Eureka to Fernie - Waterton and Glacier - CycleBlaze

June 16, 1990

Eureka to Fernie

This is the first day of a week-long loop around Glacier and Waterton National Parks.  We left work at noon yesterday and drove to Coeur D'Alene, hoping to cover enough miles so that we could arrive in Eureka this morning early enough to put in a full day's ride.

We awoke early today in our quiet motel in a small community a few miles north of Coeur D'Alene and drove north to Sand Point for breakfast.  From there we continued on to Eureka by way of Bonner's Ferry and the Yaak river valley.  I have never been through the Idaho panhandle before and found it quite scenic.  The last miles of the drive, along the Yaak, was lovely and primitive - we encountered no towns and no traffic in sixty miles of wilderness.

We arrived in Eureka a bit after noon, losing an hour crossing into the Mountain Time Zone.  After obtaining permission at the forst service headquarters to leave the Escort in their parking lot for a week, we loaded our bikes, aired the tires, changed outfits and started out on the highway for Elko, BC, thirty miles to the north.

Leaving off the Escort, Eureka
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The first leg of our tour was fairly tame.  Most of the ride to Elko featured relatively modest hills.  This was great - it is better to build up to the first mountain pass with a few miles of less challenging riding.  The only significant exception along this segment was the climb out of the Elk River valley.  The country all along the way is pleasant and picturesque.  It is mostly rather dry prairie ranchland, thick with horses, cattle, weathered barns and log cabins - with the Rockies slowly emerging from the horizon to the east.  The weather was hot and dry, with a modest headwind.

Crossing the Elk River, south of Elko
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By the time we reached Elko we too were hot and dry.  We attacked the first food stop we saw - a not very inspiring roadside drive-in - to refuel: Rachael a banana milkshake, and I with a larger blueberry one.  A mile further down the road we reached central Elko and enjoyed a real meal in a diner - a turkey sandwich for Rahael, and a huge beef and mozzarella submarine for myself.

The final twenty miles of the day were along the beautiful highway that parallels the Elk.  As the road gradually and gently gained elevation, Rachael and I pedaled eastward toward the western margin of the Rockies.  By six we arrived in Fernie, a pretty little community on the Elk.  Mount Fernie loomed to the north, its shoulders still striated with snow and ice.  After scouting the town we located the only grocery still open at this hour; and retracing our route for a mile or so to the west we returned to Mount Fernie Provincial Park to set up camp for the night.

Mount Fernie
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Elevation gain: 2,800’

Today's ride: 53 miles (85 km)
Total: 53 miles (85 km)

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