Jainist’s Don’t Ride Motorbikes in Montana
June 9, 2013
Since I entered Montana on June 5th I don’t think I’ve been out of sight of white-capped mountains for more than a few moments. The glaciated peaks and fertile mountain valleys are a feast for the senses along routes 2, 20 and 89 – all blue routes with limited traffic. Often, I was the only motorist on the road for as far as I could see, and I’d estimate I could see as far as 10 or more miles at times. Check out this scenery!
Riding the Going to the Sun Road, West Glacier, Montana
Lake McDonald, Apgar, Montana
Can anyone identify this butterfly/moth? Jack, can you?
I leave one place (Yosemite, as an example) and say, “This place can’t be beat!” Then I get to the next and go, “WOW!” I’ve finished rating all the outrageously beautiful places I’ve seen and come to this conclusion: Each place I’ve seen is like a person – unique, with its own personality, telling its own story and to be appreciated in its own right. But like a person, Montana also has its blemishes – endless road construction, poor signage warning of it, and bugs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned a corner or come up over a hill at 50 mph or more to find a stretch of unpaved, loose gravel or scraped road prepared for new pavement. Once or twice, okay. But three, four, five times? Montana’s public works department needs someone who’s considering the safety of motorcyclists. Big Sky? Yes. Big-time oversight of necessary road signage? YES.
And how about the life of a highway insect? It’s not a pretty one! At the end of every day I peel my leather coat and chaps from me and wonder if I somehow wandered off to purchase a new wardrobe while complaining to myself about the horrid state of Montana’s roads. My black leather’s turned to black with yellow polka dots – bug-spattered polka dots, that is. Jainist’s don’t ride these roads, I imagine. It wouldn’t be good for their karma. I’m wondering if all the complaining about Montana’s roads and the hundreds of bugs that have fallen prey to my bike, arms and legs are good for mine. After these nearly eight weeks on the road I’ve developed a bit of a ritual at the start and end of my days with packing and unpacking my bike, setting up camp, cooking, writing, editing photographs and doing some bedtime reading. Wiping my leathers down at the end of the day has become part of that ritual here in Montana. I suspect it won’t be any different in Wyoming, whose northwest border I’m at now.
I’ll spare you anymore complaints and share some photos from my ride and hike in Glacier National Park.
But I’m not going to let you get away without looking at one more picture of a cowgirl, first. I know I’ve already shown you this picture, but I’m going to share it again because I’m temporarily obsessed with cowgirls. They totally rock!
Okay, now I’m going to take you with me through Glacier National Park and on a hike with me in Many Glacier. Here’s a picture of St. Mary lake.
Another view of St. Mary lake on my ride up routes 49 and 89 toward Many Glacier on the east side of Glacier National Park.
In 1850, 150 glaciers were counted in Glacier National Park. In 1910, when the park was established, most were still present. Today, there are only 26 glaciers remaining. No matter what your political point of view on the causes of global warming, it is undeniable that the earth is warming. By 2030 (some say 2050) it is predicted all the glaciers in the park will be gone. This photograph shows three of them. See if you can spot them. It was taken from Many Glacier Hotel. You won’t see these glaciers 20 to 30 years from now. The receding glaciers have already had an affect on the water table, access to surface water by animals, susceptibility of plants to disease, loss of alpine meadows and fire frequency, to name a few.
Not long after I pulled into camp at Many Glacier I was surprised by a quiet grazer who stopped by to say hello.
The weather changed from blue skies punctuated by dramatic cloud cover to mostly overcast and foreboding. Thunderstorms were forecasted for later in the day. The weather person delivered accurately. By early evening the heavens opened up to and orchestra of thunder, lightening and gusting winds. My little one-person tent held steadfast to the determined storm. But first, I took a six mile hike into the Many Glacier valley. Here are some photos from that hike.
A fat robin assesses the Many Glacier valley. Imagine the possibilities!
A couple of hikers I passed had seen grizzly bears on the path. I was not so fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it). But I was treated to some grazing (and resting) big horn sheep.
On my descent, the herd walked off the rocky precipice and came closer to the trail.
I read the warning about grizzly bears at the trailhead upon my return to camp. Lesson: read the trailhead notices first! I’m in bear country…
After a monster thunder and lightning storm blew through the valley: clearing and a cloud-shrouded mountain top above camp.
The road out of Many Glacier the following day. Another spectacular weather day! The Weather Gods have been kind to me these past two weeks. I’ve remained thankful. This picture, taken of Many Glacier Hotel as I exited the park.
My road out of the park. Not a bad view, eh?
And one more visit from Mr/Ms Big Horn Sheep.
On the road to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. I’m on its doorstep now.
Yellowstone, here I come!
Don’t forget to appreciate the present moment. Remain thankful.
All content Copyrighted Stephen Tavella