSR to Wigwam FSR. They had spent half a day lost in search of the north end of this connector. As it turns out it is much easier to find from the south as the road literally ends where the singletrack starts so there is much less uncertainty where to start looking in the woods for the trail.
From the south just ride to the end of the FSR where you’ll see a big cut section of timber forming a clearing head straight north into the trees and look for blue flagging as well as what is becoming a pretty clear trail as more bikers ride this route. From the north we built up a cairn of rocks to help mark the start as well I took a GPS way point I can send you by email.
Pushing through a muddy section of singletrack
The singletrack connector was narrow at the south end and muddy and steep in places. We pushed a lot it. Towards the north the trail flattened out and opened up. This made riding possible, but I can see how it would be easier to loose the trail at this end or have trouble finding it in the first place. The whole trail was marked with blue flagging tape.
At the south end of Wigwam FSR there was a newer western section we could ride or the older eastern road. The riders we had met earlier in the day recommended the western road as the said the old road was in bad shape. It turned out to be a good idea. The newer western road was buff, fast and rolling with only one climb of note.
Early on the Wigwam FSR we stopped on a bridge to cook up a meal. I can’t say I love freeze dried backpacking meals, but they sure are easy to make and we ate them right out of their packages with a spork so there was almost no clean up to do. A meal for two was about right for one hungry biker at ~1000 calories. Unfortunately Kurt left his spork on the bridge during this meal. Something we wouldn’t notice until the next day.
We rode the rest of the way up Wigwam FSR and decided to camp just south of the junction between Cabin & Wigwam FSRs. It was about 8pm when we stopped after ~ 52kms of riding.
I hid our bear cans with our food up the road away from our tent and enjoyed a brief campfire before falling soundly asleep.