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Montana RFI- Fish Creek, Clark Fork, Cyr area

921 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  mtmtbkr
another one of my crazy requests...:D

We'll be doing some camping/boating along the Clark Fork, camping on Fish Creek in a few weeks. One of the days is a guys only float that I'm not invited on ( this is OK) so I'm looking for alternative amusement, preferable of the singletrack kind. I don't mind heading up towards Lolo Pass, but I'd be on the Fish Creek Rd, not highway 12.

Any ideas?

thanks as always....
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I'd suggest going up to clearwater junction (past "hole in the wall ranch") and riding up to goose lake. It isn't the greatest singlrtrack in the world, but it's the best you'll find in the area.
Like Nate said above, Clear water crossing [Hole in the Wall] is the closest. You can always head into town and ride the Rattlesnake [good trails]. If you need info on finding the trails post here and I can give them to you, or look under " any single speeders in Missoula" in the same forum. If you want somebody to ride with let me know I live about 10 minutes from Fish.
Well if you head all the way down fish creek road to highway 12 there is a campground called lee creek campground with an interpretive trail and its a gorgeous piece of singletrack only about 2.5 mile but if you ride it both ways its great. You can also ride trail 295 from that all the way to lolo pass about 8 miles. I rode the interpretive trail this weekend and cut all the deadfall except for a couple big ones.
Wouldn't that be "up" Fish Creek Road to hwy 12, and not down?:D

Anyway that sounds just like the ticket. Thanks!!
Right. You go all the way up to highway 12 and then take a right toward lolo pass then left into lee creek campground. The trail starts right at the turn to the upper campground.
I took montanabiker's advice...

I had never been to the Lee Creek / Lee Ridge ride. Drive past it all the time when on my way to Idaho for Steelhead fishing, though.

So, I slapped the Ol' Strong on the Allroad and headed up towards Lolo Hot Springs. It was a fabulous day, high - gathering clouds and a decent breeze. The whole way up the road I was dreaming of Idylic High Mountain Singletrack. Sure, the promise was only 2.5 miles worth of the stuff...but I was willing to double or triple up on it if I needed to. Today was going to be a good day.

Sure enough, the trail is right where it was supposed to be, and the forrest campground looked a promising starting point.

Bike Down, Wheel On, Naked-Fun time while getting my Shorts and Jersey on. A little stretch while I put on the old riding shoes...gotta get that lower back and hamstring stretched out a bit for any ride these days. No rush, I have the whole day ahead of me.

Life is perfect when things go like this...Locked up the Rig, double checked that my Keys were hooked into my Pack, took a hit from the water bottle and I rolled off...
but I could not get clipped in. I tried and tried, but no matter how I approached my pedals, No luck. I mashed on them, I tried to ease into them - Nothing.


I would estimate that it took me a full minute of bull-headed repitition to realize the problem. I had grabbed my road shoes! Didn't notice this while I was putting them on. Not while stretching, or while adjusting them - they are Metallic Silver.

My MTB Shoes are Matte Black - I am a Dumbass.

This type of thing just plain kills me. I have zero tolerance for it, and I had nobody to blame but myself. So, the process reversed, I got the car headed back down the mountain. Fuming. No cell reception anywhere near this area, so I was alone in my grief.
When I reached Lolo, I called my old riding buddy from college (He's in Jersey) to share the idiocy with a sympathetic cyclist. We ended the conversation with my assertion that a Wise man would take the aforementioned incident to heart and choose a different ride for the afternoon.
A position that he absolutely agreed with muttering something about Karmic Intervention.

By this time, I had reached the house and retrieved my Mountain Biking Shoes from the Garage. I ruminated over my many riding options while I prepared a quick lunch and walked my dogs. It was only three o'clock...I had a LOT of light left...and we have already established that I am a Dumbass.

Back up the Pass I go!

I won't bore you with the same details again except to say eventually I was once again covered in lycra I set off with energy renewed now tht my previous mistake had been rectified.

I rolled off and this time, I heard the magical 'click' of the pedals as I started the 2.5 mile Interpretive Loop - Going Clockwise from the upper camp/lot.
What a pretty trail. Heavily forested, the trail snakes its way up the ridge and it is indeed the essence of Montana Singletrack. True Singletrack. I was loving it and I was glad that I had planned on riding the Lee Ridge Trail (295) out for at least 5 or 6 miles depending on the condition of the trail. If things went well, I expected to do the whole thing...I got two miles in and I had to bag it for the Deadfall. There was just too much of it and when I am out alone, I can't rally myself to stop and start that much. Climbing over and crawling under trees loses its appeal fast when you ride alone.

So, I had a little water and a rest, and dropped back down to the second half of the Interpretive Trail. Still a ton of fun, but it made me realize once and for all that my XC bike is just not the tool for this job. The Head Angle is just too steep for real mountain trail. Fun, but very nervous and very twitchy when you are hanging out over the rear tire and having to stop and dismount for all that deadwood drove this home for good, today.

