Day 21: Apgar Campground to Marias Pass Summit Campground - Racpat Northern Tier - CycleBlaze

June 21, 2021

Day 21: Apgar Campground to Marias Pass Summit Campground

Lowest pass over the Continental Divide

“I’ve got popsicles,” Kim shouts, she has driven up from Apgar after doing more shopping. We’ve been climbing and it is getting hot. Only another cyclist gets what cyclists need, and Kim is a very experienced solo cyclist! We could get used to this “sag wagon” idea. Two other older cyclists with T-shirts “Behind Bars for Life” catch up and stop, also to enjoy popsicles. They too are headed to Bar Harbor Maine. And we think this is the couple the Grumby’s told us about when on their camping trip 3 weeks ago.

After the three of us say goodbye to Trajan, we are on the road by 6:30.  We quickly swing by the lakeside to get some sunrise photos of Lake McDonald. The first stretch of road we gain and lose and re-gain the same 200 feet. We come to a Tavern/Café and stop, hoping for a second breakfast.  This is not meant to be, the café is only serving a continental breakfast for the guests in the adjacent motel. However, we do get some “left over croissants” and coffee, and no worries about bringing in our own food…nutella for the croissants, and hard boiled eggs. Just down the road there is another café and further on Isaac Walton’s Lodge at Essex.

After Essex, the shoulder returns and the continuous gaining of elevation starts, nothing too drastic, just long, and it’s becoming hot. Then up ahead in a pull out we see Kim. She has become our private cheering squad.

“I have bananas,” Kim is waving two bananas where she has stopped in a pull out. “It’s 2.4 miles from here, there’s a dip and then the parking lot with the Monument and historical information. The campground is at the far end of the parking lot."

There is a “replica” of the Washington monument, and a huge statue of John F. Stevens, the engineer who “found” the pass in 1889 for the Great Northern Railroad, the first trains came through in 1893. The Blackfoot Indian Nation called this the “Backbone pass” and the Salish and Kootenai used this pass to cross to the plains to hunt bison. At 5,216 feet elevation, this is the lowest crossing of the continental divide.

We find a camping spot, not sure why the cyclist we met in Glacier thought this was a beautiful spot. The mosquitos are thick and the restrooms smell so bad the new paint is peeling off the walls. Kim stays for a little while, pulling out more snacks. A huge bag of assorted chips…as Robert says, “A cyclists dream.” It is sad to say goodbye to Kim. She is looking at options of future plans and rides, and who knows maybe somewhere between here and Maine, she will join us for a ride.

We decide not to cook while swatting mosquitoes. Instead we eat a peanut butter sandwich, and some more snacks. Then, diving into the tent to read, and wait for the sun to set.

This is still grizzly bear country so we store our food bags in the smelly outhouse.

Sunrise at MacDonald Lake, as we leave Apgar
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Following upstream, the Flathead River
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Kim has popsicles for us
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"Behind Bars for Life" couple cycling to Bar Harbor Maine
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Ron SuchanekYou're right, that's the couple we saw a few weeks ago in Winthrop!
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2 months ago
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Ron SuchanekTrail magic
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2 months ago
"I've got bananas" Kim says, and gives us an update on being 2.4 miles to the summit.
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Monument to John Stevens who "found" this pass for the railroad.
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As Robert says, "A cyclists dream" a big bag of assorted chips! Thanks Kim!
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Moose Drool "to the wind" toast
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Ron SuchanekLove Moose Drool!
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2 months ago
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The mosquitoes are bad!
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Today's ride: 47 miles (76 km)
Total: 778 miles (1,252 km)

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