Whitefish was cooler than we expected it to be. Actually… to be honest, we really didn’t know what to expect. A Canadian described Whitefish to us as being “Honky Tonky”. So our minds went straight to country music and cowboy hats.
I think the only “honky tonky-ness” I experienced was the architecture of some of the downtown buildings. The have an old wild west feel, but nothing too hokey. Really, Whitefish is quite a nice town. Beautiful homes, great downtown area and the locals were nice.
We needed to eat and get some work and laundry done so found a place to get all of these things done; the Pin & Cue.
It’s a catch-all building with a restaurant, bowling alley, arcade, bar & laundromat. BONUS: they had decent wifi. Which has NOT been the easiest to acquire.
For breakfast, we ordered the taco browns and they did not disappoint.
After breakfast, Jay checked in with work and I caught up with some laundry.
We piled our now clean clothes back into the Airstream, at which time we realized we had 2 problems.
1. One of our top vent lids broke off on our way into Whitefish. 🙁
2. We had no place to stay that night…
We called a bunch of RV campgrounds in the area to find a place to stay. This proved to be rather difficult considering we were at the height of tourist season and very close to the West entrance of Glacier National Park.
Luckily, Mountain View RV Park had dry camping available for that night and full hookups the next night. Dry camping is just a fancier way of describing a parking spot. It would do. The wifi wasn’t so great, so we left our Airstream while we went for coffee + internet use at Montana Coffee Traders downtown.
We walked around downtown and jumped in and out of a few shops. At which point I had a very momentous event happen… the purchasing of my first pair of Chacos.
That evening we headed over to Spencer Mt. We had heard from a friend that these trails were worth checking out.
As we pulled in, we noticed a guy with his arm in a sling, sweating bullets and looking rather pale. Immediately we jumped out of the truck and it became clear to us that he had dislocated his shoulder. He and his family are from Calgary, and he explained he didn’t quite make a double on the trail, Otter Pop.
His two young sons were also there and his had wife run back up the mountain to retrieve his bike. We helped them load the bikes into their truck, looked up the nearest hospital and gave his wife the directions.
Directly after they had left an SUV with Washington plates pulled in. Chris hails from Spokane and right off the bat we just sorta just decided to all ride together. He’s one of the owners of a bike shop out in Spokane called Bike Hub.
I was still taking it easy due to my fall back in Fernie and we just saw a guy with his shoulder dislocated…so needless to say, I was glad Jay had someone he could ride faster with.
It’s just so refreshing to meet new people in new places – and be able to share an experience, like mountain biking, together.
We felt sad that we had to leave Canada, but we’ll be back. There are still many more awesome towns we didn’t get to see that are on our list to check out next time. Towns like Revelstoke and Nelson (and plenty more we’ve probably never even heard of!)
We set off for Whitefish, Montana, with no itinerary except to just get there. We hadn’t booked a place to stay yet, which proved to be a bad idea. Since Whitefish is very close to west entrance of Glacier National Park, every RV park we called was booked solid.
We decided to head to Whitefish Bike Retreat to check it out and do some biking from there while we mulled over what to do.
The staff was super friendly and the trails on their property are pretty rad! They had some sweet wooden features, a DH flow trail, pump track and some jumps. I can see why this is a haven for mountain bikers from all over. After a quick pint, we hit the trails. Smooth and flowy, not a whole lot of tough climbs which was nice. The forest had been thinned so you can see quite a ways in, which was absolutely beautiful.
The trails at the retreat run directly into The Whitefish Trail where we were able to tack on some more mileage.
The trail was super smooth and easy compared to the trails we were riding in Fernie. It was just nice to zen out for a bit.
That night we ended up boondocking close to the retreat on a quiet dirt road near Murray Lake. A local had clued us in that no one would bother us there and no one did. Phew!
Jay wanted to hit up another trail system in Fernie called Mount Fernie Provincial Park which is located west of the town.
We climbed up Phat Bastard which is a tough climb with some steep rooty sections. Then onto Mushroom Head, which was more mellow.
Soon enough, we began climbing again onto Moc-Assassin which had a lot of steep ups and many hike-a-bike sections closer to the top. We slowly ascended into the alpine and crossed over on Stupid Traverse which had a few exposed areas.
Finally, we made it to the top of Slunt. The trail that would finally bring us down!
As we began heading down, I started to zone out a bit. Mostly thinking about body positioning over the bike and making micro adjustments to see what felt better.
This may not have been the greatest trail to be making micro adjustments on. Something went awry and I completely endo-ed and knocked the wind straight out of myself.
