The rolling treeless desert hills of the bottom of Montana twist and wind their way south. We rolled along with them. Slowly the foothills spread wider until we found ourselves in a vast flat dry plateau. Pedaling was flat and mostly straight except for the 90 degree turns back across the flat to another road and another turn.
At some point in the day I found myself just putting in the miles. Watching the odometer on my GPS. It’s easy to zone out ones surroundings in such a place. There are very few people here and almost no traffic. Three or four ranches dominate the area. Just rough gravel roads.
Watching for the rocks, the holes and avoiding the washboard on the road kept my attention. That, and watching the miles on the GPS.
Midway through the day we came to a small wooden bridge in the midst of a small wetland in the middle of this desert plain. Time to pull over for lunch. The place was alive with birds. Mesmerizing. We sat to listen and watch. There were no other sounds. It was hard to leave. I would no longer just be putting in the miles today.
We stopped to camp at the Red Rock National Wildlife Sanctuary at the end of Red Rock Lake. This Sanctuary was created in 1935 as a haven for Trumpeter Swans. They were endangered at the time. The little campground reflected the diminishing resources devoted to maintenance in all our various national parks . Overgrown and rustic, it just looked abandoned. We claimed a spot.
There was a natural spring with a pipe flowing clear and cold. What a wonderful find for a couple of dusty bikers. After drinking my fill, I brought my towel and soap down and did the best I could.
We shared the campground that evening with two seasonal Montana DNR employees who were spending eight days studying wetland sites nearby. Sam, the young botanist, told us of all the bikers who had camped here during the week. All doing the Great Divide Trail just like we were. Heading south as well. He mentioned the four Italian women bikers. Also the Czech riding solo and the nine bikers staying here just last night. The only other tourists he had seen here in the last year were birdwatchers. There were only four of them.
This morning we were awakened by the sand hill cranes just behind us. We said goodbye to Sam and his co-worker, then headed south. Gradually we left the barren hills behind us. Trees started to fill our environment and the flowing waters of the Warm Springs River appeared next to us after we had passed the Continental Divide into Idaho.
We are staying on the river at a campground just one days ride from Colter Bay. We look forward to views of the Tetons tomorrow.