Fifty-Seven: No-Name Pass (Beaver Creek to Twin Bridges)
Great news: no bears ate me last night. It’s a cold morning, but no coffee since I’m running a little low on water. After breaking camp, my first stop was Earthquake Lake. In 1959, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook a section of mountain loose which dammed the Madison River instantly, creating the lake and killing 28 people, many of whom were camping — eerie. You can still see the treetops sticking out of the water. The visitor center didn’t open for another hour, but I took in the plaques and filled up my water bottles.
Outside Cameron I met two Frenchmen doing an around-the-world tour. They have 29,000 kilometers (roughly 18,000 miles) on the clock so far. Unreal.
It was all downhill to Ennis, home of 840 people and 11 million trout. A lot of folks were plumbing the river with fly-fishing gear. I also spotted a goodly number of drift boats and plenty of fishing access signs off the highway. I stopped here for lunch and ran into Bob again. He’s holding here tonight, waiting for a replacement tent to arrive and having a few documents notarized. Business Bob today.
Between Ennis and Virginia City is a 2,000′ climb over six miles. It was demanding, and the pass doesn’t have a name. That doesn’t seem right. I came screaming downhill into Virginia City, a preserved/restored mining town from its 1860 gold rush heyday. More than $10 million was extracted in the first few years and 10,000 souls called it home. Now it seems to trade on nostalgia and big lumber boardwalks. Oh, and homemade ice cream. Which I tried.
Gravity’s on my side (though the wind is not) all the way into Twin Bridges, which is home tonight. I’m staying at the town’s Bike Camp, the donation-based brainchild of Bill White. We’ve got a hot shower, toilet, deep sink to wash clothes and dishes as well as a screened-in lounge. It’s a pretty great place to be.
I’m spending the night with Davide. He just finished college and is riding from Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park. Also here is a family of four: Shannon, his wife Stacey, and their two daughters. They started in Maine and are en route to Florence.
Davide and I went for ice cream after cleaning up dinner. Making up for lost time.