Getting up to have my Poptarts eaten was not fun. The rest of my food was safe inside my pannier. I would be eating what was left of my peanut butter and Nebraska honey, which I mixed together back in Dubois. I went to the bathroom and on the way said good morning to someone that had just pulled in with a camper. I told him about the facility and then about the wifi. When I returned from the restroom he asked the “where from, and where to” questions and then offered to share his breakfast. He was about to prepare pancakes!
I went back to the shack, changed clothes, and packed the bike before returning to his camper. He was in his 70s, traveling locally hitting all of the fishing spots. Trout fishing is a big deal around here. After eating 6 pancakes I took off.
It was a slow climb up to the top of Chief Joseph Pass. It would be 30 miles up and 30 miles down for the day. About halfway to the top I stopped at a visitor center which described the war between the local tribes and the “white man” settlers. Everything about the scene was sad.
From there the climb got more aggressive, the smoke thicker, and the day hotter. The two lane road wound through thick pine trees following a small creek up the pass. At the top was the Idaho/Montana border. I would stay on the Montana side going down and not pass into Idaho for a few more days. The rest area at the top was a welcomed sight. I stopped for lunch and played with the fat ground squirrels. The hard part was over. I had 30 miles of downhill to Darby.
There was a hot spring at the bottom of the pass that tempted me to stop, but I kept going. The hill I would have to climb to get out of the hot spring is what convinced me to keep going. On the way to Darby I met two couples. The first two were doing a short trek of a few hundred miles, but the second couple had been riding for 10 years. They had everything in their packs, including a pressure cooker and laptop. When I showed them my keyboard and phone they almost lost it. I spent probably half an hour with them hearing their story. You can follow their story HERE, but they have not updated in a while.
I stopped in Sula for a snack and to get off of the bike. I was out of the steeper grade and now having to battle the smoke and headwind. Just 15 more miles to Darby. I talked myself out of camping and into getting a room. I used the smoke and cold nights as my excuse. The room was cheap and dirtier than some of my campsites, but I could regulate the temperature and it was out of the smoke. I slept on top of the bedding with the minions between me and the bed. It would be my first good night sleep since leaving Dubois.