Location: Ennis, MT (Ennis Fishing Access)
I was slow to wake this morning because of the cold. At first light, I fluttered my eyes, bundled up tight, and fell back asleep. I woke later when I heard Brian moving outside. By then, the sun had come out, and I could feel that the air was warming. We had a long morning at the campground. I had to adjust the tube on the wheel that I replaced two days ago. There was a bulge in the tire, and at high speed I could feel the bike bouncing. It made downhill rides exceptionally nerve-racking. I thought the bouncing might cause me to skid out on a turn. I fixed the bulge, but it took some time. We didn’t leave camp until around ten thirty.
We pedaled twenty-eight miles over gently rolling terrain to Twin Bridges, where we found a rest area with picnic tables. There were several different groups at the rest area because the land backed up to a shallow river. A few people were launching small boats and tubes to float with the current and drink beers in the sun. Either Brian or I spoke to each group there. Everyone is interested to know what we’re doing and where we’re going. They see the gear on the bikes, and the observation draws them over to ask questions. It reminds me of my time on the AT when I would stop in a town to get supplies. But on this trip, it happens daily. I haven’t started avoiding it yet, but I could see that behavior developing. It’s tedious answering the same questions each time I meet someone new, but I enjoy it now, so I smile and indulge their curiosity.
At lunch, I started talking about napping, which made me tired. I decided to lie down in the grass in the sun, beneath the breeze, and rest for a spell. Brian went into town for hot chocolate. He was cold in the shade, and I was hot in the sun. I slept for nearly an hour, and when I woke, Brian had not returned. I read a chapter of my book, and still no Brian. I decided I’d fill up with water and go find him. Just as I did, he showed. He had been at the library, updating the website, a task which has taken a lot of his time thus far.
We continued down the road to Virginia City, stopping several times at historic points to read placards and signs. Much of the area we biked through today had prospered during gold rush booms, but now the towns that have lasted are museums. Tourist attractions filled with novelty shops and exhibits of the past. I enjoy seeing them, but I seldom pay to enter the various museums. I am satisfied just being in the town, seeing the old structures and walkways and imaging what it must have been like in its prime. Also, the touristy towns are expensive. We found that out first hand when we went to the campground in Virginia City, the campground where we had planned to stay the night. The hosts charged $22 per tent to camp, which meant it would run us $44 to stay the night. That cost is outrageously high. We put up no argument and made no fuss. We simply pushed our bikes back to the top of the gravel driveway and rode another fourteen miles to Ennis.
The additional fourteen tacked on to fifty-eight weren’t too bad. The first couple of miles out of the campsite were steep but short. The remaining ten were downhill. We arrived in town a couple hours before sunset.
Ennis is loaded with tourists, and Brian and I thought we may encounter similarly high prices here. However, after befriending a local woman who owns a motel in town, she pointed us to the fishing access campground operated by the Fisheries and Wildlife Department. Here, we have found a very pleasant campsite. We’re camped on soft grass just feet from the shallow Madison River. I can hear it bubbling and churning. There is a fly fishing convention in town this weekend, and apparently this area is renowned for its fishing. Tomorrow I hope to see the fisherman snagging trout from the banks of the river. Perhaps I can learn something by watching them. I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly fish.