26. Eureka to Before Olney: Wild Camping on the Stillwater - From the Olympic Peninsula to St. Mary - The First Bite of the Northern Tier - CycleBlaze

June 8, 2018

26. Eureka to Before Olney: Wild Camping on the Stillwater

We were on the road at 0700 and decided to make an easy day to avoid the 85 degree heat and enjoy a bit of the Stillwater River. First we had to earn the respite on the succession of hills and dales along the backroad out of Eureka. Then we joined US 93 to cross from the Tobacco River drainage to the Stillwater. Enough to say that 93 could use some shoulder improvements. The grades were moderate which we welcomed, and most drivers were courteous and gave us room. Hwy 93 is not as heavily traveled as roads in more populated areas of Washington, but the 70 mph speed limits in Montana make a cyclist feel buffeted and exposed. We were glad to split the time spent on 93 into this day and the next.

About noon we tucked into a nice space next to the Stillwater River, shared with some hungry mosquitoes. This is listed on the ACA map as an unmarked dirt road on the right near mile marker 153. The access is better from the next unmarked turn 1/2 mile further east before mile marker 154. We followed a really bumpy, rutted, gnarly road that led to where the Stillwater River spills into Stillwater Lake. It’s a local hangout, according to a gentleman who stopped by our camp and introduced himself. He’s from Olney a few miles down the road. He said it gets a lot of visitors on July 4, the bumpy road being no obstacle for 4WD vehicles. There’s also cutthroat trout in there, but we don’t carry fishing gear. We saw them jumping toward evening.

The river where we pitched our tent is more like a swift, shallow (4 feet?) stream, perfect for wading and a refeshing rinse. To ward off the mosquitoes we built a fire in the circle of stones left behind by previous campers. We reconstituted beef stew from a freeze dried meal packet and water boiled on our trusty primus, topped off with hot chocolate. (Bleah, beef stew isn’t the best, Chili Mac is better). The only thing missing was a cold beer. At some point in the evening, the trains started rumbling past. Judging by the sound, the tracks were about a half mile away somewhere in the woods south of the river. Something to keep in mind when mulling a stay here.

Wild camping was fun, but we realize how useful picnic tables at designated campgrounds can be. It was just a little awkward setting up the primus on the ground. (We travel light and don’t carry collapsible tables or chairs). Guess you get what you pay for - this site was free.

Stillwater River between Stryker and Olney.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride: 30 miles (48 km)
Total: 924 miles (1,487 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 0
Comment on this entry Comment 0