As Todd and I neared Stemple Pass on the Continental Divide, it occurred to us that this was the area where our historic “windstorm on the divide” happened,the dramatic intro to my book Scraping Heaven. We went off our route for a few miles to see it and reminisce about that scary day that happened 21 years ago.
Just the day before, we were crossing this wide Montana plain where horses were grazing and great green fields of grass were growing, and the Beaverhead Mountains rose up from the valley floor. We heard there was a cold front moving through that would lower the very challenging temps we’ve been riding through. The wind was so ferocious as the sky behind the mtns turned a bruised purple, and we raced across, sometimes being blown off balance, it was so intense. We made it to the safety of the forest in time before the sky opened up with violent thunder, and trees cracking and blowing over right behind our tent. The rain fell in great sheets and battered our tiny nylon tent but we safe and dry.
We woke up to much cooler and crisp air, cool enough to enable us to ride 50 miles the next day and cross the Continental Divide two times. We came down to a cyclist-only cabin after a long day, and found Barb Nye who graciously opens her home and property to cyclists.
Our trail angel park ranger friend Tom Banks drove all the way from Glacier National Park to be with us and help us, and he brought along a fabulous homemade huckleberry peach pie and whipped cream that we shared with our other cycling friends.
Since Barb had llamas in her pasture, we mentioned our family’s llama traverse on the CDT, and sure enough, Barbara had read Scraping Heaven. She also remembered the historic windstorm. We walked these same national forests roads to safety that we cycled on over 20 years later. The circle continues and sooner or later the wind blows the hardship away and let’s the sunshine back in. We could not make it without our friends along, not on the Great Divide Mtn. Bike Trail or in life in general.
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