LW ITT Update: Columbia Falls, MT

Nicholas Carman1 4878

Lael lost her SPOT tracking device today between Eureka and Whitefish.  In fact, for most of the afternoon her faded LW bubble was stopped at the top of of a pass taking in the sights at 0.0mph.  However, the real LW churned onward toward the Flathead Valley, Red Meadow Pass, Whitefish, and Columbia Falls.  She skipped Whitefish and called me on a paved section entering Columbia Falls.  Like a three year old that has knowingly soiled herself, her first word through the earpiece was “Oops”.  She had just realized the GPS transmitter was missing.  There are two plastic loops at either end of the device, which can be used to secure it.  One loop showed signs of fatigue after the Tour Divide.  Obviously the other wasn’t far behind and the object disembarked her bicycle without notice.

I contacted Matthew Lee and he suggested a provisional plan to maintain limited contact until we can connect her with a new device.  Lael will text Matthew whenever she has cell coverage and a communicable coordinate, such as Bigfork, crossing Highway 83, or Ovando.  Matthew will post the relayed data to the Trackleaders site.  In 2015 this seems archaic, but the early days of racing down the Divide include pay phones, call-in and lots of burgers and shakes.  The spirit lives on in MTB Cast, ten years later.  Maybe I can get Lael to “call-in”.

Since the SPOT trackers are considered “neutral equipment” and are primarily used to verify route “compliance” (and for all of us armchair spectators), Matthew has verified that shipping a SPOT tracker to a private residence or friend is acceptable if needed.  At the moment, we’re planning to ship to an address in Helena or Butte.  Helena may be too soon.  I’ve reached out to Rob Leipheimer at The Ourdoorsman in Butte for assistance.  

I spoke with Lael at length as she pedaled out of Columbia Falls.  Her legs feel great, she’s developed a minimal amount of phlegm due to the dust, but reports no breathing difficulties or coughing.  Last night atop Cabin Pass, she laid down for three hours.  She told me that she had lucid dreams through the night where she wanted to wake up and ride, but she convinced herself to stay down until her alarm sounded.  

The famous section in the Canadian Flathead that was inundated by water in June, is now almost entirely dry.  However, many roads are more severely washboarded than earlier in the summer.  The weather has been perfect thus far.  When I spoke with her leaving Columbia Falls at 7:30PM Mountain Time, she had already recorded over 160 miles for the day.

You can follow Lael’s ITT of the Great Divide at Trackleaders.com with limited updates for the next few days.  We should be back to full-strength LW tracking late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

7 thoughts on “LW ITT Update: Columbia Falls, MT

  1. Oh my! Nice to see you here. I live in Kalispell. What a fabulous trip! I am glad that Glacier is now open. I was closed for quite some time because of the fires. Happy Trails!

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