My first bike tour
I have always had a desire to take off and go backpacking. As I have gotten older having the time and in a great location to backpack I realized I am not sure my old joints are up to backpacking. So I decided no excuse not to use my backpacking stuff for bike touring. Bike touring is not backpacking but in my opinion they have a lot in common. I ride several hundred miles a month just riding around the area so now I just need to load the bike and go.
I set a date and a route and started planning. The route was a loop of about 140 miles in the Kootenai National Forest. I would leave from Two Bit RV Park in Libby MT. The trip would take 3 days and 2 nights. The route was through the forest on paved forest service roads. The first day went well I made about 45 miles with a total elevation gain of 2500 feet. I had planned to stop at about mile 40 but as I got to the area I saw a couple piles of scat in the road and from what I had read it was grizzle scat so I moved on down the road a few miles. Not that a few miles gets me out of grizzle country it was just to give me a little piece of mind???
I found a nice clearing and setup camp. After a meal of my dehydrated curry lentils and rice I settled down and relaxed for the evening. I was setting outside the tent reading when I had 3 mule deer come into the little clearing I had setup camp in. And as usual the camera was in the tent and any movement to get the camera would have spooked them some I continued reading and watching the deer.
The night was uneventful and I had a great night’s sleep all was quiet or at least nothing woke me up during the night. My camp was not raided all my supplies were as I had left them the night before.
After coffee and breakfast I was low on water and had about 15 miles before I got the big climb of this trip. The climb was about 12 miles long with about 3500 feet elevation gain.
I passed a couple of areas I could have replenished my water during the first day but it was early and I had not consumed that much of my supply. As the morning progressed and the miles when by I began to realize I may not gain access to any water before I approached the big climb. Sure enough I reached the bridge that crosses the Koocanusa Lake in Rexford area and I had not located any water source. The lake was there and I had my Sawyer Squeeze filtration system but I was several hundred feet above the lake with no direct access to it. The stream/creeks I crossed that fed the lake was well over 100 feet below the road with very steep rocky access so that was not an option.
My best option was to cross the lake leave the forest service roads and head back to Libby on MT Hwy 37. I knew there were several campgrounds and boat landing on this route. Within 5 miles of getting on Hwy 37 I located a water source and was able to refill all my water containers. With the issue I had with the water I decided to change my route and continue on Hwy 37. I passed several good locations to camp early in the day but I wanted to peddle a little long and that kept extending until I realize at 3pm (my target stop time) I was only about 2 hours from Two Bit RV so I pushed through and returned early making it a 2 day one night trip.
It was a short fast trip (120 miles 5800 feet elevation gain) but now I have completed an overnight bike trip I have a lot better feeling for my equipment. I am now planning my next trip. I learn a lot and had a great time on my first trip.
Looking forward to my next adventure.