What a great day! Today, we rode the Olympia and Hiawatha Trails. There is none like the Hiawatha in the USA.
Thanks to a fellow tour member for his Garmin stats as Steve did not ride this one. (He did it last year and his peripheral and night vision isn’t up to it.)
The evening before, our guides review the plan for the day. Starting with breakfast at the cute coffee place in Kellogg called The Beanery. Good choices of coffee drinks, oatmeal, breakfast burritos and bagel sandwiches fill us all up. (Warning on drinking too much coffee: no bathrooms on the Olympia Trail where we begin! Of course, there are the Pissfirs as they are called as an outdoor option!)
Roading on I-90 again to the start of Olympia in Montana. This is a gravel trail through beautiful forests with some lovely vistas. It’s an 8 mile ride where we meet up with the van again, which is the parking lot for the Hiawatha Trail. Time for Lunch. Yep, we are fed well on these bike tours.
Two training opportunities for the Hiawatha, on the Olympia Trail, included a short tunnel and a railroad trestle bridge. Row Adventures provided everyone with a light on their bike to use in the tunnels. Also a reminder – remove your sunglasses before you enter the tunnels!
After we meet up the van and have lunch, we are ready to ride the Hiawatha. You can read a more comprehensive description of the trail on the website: https://www.ridethehiawatha.com/the-trail
In summary, this was the best ride ever! There are several tunnels and trestles to cross as the trail goes down elevation into the mountains. Beautiful views of the trestle bridges from the higher ones as you descend. The unique thing about the trail is the first tunnel: It is “…a cavernous, absolutely flat, dark tunnel under the Bitterroot Mountains, connecting Idaho and Montana, and is 1.66 miles long. Motorized vehicles are not allowed in this tunnel.” It is dark, cold and wet with gutters that run along each side. You better have your light on!
Here are some pictures taken by the me and the other tour members. The video shared with me another person on the ride.
Since we are told to ride 90 minutes out and then turn around, I ride as fast as I can to see if I can reach the last tunnel. Sadly, I didn’t make it so at 91 minutes, I turned around at this sign.
Let me mention, there are historic signs along the trail, which is why a 15 mile ride, along with the gravel trail and the many people on the trail, slows you down as you stop to read them. I met a young mother pulling her child in a bike carrier with another woman who were a little freaked out because the woman had left her light on back during the tunnels and she now had no light to return. Lesson: don’t leave your light on, turn off after each tunnel.
Everyone returns to the van in the parking lot with their bikes, pant legs and jackets dirty from the tunnels’ muddy surfaces.
Dinner is at The Blackboard Cafe again. Fun times!
The picture of today is an example of a friendly chipmunk on the Hiawatha. Unfortunately, people seem to need to feed these little creatures because there were several who came right up to us and even were climbing on people’s legs and one jumped onto my shoe!