Early in the ride we had two animal encounters. The first approximately 6 miles from Merry Widow. On Boulder River road we encountered a herd of elk. The elk were on the road and on the high side of the hill to the left. The part of the herd on the road escaped quickly towards a creek on the right. The adult elk that were part of the heard on the high side to the left we able to jump a fence between the forest above and the road however three juvenile were not able to jump the fence. We stopped traveling forward to give them room and two bravely jumped the fence. The smallest fell trying to jump to the road and seemed stunned. It was not able to move for a few moments and I was scared that we inadvertently injured the elk. The elk got up and went towards the herd on the right. In the mean time to elk sow, probably the mother, was making a ruckus on the hill through the trees. We though she was trying to distract us to give the small elk protection. There was a lot of elk vocalizing probably to tell the small elk to escape for its life danger! In the end the small elk was not able to join the herd on the right near the creek. A barbed wire fence blocked it and it was too small to jump it. As we passed we saw the small elk curled up watching us ride away.
The second animal encounter was brief and was on Kit Carson road before Maney Lake. Along Kit Carson road to the left was a creek. We were told that moose like bogs and lakes and didn’t expect to find any here. We saw two deer type creature cross the road. As we came closer to the animals we saw their long legs and distinct moose shaped bodies. It was sure enough an moose sow and her calf. They passed too quickly for me to take a picture. Amazing to see the moose close up!
The ride to Bute included a Continental Divide crossing and it was the first time we actually saw a “CD” sign. It was not as high in altitude as other crossings. The 36 mile ride to Butte was easy compared to others. The gravel roads were in nice condition and the part of the ride into Butte was on pavement. We rode with Ben from Missoula and Sara and Phillip from Washington soon to move to CA for much of today’s ride.
Butte was described in the Great Divide book as an unattractive polluted town due to the tailings from the Berkeley Mining pit. However we found the town to be interesting with the old town area filled with turn on the 20th century buildings reminiscent of parts of San Francisco. Like SF, old town Butte has some steep streets, many hills, and interesting brick buildings. We would have liked to spend more time wandering th streets of old town Butte.
The Berkeley pit unfortunately is a dominating feature of the town. The huge mounds of dirt and an enormous lake of acidic water dominate the city landscape. The acidic lake is 1,800 ft deep of corrosive water out from mining tailings with a ph of 2.5 (vinegar and Coca Cola level). The town people test water for signs of leaching in the water supply.
We camped in town at a KOA, my first stay at a KOA. I would imagine that KOAs are a uniquely North American (US and Canada) experience. Haul your family and gear to a location, park your RV 5 feet from another, and enjoy! Relax by the pool or in the case of the Butte KOA, enjoy a meal at the chicken shack. Go onto what ever brought you to Butte or get back on the road to your eventual destination. This is part of Americana that I don’t think politicians in Washington see or experience. It’s a sweet and honest part of American life that’s uncomplicated. Each person or family finding sense a sense of freedom and happiness on the road.