Day 7: Grave Creek CG-North Fork Hostel/ Polebridge, MT

Miles: 44

Elevation: 3050 ft climbing

Wow, today was quite a day! I mean, every day is quite a day, I guess. But today also was!

One week on the trail already….Banff already seems like months ago.

It turns out, I survived the night! I had been feeling really worried about this fact, lying in bed last night. I have been developing some pre-saddle sore irritation, so I stopped by a pharmacy in Eureka yesterday and got some tea tree oil, which I’ve found to be pretty helpful in the past—I put some on before going to bed and realized this stuff SMELLS SUPER STRONGLY. Since I’m in the heart of Grizzly country, I lay in bed for longer than I care to admit visualizing a bear being attracted to the smell of the oil and tearing into my tent…..definitely slept with my bear spray lying right next to me. But, I guess grizzlies don’t love tea tree oil THAT much, cause I made it till morning. Phew!

Today’s ride was really really beautiful. After yesterday on the road all day, it was nice to be back off pavement. I had one big pass–Whitefish Pass–and I was super thankful for my big chunky tires on both the ascent and descents. All the time spent on pavement lately has had me questioning the wisdom of 2.8″ tires–way bigger than most Divide riders’. Today’s rocky crossing wiped away my doubts–they made it easy on my arms and absorbed the impact of a LOT of chunky road. While preparing, I spoke to a woman who did the Divide in 2017, whose wise advice was that there is no perfect bike or tire or setup for this entire ride, because the terrain and surfaces are so different! Today, I found that to be very true.

It’s Heidi I and Heidi P!
Glacier National Park from the West

Anyway, gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous views today. After yesterday I had been feeling “meh” about Montana, but after actually heading into the mountains today, I’m converted.

An especially awesome part of today was turning down alongside Glacier National Park. The route never goes into Glacier, but I followed its western border for about 15 miles–absolutely breathtaking views of mountain tops behind pine forested valleys, rivers, and wildflower meadows.

Another sweet thing today was the SMELL–constantly surrounded by the smell of pine and wildflowers.

I ran into Heidi and Heidi at a snack break and followed a bit behind them into Polebridge. Polebridge is off the route but only by 5 miles (that were super downhill, so not looking forward to that climb tomorrow morning)

I’m staying in a classic backpacker hostel (we’re also on the PNT here) which is really awesome. The owner is kind and helpful, and this place is covered with interesting memorabilia and decor. It also is completely solar powered, and even has propane lights. Oliver (the owner) turned on the power to a power strip just so I could charge my Garmin and phone. I had the best shower I’ve had so far here.

North Fork Hostel ❤️

Polebridge is……very small, weirdly cute. It’s a little valley that’s chock full of what I guess are people’s cabins? With big bakery and general store in the center of town.

Physically I’m doing ok so far. My knees have been bothering me, which makes sense cause of the climbing, but is a little worrying. I’m also a little worried about my saddle situation. I’ve never had issues like this with saddle discomfort before. I’ll be in Whitefish tomorrow–a decent sized town with several bike shops–but touring is NOT really the time to experiment with saddles. With both my knees and saddle area, I’m wondering: are these the kind of issues I get used to, and improve with time and more experience? I’m not sure.

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