The Pilgrimage: Day 25
I left White Sulphur Springs with the intention of visiting Diamond City, a ghost town in the Big Belt Mountains, and finishing the day in Helena and Rimini. The weather had different plans.
I headed north on hwy 360, and turned down the National Forest access. I discovered I went the wrong way about 45 min later when I found the dead end sign. I think I have a magnet for finding the end of the road, especially ones that are up in the mountains, so it’s not easy to get turned around. Note: if you’re going to try and find Diamond City don’t turn just stay on 360, it literally turns into the Forest Service Road that goes right through “Diamond City”.
As soon as I got to the Helena National Forest it began to rain. Buckets. Within 20 minutes there was water running all over the road, puddles were filled in minutes and began to overflow. I found what I believe is the Diamond City site. It wasn’t marked, but there was three standing buildings, and they were the only old buildings I found. Thunder and Lightning reminded me that I still had the whole mountain pass to go.
I continued on, while the puddles on the road got bigger, and little streams of draining water looked like blood vessels taking up big sections of the road. I was 10 miles from where the mountain road spits out to hwy 284, when I met my first real obstacle. After three hours of heavy rain, a section of the road had flooded.
I got off the bike and stared at the puddle for a long minute, and looked back the way I came. I didn’t know how far I was into the mountains or how far it would be to the other side. I only thought about turning around for a second, I loathed the idea of going back the way I came. I was thinking about the steep, muddy, climbs, and how high the chance would be that I would end up sliding down those inclines if I tried to go back. I took a deep breath, told myself I was already wet, a little more water wasn’t going to make it any worse, and walked into the puddle.
The middle came six inches above my ankles, and only got deeper as I moved toward the outlet. I could feel my boots getting sucked on by the mud, and had visions of my tires getting stuck, dropping the bike, and drawing water into my engine. I could feel the hair on my arms stand on end, just thinking about having to deal with water in my engine.
I walked back to the bike and stared at the puddle again. I noticed the ripples of the water running over the mud at the inlet. I carefully walked as close to the side of the road as possible, the water was only an inch above my ankle. After going back to the bike and making sure my exhaust was high enough, I unloaded the tank bag (all of my electronics) and one of the duffels, just in case I did drop the bike. I got on, took another deep breath, mumbled encouragement to myself, and took off.
My first baby water crossing and I didn’t drop it. Yay! I screamed and hollered and did a little dance. I had puddles in my boots, my “waterproof” gloves were soaked through, and the rain had soaked through my pants. But, I was upright, my torso was dry, and everything inside my Wolfman Bags was dry.
I crossed one more big puddle, and a stream before exiting the Big Belt Mountains. I said fuck it to my stupid hotel rule and took shelter in Townsend. I gave up a little on that one. When it rains that much, there isn’t any hope of setting up a tent and getting dry. My boots weren’t even dry and they sat all night next to the heater. #someonebuymewaterproofbootsplease
At least I held strong on the No GPS, No Freeways, and No Chain Restaurants. Three out of Four ain’t bad. Haha.