I got off to a later start than I had planned but still managed to be on the road by 8:30. Outside the motel stood guy I had talked to yesterday who was also a cyclist. He was participating in a hardcore mountain bike race along the Great Divide, which starts in Canada's wilderness and follows dirt roads in the Rocky Mountain range all the way to the Mexican border. He had to abort the race due to both mechanical and physical problems. In spite of having to abort, he had experienced some amazing stuff in the harsh conditions in the wilderness. He told stories about grizzly bears walking only few meters away from his group and other encounters with wildlife. He saw I had mounted a canister of bear spray on my handlebar and told me how nobody he rode with used that anymore, and offered to give me his bear bell instead which he claimed was much more effective. The device is simply just a bell that you mount on your bike when you're in bear country to ward off nearby bears. He also tried to push more stuff on me like snacks and other safety devices that he didn't need anymore, but I politely declined and told him I was already carrying too much stuff.
Claire had decided to stay a couple of more days in Missoula since she wanted to visit the Adventure Cycling Association and also wanted to re-route her trip, so I set off in solitude. Just as I got past the more trafficked freeway down to Lolo, I got to enjoy some nice long bike paths that lasted almost 50 km. The road was following Bitterroot Valley and offered some nice views of snow covered mountain tops on both sides of the valley that I got to enjoy uninterrupted by traffic.
I took several minor rest stops along the way and just blew past the towns of Hamilton and Darby. I knew I was headed into an area with no cell reception so I contacted home to get a report on some foul looking weather over the mountains I was headed into.
I saw on the map that I had a big climb ahead so I decided to stop just north of the town of Sula, and prepare to get into some mountains tomorrow morning.
I rolled into Spring Gulch campground and put up my tent in a nice secluded corner of the park. Apparently there was a war zone inside one of the bushes just beside my tent, with loud periodic outbursts of bird screams, so I was wondering how much sleep I would get tonight.