From Lake Koocanusa we made our way to Eureka and the Riverside Park for the night. $5 plus $5 deposit for the key to the communal bathroom which was worth the price of admission. It was ankle deep in water from a vigorously dripping shower nozzle. The water on the floor was warm, though, from the heavy foot traffic. The toilet worked when available and gave off an “I’d rather stand than sit” vibe. We stopped here after too big a meal at Café Jax. Our first French fries - pounds of them - and me, another reuben for my survey which is not going well for lack of subject. 5 on a 10 max at the Jax. You don’t need to travel to Eureka for a reuben if you are a fan. Maybe for the bathroom experience, yes.
Riverside Park was a gathering place for cyclists. We met Tedesco - a slight, dark, thick-haired young man fresh from destroying himself and his right knee on the Banff to BaHa Great Divide Mountain Bike Race. He had ridden 125 miles the day before - on trails over 16 hours and was bailing because of injury. Surveying the park for campsite he, proving that despite having entered this race had some good sense, headed to the hotel. And, we met Andrew Yapp. Follow him on his blog.
He was retracing our path to the Pacific - had left Minot, North Dakota, two weeks back and swung casually through southern Canada. We had supper with him and breakfast. Many travels behind him - all over the west, down through BaHa, the Southern Tier across the US, then up to DC along the Blue Ridge. He thought maybe at 27 it was getting time, after this trip, to think career. Very social, he found the pleasure of bike touring to be the unexpected and the people he met. Slept on the top of a picnic table in his sleeping bag. Had only a tarp - unused this night - for a tent. Cooked some great eggs and bacon for us and entertained us with stories of his travels.
We met, also, seven cyclists - friends from Pendleton, Oregon - on the Northern Tier route to Bar Harbor. Hoped to get there mid August. They traveled without gear, with three vehicles in support. 70 - 80 miles a day. Being in their own group seemed to insulate them from others a bit, though they were friendly. They did keep the little bathroom humming and insulated a bit, as well. Science teacher, Mark Peterson, writes their blog = C2C.wardpress.
Leaving Eureka under a bright and clear sky, loaded with new supplies, we headed uphill toward Whitefish and that’s when the sleet treat struck. They say here, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes, and it will change,” and it did. A large dark cloud moved in from the mountain ridge to the north and boom, suddenly presto - we were under siege. Quickly, but belatedly, we put on our rain gear and were soon wet anyway. The sleet pounded us while clouds of water from above - and the road, thrown by the trucks - enveloped us. It was an unusual experience, wouldn’t happen like this in Louisiana - a gap in our education. The result was an early camp at North Dickey Lake NFS Campground where we spent the afternoon recovering body heat. I started getting reports of my frozen toes coming on line with great protestations about when a got in my bedroll at 10 p.m.
It was cozy in the tent, warm and dry. The night went well until about 2 a.m. at which time an awful racket commenced a few yards from my tent. My bicycle with the Burley Trailer was parked against a pine tree five feet from my tent. Something or someone was knocking both around. They or it were also breathing loudly, sniffing and later batting pots and pans about. This went on for some time. Dave snored through it - having earplugs in place. I assumed it was a bear and that I was safe in the tent with no food therein. This may have been a foolish assumption but proved correct. The bear came and went over one and one-half hours, each time visiting the trailer and giving it a good thrashing - ultimately leaving it upside down with its
axle bent a bit, though still usable, and its fiberglass pole broken - and thoroughly muddied. The bike was unharmed. The bear was after our cheese, trying to move our cheese - using his best effort and failing, but he left his mark on my buggy and my consciousness. It was a second lesson learned in one day. The bear was discerning in terms of food preference. He ate our Braeburn apple, declined to consume a nice bag of peeled organic baby carrots, attacked and consumed a jar of Natrella but left unmolested a jar of peanut butter. He did not mess with the camp stove.
We learned this morning from the campground host that there had been bear problems, but they were thought remedied by a death of the suspect by gun. They had taken down warning signs which are back up, and a trap is on the way for our bear. We asked that they spare the bear a bullet - their preference, too.