Sunday, July 12, 1981

21. Ennis, Montana

Day 21:  Sunday, July 12, 1981
Sheridan, Montana to 34 miles past Ennis, Montana:  70 miles

Jack and Guy hit the road ahead of me this morning, so I rode alone.  Leaving Sheridan, I biked through several villages which were strangely deserted - but then, it was early on a Sunday morning.

Soon after I left camp, a dog ran out of a yard to chase me - and the only car on the road for miles hit it.  The dog limped off, yelping - it might have received injuries to its hindquarters.  But I didn't stick around to find out:  there were a lot more dogs in the yard.

In 1864, gold was discovered in Alder Gulch.  Overnight, dozens of small mining towns sprang up.  Within decades, most of them had been abandoned.  Today, Alder Gulch is another valley full of tailings from dredging operations.

In 1959, Charlie Bovey, a state senator, began restoring two of the towns on his own.  Today, Nevada City and Virginia City are tourist attractions.  Virginia City is more commercialized, but Nevada City is like a park-museum for old buildings.  Some of them are original Nevada City structures, but most of them have been moved in from other sites and re-erected.  Scenes for Little Big Man and other movies have been filmed in the two towns.

Nevada City
Nevada City

Wagon in Nevada City
Wagon in Nevada City

Just before Nevada City, I had five flats.  Things weren't going so well.  Jack and Guy waited for me in Virginia City, but finally gave up and went on.  They had found Rick waiting for us there.  He had finally figured out that he was ahead of us.

The three-mile climb out of Virginia City was rough - but then it was downhill most of the way to Ennis.  I found Jack waiting for me there.  Guy and Rick had gone on, and said that they would meet us at a campground 34 miles south of Ennis.

Big Sky Country
Big Sky Country

The tailwind out of town soon became a headwind, and the 34 miles seemed more like 54.  With a 20-30 mph headwind, it was all we could do to make 5 mph.

Somehow, we missed Guy and Rick.  There was a bar half a mile from the campground, and Jack and I had two beers apiece and giant half-pound burgers.  After that and a shower, we didn't have time for anything else before dark.  It was just as well - that headwind had really tired us out.  In spite of it, we had covered around 70 miles.

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