Molly and Tammy left Banff, the start of the Continental Divide Trail, around the first of September. Sometime in August we decided to meet in southwest Montana around September 10. My new job is busiest from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and there’s no way I can go away for a week until after the end of summer.
My little XT250 is maxing out at about 55mph when it’s fully loaded. So she will be slow going to cross the 600+ miles to our meeting point at Bannack State Park in the southwest corner of Montana. In hopes of getting a jumpstart to the starting line, I asked my Dad if he would mind giving my bike (and I) a ride to Billings or a little further after I get off work on Friday the 9th. My Dad is best, regardless of his helping with this trip or not, and he said yes.
When I get home work, and finish packing up the last of my gear, Dad arrives to pick me up. We load my bike in the back of his pickup, pile my gear in, and hit the road.
We make the 6-hour trip to Billings, chatting all the while, before calling it a night and settling into a couple of hotel rooms. In the morning, I check on the bike and find Dad has left an assortment of tools, etc. in his truck, always trusting in the basic goodness of people.
We carry on to Bozeman, grab a couple of quick fish tacos, and then drive to the back of a trailer park across the road and back up to a slope to unload my bike. I’ve enjoyed my time with Dad so much, that I hate to go. After a quick hug and one last check of my freshly-tied-down bags, we head our separate ways.
I stop at REI for a few Velcro straps, to replace a couple that blew out in transit, and then head west of Bozeman toward Norris. The Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers join near here to form the Missouri River that bisects my home state. I cross two of the three on my way to Norris. My route turns south to Ennis and then west again to pass through Virginia City and Twin Bridges before making my way to Dillon, my last fuel and supply stop before getting off road.
As I pull out of Virginia City I catch up to another adventure bike and after leap-frogging a time or two, we pull over to say hello. Simon is an Englishman who has lived in New Hampshire with his family for the past 30 years or more. Super nice guy.
Six miles shy of Dillon my fuel warning light came on, meaning my range was something around 120 miles before the light. Yuck. Suddenly, my three and a half liters of extra fuel seem too little. A quick stop at a farm supply shop equips me with a small one-gallon can, which I promptly fill up at Cenex just up the road. I have a quick drink and bite and fill my Camelbak one last time and am surprised to see its already after 5:00. I still have a half-hour ride to Bannack State Park, and a camp to set up, and the sun is getting lower than I would like.
I ride west of Dillon and then turn south toward the park, finally turning off the pavement just a mile or so before camp. Molly waves at me as I pull into the camping area. Her face is just as bright and beautiful as the last time I saw her, three years ago. It’s wonderful to see her. Tammy is off taking photos of the ghost town of Bannack, just up the road, but returns not long after, and we greet each other with a hug. I’ve been waiting for this reunion all year. These women inspire me, and I’m so grateful to be here and experiencing even a part of this adventure with them.