Day 14 — Tarkio to Helmville, MT
June 26. 2021. For the next few days it’s climb, climb, and climb some more. The first third of the day involve back roads along the Clark Fork River and the lovely Clark Fork Valley. Some were dirt, some were paved. Some had steep hills, and others were flat and gently upward.
Somewhere before Missoula, an old friend from the University of Idaho days, Jim Ekins found me! He was following the trip on Facebook/Medium and messaged me that he’d be on the road heading back from Missoula to Coeur d’Alene where he lives. I never thought he’d find me but miraculously he saw me out on a frontage road, exited the freeway, and found me.
Jim was a graduate student in our program at U of I, and is now an associate professor at UI, where he is the area water educator for the University of Idaho Extension. He develops and delivers non-formal educational programs based on the best science to all parts of the community. Jim runs the IDAH2O Master Water Stewards citizen science volunteer water quality monitoring program, and leads the Cleaner Water Faster bi-state educational project related to stormwater pollution. It’s cool to see your former students doing cool things!
From there it was into Missoula. I worked my way through town on the lovely rail trail system, passing the beautiful old Milwaukee Road Railway Station.
From Missoula is was along the shoulder of State Highway 200 and 141 up the Blackfoot and Little Blackfoot Rivers as far as I could go. My goal was to shorten the distance I’d have to travel the next day, as it involved the pass over the Continental Divide.
The Blackfoot River valley is lovely farm and ranch country, with the Bob Marshall Wilderness off to the North.
Late in the day I started worrying about where I was going to camp, as I was in fenced ranch country. I managed to make it to a sweet little place off the highway along the Blackfoot River. In the end I peddled about 125 miles. I ate three peanut butter sandwiches and a bunch of water with electrolytes, and went to bed.