Day 2. Lost in Montana
Eureka to Tuchuck Campground. Mileage total: 41.7 + 2 extra miles.
Written by: Elle (The bloomer)
I did not sleep at all the first night... Sleeping in the middle of a park in a small trucking town comes with disadvantages. For one, the bright lights of the gas station shown into our tent at all hours of the night, the constant traffic of logging trucks, and my blow-up pillow sucked. It was like sleeping on the head part of a blowup floaty, I would later learn a better solution.
I woke up, looked at my phone and saw it was 6 am, I knew I wasn't going back to sleep so I decided why not watch the sunrise. Unfortunately, I couldn't see much, but I was able to get a vlog post in. Around 7am I saw movement from our tent and our true adventure had begun. As we packed up our bikes and prepared to hit the road we made one last stop at the gas station for some "real food."
We took off at 9am sharp! The first 19 miles were no problem. I remember feeling kind of winded going up what now feels like mild easy hills. It was all pavement though, which made life pretty easy.
Getting from point A to point B on our journey, we were using a map and a guide book with directions. Cheryl kept the map, and I took the paper directions. Our plan was at every direction change we would wait for each other. Everything was going fine until we turned off the pavement...
For 4 miles we were to go up a gravel hill and at the sign "Forest Road 114" we were to take a right and the uphill grade was to steepen even more. Being a faster climber I started pulling further and further ahead of Cheryl. My GPS odometer had been glitching that day, so I am not sure how many miles I went before I started having to walk. When I got to a fork in the road I didn't see a sign and I wasn't positive how many miles it had been so I decided to continue upward.
I pushed my bike uphill for about a mile. While I was pushing, I thought to myself 2 or 3 times something just doesn't feel right. Call it women's intuition, but something told me to turn back and go back down to the fork. At that point, I felt like I had nothing to lose. So I got on my bike and started heading down. Sure enough, as I went down I saw the damn sign for where I should have turned....
Once I got to the turn it was a 2.5 mile steep rocky grade road, and all I had left in me was to walk. At the top, I half expected Cheryl to be waiting for me, but also thought she probably assumed I went on without her. Even though we told each other we would wait. You'll find out a little later why she didn't wait.
It probably took me about an hour to walk and then it was another 3.5 miles downhill to camp. My bike computer was still not functioning accurately, so as I was going downhill I had passed another fork and thought that could have been the turn, but I kept going until the downhill started going back up. The directions had not mentioned going back uphill, so at that point, I thought I had fucked up again. I remember standing in the middle of the road and just screaming. Day 2 and I am already fucking lost with no way to contact anyone and no way for them to contact me.
While trying to stay calm, and think should I start walking back to that turn, a red jeep appeared out of nowhere. This was the first car I had seen all-day. I waved them down and asked if they had heard of the Tuchuck campground. In the car were a man, a woman, and a dog. The man was pretty sure I hadn't passed it yet and assured me to keep going. I took his word for it and started following behind the jeep. I'm not sure when it happened, but at one point I turned a corner and the jeep had vanished. For a second I thought I had imagined the whole thing because I was right behind the jeep and it was just gone.
I eventually made it to the campground and yelled out Cheryl's name. I was very happy to hear her yell back. Later she told me, as she was going up that 2.5-mile steep grade, she passed a 4 wheeler and asked them if they had seen any bikers. They said they had, a man and a women cyclist. Cheryl assumed that I was the woman they spoke of and thought she would see me when she got to camp. Imagine her surprise when she showed up looking for me and I was nowhere to be found. I think I ended up showing up an hour after she did.
Our campsite was nice and had a glacier stream running next to it. We tried skinny dipping but only got as far as our knees (TOO COLD). We made a dumb decision to leave the stove out that night and were woken by a critter trying to steal it. They were unsuccessful in stealing the stove, but I am pretty sure they stole the padding out of my helmet. So for the rest of the trip, I had to use my bandana in my helmet. I think I went to bed at 7pm that night, thinking about all the miles we still had left to go. It was only day two and I was exhausted.