Lima to Hansen Livestock Ranch
With only 80 miles to go and 2.5 days to do it we decided to slow things down a bit. We slept in and wandered over to Jan’s cafe at 7:00 am. After a slow, hearty breakfast and a final stock up on provisions we headed out. My frame bag bulged with goodness: gummy bears, a pickle, a couple o’ oranges, a block of cheese, and mini cherry pies. Hidden deep within I stored my lunch: a bean and cheese gas station burrito.
Today’s route started with easy warmup miles on pavement before turning west onto the Medicine Creek Backcountry byway. The smooth gravel snakes through a unique canyon and my neck strained to take the whole sight in.
As the miles ticked by the shade slipped away and we found ourselves high and dry for the noon hour. Spotting a small cabin we hid from the sun on the shady porch before embarking higher and hoping for a sign of water.
We found clear running water in a fly infested draw. The cool creek beckoned us to rest but the flies motivated us to keep climbing. I strapped my burrito to the outside of my black bag: nature’s microwave.
Finally, relief. After cresting the Divide easy miles lay ahead as we spun downhill closer to camp.
The Hansen Ranch graciously provides free camping for cyclists with the option to buy a shower for $10. Bahn shelled out the 10 bucks and I opted to clean off with the hose.
A retired Akshbar sheep dog kept us company flopping down at our feet begging for pets. While coyotes yipped far off in the valley the old dog barked defensively in response then fell into a deep sleep. The hum of mosquitos buzzing safely outside my tent lulled me to sleep.
Hansen Livestock Ranch to Bannack State Park
We packed efficiently but not rushed. Today was the day. Our final day. Only 21 Miles lay between us and the end of our ride.
8 Miles of pavement slipped by. Turning north we moved up the dirt Bannack Bench toward Bannack State Park.
After today we will transition back to day to day life. As I peddle I’m flooded by memories and emotions of other life transitions.
The summer I met Charlie here in Montana. They day we decided to get married. Reading his acceptance letter to Veterinary school in Iowa. Deciding over beers in our living room to move to Georgia together. And finally, continually asking each other what’s next? What’s the next adventure? What’s next for our careers? What about our family?
To some of those questions I have answers to others I still do not know. The beauty of both life and touring though is it always moves forward. Some turns you control and others unfold before you. For now, what’s next is another dip in the cool river.