Three Forks to Livingston
Day 7

6:35 a.m. and Yellowstone (Bill Clawson) Kelly's generator is 5 minutes late. There is it! There is order in our world again.

Chuck is in his tent vociferously complaining -- everything is wet. Sleeping bag, clothes, everything! Bob names Chuck's tent, A River Runs Through It. Chuck doesn't seem to be amused. For the moment, the rain has ended, as has the wind. We won't have to pack up in the rain nor pedal in a windstorm.

Frank is ready to leave -- early. He wonders if Chuck wants to share a motel room for the night. As an afterthought, he asks if I would like to be part of a triple. He'll get an extra roll-away bed. I reluctantly agree. Getting a motel seems like "cheating" on the concept of camping, although on my own tours I've easily justified a warm, dry bed when the weather falls apart.

On the road, I'm relatively comfy in full rain gear and most of my cold weather gear. It's chilly and drizzling. Rufus has on his raincoat (ziplock bag) and cyclists coming up behind comment:

"His leg is dangling over the right side."
"He looks cold and wet."
"I love hearing his bear bell."

Ten miles down the road in Manhattan, bikes with their distinctive Bike Centennial yellow reflective triangles form a double parked row in front of a cafe open early this Sunday morning. Gordon and Glenn commandeer a large table. Steaming hot cocoa beckons. We are soaked and drip wide wet footprints on the black linoleum floor as we slosh through. Cathy asks for plastic bags to make modified rain shoe covers. When I next see her, she is stepping around carefully, with a rustle of plastic at floor level.

It's raining but I'm comfy in my Patagonia capilene(tm) mid-wt. zip t-shirt, thermax(tm) shirt, and Burley Ultrex(tm) jacket. My legs are happy with shorts, "black legs," and Burley rain pants (also Ultrex(tm)) with wool sox, touring shoes and Burley (again!) shoe covers. Perhaps I should volunteer to be a Burley advertisement. I'm quite a proponent of their rain gear!

The mountain peaks to our right are occluded by clouds, but the range on our left is visible with the snow level only a few hundred feet above us. Last night's howling wind and rain laid down the base of this year's ski season. We hear that Logan Pass in Glacier Park is closed due to snow. We made it across in the nick of time.

At our Bozeman lunch stop, the Bike Centennial "water and provisions van" is doing a brisk business in rain gear, particularly Burley shoe covers. The rain has quit, but it is chilly. Carla is on the c.b. radio with Angel who is at the top of Bozeman Pass saying it's sunny and 50 deg. at the summit (elev. 5,760'). I'm not convinced.

As we pedal up the pass, the weather alternates between drizzle and dry. Now we are in light snow flurries. Great! Although I grew up in Illinois, I haven't cycled in snow before. This is a new experience!

The sun isn't shining at the top. In fact, it's cloudy and cool. Cathy hands me a snowball to display during our "summit" picture session.

It is a fast downhill into Livingston, even for me who is somewhat tentative in my downhill speed on unfamiliar roads. I hit 35 mph, but don't sustain it. At the bottom of the pass the Livingston exit is under a nasty dark rain squall.

Livingston is an attractive small western town and I expect to see stage coaches and a sheriff come 'round the corner, making a supply stop at the tackle shop and then into the Bar and Grill ordering a "round for the boys." I roll through town to the S-S RV Park and Campground. My luggage isn't there -- a good sign -- it must be at a hotel. I am so numb, I make a beeline into the park's laundry room where washers and dryers are whirring, creating warmth. A number of us are already in there sucking up the heat. Frank has been over the pass for hours, he and his "blue steed" having hitched a ride in a horse trailer back at Manhattan.

After dinner many retreat to the Livingston Bar and Grill, a famous hangout for Hollywood types ("Do you recognize anyone here?" is whispered back and forth) who are buying up land here -- Paradise Valley, the area between Livingston and Gardiner, new playground for the stars. We are introduced to Black Dog Ale by Steve, who sings its praises as a superb locally brewed beer.

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Helena to Three Forks (Day 5/6)
Livingston to Gardiner (Day 8)
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Last modified: August 12, 2004