On the Road!
After a frenzy of packing, some surprise goodbye gatherings, and tearful parting with my partner Amy, and dog bestie Moki, I finally left town this morning. My good friend Brace joined me on his late '80's triathalon bike for the first leg to Clearwater Junction in the Blackfoot Valley.
My lonely heart was plotting ways to get Brace to stay a few more miles when we met a couple from Colorado at a rest stop. They had bike toured Europe in their youth and were quite interested in my Climate Courage Tour. It was easier to let Brace go with that positive connection, and it was just the first of many.
I entered the tiny town of Ovando in a gaggle of guided gravel cyclists, and a few independent riders fueling up for their rides on the rugged Great Divide Route from Canada to Mexico. I was shocked to find so many two-wheelers in this out of the way place. Then Elaine Catton of the Blackfoot Challenge arrived and we had an excellent talk about rural life and climate issues in Montana (more on that in a future blog). She also set me up to stay with the legendary Mannix family on their ranch in Helmville.
That is where I sit now, 75 miles from home, and rather stunned at my good fortune. Instead of my tent I'm in a spare bedroom - which is more than nice, since a sow grizzly and cubs have been living on the chokecherries in a creek bottom a couple hundred yards away. The Mannix family practices and innovates regenerative ranching (which includes impressive predator tolerance), and they are actively training the next generation of climate-responsible agricultural practitioners. I'll write more about that later as well.
For now, I could not have landed in a better place for my first night on the road. It's late and time for a good sleep before heading on to Helena tomorrow.