I hooked back into the 2.5 mile trail and continued on, appreciative that someone has kept this trail clear of lumber. (Seriously, thanks!)

It was at this point that I reached the only deadfall on the Interpretive Loop that hasn't been cut out. They are a pair of humungous downed Ponderosas. I threw my bike over and then climbed over them myself. I continued on my descent and approached the first in a series of steep switchbacks.
Now, I was pretty sure that my earlier suspicions about ride choice were all for naught. This was just plain fun and the forrest was getting prettier by the minute through this steep and more technical section.
One Switchback, maybe two behind me and another coming up...I assumed the position and scrubbed what little speed I was carrying as I approached the apex of the turn.

As I leaned in to follow my bike around the turn I was attacked!

A Scream from the tree tops. (Which were more adjacent to, than above me.)
A flash of a large yellow Talon in front of my face. Simultaneously, something collided with my helmet. Really, it was more of a glancing blow, possibly a wing, but it sounded more like the other talon as it scraped across my helmet.

It was a Raptor! - and a relatively big one at that.

I just about crapped my shorts as I was flung into a combination of Fight or Flight and all out Panic (of the pre-crash variety). Needless to say my adrenal glands went into overdive in that instant.
I almost clamped the front brake lever to my bars, in reaction but managed to avoid it at the last moment. 16 years in the saddle has taught me that this is almost never your best choice. I narrowly averted the endo, but I pitched my weight a bit too far forward and found myself over the bars and riding on my front wheel as I cleared the last third of the switchback. I was able to ride it out and get my weight moving back towards the rear wheel when the second scream from above came.
This time it was joined by the sound of screaching chicks - I was near the nest and mom was pissed.
She flashed only inches in front of my face and I instinctively ducked to the left to avoid contact. [A Note to the rest of you] - This is an ill-advised move when riding a bike. The front end pitched and washed out.
As the fork dove I clipped out and tried the - "Hit the ground Running", techinique. It has worked well for me in the past and my hopes were high right now, as momentum was all I had going for me.
I got my right foot over the bars and my left foot followed with only a hint of resistance. I rolled my right ankle on a root or rock or something and crumbled onto the trail. So much for that technique.
That f'n Bird was still screaming and the chicks were responding in kind. This was definitely feeding their mothers rage. I could hear her, but couldn't see her through the trees. My bike was just uphill and to the right of my hip when the next scream came. I was on my back with my legs pointing uphill - a fact I hardly noticed while I scanned the trees above me in a panic.
Another blood chilling scream, this time from my right. I caught movement as she leapt off of a branch 10-12 feet above me and about 15 yards to my right side. She dove at me, being flat on my back I had but one choice. I employed my patented "Frightened Prone Turtle" technique.
Now some may argue that Miyagi's Crane Technique or the Drunken Monkey might be more appropriate for fending off an angry Raptor, but I stand by my decision to employ the Frightened Prone at this juncture. I brought my legs up and swung my bike over me as I rolled to avoid her parry.
Needless to say, the bird was quite surprised, herself. She reeled and creached as she banked around a few trees and swooped in again.

At this point I decided the Bat **** Crazy retreat was in order. I jumpod to my feet and I tore ass down the trail holding my bike by the stem knuckle. Flailing my free hand above my head as the annoyed Bird of Prey kept it up for the next 1/4 mile or so.

Needless to say, the last bit of the trail was a blur and I found myself not looking forward to a second lap.

I returned to my car, shared my story with the guy camped in the neighboring site and packed her in for the day.

Formica, I might suggest the Clark Fork River Trail as an alternative to the Raptor infested Lee Creek Interpretive Trail. Just sayin' is all...I might even suggest a ride into Missoula for some Peregrine free rides up the Rattlesnake.
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Oh my God!! Wow!!

Dude that sucks. I'm sorry that happened to ya. When we went through there it was screaming at us but never swooped at us. I think it was an osprey, probably the same bird. Thats a really crazy story though damn!! Listen to this too. I actually rode down that first intersection to the left that will take you to lolo hot springs. Well again much dead fall so I decided to walk down it a bit and I came across a grouse that also had chicks that flew at me and then chased me down. I literally ran from it and it sprinted after me for a good 100 feet. Whats the deal with the birds around there damn!!
I cut down several dead fall on the interpretive trail but didn't get time to on the other sections of the trail but come on locals. Isn't there and hikers bikers in that area that frequent this area? Get a saw, a tri-edge, razor tooth saw from wal-mart even and cut those suckers. I have to drive 250 miles and cut your deadfall on your trails for ya, sheesh!! :madman:
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Trail 295 has not seen much in the way of traffic.

It was a rather large hawk, definitely not an Osprey. I have a few of them nesting on my place here in Stevi. .

Attacked by a Grouse...funny ****, nothing to be sorry about. I would guess that the chicks might still have been in their eggs a few days earlier. Now that they are free from the shell, she will leave the nest!

Simply crazy...never had that experience before.

Nice trail, though...and thanks again for the maitenance work.
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