Saturday, August 23, 2014

Going To the Sun

As expected, your intrepid traveler left this morning with the rainsuit on.  Having been in "public" a bit at the hotel room yesterday and this morning, I got to chat with some folks.  In fact, I met 3 people from Pennsylvania in the last 24 hours.  There were two bikes parked under the canopy when I got here, mine made a third, and two more when I came down in the morning.

One of the people I had met saw me gearing up in the lobby getting ready to leave.  He says, "gearing up, huh?"  It was cold and gray, but not raining. 

By now, I know what many other people know about mountains:  they make their own weather.  On a day like this, where there's an 80% chance of rain to begin with, I know there is 0% that it will be dry coming over the pass.  So I told the guy, "well, it's easier here than alongside the road somewhere, when I'm already wet, and besides, if I wear this thing all day for no reason, I'm calling that a win."


The park is maybe 50 miles up the road.  I swung in, flashed my pass, and headed up Going-To-The-Sun Road.  It usually takes half the summer for them to get it plowed open, and I heard this year was exceptionally late. I also heard there was road construction coming down the east side, but it was passable.  Good enough for me.

You'll see from the pictures that it was as beautiful as one would expect, with dramatic effects in the clouds and the high valleys.  I was even treated to a rainbow BELOW me in one of those lush valleys as I neared the pass.

There was plenty of "pucker factor" nearing the top, again with a narrow roadbed carved into a sheer cliff, wet roads, and dense fog.  One wrong move or slip with that fully-loaded,top-heavy bike, and...

At the summit, you couldn't find a parking spot - because you couldn't tell if you were in one due to the dense fog.  I put the kickstand down, and went in becasue I couldn't feel my fingers.  The thermometer inside said 52 degrees.  Then I realized that was INSIDE!  Outside was 42.  I overheard a ranger talking about some hike or program to a visitor, and said "as long as it doesn't snow" without skipping a beat.  Sure enough, I'd find later that there was indeed snow in the forecast.  It went down to the mid 30s there by nightfall.

The ride down was tricky, but not as bad.  The fog cleared at times, and the grade less dramatic.  The construction zone was long and muddy, but solid (if slippery) and at the pace set by the pilot car, not as tenuous as the ride up.  But it did make the bike absolutely filthy, covered in mud.  Poor girl has never been mistreated so badly.

By the time I got to Havre 180 miles down the road, I was wet from leakage and couldn't feel my fingers.  After coming this far to see Glacier NP, it sure could have been a nicer day, but it could have been worse.  I was in, safe and sound, and not going anywhere.  More pizza on the way.  I called my sweetie, and she said she was sure glad she took the first, southern, part of the trip, instead of this half.  We talked about how they all can't be nice days, and you have to deal with it.  We said that I was "paying" for the good ones we shared together, a concept that we both related to.  I was glad to do it for us, so that we enjoyed our time together.

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