Was today a late start or a lazy start? I’m just not sure. But I crossed the border into Montana early this afternoon. And this tardy start would have me riding through fog, chilly whipping winds, near freezing temperatures at 6000 ft. and in the dark for more than an hour. But it was worth it.
I crossed into the United States for the fourth time during my journey. At the border crossing I spotted a Dakar with its panniers emplty and gear tossed about the inspection table. Answering the typical questions, PIerre tried to but in and ask questions which angered and frustrated the border guard. We met outside the border area. Turns out Pierre has been traveling the world with his girlfriend. We exchanged stories and he provided some African tips and then road together until Glaciar. Here I had ambitious plans.
Taking the Going to the Sun Road through Glaciar National Park which sits inside the larger Waterton-Glaciar International Peace Park, a park shared between and over the borders of Canada and the United States.
At this point I think I’m overdosing on amazing scenery. How much more can I take? Every turn, behind every rock, in every sky and in all the faces I meet I see beauty. Running out of words to describe how I’m feeling inside and the beauty these eyes see, perhaps I’m burnt out from wrestling with my ill-performing motorcycle. Or angry at myself because I still can’t take advantage of views beyond the roadsides because my foot is still not stable enough to walk more than a half-mile or so.
The “Going to the Sun Road” is the only road in the USA designated as both a National Historic Landmark and a National Civil Engineering Landmark. The road is typically closed from October until mid-June was opened to traffic in 1933. When Glaciar National Park was founded there was no way to cross the continental divide. Until sometime in the 1950’s most of this road was gravel. Taking riders, drivers, bicyclists and hikers 50 miles over the continental divide this road hangs amazingly on the side of sheer granite cliffs offering spellbinding panoramic views and a thrilling, if not scary, riding experience for the faint of heart.
Most travelers will take this road into the park and then turn around and take it out of the park. But the most interesting part for me was the road the winds around the southern part of the park through East Glaciar. As I approached the pass I might have thought a better name for this road would be going to the heavens.
I rode straight into a dense and moist cloud. With barely 10 feet of visibility I slowed to a crawl. One false move and I’d tumble down any of the hundreds of shear cliffs dropping down from the hundreds of tight turns. Fortunately traffic was light and in a 45 minutes I dropped out of the clouds. Losing sunlight and feeling a slight pelt of rain, I started to question my ambitioius choice of a route this later afternoon. Damn late and lazy start. Too lazy to change into warmer gloves or to add another layer, I just held on and braved the chilling ride.
Winding through an Indian Reservation and miles of free range cattle, the road is a dream motorcycle ride twisting turning, rising, dropping and whisking by lakes, forest and remote settlments until it spills out back again into West Glaciar and Kalispell. Dark and cold I find a cheap motel and pack it in for the night.
I managed to get a call into Bill at Big Sky Kawaski BMW. He’s expecting me tomorrow and I’m excited to find out what those guys did in Anchorage to screw my bike up so bad.