GDMBR #8: Canada to Montana for Gail’s 70th!

Porter blazed over the Canadian border at Roosville into Montana, to camp in a wilderness described in Cycling the Great Divide as “so wild that grizzly bears too unruly to live elsewhere are relocated here by wildlife officials.” 

That little orange can outside his 7 oz. tarp is his bear spray.

He had a mutually respectful meeting with only one bear, and so far has biked 542 of his 725 Montana miles. In Whitefish we were awakened by the 5.8 earthquake just after midnight, and a few days later were in Lincoln, the epicenter. At Bushwackers Steakhouse and Saloon where we had breakfast, lunch and dinner, I marveled that the wall of booze behind the bar hadn’t crashed. “I would’ve cried,” our waitress told me. Montana is a fascinating mix of earthquakes, casino in every restaurant, mines, big-hearted people, and landscape of steep mountains, deep wilderness, and rolling ranch land. 

On my 70th (!) birthday on July 15th, I hiked up Mount Helena. Porter biked into Helena in time to celebrate my birthday at a brewhouse where we sat at the bar watching the Red Sox vs. the Yankees and chatting up the folks on either side of us. It was enormous fun! 

As much as Amber loved Canada and the Canadians, she was happy to celebrate the Fourth of July in Big Fork, Montana, USA, indulging in one of her favorite activities–sitting in a flower box. 


36 comments on “GDMBR #8: Canada to Montana for Gail’s 70th!

  1. Hey you two wild thangs,
    Did Porter have a beard then not a beard for your birthday celebration?
    The tent that appeared open on 3 sides seem like a perfect invitation to visit Porter while he sleeps. Is the bear spray that powerful?

    • Hey Kathleen, LOL, Porter shaved his beard near the end of our Pacific Crest Trail hike in 2004, and I haven’t seen it since! Yes, his tarp is open on all four sides within six inches of the ground, to let the air flow through. Even an enclosed tent wouldn’t deter a bear, but the most important thing is to hang (or lock in a bear box) all food and scented things (including toothpaste, cooking utensils, etc.) far from one’s camp. Bears are more interested in food than in people. What, you didn’t run into any bears in Holland? We miss you and hope you’re having a great summer!

  2. Wonderful way to celebrate your birthday! Glad you had fun in Helena; we have good friends there.
    Congrats on your hike up Mt. Helena and Porter’s brave ride. So, you’re more like 17 than 70. Keep up the fun activities!

  3. Well, nothing but love coming to you from Texas. You have reached a moment that would have been a boulder, but now is only a pebble as you (and hopefully the rest of us) run past these small obstacles on to more adventures that were under promised all those years ago at our births.

    So many words are left to share over a magnum of champagne or a huge cup of coffee. The order is muddled on purpose.

    All is know is love for you and Porter and your enduring love for each other and your extended family and friends. In solidarity, I send you my heart.


    • Dear dear Grace, I can’t thank you enough for your eloquent expression of friendship and love! Deep gratitude from the bottom of my heart! I know for sure we’ll get together in the coming year to celebrate life, love, family, and friends. Love to you and Juliana from the bottom of my heart, and Porter’s too.

  4. Sorry I missed your birthday Gail! My belated wishes sent your way are still as sincere. Looks like you had a grand time celebrating the 70 milestone in Helena. I’m so curious as to how far apart Porter’s(bike corridor ) and Alan’s (foot path corridor ) really are. Is there a link you could share with a bike map? I’ll Google Cycling the Great Divide. Alan and Joe left Darby, MT (NOBO) early Wednesday, July 19 with some trepidation re: next 160 mile section., sketchy water sources (or lack there of) Packs heavy, laden with 4 quarts water = 8 lbs! + 7 days food…oh my! He said the trails up mountains have not been switchbacks. Some of the steepest trails he’s ever climbed of all the long trails he has done – AT / PCT and CDT so far. Interesting how the CDT hiking trail through MT is 960 miles long, whereas bike trail is 235 miles shorter at 725 miles.

    • Ina Sue, the best source to see the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is at The CDT is higher, but the GDMBR crosses the Continental Divide about 30 times. We’ll be sending our best vibes to Frost and Joe, they’ll make it!

  5. Welcome to the club! I beat you by 7 weeks. We shall both keep having wonderful adventures in fine living AND fine dining.

    • Happy Birthday, Ellen, and isn’t it great to be 70!? Wishing you wonderful adventures in fine living and dining too! Love from Porter and me to you and David!

  6. Happy Birthday, Gail! You look younger and younger, but more important, must be feeling great! Wishing you loads of joy this year!

  7. The happiest of years are ahead, Gail. I’m sure of it! Your birthday celebration seems such marvelous fun and you both look wonderful. Hugs –

  8. Intrepid! That’s you. You continue to show us how to live abundantly! Congrats on your 70th, and I hope we can celebrate when you get back!

  9. Great little synopsis of your birthday celebration. We discussed that it is unbelievable that you are 70!!!! It was good to get to know what you’re up to and we know you are having a wonderful time. Belated happy birthday wishes from Texas. Love to you and Porter.

  10. Another wonderful post, Gail and Porter. Congratulations on your wilderness achievements and reaching 70.

  11. Dear Gail,

    You give a new definition to the word youthful! And who knew they have earthquakes in Montana?! What an adventure! I so love your posts! ( I spent my 70th in DisneyWorld and was so proud of myself I could walk to all the rides!) Glad your big adventure continues to be so exciting!

    Love to Porter, too —

  12. Gail, you and Porter are such good models for immersing yourselves in new adventures, being with what is and keeping the body moving! Some people climb mountain peaks, some go sky diving, I am trying cold showers! That’s new for me and I feel so brave!

    Love to you and Porter…

  13. It’s so wonderful to watch you both having such a great time! And Gail, you’d better check your birth certificate, you both look like you are in your 40’s!! Missing you!

    • Pam, clearly Porter and I are doing as well as we are thanks to your stellar efforts as our personal trainer and nutritionist! What would we ever do without you?? We’re keeping up our PT but miss you and look forward to seeing you in person when we get back. Hope you’re having a glorious summer!

  14. Hello you Fools for Love!
    We are just back from Canada ourselves, only saw grizzlies of a different sort.. I trilled at spying sea otters at they caught their breakfast and goofed about in the cove of Duffin (Tofino). That on your birthday?.
    Back in Boulder I water and dead-head and enjoy our life here. John and I look forward to your return and a return to the rooftop to share margs and stories.
    Big Love!

  15. Happy Birthday, Gail!! What a wonderful way to celebrate – truly embracing life!
    Thank you for keeping us updated on your and Porter’s adventures. Looking forward to hearing about them in person when we’re all actually in town.

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