June 16, 2019

Tour Divide '19: Day 3 - Harvey Pass to Grave Creek CG

Shortly after 5a I heard the familiar crunch of tires roll by my tent. I figured it was Hal. Another rider rode by as I was getting ready. It wasn't until 7a before I got moving, I don't do mornings well and I knew that was going to be one of my biggest daily challenges - fight off the urge to sleep in!!
The valley looks much more inviting today.

This gave me a good chuckle.

I had now been over 4 passes & only Elk Pass had a sign. I thought that was a little strange. The left sign here was the only thing I found indicating I was on Harvey Pass.

I reached Butts Cabin 13 miles into my day.
As bad as the storm looked the previous evening, it seemed only half of the route between where I camped and Butts Cabin had received rain. Go figure.

All quiet on a Sunday morning, but clearly a lot of logging goes on here.

Climbing Cabin Pass, which was a nice grade for the most part.

Turning south towards the U.S., but not before one final push up & over Galton Pass.

Mountain bikers rejoice!!

I opted to make a little extra noise through this area.

More singletrack!! That meant one thing, The Wall was approaching.

The trail started off great...

...and then turned into a goopy river.

This view of the Wigwam River made the on/off/on nature of the trail forgettable.

There it is. Punch #3 on the Divide Card, The Wall.
I've heard all kinds of stories about how difficult and treacherous The Wall could be. It seemed luck was on my side this day, the trail was dry. Steep? Absolutely. Even in my hiking shoes I had to be aware of foot placement. I'm sure when wet, it's much more of a challenge. It's over quick too as it's barely 100 feet long. Up top it did keep climbing and that area was a sloppy mess. Either way, The Wall was now behind me. I only had Galton Pass standing between myself and the U.S. Border.

End of The Wall singletrack leads to a nice dirt road.

The sun was shining, it was getting warm and I was getting more sluggish by the minute.
I stopped for a food break and to shed a layer. That seemed to help for a bit, then I noticed the clouds beginning to build over the pass. I think I'm gonna get wet soon. Sure enough about 45 minutes later I was under a tree getting my rain gear on. The showers only lasted about an hour and the roads were fine when wet. The sun came back out and I could feel the humidity hanging in the air. The final couple of miles to the pass kicked up a bit more than I could muster. I pushed most of the remaining distance to Galton Pass. I was whooped, but reaching the pass was the shot of adrenaline I needed.

What ensued next can only be described as a white knuckle descent. It was 100% rideable, but steep enough that I had to stay on my brakes the entire way. By the time I reached a leveling off point my arms were tired and hands needed a rest.
Near the bottom of Galton Pass, I dunked my head in this irrigation pipe spray. So refreshing.

The U.S. border lies to the left of the near hill.

It was warm on the valley floor, maybe 80ยบ.

I was both excited and a bit anxious to see what Montana held in store.

The Canadian side seemed a little more welcoming.

I was expecting a slightly more ornate sign.
There wasn't a vehicle in sight as I rode up, no waiting. The border agent asked where I was headed and that was it. Move along. He was friendly though and pointed me to the small bar/restaurant behind the buildings. I didn't hesitate to grab a frozen Snickers bar and cheeseburger.

The welcome mat had more character than the sign.

Punch #4 on the TD Card: U.S. Border.
I popped out of the burger stop and who should I see? It was Mikki & Larry!! The three of us then rolled together into Eureka to stock up on gas station fare. I began rifling through my supply of food and noticed I hadn't touched my pack of tortillas or individual cups of peanut butter. That stuff has to go. I wasn't interested in eating it, no sense in carrying it along for the ride. I offered it up to a few of the riders and left the rest. Since I had limited real estate on the bike I had to only carry what I knew I'd eat. Mikki & Larry opted to get a room for the night while in town. I was going to press on to one of the campgrounds.
The official Welcome to Montana!!
Going into the ride I truly felt if I could get through Montana unscathed, I'd finish. Most of the scratches tend to be in Montana for a variety of reasons. I had no intention of being one.

Our northern border wall is quite intimidating.

I was glad we immediately left the main road for the back way into Eureka.

Lots of ranch land here, this is Big Sky country.

Another not-so subtle hint that we were in Grizzly territory.

All fueled & stocked for the next leg. I saw Bonnie & Grant as I was leaving town, I think they were looking for a place to stay the night.
 There were a lot of fast miles after Eureka. I saw two riders up ahead. When I caught up it was Hal & Marty. I began to joke with Hal about this being my daily sighting. I rode ahead and was now on the lookout for the Grave Creek CG.
I think this sign was put out by H.A. Brewing Co. near the National Forest boundary, too bad it was after hours.
I came to the sign indicating the campground, but really didn't see where it was in the dark. A bit of consulting on the Adventure Cycling Association, ACA, offline maps made it a bit more clear. Then Marty caught up and we both did the short up & over to the free campground by Grave Creek. We found a site where another racer had already crashed out for the night. We weren't far behind.

Stats: 97.87 miles & 6,172' gained.


Here is a full Tour Divide Index from each day on the route.


  1. Loved reliving this day through your descriptions. I too saw Bonnie and Grant in Eureka so we must have been close as was the case most days it seemed.

    1. Thanks Joey, sure seems like we were nearby on most days.