One of the most enjoyable parts of the Great Divide are visits to small towns along the way. It’s interesting to learn about the towns history, learn how and why the town evolved, and meet the people in town.Lima and Dell MT are two that we visited on this legs of the route. Coincidentally Erika’s cousin Lauren taught in a school in Lima. Both have populations in the hundreds or less in the case of Dell less than a hundred and both have long histories tied to farming. In both of these small towns you can see historic buildings, historical farming equipment, and you see signs of families tracing their lines multiple generations. Though the towns seem sleepy with not much in terms of commerce or population they still flourish as farming communities.
Today’s ride was long and hot and there was no shade! Nearly all of the ride was on various types of gravel roads. Various types? before this trip I did not know the difference. The GDMBR book and maps describe the gravel roads as: maintained, non maintained, hard packed, sandy, rocky, rustic, and overgrown. The best is hard packed but we had non of that today. The miles of bouncing on the non maintained, maintained, and rocky gravel was tough on the body and by the end of the day we were tired not from the rolling terrain but mostly from the roads.
The scenery as its been for all of Montana was beautiful and varying. We started in the wide Centennial valley filled with large farming and cattle operations. We paralleled lakes and crossed many creeks. As we got deeper into the valley south towards Idaho the valleys gave way to mountains and for the first time in a week we started to see signs warning of bear activity. The southern part of the Centennial valley is the Red Rock Lakes NWR. It was created specifically to save the Trumpeter Swans but it is home to many other birds, moose, elk, and bears It’s an important part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for animal migration.
The mosquitos for most of the trip have been manageable and our beast of burden has been the horse flies. The horse flies bite hard and leave welts. Today however it was the mosquitos that were eating us. We camped next to Upper Red Rock lake and as soon as we pulled up the mosquitos began to eat! They were large and swarmed us and are able to bite through loose clothing. We had to cover up and wear jackets and retreat to the tent for a relief.
Among birders Red Rock Lakes seems to be an important place to visit. We met two couples from California and another from New Mexico who came just to observe birds.