July 26- Lolo Past!

Kate Murr

This was the day we’ve thought about since the inception of the trip: the day we cross the continental divide. We’ve had near daily reminders in our interactions with folks that there are, in fact, a broad range of mountains out west before our final destination. We generally politely tell people that we’re going to cross the Rockies where Lewis and Clark did at Lolo Pass, and then we address the other queries, which may or may not call into question our sanity.

I’ve always taken quiet comfort in the name of the pass. Sounds cute, short. But we anticipated that the day would be a doosie, with nearly 60 miles before services and with a long 2000 foot climb.

Despite our anticipation, today was beautiful. Our friend, Tom, was along with us. He graciously shuttled our gear and sleeping children up and over the pass, and Stuart and I enjoyed our second “alone time” on the trip. (The first alone time was in Missouri, when my parents took the kids for the night and we camped at Klondike Park along the Katy trail. Technically, I hesitate to qualify this as “alone time” due to the merciless hoard of mosquitoes in attendance).

It turned out to be sort of a joy ride. Our bikes were light, the climb was gradual, we watched water-bombing planes fight a fire. When we reached the summit we took goofy pictures then descended through the Lolo National forest to the DeVoto Memorial Cedar Grove, where 3000-year-old western cedar trees dwell harmoniously in the subalpine fir ecosystem. The space is inspiring, which is probably why DeVoto chose to camp here while editing the Lewis and Clark journals. Our descent was fast and flying. I believe we dropped 2000 feet in 13 miles.

We met up with Tom and the kids in Powell, and Tom drove us down the road to a campground where we made camp and ate thimbleberries, which taste like pomegranate raspberries and are one of the primary sources of vitamin-C for fairies.

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