Biking Montana’s Flathead Lake


After A Cold Bath In Flathead Lake
June 11 ’72

Its been raining all week. The afternoons always end up in
thunderstorms. I can’t get a full day of biking in (except for
yesterday when I peddled over a hundred miles). Montana is a lot of up
and down, and its old. Missoula was not a very dazzling city. I wasn’t
even disappointed when the University of Montana told me they didn’t
need any more custodians. Butte was downright depressing. It took me
seven hours to bike up the mountain that Butte sits upon. When I had
almost reached the top, a trucker going down in the opposite direction
yelled at me (after hitting his horn), “You’re almost there. Keep on
truck’in.” I just waved my hand. I never did get to the top (on that
day at least). I camped at a rest area. That may not have been the
highest pass I climbed, but it certainly was the hardest.

Because of my route, I was going to be west of Glacier National Park
when I reached the fork in the road that would take me east to
Glacier. I had planned on going to Glacier, but with all the rain, and
now the cold, I was having second thoughts. I was fucking tired, and
Glacier meant more mountain climbing, maybe the worst yet. Besides I
had spent more money than I wanted. I had had it. I decided to by-pass
Glacier and continue west to British Columbia, Canada.

I just finished taking a bath in a cold Flathead Lake. The lake is
located west of Glacier National Park, near the Flathead Indian
Reservation. The lake was large, 180 miles around, and it was very
pretty. Last night I camped in what used to be a horse coral (maybe it
still is). I tied my space blanket to one end of the hitching post,
and secured the other end to the ground. It rained. Tonight, it looks
like a thunderstorm, and I do not yet have shelter. See you later!
I’ve climbed some high hills, and I’m about to climb a few more!

Just before it rained, and after I reached Kalispell, I met some
people who turned me on to the city park. There were picnic tables
under roofs, and after I found firewood piled next to one of the
barbecue grates beside a picnic table, I knew I was home. The people
with me broke out the wine. Later, their friends showed up with beer.
By 10 p.m., the party was over and the last partygoer ambled home. I
heated up a can of spaghetti, and after eating it I crawled into my
sleeping bag. The next morning I woke to the same rain whose
pitter-patter had lulled me to sleep the night before. I finally left
the shelter around 1 p.m., after a breakfast of hot pea soup and biscuits.

I had an empty, aching feeling in my belly when I left Kalispell. I
wasn’t sick; it’s just that my decision to pass up Glacier was a
difficult one to make. Kalispell was the natural cut off point for
people who were heading to Glacier. I figured these feelings would
pass, but when I biked into Whitefish, another forty miles north, the
nausea grew worse. The weather had cleared, but once in the mountains
(if I chose to go to the mountains), I knew it would rain and probably
never let up. My body and mind wanted to continue west, yet I couldn’t
live with the thought that, “Here I was, thousands of miles from home,
with Glacier National Park twenty miles away (forget about the 150
miles it would take to get back on track), and I was passing up the
opportunity to see it.” As far as I was concerned that was blasphemy!
I turned my bike east, at the last possible minute, and took the
highway (the last one) leading to Glacier. My nausea instantly left me.

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About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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8 Responses to Biking Montana’s Flathead Lake

  1. eof737 says:

    What a beautiful piece… I dare say, where are you going? All that rain, all those hills and I’m feeling winded and cold for you… It’s all very beautiful and that Montanan landscape is simply breathtaking.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog… I do love yours 🙂
    Best,
    Eliz

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I was biking from Michigan to Vancouver Island, B.C. Back in ’69 I spent some time there and it was gorgeous. I was also stopping along the way and applying for a custodian job at different universities. If I would have scored a job, that would have ended my trip. About year later, though, I did score that job at the University of Arizona, Tuscon.

  2. J.R. LeMar says:

    Whoa, those are some awesome pics!

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      Sorry about that. I just write in a title like Glacier National Park and put pictures in the title and google takes me to pages and pages of pictures. I choose a couple that fit my journal entry and am very grateful for that opportunity. Sorry I upset you. The picture is deleted (luckily, that is because I am computer challenged but I got it down).

  3. don says:

    Thank you for removing it.

  4. don says:

    The world doesn’t belong exclusively to any of us. Montana and Flathead Lake don’t belong exclusively to me. Just ask the native americans who call it home. But our own view and experience of the world does belong to us. You are free to go to Flathead Lake and take pictures. I’d even take you out there on my skiff to and help you do it and show you the best places. My pictures are unique to how I see the world. I grew up on that lake. It’s my home and back yard. I work hard to create a decent view of it. You’re sorry I got upset, but I’m sorry you don’t understand. Using my picture on your blog to illustrate your post is like saying my view of the world doesn’t matter. It’s like walking into my home and taking anything you want and leaving without even a thanks. That’s not something we do in Montana.

    You might want to re-evaluate your practice of using pictures that belong to other people. You might be greatful but there are those who take a very dim view of that and aren’t so willing to forgive. They just send out the lawyers and charge you.

    Best wishes and happy holidays.

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