I woke up this morning to 38 degrees.  Needless to say I packed quickly and got on the road.  About 18 miles out of Hamilton was Darby.  I was riding down the main drag on a Sunday and saw two cyclists getting ready for their ride after breakfast, so I stopped and introduced myself.  Ben was from Missouri, the older gentleman in the photo and Jon was the other rider from Long Island, NY.  Jon (white shirt) mentioned that his buddy Ethan (yellow shirt) up ahead and so was Mike (beard & hat) from Dayton, OH.  Mike is riding solo and Jon & Ethan are riding together.  Ben was heading on another route, but I told Jon I would probably see him later since we were heading the same way.  I headed for Wisdom.

The weather was spectacular!  Low to mid 70’s and sunny.  I had couple passes ahead of me today, Lost Trail Pass (7,014 ft) and Chief Joseph Pass (7,241 ft).  I caught up with Mike and we chatted a bit.  I found out he lived in Dayton, OH.  I went ahead and eventually caught up with Ethan (sitting across from me).  As I rolled up on him he was pointing up into the sky, I missed it, a bald eagle.  Damn!  Ethan and I rode up Lost Trail Pass and stopped at a rest area.  Nice of them to put that there.

We were doing the normal rest area things people do; use the bathroom, get some water and throw wrappers away.  Ethan went to throw something in the garbage and something was in there, and it was alive!  Neither of us wanted to find out, lol, so we left it alone.  A woman did the same thing and she had the nerve to investigate.  Three squirrels were dumpster diving.  The lady thought they were stuck so she took the lid off, pulled out the bag and freed Alvin, Simon and Theadore.  I am sure they did not appreciate their lunch being interrupted.

Mike showed up at the rest area and Ethan hung with him.  I went on to ride up Chief Joseph Pass and I believe my first of nine Continental Divide crossings.  The second climb was short and that brought me into the Bitterroot National Forest.  I was enjoying the ride and looking for bear in the woods.  There were very few cars so it was great.  At just about Big Hole Battlefield the trees stopped and the sky just opened up.  It was incredbile.  I hope the video on Facebook can give you some sense of how great it was.

What was not great were the mosquitos.  Holy hell!  I just stopped to take a video and they were on me quick.  I high tailed it out of there and rolled into Wisdom.  The American Legion had free camping in a community area.  There was water and outhouses but no showers.  I met Martin who was staying the night as well.  Martin is from Scotland.  Ding!  One more country added to Don’s United Nations.  At this point the mosquitos were awful.  Martin was heading into town for dinner so I said I’d be right behind.  No shower, left my 76.6 mile riding clothes on and just threw on a pair of shorts and a thick coating of OFF!

I had a great time talking with Martin about the ride so far, over a beer of course.  I also got to order a bison burger, it was excellent.  Ethan and Mike showed up for dinner and Jon a bit later.  Once we left the restaurant around 9:00 the little blood suckers were gone.  Amen!

I am staying in Wisdom, MT

Day 15 – 76.6 miles
Total 1,123.2

Videos on my Facebook page
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1206096902736305&id=100000080201650

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