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The Ride to Carter's Ferry Crossing

(From July 28, 2013 during my ride through Montana)

You can't see it from here, but the Missouri River flows through west central Montana in the hazy distance. Remove the power poles and barbed wire fences and it's easy to imagine a herd of buffalo out there. This wide open country is near the small town of Carter's Ferry, about 25 miles north of Great Falls. From here, I headed for Carter's Ferry Crossing where the Montana DOT operates one of several ferry boats on the Missouri River.

Five miles of rough gravel road led down to the ferry crossing. My bike was loaded down like a pack animal and when I saw the condition of the road, I paused to reconsider this trip. But, I had not came this far to turn back now. I throttled ahead and stood on the pegs as the KLR rolled off the pavement and plowed into the loose gravel that led down to the river.  


It was soon clear that my apprehensions were needless. Despite the heavy load and stock suspension, the KLR handled the ruts, pot holes, and loose gravel without any problems. My trust in the bike was rewarded with some awesome views of the Missouri River valley.


This was a desolate area with no other people or vehicles in sight and even more disturbing, no cell phone service. I was totally alone and noticed how quiet it was out here. The only sounds were the grass rustled by the breeze and a few crows somewhere in the distance. I confess, it felt a bit strange and a little lonely. 


While stopped to shoot some photos, the thought hit me, if this bike does not start, I will have a long walk to find help. I thought it best not to dwell on that, and to just enjoy the moment and the adventure of  "the road less traveled."  


I enjoyed the quiet and the view, but I was looking forward to the river crossing. I guided the bike back on to the gravel road and soon reached the Missouri River without any difficulty. But, what I found at the ferry crossing was both more and less, than what I had expected.


The wide Missouri River flowed quietly onward. Its surface was as smooth and reflective as a mirror. Across the river, the hills and bluffs were a beautiful sight and despite the gloomy, dark, and cloudy sky, I had avoided any rain so far. Things were going just as I had planned - almost.


I had expected to find people here, but aside from a couple of distant fishermen downstream, nobody was around. The ferry "boat" I was expecting was actually a floating platform attached to a steel cable stretched across the river. I don't know why, but for some reason I had expected more.


Regardless, I was glad to have reached my destination, and pleased with my bike. After many miles of highway, the KLR easily handled an ugly gravel road to bring me here. Now, before I could cross the river, I needed to find whoever was in charge of running the ferry and get a ride across the river.

To be continued in my next post...