In western Montana there are many miles of Forest Service roads that are no longer in normal service. Most of them began their lives for logging use many years ago and they have been kept in reasonably usable condition for emergencies and access for Forest Service projects but they have been closed to public motorized use. Some have many usable miles for hiking, mountain bike or horse access, as does Road 5587 which runs for about nine miles along the eastern border of the TeePee – Spring Creek Roadless area and KooKooSint Ridge.
My birthday present this year was a mountain bike. Its purpose is to expand my hiking capability by allowing me to use some of these old roads as access to back country areas far beyond the gates. After a little over a hundred miles of conditioning and familiarity runs during the last several weeks, today I gave it (and me) the first real test, riding eight miles out on road 5587 and hiking the remaining mile to its end. With the elevation of the road varying from 5000 feet to 5600 feet, the 18 miles included about 3000 feet of vertical climb. I’m glad I did some training before the trip!
Diamondback ~ Response
Getting into Montana’s back country is a pleasure that not everyone has a chance to experience and therefore I will post a series of photos that I took along the way, in three separate posts, hoping to show the scenery as it appeared to me today.
Looking out over the Clark Fork Valley.
Still a little snow on the lee side of the ridge.
The Coeur d’Alene Mountains in the background are still snow-capped.
The headwaters of Spring Creek.
Wildflowers in abundance on the ridges. These species have long finished blooming at the valley level.
This is a very good year for the forests. They are very green and there is lots of lush grass for the animals. The flowers unique to the high country haven’t begun to bloom yet, but the ones that bloomed in April and May in the valley are now blooming up there.
Thank you for sharing your ride with us. And I compliment you on your ability to ride and hike and still be able to function. I truly do enjoy your photos, they make me homesick for a place I’ve never even been to before.
I’m so glad that you enjoy seeing some of the beauty that I love so much! I work every day of the year on physical conditioning so I can keep getting out into the back country and to me it’s worth every bit of it. As I grow older, I have a heightened sense of my mortality and it’s my desire to spend as much of the time I have left in the wild country and roadless areas.
I’ve been dreaming all spring about doing the same thing, so this is great to see. I switched from mountain to road biking several years ago but have been longing for a low-key way to get back into mountain biking, and there are so many closed roads out there on FS land they may as well get used! I’m excited to see the results of your birthday gift.
So far so good, Aaron. I think it will only get better, and just this trip told me that the combination of biking and hiking will be a big winner for me! Those gated roads are a treasure for someone with a mountain bike and a urge to see more country. At about the 4 mile point on this trip there is a trail that I will investigate a little later: I know it is rather long, but the bike will let me get to the start of it without being tired, and much quicker than hiking too.
I could hear that stream for about a mile. It is ice cold, pure and comes out of a roadless area where it is still being fed by melting snow.
Unfortunately, my wife has a health problem that does not permit her go with me. That’s why, several years ago, I started taking a camera along on all of my treks, so she can at least see pictures of the things things that I see out there.
Hi Montucky, So glad you had fun, were safe, took excellent pictures, and got your exercise all in one fell-swoop! I love the picture of the stream. I enjoy water and can just virtually feel the coolness of the rushing stream. Have a super nice Tuesday!
You would love that stream, wildlifewatcher! It’s pretty and the sound travels for miles and it provides precious water for the wildlife and just before it gets down to the valley level, it goes down into the ground to replenish the aquifer.
I’m glad to hear that! If there are such roads around, it should be a terrific activity. I’m very optimistic about it and although I was pretty tired after this trip I’m already really looking forward to the next one: there are several on my list. Now if only the saddles they put on those things weren’t designed by Al-Qaeda!
What a great idea, to use your bike to bring us all into the mountains with you! How do you cushion your camera equipment from the shock of bouncing over rocks and ruts?
Another option the mountain bike opens up – through hikes, where you leave your bike at one end and the car at the other, then use the bike to go get the car after the hike.
Looking forward to more bike excursions.
I will probably use the Jeep/bike idea sometimes: I can think of a couple hikes where that will work.
My camera is always in a case that hangs from a carabiner attached to my left pack strap where it rides right by my shoulder (I use that arrangement with every pack I own). My best guess is that I’ve carried the D80 about 2000 miles that way so far in temperatures from 100F to -20F, which is a real testament to the not-very-expensive case that I use. The 18-135mm lens is usually on the camera and the macro and the 70-300mm are wrapped in extra clothing in my pack’s main compartment. The camera and lenses weigh 7 lbs and I was pleased to discover the pack seemed much lighter when I was on the bike!
I know you would love that place. I didn’t get on the bike until 7AM, so I was a little late to see much wildlife although I did get to within about 10 yards from a beautiful mule deer doe. The road was literally covered with bear scat, especially after the first three miles, and I also saw coyote, wolf, deer, elk and moose scat on the road and possibly cougar. Several blue grouse flushed as I went by too: I love seeing them! I will surely spend more time in that area and probably a few nights in another month or so.
A wonderful gift and bike, montucky Montana nature is another unique gift and it is a real pleasure to visit it with you without my joints suffering at all. Beautiful pictures and breathtaking landscape.
I’ve found that in order to be able to hike in the high country I have to keep in reasonable shape, something much more important at my age than when I was younger. It requires some discipline, but I am rewarded every time I get out into the forest.
Yes, I think the bike will open up a lot more beautiful country. It’s really quite a good bike, certainly the best I’ve ever ridden. You know, there are elements of technology that aren’t all that bad!
I hope to be able to post photos from many more trips with the bike: I already have several more planned, one in particular that should have some great scenery. The second photo is the start of that road. It looked so inviting: who could resist it?
Biking is nice, I started again lately too. I have to do that because of health reasons, trying to get back into life. But I could not climb that much, even if I used my electric bicycle. I use it in our mountainuous area, it is quite handy, because I have asthma and probs to climb even the flattest climbing. In our cabin I used a mountainbike too, because the area is flat there. So I have less time for wool and more time for taking photos when we discover our area. My blog slightly changed the topic, lol.
It is a scenic place and this year the plant life is extraordinary. No, I wouldn’t even make it through a triathlon, but working with the bike has been enjoyable and the results so far have been very gratifying.
I am impressed! Mountain biking PLUS hiking at higher elevations… And what a reward… thanks so much for sharing these beautiful images of Montana! I’ll be heading out to Red Lodge in September and hope to get some hiking in nearby if I can find a hiking partner! I’m going to save the rest of your posts for another time… it’s early (in terms of dinner hour) here but I’m starving so it’s time for my apple snack and a break from the computer!