Scott and I went bikepacking up north over the last ~week. Scott's already ~halfway through his recounting of the trip here. His full account will undoubtedly be more organized and detailed and accurate than what I'm about to do. I'd much rather throw out a few pics and anecdotes then move on to the next.
Our original objective was simply to ride a pile o' singletrack in Montana and/or Idaho. Seeing new places, ya know? But then, when I started searching for beta, several folks chimed in with good ideas and the one that rose to the top involved 'sploring the CDT along the ID/MT border.
Leaving Lima with clear skies and nice temps at ~moonset:
Working up Little Sheep Creek:
Butt-deep in the sage further upvalley:
Pushing out of the drainage to gain the divide:
On the CDT proper:
Hard to focus on the trail, so stellar were the views.
Throughout the day the trail gradually became narrower and more disused until it vanished altogether. Still fine here:
High desert tucked into the mountains. Roughly 8500' here:
Red Conglomerate Peaks:
Dropping over the edge for a surprisingly fun contour-ish descent:
Eventually the ST climbed through a saddle and ended at a T into a steep scramble of a jeep trail. We had a track to follow on our GPS', but weren't in agreement about how to go about crossing this next trailless stretch. Ultimately Scott bushwhacked on an ascending contour while I slogged up the road to the ridgeline:
My route was stupid steep and not much fun to begin with. As I stopped (repeatedly) to catch my breath I could look back and see Scott riding (apparently) easily along despite the lack of trail tread. Scott's the blob in the undulation at dead center:
Jealous of his easy progress and seeing what looked like a CDT post off to my right, I left the road and contoured through a grassy meadow. ~10 minutes of mellow riding brought me to the jeep track I had originally been heading for, minus the pain of steep slogging. Nice. I cruised along that track to the next obvious CDT post and had a quick nap while waiting for Scott to arrive. His easy start had ultimately devolved into a steep slog too. Bottom line? No *great* way to get from A->B on this stretch.
Climbing away from Bannack Pass on a steep jeep track:
Ultimately I lost motivation to expend the energy to *pedal* up this thing and Scott did what he always does in that situation: Twiddled his 20 x 36 right on by.
The theme for the rest of the afternoon and evening was fall line steep jeep tracks. Fun to blast down them, but shortlived and always followed by lots of steep pushing and limited pedaling--regardless of the amount of motivation:
Nice evening light to focus on while attempting to ignore the no-fun trails:
"Crap, we gotta go *up* that??!!?"
Shortly after sunset we descended another steep skidder and arrived at the shore of Deadman Lake. Not seeing any dead men but unable to believe the caddis hatch feeding frenzy on the surface of the lake, I dropped the bike and hastily began assembling my fly rod. My excitement (fish jumping so frequently it sounded like big fat raindrops on the lake, and each one elevated my heart rate another few bpm) was such that I made several rookie moves in assembling the rod and reel, thus wasting precious seconds of daylight. I casted briefly but couldn't see a thing, so I put the rod away, set up the tarp and made some dinner before racking out.