Mountain Biking and Vanlife on the Continental Divide

After leaving Bozeman I had to make a decision to head to Helena or Butte. Both had good recommendations and great trail systems but due to a more reliable recommendation I went to Butte. Just before you hit town I came across this campsite off Homestake Pass. Thinking back this was the best campsite out of them all. Not because it was the prettiest, not because of the awesome trails, not because of the crazy hot weather, and not because of all the wildlife. Really what it was is… I am hitting the peak of my trip. My mind and body are in harmony with my new lifestyle and everything is easy, everything is meant to be exactly the way it is. Every moment captured with time slowing down right in front of your eyes. This is why I am here, this is why I quit my 6 figure career, this is the best version of myself I have ever seen.

It was a hot few days in Butte. Temps were reaching close to 100 degrees and there was a massive mayfly hatch when I arrived and set up camp. The 1000s of mayflies really didn’t bother me. It was cool to see mother nature do its work producing the perfect conditions triggering the mayflies to all hatch at once.  I would sit here reading my book and watch the little trout pick off mayflies one by one off the top of the little stream I was camped next to. I kept hearing the trout breach the water, snatch a mayfly, then plop back into the stream. Paul if you are reading this thanks for recommending Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk. I really enjoyed it!

 So after getting settled into camp it was time for a bike ride. I headed out to ride section of the CDT as an out and back. I came by this little shack that I was unsure of its purpose.

I immediately fell in love with the mountain biking in Butte. Gentle climbs flowy descents and smooth singletrack all the way. It was dry and hot and reminded me of the riding back in my home town of Colorado Springs.

I hit the heat of the day and after about 14 miles I decided to head back to camp and recharge for a earlier ride the next day. 

 

The next day I set myself up to get out earlier and dodge the heat. The day started with a long stiff climb up to the Continental Divide. The climb was fun but the views were stifled by smoke from wildfires everywhere.

After some fast descending I ended up at some railroad tracks that would take me back to Homestake Pass. Did you ever see the movie Stand By Me? I was reminded of the scene in that movie when the group of kids decided to cross a rail bridge thinking it was safe but having a train show up when they were half way out! Well luckily that never happened to me. It was pretty clear that this railroad was closed and no longer in use after some clues such as vegetation and dirt covering parts of the track.

Then there was this really cool tunnel.

And back to Homestake Pass. I was really happy with this ride. This loop turned out to be a highlight of the trip. My road trip had a Continental Divide theme and here I was again having fun on the mountain crest that parts the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic ocean. 

After a couple of days of riding it was time to take a chill day. I was really feeling this camp spot. The area was very dry but this little oasis I had was green and lush and had the little stream trickling by all day and night. If you can find camp next to water it always is a bonus. By this time the mayfly hatch had dwindled down and the little trout were no longer feasting.

There was a perseid meteor shower this evening so I stayed up and made my way to a nearby hill to watch the shooting stars. With all the smoke in the air I could not see a thing. I did have an encounter with a rather large owl that decided to silently swoop the top of my head in the dark. It was quite the experience! I was standing on the hill in the dark, when at the last minute I noticed a silent owl swooping directly at me. It just whooshed over my head and I felt the air move as the beautiful creature flew by. I got the message and since I wasn’t seeing the meteor shower anyways I decided to hike back to camp. On the way I met this little amphibious feller.

The next day it was time for some more biking. I made my way back onto the CDT trail and pushed further to loop up some smaller trails across from Homestake Pass.

On the way up I met a thru hiker by the name of Zebra. I could quickly gleen where she got her trail name by the tan lines left from KT tape over her knees. She was very nice and I could tell by her accent that she was from Europe. I did not get exactly where but my guess would be from Germany. She was eating her last few gummy bears and I could tell she was hungry. I offered some food and she politely declined but when I mentioned that I had pistachios I saw her eyes light up! I then handed over my bag of pistachios. What a great moment between me and Zebra. I congratulated her on her thru hike and that there was just a little bit left to go. I let her know that one day I also aspired to be a thru hiker before parting ways. I really regret not getting her instagram handle or at least a photo of Zebra.

The CDT trail near Butte is very MTB friendly. There is a 100 mile loop you can do that circumnavigates the town that would be great for bikepacking or the annual endurance race they run on it. 

Midway through the ride I busted out these sardines packed in hot sauce. They were very good and will be bringing more of these on my adventures.

I am really on a roll with breakfast here. Why have 1 or 2 strips of bacon when you can have 8????

Top it off with some artesian maple syrup.

There were cows grazing in the area and this is one of my favorite pictures with the cow in the background while I am making fried chicken. There should be a caption saying “Eat moar chicken”

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