Southbound Solitude


Sparwood British Columbia – Small Town with Big Trucks

Mining is everything to everyone in this town. I rolled in about eleven am to a city full of festivities – It was the annual “Miners Day” in Sparwood. Friendly Canadians parading down the streets and a soapbox derby with most every child racing down the hill in homemade cardboard vehicles. The supermarket was calling me  to stock up for the next long push for the U.S. border. South of Sparwood lay three mountain passes through dense wilderness. I came across the first rider of the day, Dave Schreiner from Massachusetts. We exchanged greetings and nothing more than just the acknowledgement that we were  headed for a challenging day. Nice New England Accent nonetheless. A&W was my next stop to catch lunch and call home for the first time. When Kim answered, I immediately choked up. It was the sound of familiar, it was the sound of support, and the sound of love. We talked briefly, and soon I was off and rolling towards Corbin road, to the sound of lonely and the unknown of the Flathead, Cabin, and Galton passes. Up the highway eight miles, on the most civilized stretch of road so far put me in a new situation. I was lost. My GPS was pointing west to a road that was not there. I was on a bridge to nowhere! A few minutes later while staring down at my map ques, here came Dave from the opposite direction. He was lost too. Fortunately Corbin road was beneath us under the bridge. we lifted our bikes over a Jersey Barrier and walked down an embankment to Corbin Road, an asphalt passage to Coal Mountain. It was great riding with Dave, however after I stopped to cool my feet in a stream next to the road, Dave was gone and I was alone again not to see him again until Eureka Montana. Thanks for the fizz trail magic Dave.rockswater

After an hour of riding, I turned off Corbin road for the climb into the Flathead. The trail was hard packed marked with the tracks of bicycles perhaps minutes, hours,  and for certain days ahead of me. I was truly on a solo ride. The Rivulets of the Flathead were as described by the ACA map. The trail was now rocks in water. The rocks were slippery and the water was cold. Not just cold, but glacial ice Cold. It is where cold water goes to get cold. After a couple of miles traversing the Flathead with frozen blue feet, I was descending from my first pass of the day.


So I stretched the truth a little, I wasn’t alone.There was brief company with this skinny moose. Both of us apparently were hungry. After Dark, the Pollack Creek Primitive camp came into slight view. So slight I did not see all the bear scat every 15 feet. I quickly laid out my bivy and went to sleep and after 4 hours of good rest, it was light enough to get going again. Weeks later, I read in McCoy’s book that Pollack Creek is the highest concentration of grizzly bears in the North American Continent. Nice move rookie!

The morning was absolutely gorgeous as I whipped past sleeping riders at Butt’s Cabin and headed up to the pass. The road was full of flora and fauna. I saw a badger, deer, marmots, moose, and a wide array of birds. Cabin pass is one false summit after another therefore instead of dreaming of the 14 mile downhill, I praised the creator for the beauty and wild of my solo morning.


Cabin Pass – British Columbia

The descent down Cabin did not disappoint. It was silly speed. I had the feeling that Canada had entered my soul and deposited sheer joy of its treasures into every corner of my senses. I soon made the hard sharp left turn over the wigwam river and onto its western bench. I had only crossed the river a couple of minutes back when I discovered that I was out of water.  I turned around and headed back to the bridge to filter water from the crystal clear river. That was the freshest water that I have ever swallowed in my life. no words..just delight!


Wigwam River – unparalleled pure water

The next 12 miles was a roller coaster of green skirting the curves of the Wigwam river and before me lay the wide stretch of rising peaks to the south and west. I was nearing the border mountains between British Columbia and Montana. It wasn’t long before the trail lowered and gave way to a single track of soft moist ground right to the wigwam water’s edge. It was there that I faced what every divide rider faces. Some call it a sick joke, some call it the hike-a-bike from hell. How could something so ugly exist in the middle of something so beautiful? It is and shall always be affectionately referred by most as “THE WALL”. Two hundred yards of nearly 70 degrees of push your bike up ruts, mush, stumps, and slop. There are two choices and two choices only. Climb or turnaround and go home. I was alone and pushing, braking, inhaling, and exhaling and pushing some more. Twenty-eight minutes later I crested the forest wall to witness just how far I had climbed. I just laughed… “I made it!” and looked out over the wigwam river below in worship of this amazing vista I had earned.


Its just a dirt path Steep and UP!

It was now time to head toward Galton Pass. Somehow the profile didn’t appear too bad on paper.  I came to discover Galton was nine miles of tough. My Solitude “South bounding” day was getting long as the shadows of the day began to set in.The road was smooth and stretched out through an ever rising alpine ridge.The temperature began to dip as I rode and walked up Galton’s northwestern edge to a 100 foot length of gravel that was the same with one key difference. The first 50 feet rendered only 3 mph. The second 50 feet dictated 45 mph. Yeeehaw!!! Though I tried to feather the brakes, the only result was red hot rotors glowing. The front brake rotor whistled and shattered leaving half of an important part of a bicycle whizzing down the ribbon of Galton’s Rocky remains.


Galton Pass – The last before America

At the Roosville border, I was the only traveler to be seen. The immigration officer was official – “state your nationality” – I am a citizen of these United States. “And what are your plans in this country?” – I plan to phone my wife and drink a beer. Without hesitation the border guard grinned with dignity “welcome home Lone Ranger”

Sweet Lady who worked at the First and Last Chance Duty Free Bar. “What you riders need on your bikes, is a stove!” “Want another beer?” Me: “yes please keep the food and beer coming”



~ by mojo50 on November 13, 2016.

One Response to “Southbound Solitude”

  1. Love it, Randy. Hope you keep writing more and more!

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