Windy Mountain Loop

Thain Creek Campground outside of Great Falls Montana. If you look closely you can see my shower tent set up to the left of my van. It worked great. It consisted of a rechargeable battery powered pump and shower head, a bucket full of warm water and this pop up shower/changing tent I got of Amazon. 

After an amazing visit in Glacier National Park I changed my direction and headed east. I needed to get resupplies so I stopped in the town of Great Falls Montana. I really like Great Falls. It is a dry climate here. There was the Missouri River that divides the town right down the middle. To get anywhere you have to cross a bridge. The town was very flat and somewhat depressed compared to other Montana towns such as Bozeman or Whitefish. But it was a good sized town and I was able to get groceries, do laundry, refill my propane tank, then grab a latte at Starbucks.

While running the errands I got a call from one of my friends in Colorado Springs and he offered me a job! Here I am eating some delicious BBQ that I picked up to celebrate. I had a job lined up working for 3-4 weeks at the beet harvest in the northeast corner of North Dakota at the end of the month so I was making my way there. I was looking forward to the beet harvest job but working for my friend is a much better gig and being homesick and a bit lonely at this point I was eager to get back to my hometown of Colorado Springs. Something in my mind was telling me that this change of plans could cause what long distance hikers call a vortex and my days on the road could be coming to an end. 

I was looking for a place to camp outside of Great Falls and found a little mountain range that had a campsite with mountain bike trails nearby called Thain Creek Campground. It was Labor Day weekend and luckily I got to the campground before everyone else. I got this awesome site right next to the creek with level parking, fire pit, and picnic table. This was the first time I was camping in a area that was not under fire restrictions. There was a catch tho…. I had to pay $5 dollars a night to camp here and this broke my 5 month streak of free dispersed camping. No biggie I ended up paying $20 to stay here for 5 nights and 4 days and it was totally worth it. 

I would pull my chair  next to the creek and read my book. I loved having the sound of a babbling stream next to camp. I was reading Dune by Frank Herbert and I remember it being a slow start. Later I ended up  really loving that book.

 I hiked around and explored the area. There was a beaver pond upstream. I did not fish it but I saw other campers catching little brokkies. This was turning out to be a fantastic little place!

After a day of chilaxing around the campsite I set out for a mountain bike ride. The Windy Mountain Loop was featured in my MTB Project app and wanted to give it a go.

There was some steep climbing and I made my way to the ridge and worked my way around the mountains. This route ended being tough and there was some poor quality trail on the south side of the loop that I was pretty disappointed about. There was lots of treefall, and the crappiest trail reroute I have ever seen by the forest service. Instead of cutting new trail to reroute a very rutted piece of trail they just laid down sticks and branches to indicate where to go around the old trail. It was a mess!

The next day did a quick 8 mile loop  and instead of riding the crappy trail on the south side of the mountain I came down Briggs Creek Trail and that was frigging amazing. This loop was a little short but the climbs were challenging and the decent down Briggs Creek was ripping!

After the ride I was chilling at my van. It was a Monday, Labor Day so the campground at this point was completely full and busy. The sun was shining and it was a picture perfect day.  I had just finished lunch and a guy in a high viz vest and a very large beard asked how my ride was and I  wanted to join them for another spin. His name was Tim and he had two friends with him, Pat, and Ian. We all remembered each others name since they each had 3 letters. However I kept calling Pat, Matt and he seemed ok with it until I got kindly corrected later. They gave me some Montana craft beers to sample and I recall this strawberry cream craft beer that was pretty amazing. To bad I cant drink beer like I used to.

This is Tim. He is a welder, lives in Great Falls and is a super cool dude.

Pat and Tim hiking the steep final climb up to the windy ridge.

I was super stoked to ride with some other guys and I told them that they reminded me of my mountain biking friends back in Colorado Springs since we were smoking weed, drinking beers and riding bikes. After the ride Tim invited me to his home in Great Falls to see a show and hang out but I was tired and did not feel like packing up. We parted ways and even though we may never cross path again they are my friends.

After labor day weekend. The campground cleared out and I had the whole place to myself again. A cold front crept in and overnight fall came. It was almost like the trees changed color right before my very eyes.

I really enjoyed my stay at this campground. It was special. This is Thain Creek that snakes through.

After leaving the campground I made a fast pace across eastern Montana. Much of it looks just like this. It took me two days to make it across the large state of Montana. I stayed a night in one of the Montana rest stops. Montana has the best rest stops!

I would see more farming equipment than cars in eastern Montana.

Before reaching North Dakota I stopped at a crappy restaurant in the town of Jordan Montana.  I ordered a cheeseburger and fries without the bun and it was horrible. I could tell both the fries and burger were previously frozen.  This set of mounted deer heads was the best part.

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