We left Missoula a bit later than we normally break camp -- it's harder to wake up to an alarm than to a zillion zippers. It was raining a bit as we got breakfast at the UofM Lodge, but had stopped by the time we really left. For the time being, that is. Hmmmph.
We headed out towards MT Rte 200 East, passing the junction of the Hellgate and Big Blackfoot rivers. The Hellgate Narrows, just north of Mt. Jumbo (the mountain with an L on it, next to Mt. Sentinal which has an M for the U of M ), were a major ambush area in the past -- the historical marker tells a bit about it. We actually followed this River of the Road to the Buffalo (but didn't see any buffalo) for a while, up the Blackfoot river.
All this time it was raining on and off; the clouds were really low in the Missoula/Hellgate valley area. By the time we started following the Blackfoot and were climbing through the canyon, it really started raining a lot. We were basically ok -- until we reached the 4 mile descent just after Garnet Ghost Town, at which point our shoes got totally soaked. We dealt with it for a while, then at the next sign of civilization -- a small shop at the junction of SR 200 and SR 83. We hibernated there for a while and dried off our socks -- well, we tried to. We mostly just managed to squeeze out over a half cup of water from our socks and booties. BRRRRR! we eventually left and headed to Pit2 (Pit 1 is a distant memory; it was cold and wet and we didn't stay there long -- at the Potomac Country Store, in a meadow that looked like it could have had buffalo at one point in time). By the time we got there, I'd actually warmed up enough to stop saying "BRRRR!!" every 1.7 seconds and the sun was visible. We took off our jackets at the Pit and let the breeze dry them out. It was really starting to look like nice day!
We ate lunch at Trixie's, in Ovaton (sp?), the "Friendliest Place in the West", but I did forget to get pictures -- the weather was looking grimmer at the time. Luckily, we did manage to "catch up" to the area under the blue sky, and found some really awesome scenery.
We turned right onto SR 141 towards Avon, and continued with the rolling hills (and I mean *steep* rolling hills) for about 30 miles. Here's another scenery shot, and another, and finally one as we were approaching Avon. We then joined up again with the very same 12E, and a fellow rider was kind enough to take a picture of us. We then took 12E about 3.5 miles up the road to Echo Lake campsite, in which we are now. our tent.
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