Right after the crash when I began to breathe again, I did that move where you wiggle your fingers and toes… just to make sure everything is still working. This was quite the scare and the biggest crash I’d had in a while. The scariest part was that Jay was pretty far ahead as it was, so he didn’t hear me or see me fall.
After a decent chunk of time passed, he realized I wasn’t coming and came sprinting up the trail to see if I was okay. We agreed that it probably would have been good to bring our walkie talkies on this ride. Since our phones were off due to international roaming costs.
I was lucky and walked away with just a few bruises/cuts and still was able to ride out the rest of the way down Brokeback Ridge.
Back in town, we grabbed a small bite to eat. I was still pretty shaken up, but Jay always knows how to make a gal laugh.
We rode by a pretty happening event downtown called “The Social” with tons of locals and tourists alike. Everyone was having a great time drinking beer and enjoying music.
Fernie Alpine Resort sits to the west of the town. Since we were there on a weekday, the resort only runs 1 lift and it was pretty slow. But weekdays = less crowded so that meant we had more of the trails to ourselves.
The trails were fun and challenging, though conditions weren’t the best. The trails were super dry they a bit rutted out in spots but the wooden features were neat!
Afterward, we made a b-line for the Fernie Brewing Co. (on the opposite side of town) for some tasty beer.
Later on, we rode from the RV resort and brought Cooper with us to the Ridgemont trails. One of the nice fellows at a bike shop downtown gave us this little loop to try. If you’re looking for a nice loop from town, we’d certainly recommend this!
Cemetery bypass > Queen V > Eco Terrorist > Deadfall > Oh Dear
Here are Cooper and I taking a break right before the descent into Deadfall/Oh Dear.
After a long day of riding, we cleaned up and quickly rode downtown to get something to eat. We jumped at this burger night special at Northern Bar and Grill. You really can’t beat a pint of Fernie beer AND burger/fries for $12 CAD.
In the morning we packed up, did a load of laundry at Andy’s, and got ready to head out to our next destination, Fernie, BC.
We met Andy at Purcell Coffee to say our goodbyes, and hit up Long John’s Doughnuts on our way out of town. We were so excited about the donuts that I forgot to take a photo before we started devouring them.
On our way down route 95, we drove through a pretty large forest fire. These forest fires have been going on for the past few weeks in BC and down into Montana. I had never seen a forest fire, let along this close to the road before.
The road we were on had been closed just the day before.
We went straight to the Fernie RV Resort so that we could get set up. This RV park is really nice. It has quite a few spots and is very open compared to our little spot in Bow Valley. Full-hookups are always nice.
We decided we’d head out for a quick little ride right from the RV park. When you look at Fernie on Trail Forks, this is what you get:
We could really just head in any direction and we were bound to run into some trails. We decided to do a loop in the Mad Cow/Swine Flu area which climbs and descends about 1,700 ft.
The climb wasn’t too bad and there’s a bench at the top and we stopped for a breather and enjoyed the views of the town.
We took Swine Flu to descend. What a super fun and flowy trail. Plus, you gotta love these trail names. Yes, that is a pig with a thermometer in its butt.
FYI – Dogs weren’t allowed on this particular trail system since there are real cows that meander nearby. So Cooper had to sit this one out.
We decided to ride the town loop on the way back and head through downtown on our bikes to see what was going on.
Fernie has a cute little downtown with nice shops, bars, restaurants, and literally 4 bike shops within 2 blocks of each other. Every mountain biker’s dream!
Jay and I went for a quick brunch over at Whitetooth Mountain Bistro. They had THE best breakfast potatoes. Seriously.
Afterward, we met back up with Andy and Miranda to head out for another quick ride. We rode a loop, starting with a nice mellow climb up CSB then down Mighty Quinn; a machine-built, fast, fun downhill trail. It was just nice to be able to bike directly from town to the trailhead. (Something Jay and I really admire about certain towns)
Later on that evening, we all planned to make dinner together so Jay and I walked a few blocks to one of the local grocery stores. On the way back to Andy’s we happened upon at a little outdoor gym… so we decided to
work out goof off for a bit. Gotta stay fit on the road!
For dinner, we made a kale salad with fresh greens from Andy’s roommate’s garden (with her blessing of course). Andy made some yummy ribs + veggies on the grill. To top it off, Miranda made a cherry pie that was to die for. We felt pretty spoiled.
Our stay in Golden has been pretty magical and we were grateful to have Andy and Miranda as hosts, but tomorrow we must move on from this place and onward to our next destination, Fernie.