Epic Road Trip 2017 (Day 8)

Published on August 25, 2017

I set out from Choteau, but misinterpreted some detour instructions I had received around the construction on Highway 89. I didn’t want to ride for miles on loose gravel and dirt, so I stuck to the paved sections of highway. This mistake educated me on just how sparsely populated the state of Montana really is.

After riding 30 extra miles into an absolutely brutal headwind, I was already nervous about fuel economy. I hadn't filled the tank that morning because I still had a large amount leftover from the previous day (I'd only gone about 60 miles from the previous fill-up) and had topped off with the spare canisters I carried with me. Well, 30 miles of unplanned detour burned that up and then some and when I got to Depuyer with a low-fuel light, I didn’t think I’d make it to Browning, but there was no gas station in Depuyer. There was, however, a friendly group of bikers from Ohio in front of a restaurant and lodge called Buffalo Joe's.

They pointed me inside, but were willing to siphon some gas from their tanks for me if the folks at Buffalo Joe's didn't have gas. Lucky for me, they had a 2-gallon container - more than enough to get me to Browning - over 40 miles down the highway. It was a close call, but it all worked out thanks to some fellow wanderers and locals.

In general, Highway 89 from Choteau to Browning is a gently winding stretch through Montana farmland all the way to the base of the mountain range that makes up Glacier National Park.

Once I made it to Browning, I refueled and split onto Highway 2, stopping in East Glacier Village for an early lunch at a small diner. After setting out again, I rode along Highway 2 through the mountains, skirting the south edge of Glacier National Park. Unfortunately, Highway 2 doesn't offer many overlooks to take in the scenery, which was a bummer. Still, the highway was a windy stretch alongside Coonsa Creek, which merges with Bear Creek somewhere after Summit.

I arrived in Columbia Falls ahead of schedule and grabbed a quick bit and some coffee at Montana Coffee Traders before checking into my Airbnb for the next two nights.

What I Learned

In Montana, one unplanned detour can be trouble for a bike that doesn't have a large fuel capacity, such as the Fury. It's rideable, but requires a bit more careful planning. I also learned that the Lewis & Clark expedition had only a single negative interaction with native american tribes when they mistook a group of Blackfeet (Piegans) for Gros Ventre and were nearly robbed. It resulted in a firefight which left two of the Piegans dead.

Bear Creek
A statue in East Glacier Village, MT
Glacier National Park entrance