NOLA to Canadian Rockies 2018-Day 6

Steve Kinchen, Sr/ June 20, 2018/ BMW R1200RT, New Orleans to Canadian Rockies 2018, Touring/ 0 comments

Departure Location: Cody, WY

Time: 07:30

Weather Conditions: Overcast and 52F

Daily High Temperature: 78F

Destination: Missoula, MT

Daily Miles Logged:466

Arrival Time: 19:05

States Visited: Wyoming, Montana

Daily Highlights from our ride plan:

  • Chief Joseph Scenic Byway
  • Beartooth Highway/Pass
  • Crazy Creek Cascade
  • Pilot and Index Point Overlook: These two peaks located many miles west of the pullout in Wyoming rank in the top ten of the most often photographed scenes along the Beartooth All-American Road. In addition to the Peaks, this location looks down on the beautiful Clark’s Fork River Valley and the Wild and Scenic Clark’s Fork River that ultimately flows into the Yellowstone River.
  • West Summit / Beartooth Pass Overlook: At elevation 10,947′, this is the highest point along the Highway with spectacular views in every direction. In late May and early June, this high elevation area can produce harsh weather conditions including blowing snow and fog, resulting in short-term (less than 24 hours) highway closures.
  • Gardner Lake Overlook: We are supposed to see “never-ending expansive views”. It is also a great location for viewing the Bear’s Tooth, a pyramidal spire rock formation carved by glaciers and the namesake of the Beartooth All-American Road. Look for alpine flowers in summer.
  • Rock Creek Vista: Enjoy a spectacular view from above 9,000 feet at this rest area. From here, a short trail heads to a breathtaking view of the Rock Creek Canyon. This wayside is twenty-one miles from Red Lodge. Vista Point provides breathtaking views of Rock Creek Canyon and Hell Roaring Plateau

Today was a day tailor-made for riding a motorcycle.  I could end the post with that sentence, but there is so much in my heart to share.  Or on-time departure from Cody was met with a slight hiccup in a left turn where a right turn from our fuel stop should have been followed.  Sometimes, the GPS units simply do not recalculate your heading quickly enough in order to give you the most accurate command and this was the case for us.

Each of us kept wondering why our gps units were telling us to make a u-turn to head back form where we came from, but it took us skipping several waypoints and seven miles to relent and accept the fact that we had simply made the wrong turn.  Our 14-mile detour did not quench our enthusiasm for the day’s trophy: Beartooth Pass.

This was at our first scenic overlook, Pilot and Index Overlook, and represents a nice juxtaposition of old and new. We ride horses of steel (and plastic)

A small segment of the thrilling ride heading towards Beartooth Pass

As you near the summit of the Pass, there is a small gift shop called “top of the world” that made for a nice break just before we entered the highest of elevations of the pass.

As hard as it might seem to believe to some of my friends at home in New Orleans, there are places in the lower 48 that still have snow on the ground, and that received fresh snowfalls as recent as this past Monday that closed the road down until it was plowed.  We were treated to temperatures in the mid 30’s to low 40’s along the pass and in the low 30’s at the summit.

Some folks have asked me why do I do this…?  This is a complex question with answers on many levels.  To passing inquisition: because it is fun and I enjoy it…  To those asking with a sense of interest… Because it is an adventure and we live in a big world with lots to see.  To those who have been a part of an adventure such as this… no words are necessary.

For a southern boy like me, snow is a rare thing. Riding my motorcycle surround by walls of snow is something from another world.

Jon, our trip architect and mastermind. It is impossible to understand the level of attention to detail invested in creating these adventures. I only wish he rode a real motorcycle…

My RT and Jr’s GS. Two fabulous steeds that have taken us places…

I took some video with my gopro helmet cam that one day, I hope to edit.  There are no words that I can use to adequately describe the level of exhilaration a motorcycle enthusiast receives when riding a stretch of asphalt such as this.  Hairpin curves, switchbacks, long sweepers, most without guard rails and steep cliffs simply add to the experience.  For now, the memories of riding along beautiful twisting roads surrounded by walls of snow will have to suffice.

Jon planned a lunch stop in Red Lodge, Montana at the Red Lodge Cafe.  It was a real neighborhood type of joint that had a very rustic feel and was a perfect fit for the small town.  I ordered what seemed to be an appropriate special called “the Beartooth.”  It was a sandwich on wheat toast, with roast beef, jack cheese, and grilled onions with a side of “hand-cut” fries that simply were not hand cut.  The sandwich however, did not disappoint.  I am afraid that Jon and Randall would not be able to say the same about their chicken fried steaks.

Most of the buildings on the main drag seemed to date to 1900-1910

A shot of the main street drag from the front of the cafe

We made it to lunch just as a small band of showers were working their way through the area.  After lunch, we suited up for the rain that was in the forecast for the afternoon.

Time to suit up for rain. At least there was a nice bench to aid in the process.

We encountered light rain for about 30 minutes and then the sun reappeared and we started to bake in our rain gear as we began our descent from 8000+ feet.  We stopped shortly thereafter and removed most of our insulated gear and rain suits for the rest of the afternoon, or so we thought.

With 121 miles to home base for the evening, we started to experience light rain and decided to stop for gas and to partially suit up again.  Looking at the radar, it could have gone either way… a deluge or we might just thread the needle and make it between the cells without rain.  I told the gang that I prayed and was going to exercise my faith that we would arrive without rain, and thankfully, we did just that.  Now, is it being greedy for me to ask God for that again for tomorrow?

Parting thoughts before I turn in for the evening about our merry band of brothers; as a group, we share so many commonalities, as individuals, we are so radically different.  I am more blessed than I have words to convey to be a part of the journey with these fine gentlemen, this journey to Banff, and our journey in life.

-Steve

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