Marble Creek through Avery, up to Stateline Road and down to Diamond Lake in Montana. The southern line is part of our return route.
We had a bad impression of the Avery Trading Post after our last visit. Ownership had changed and the place seemed to have lost its charm (i.e. dim lighting, off-color signage). So this time we were going to try the log cabin place across from Sheffy’s Store.
Well what do you know, that place isn’t a restaurant. So Trading Post it would be. Except it was closed. Before we sank too far into depression, up mozies our savior, who we would come to know as Otto, and offers to rouse the cook so we could get some breakfast. How cool is that?
Otto told us his mom made them.
I guess the Trading Post doesn’t really serve breakfast so we weren’t about to complain about the wait or what we ended up with. Our cook would poke her head out from the kitchen now and then and ask, “how about …” whatever. We’d all say “sure!”
And when it came — chicken fried steak, fried eggs, hash browns with onions and brown gravy, toast — it was the best thing ever. Afterwards, Otto helped hook Jeremy and Jesse up with a liquor refill (enough said). The whole time our hosts were smiling, laughing.
Jeremy picked up the tab and must have shown some gratuity because the cook was almost clicking her heels as we left, talking about how she was going to treat herself to a shopping trip.
What a great morning.
We were told that a tornado had come through the night before. I don’t know how official that was. We’d had no wind along Marble Creek but sure enough, large trees were down everywhere in the St. Joe River and on the River Road.
From the St. Joe River we headed up along Quartz Creek toward Stateline Road and Montana. It was a beautiful creek and road that, after navigating around or under more fallen trees, we knew we’d have all to ourselves.
Having radios this year was great but we’d still regularly regroup.
Having seen no snow except patches on distant mountains made the large berm across Stateline Road a surprise. I cut a small log to ease the way for the big GS and the others to go between a few trees on the upper side and down the dirty snow back to the road.
We all made it unaided, easy peasy.
The road to the top of Little Joe Mountain was steep and rocky fun.
The trail to the summit of Little Joe ended at a long drop-off. I radioed back to let the others know not to zoom past my parking spot.
We had planned to make camp at Diamond Lake in Montana but when we arrived it was packed with people. Apparently it’s an easy drive up from Superior.
There was a woman with a group of teenagers at the main lakeside campsite. She was sure they could make room for us but we decided to attempt a ride up the trail to Cliff Lake before settling on alternatives.
Several people at Diamond Lake tried to warn us about the trail to Cliff Lake. They mentioned rocks. No problem. Brush. No problem. A bridge. No problem.
I don’t remember hearing about boulders hidden in brush right at the narrow trail edge, though. That might have deterred us (“might” as in “wouldn’t have”).
We made it half way before my right pannier hit a completely invisible rock and sent me over the edge as it tore loose.
The four of us were able to roll the GS back up to the trail and down to a spot where we could turn it around. The others had struggled too so while they got their bikes sorted, I worked on banging my pannier back into shape for remounting.
Although defeated as far as riding to Cliff Lake, we had a good old time making the effort.
We knew there would be smack talk when we returned to the crowd below but were nonetheless glad to have tried. That’s what it’s about.
We made it about half way from the Diamond Lake parking lot to Cliff Lake. When we got back to the crowd, they mention we would have had a hard time with the stairs anyway.
“Stairs?!” That was the first we heard of stairs. In trying to dissuade us earlier, they’d mentioned everything but what actually might have worked.
The lady with the teenagers—who we took to calling “cougar” over our radios—was still suggesting places we could camp within walking distance. But nah. We’d already seen nicer spots along the creek below the lake.
Before leaving, I explained to her that this ride was supposed to double as a bachelor party and asked if our brother could pose with the teenage girls. “I’m the only wild one,” she answered.
Sorry Joel. Jill would have been so proud.
We were glad to find a pretty site within a large cedar grove along the creek below Diamond Lake, though we did worry the cougar might find us.