Since I resumed riding, it really feels like a different chapter. I only camped once, and I no longer need to carry a lot of food with me. The best part is that I get to stay with great people more often.
Fernie was my last stop in Canada. I was curious to see this village, and was on a quest to find a pair of fingerless gloves since I must have left one at EIk Lakes, where I packed in the dark. All day I thought about that lost glove, not so much because I needed it, but because all the things I carry are like a part of a whole, and I felt disproportionately sad about loosing it.
But the gods were smiling again, and when I arrived at Cheryl’s place, a lovely woman who invited me to stay at her place, she happened to have a single left hand glove, after she lost the other one, and gave it to me to replace the one I had lost. It was a very fortunate thing especially since none of the 4 bike shops in Fernie had fingerless gloves!
Cheryl did the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail on her own before and we had lots in common, so I really enjoyed staying with her. She had to work at night, but she lent me her car to go back downtown and enjoy the last market night in Fernie, where I spent the evening listening to the live band and chatting with 2 expats from Quebec. One makes the best kombucha I ever had and the other is passionate about cooking, so we had lots to talk about as I am passionate about eating.
Then I left Fernie and headed towards Montana. Surprisingly, I felt somewhat intimidated about entering the US, and the first few miles were not inspiring. But soon I arrived in Eureka, and discovered that people from Montana are extremely friendly.
It was 29°C when I arrived, and soon I stopped at the homemade ice cream shop, where I ended up spending more than two hours chatting with Gregg, the really friendly owner, then I spent the evening with a nice young couple, Latimer and Kari, whom I met through Warmshowers. They kindly hosted me for the night.
From there, I rode to Whitefish, where I was hosted by Jennifer and Tim Travis. Tim toured around the world on his bike and I had read one of his books, so it was fun to meet him in person. Whitefish is a lovely town, I loved it, but unfortunately I couldn’t get a SIM card there, so Jenny drove me to Kalispell where I could get a card. We had dinner together, talking about bike touring, politics and other stuff, it was awesome. Time flew by too fast.
The next morning, I had company for the ride. Jon, an avid cyclist that I had met by chance at a café in Canmore a few weeks before, had given me his contact info in case I would travel through Bigfork, and sure enough when I contacted him he offered to host me at his beautiful home.
Even better, he offered to meet me in Whitefish and ride with me on small roads, away from the highway. Without his help, I never would have been able to navigate the numerous roads and turns, plus it was really nice to have company for the day. His partner Susan drove him to Whitefish, picked up my luggage, and later met us on the road, also on her bike. We rode together into Bigfork where we had lunch as we watched the dragonboat race that was happening that day. Great timing!
But that was just the start of the day! Jon and Susan are in incredible shape, and the 70+ km ride was just the appetizer! They have paddleboards in their garage, so we spent most of the afternoon on the water. It was heaven!
Then they cooked a fabulous dinner (including ice cream) and we all went to bed happy and tired! In the morning, Jon cooked an awesome breakfast before sunrise to send me off with a full belly! It was hard to leave, especially since they offered me to stay longer, but I wanted to take advantage of the good weather as it was about to change… So I reluctantly said goodbye to these really nice people, hoping to visit them one day at their other home in Colorado. Little did I know that I was going to see Jon again soon…
I started riding on the beautiful road along Flathead Lake, passing cherry and apple orchards, trying to resist the temptation to steal an apple or two, when I saw someone parked on the side of the road. It was Jon, holding my InReach device that I had forgotten at their place… He had to drive more than 20 miles one way to bring it back to me. I felt quite embarrassed! And thankful.
Later I arrived in Ronan, which is on an Indian Reservation. A town with a definitely different vibe after the resort towns I had visited, but I was once again hosted by a really kind couple, Thomas and Anna-Marie. We had lunch together and interesting conversation. I truly enjoyed my stay with them, it is such a privilege to stay with locals. Another cyclist from Texas also ended up staying with them, and before we left this morning, Anna-Marie gave us each a strawberry-rhubarb square that certainly helped me ride a bunch of miles… Delicious!
And just before I reached the farm in Arlee, where I will spend the night with yet another amazing couple (Jennifer and Micah), I stopped at the Garden of the 1000 Buddhas, a place that seemed oddly out of place in Montana, but why not!
It was welcoming, beautiful and peaceful. Exactly like Montana.