We were up at dawn and on the trail by 7:30. We wanted to climb the 2500 feet over eighteen miles to Grizzly Basin while the day was still cool. Grizzly Basin is described in our guide book as one of the most beautiful and challenging sections of the trail – “a piece of Glacier National Park transplanted.” I really wanted to ride it. Mary wasn’t quite so enthusiastic but she was game.

Even though the air was smoky (the air has been smoky every day of this ride) and we had to bypass two gates (we often bypass gates on this route) the ride up the gravel Forest Service roads went surprisingly well for two sixty-somethings like us who have only been riding the Great Divide for six days.

After not seeing a single car on the road all morning we were within a mile of the Basin when we came to a junction and a Forest Service pickup came speeding up the hill in a cloud of dust. We were told politely but firmly to leave the mountain at once. A forest fire was just over the ridge and our route would take us right into it. If we had been one minute earlier or later we would have missed the Forest Service guy. I cursed our luck. Mary blessed it. I was confidant we could have easily avoided the fire. Mary was sure we would have been incinerated.

We had to backtrack down to the highway and into the town of Seeley Lake. That was where our ride was supposed to end today anyway but instead of riding on a busy, shoulder-less highway we were supposed to have ridden through spectacular Grizzly Basin.

The ride has been going well. I continue to be impressed by Mary’s stamina. No mechanical problems with the bikes. No mechanical problems with our bodies.

Our fellow travelers on the Great Divide Trail have coalesced into a loosely banded traveling community, not unlike the hiking community I was a part of on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2011. Although none of the community members travel together, we frequently encounter each other along the trail. Today in Seeley Lake we ran into a fellow named Kendall that we met at our first night’s camp. Then there’s a young guy from Portland whose name I never got who nearly crashed today when he got a flat tire coming down the mountain from Grizzly Basin. By far our most frequent encounters, however, have been with a Dutch couple named Michiel and Margo. I don’t think a day has gone by that we haven’t crossed paths with them. We camped together at a primitive remote site a few nights ago. It was a hot afternoon when Mary and I rode into the Cedar Creek Camp and Michiel and Margo were already cooling off in the creek. Mary and I soon joined them:


We also cross paths with a few north-bound riders. I was most impressed by this Belgian couple we met at Bigfork who are traveling from Denver to Calgary with their two-year-old son! (And we thought we were daring.)


Chelan was on fire when we left and Montana is on fire as we ride through it. Seems like the whole world is on fire!