Saturday, August 13, 2005


delayed in helena

well, i made it into helena the other day so i have now done about 400 miles of my trip so far. since i was in the biggest town of the trip, i treated myself to a hotel room so i could get a nice hot shower and sleep in a real bed. i even watched a bit of TV - quite a treat when you have been out in the woods for a week and a half.

the night before i rode into helena, i had to camp out half way between lincoln and helena at a place called deadman's creek, down a dead-end forest road that looked like it had not been travelled on in quite some time. right from the start, i didnt like the sound of that. anyway, i was supposed to find a small campsite off of the route about a mile, but it had started raining pretty hard so i just found a suitable spot and set up my tent. there were signs of bear activity all around and the locals in lincoln had warned me that "that's bear country up there", so i wasnt feeling so great about my campsite choice, but i needed to get out of the rain. it was still early in the evening and it does not get dark here until almost 10, so i just sat around in my small little tent and tried to play the harmonica. i ended up drifting off to sleep pretty early, assuming i would get a nice long rest for the tough ride into helena the next day. however, a few hours later, i was awakend by the sound of rustling outside. i could hear sticks breaking as footsteps got closer to my tent. as it got closer, i could hear the sound of heavy breathing. it sounded like a 400lb. guy just ran a mile or something - it was deep and throaty. i layed perfectly still, not wiggling a toe or flinching a muscle. at one point i was not even sure if i was still breathing because i was laying so perfectly still. after what seemed an eternity but was probably like 2 minutes, the breathing and its source moved closer to my tent. i dont know how many of you have ever layed in a tent and listened to the sounds outside, but they always sound like they are so very close. however, in this instance, i was positive that the breathing couldnt have been more than a foot away - it sounded like it was right in my ear. i quickly ran through all of the things i had heard and read about dealing with bears in a situation like this. lay still, play dead, make noise, fight back - it was all very contradictory. i decided that i would lay still unless the animal got any closer (which would practically put them in the tent with me). if that happened, i remembered that i had a whistle on my camelback that was in the tent with me (thanks rick and adventure racing for making that required equipment that i never thought i would need). i planned to blow the whistle really loud in an attempt to scare off my heavy-breathing visitor. i layed still with my hand cocked back and ready to make a grab for my pack. then i heard a sharp noise outside, i dont know if it was another animal or a limb falling or what, but it scared my friend outside and it ran off into the woods. i layed still for another 10 or 15 minutes waiting to see if i would get a return visit. needless to say, i did not get any sleep the rest of the night. i vowed to get up at the crack of dawn and leave deadman's creek and never, ever return.

anyway, the next day's ride was tough, including two crossings of the continental divide. on no sleep and no breakfast, it was a very rough day. but i finally rolled into helena on thursday night. it felt good to take a shower and feel like a normal person again. i planned a late start the next day since the day's ride was short, but when i woke up, it was raining pretty hard and dark and cloudy in every direction. i tried to wait it out at a little restaurant across the street from my hotel, but the weather never got any better. i finally decided that the day was shot and i just stayed in helena one more night.

now on two day's rest, i am off again. i should arrive in butte tomorrow night if everything goes as planned. by early next week, i should be done with montana and making my way into wyoming. i didnt think i would even make it this far, but things are getting better. hopefully i dont have any more encounters with the montana wildlife either. i am about to get kicked off of this computer by the librarian giving me the evil eye, so i better get going. just wanted to give everyone an update on my status. i miss you michaleen, but i will be done with this trip soon and my next adventures will be on a much smaller scale. until next time...

That is a great bear story! Its scary but it was fun to read. I hope you make it through the rest of your ride!

I don't want to alarm anyone, but between running out of food, and nearly getting eaten by a bear, I am 2 for 2. Brian, I really think you should be taking that inbred cannibal thing seriously.

I spent all day trying to get a stupid oracle driver to work with VB6 on XP SP2... camping in the woods with a bear is sounding pretty good! Seriously though, enjoy the trip, life will be back to "normal" soon enough.

Post a Comment

<< Home