I wake up around five in the morning, which is very unusual for me under normal circumstances. It’s very cold out and I spend some time in the warm sleeping bag, devising a plan on how to get into warm clothes and out of the sleeping bag. Unfortunately as I soon found out, my motorcycle jacket and pants were ice cold and were very unpleasant to wear for the first 2 minutes while they warmed up. Lesson learned – keep them warm by putting them between the Thermorest and sleeping bag.
I finally stumble out of the tent and do the usual morning duties, which weren’t particularly pleasant (did I mention it was really really cold out?) Now to try and get the stove going… After fiddling with it for 5 minutes I realize that there is no gas in the fuel canister, because I syphoned off so little the night before and used it all up. Thinking back to the horrors of trying to syphon gas from an almost empty gas tank, I decide to skip breakfast and head into the nearest town to find myself a local diner.
Thirty minutes later I am packed up and ready to go. I mount the bike as the sun is coming up to light up the road. Since I missed my turn the day before, I had to backtrack 5 miles to get on the right path. Once I do, I realize that the reason I missed the road to begin with was because it is a dirt road used mostly by hunters. “Cool!” I think to myself – my first major off-roading experience on the BMW. I head down the road and encounter a lot of hunters – most of them looking at me quizzically, either because they don’t expect to see a motorcycle on this road or perhaps because I have a camera mounted atop my helmet which makes me look rather odd. As I climb in elevation, there is quite a bit of fog and the temperature starts dropping rapidly. Soon, my ambient temperature gage on the bike is showing 36F and blinking a snow flake at me, letting me know that it is getting close to freezing. A few more miles and the gage is showing 32F and there is a thin layer of snow on the road. I keep going and make it to the end of the 30 mile stretch of dirt road with a few small slides but no incident.
I arrive in the town of Conconully, which is mostly a hunter town, that is to say that almost all local businesses cater to hunters. I ask a local woman which place in town serves the best breakfast and she directs me to a small bar/diner. I go inside and order eggs benedict and coffee. Other people in the diner keep looking over at my table and it’s not long before one of the hunters approaches me and asks me about my bike and where I am headed. I ask him to join me for breakfast and we strike up a conversation. I found out a lot of interesting hunting facts from Tom, a retired middle-school teacher who enjoys an occasional bout of hunting.
From here, I keep riding east to Montana. My plan was to make it to Glacier National park that day, but by the time I made it to Montana it got dark. Normally I would have just kept riding, but the deer in Montana are absolutely vicious. After coming within 2 feet of hitting one and only being able to slow down from 60 to 30mph I decide that it’s time to find a camp spot as soon as possible. I continue on at a leisurely 40mph due to the deer and the creepy reflective crosses on the side of the road. Montana puts a cross for every fatality on the side of the road to remind motorists to be careful – worked on me.
I find a camp site and it is absolutely deserted. I have my concerns about bears, but I am also worried about encounters with people, so I decide to not leave my bike in the camp parking space, but rather ride it into the campsite, next to the tent and behind some trees so I am a bit more hidden from the outside world.
The procedure for setting up camp and cooking food is getting a lot more natural at this point and I am done much quicker than the previous night. I finish dinner and fall asleep.