Northern Tier 2010

July 15, 2010

STOP! It’s Montana Time

Filed under: Geology, Idaho, Montana, Section 02 — Henry Scott @ 9:00 pm

Since I’m so far north, it didn’t take long to get across Idaho. I crossed into Montana early this afternoon and, accordingly, entered Mountain Time. Prior to that, I enjoyed riding along the edge of Lake Pend Orielle in Idaho, but there were so many logging trucks, and lots of construction, that I pretty much just hunkered down and powered through to Montana.

In fact, today my legs and body felt so good, plus I had favorable winds, that I really got into just watching the landscape roll by, and I don’t have much of a narrative other than what I expect everyone already knows: the scenery in Montana is awesome.

The geological highlight for me was to see excellent stromatolites in the Belt Supergroup along Highway 2, about ten miles from Libby. These sedimentary rocks are quite famous, at least as famous as rocks can get, and I’ve been hearing about them since I was an undergraduate. Stromatolites are algal mats that trap sediment, and then another layer of algae forms on top of that, and so on. There’s a penny in the photo just right of center for scale. There are still some living samples today (they look like large algae-covered mounds in shallow water), but they were much more abundant in the Precambrian — the ones shown here, I believe, are about 1.5 billion years old.

Today was my first century of the tour at 102 miles from where I camped last night near Sagle, ID to Libby, MT. I’m set up in a city park, right across the street from some restaurants, and I had a huge dinner. I’ve decided to start eating out more — I simply cannot cook enough to get the number of calories I’m burning each day (I think around 6,000), and I don’t want to steadily lose weight during the trip.

An interesting thing about Libby: there are what appear to be pet rabbits all over the place. From what I’ve learned talking to the locals, there was an elderly man who breeded rabbits (fryers or boilers, I’m not sure), and when he passed away some kids broke open the rabbit cages. They’ve been reproducing like, well, rabbits ever since!


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