Montana-Big Nelson to Butte

A beautiful morning on Coopers Lake before heading up

Huckleberry Pass where I eased up on two huge moose doing their thing before they sniffed me out.

Topping out a mellow climb into an even more mellow decent, it was into Lincoln where there are plenty of casino bars but no mention of their boy Ted Kacynski.

Bumped into northbounder Jeff the following morning, the only guy I suspect I'll every meet to have survived being hit by a tree while riding the Divide...  Really good dude who was taking a "gap" year to race a bit and echoed the importance of taking time while you still can to enjoy adventures like the Divide. Glad a split helmet, taco'ed wheel, a few deep scratches and some time in the Kremmling, Colorado ER didn't break his sprit at all.  Solid as solid gets. 

Momentary easy incher up towards Stemple Pass- Continental Divide Crossing #2 (CD2)

before the push that broke a few others. 

Backside reward into a mix of forest and ranching land before

settling into a nice wild camp spot in the Helena National Forest.

The next morning brought a few easy pedal strokes past mining relics before grinder gearing through the woods 

until CD3 let us loose in a spectacular field.   Unfortunately for Team Minnesota, they followed a fat squiggly line an extra 500 vert of climbing I thought I'd throw in for the heck of it...  As I sat with my map spread out in the dirt between my legs, taking solace in a "Nutella apple," a local ATV're gave me guidance and set me back on course while Team M went over the backside and down into Marysville...

Out the backside it was miles of descent other than a blip of Priest Pass (CD4) back into Montana's land of rolling hills and ranch land.

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Easing into Helena I turned a corner moments before Team Minnesota finished cursing the 3.8" knard for leading Tim and Ted off-route. Regrouped, we enjoyed a nice evening in Helena and a cushy stay at the Budget Inn.

The next morning Tim and I enjoyed a spin up to Park Lake. I asked it he could take some of my weight, but he said his Salsa Fargo was maxed out and he'd put me through the wood chipper if I insisted... Nice to spend the morning with him chatting about touring, their trip, and future adventures. He was a gent and rode along as I inched behind in #2 gaining back all of the elevation we lost the day before.

While Tim drank beers after the hand-off to Ted and Rocky, I pushed on with weary legs and got down to the business of the day. 

There are a handful of stretches along the Divide everyone talks about and this one delivered in spades.  Ride ten yards and push a mile quickly lets you know the trail is boss and you best get into a state of acceptance.  

After multiple studded pedals to the back of the leg, "enter large meadow" was a welcome relief.

One last "step descent" and 

it was back on the gravy train through a magnificent high alpine meadow

worthy of a double shot as the trail split it down the middle.  

Another well deserved descent dropped me into the ultra sleepy town of Basin, MT where you can get radon sessions in the local mine to help with all of your ailments....  Team Minnesota decided they were tired of giving me free beers so they pulled a campsite switcheroo while I slogged out 

to stumptown...

After one of the harder days on the Divide, it was nice to wake up to an easy spin up and over CD5 along some placer mining remnants

before dropping into Butte where I was reunited with Team M at the Butte Mine viewing spot. They packed up the rig and were heading back to Minnesota.  Really nice to share a few days on the Divide with these guys - super generous and great guys enjoying a portion of their summer together on the Divide.  I feel Grateful to have been able to cross paths and experience some good laughs with them.