Day 20: Missoula to Hamilton, MT (47 miles)

Today was an unusual riding day in that the entire ride was on a bike path. We turned onto it directly out of the parking lot in Missoula and off of it as we arrived at the hotel in Hamilton. Hamilton is apparently a very fast-growing community due to copper mining here. I did not see evidence of that mining on the way in, but I am not sure I know what I am looking for. What we rode through today seems much more suburban sprawl type community than the places we have been to previously. It feels a long way from the meandering rivers of Idaho. Still beautiful, but not at all the wilderness feeling we had for so many days there.

Being on a bike path allowed us to follow the US Rt 93 path without being in major traffic. That was very nice. The noise of the traffic was ever present, but the cars and trucks themselves were happily not. It allowed me to look around more than usual because I didn’t have to worry so much about holding my line. If I drifted a bit, it was no big deal. So I took advantage and loved every minute of the mountains that were on both sides of us. Those on our side of the road as we rode south seemed to be bigger and rockier. Those on the other side were smaller and more rounded in general. Both were beautiful!

We seem to be entering a weather pattern that will mean dressing in layers and shedding them as we go on through the day. I had on three layers underneath my wind/rain jacket at the start along with a Gore windstopper buff that came up over my head under my helmet. By 20 miles in I was ready to start leaving layers behind in the SAG vehicle. I have an Apicura bag that will hold a lot, but it is fabulous to be able to leave it all in the car on those days when we don’t think we will need to put the extra clothes back on later in the ride. It seems most, if not all of the remaining days of our trip will be in the low 30s in the morning and will get up to the low to mid-60s in the afternoon when we arrive at our next destination. If it all goes as smoothly as today, it will be fine. My purchases yesterday at REI proved to be well-thought out and I was toasty warm when and where I needed to be and the layers peeled off easily so I could stay comfortable all day. Yay!!!

One thing we have noticed as the temperatures drop is that we are not as happy eating our meals outside as we were at the beginning of the trip. Many of us took our breakfasts back into the warm hotel this morning so we could stay warm and the dinners outside have been getting shorter and less chatty as we tend to want to head back inside soon after eating the delicious meals prepared for us in the trailer/galley kitchen. I am getting hungry already and we have two hours before dinner. I have already snacked, so I guess now I just have to wait for 6 pm to arrive!