Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Montana Trip - Day 5

The Montana Trip - Day 5

After a nice breakfast, the four riders in the group left the house near Martin City and headed west towards Hungry Horse for gas.  Once we fueled up, it was steady riding north of Kalispell and onto US93 towards the town of Eureka.  We were going to ride the loop from Whitefish, to Eureka and Libby and back down to Martin City.

The weather was a bit overcast in parts, sunny in parts at the start of the ride.  Still, it was cool enough that we stopped to don our windproof liners to ward off the chill.

Distant mountains enshrouded by low lying clouds

Much riding later, down US93, through some really thickly forested lands; we transited through the small town of Eureka and turned onto State Road 37, now heading south along the shores of the Koocanusa Reservoir that is formed by the Libby Dam.

Located in the upper fourth of the reservoir, we spied a bridge that looked promising for photographs.  Traffic was so light today that we were able to park the motorcycles on the side of the bridge and only three cars went by while we there playing tourist.

We then moved to the far end of the bridge and climbed up the road leading north towards an overlook we'd spotted from the bridge.

We rode on back down and back across the bridge to the east side of the reservoir and motored on southwards towards Libby.  The road is nice and twisty and points as the road hugs the contour of the canyon walls which form the reservoir.  You can see in places the raw rock where it was blasted apart to make room for the road.

Finally, you reach the bottom end of the reservoir where the Libby Dam is located.  Built by the Army Corps of Engineers, it's quite the chunk of concrete sealing off the natural reservoir formed by the deep canyon walls.

Libby Dam

You can't ride on top of this dam and so we made our way south to Forest Service Road 736.  We were wanting to cut some riding distance from our return leg of the trip as there wasn't anything in the town of LIbby that held our interest.  The forest road turned out to be pretty well paved overall and made for an enjoyable ride through thickly forested lands.  The only cause for concern, and minor at that, was the two really big trucks carrying a full load of tree trunks, as they were moving quite fast on this road.

I kept an eye out for deer and other wildlife but spotted none.  I think perhaps the logging operations have scared all the animals away?  There were spots where one side of the road dropped off to a small, thickly forested valley.  So you'd be riding along, and look down at the tops of really tall pine trees.

Eventually, we junctioned back with US Rd 2 and from that point on it was boring slab riding.  We did have a brief interlude at the Happy Inn where we'd hoped for a snack.  Turns out for some reason, Tuesdays, the grill was closed as was the saloon's kitchen next door.  So, we settled for ice cream for a sugar fix to get us through the next hour or so of steady and dull riding all the way back to Martin City.

241 miles or so of riding through richly forested land that is this part of Montana.  Kari (Bluekat) got a little taste of dirt riding as I sought to find picture spots, she liked it!

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