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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July 14, 2010

Pondering the Pend Oreille

Filed under: Idaho, Section 01, Washington — Henry Scott @ 10:45 pm


That’s a silly title (aren’t they all?), but it helps me to remember how to pronounce the name of this beautiful river that I followed all day. It has a rich history of logging and fur trading — hence the French naming, which my mother pointed out in the comments yesterday means “hang ear.” It is pronounced “Ponderay,” which I learned by asking a USFS worker at Panhandle Park, where I stopped to cook some lunch. Amusingly, at least to me, is that there’s actually a town with that name and spelling just a bit north of Sandpoint, Idaho.


Today was much flatter than I’ve experienced so far, but it was a fairly hard day for me due to headwinds and, I suspect, some built-up fatigue. I’m afraid I exacerbated that tired feeling by making a poor “second lunch” choice by stopping at McDonald’s in Newport. I’m trying to fake enthusiasm in the photo at right, which I took soon after leaving the Newport McDonald’s. In reality, I was really wishing I’d made a different food choice.

Just for the record, I’ve been eating lots of fruits, vegetables and nuts while I ride, and cooking simple pastas, grains and oatmeal when stopped– I tend to only mention the gross excesses for amusement… like today’s chicken club sandwich, chicken snack wrap, french fries, chocolate shake and two apple pies. I guess there’s a reason for why Tour de France riders don’t eat that kind of stuff during the race!


Anyway, despite the tired legs today, I had a great time and met a lot of interesting people. I met the man at left, Warren, on LeClerk Rd while he was adjusting the chain on his motor-assisted bicycle; he is literally riding around the country. He lives in Alabama and is making a big loop around the U.S. He’s been undertaking one adventure after another since his retirement from the Marines. (He started biking to get back to Alabama after hiking the Appalachian Trail… from Alabama!)

As the photo above indicates, I left Washington today and entered Idaho. I’m camped at another RV park, this time just a few miles south of Sandpoint. I had prettier choices several miles back, but I kept looking for something better. BeforeĀ I knew it, however, it was getting dark, and this was my only option. That said, it was nice to get a hot shower.

Notably, once I reach Sandpoint, I’ll move on to the second section of the Northern Tier. I’ve been riding for seven days, and my total mileage is 485 for a daily average of ~69 miles.

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