Paradise Polebridge

Welcome to Polebridge, a little slice of paradise.

Welcome to Polebridge, a little slice of paradise.

Once in a while on a long journey, a traveller comes across a real gem of a find. A sublime spot that strikes a resonant chord with the soul: an idyllic setting, a place to rest for the night, and perhaps most importantly for the roaming cyclist, a fine bakery, filling the air with anticipation and temptation.

Glacier National Park.

Polebridge rests at the very edge of Glacier National Park, North Montana.

Polebridge is such a place, and when I cycled down its dusty lane – hot, sweaty and exhausted – I was filled with the warm glow of having arrived. Greeted by the sight of the old Mercantile store, dating back to 1914 and contrasted intently against the burnt blue Montana sky, I leant up my bike, took a few steps back, and soaked it all in.

Thankfully, the Coca Cola reps seemed to have long forgotten about Polebridge.

Thankfully, the Coca Cola reps seemed to have long forgotten about this quiet and little travelled side road.

A few rusty pickups were parked up, and some young but strikingly grizzled Mountain People had converged around the one, rustic cafe, home to local artwork and an old uptight piano. Who knows from what rocks or forest they had emerged from; they might have come straight from the pages of Into the Wild.

Romantic rustic cabins abound in Polebridge.

Romantic rustic cabins abound in Polebridge.

Old wooden cabins dotted the parched earth amongst the swaying, sandy toned grasses, set to a peak-lined backdrop of Glacier National Park. Past the public phone booth (a wooden beer barrel sliced in two), I stepped through the rickety door of the settlement’s one store, to be welcomed in by ex-Detroit-based Annie. There, I was confronted by a cabinet crammed with freshly made produce, bathed in the particle-filled golden light of the afternoon. Cinnamon rolls wrapped around huckleberries, bears claws doused in icing and plump blueberry muffins all vied for my undivided attention.

Parched from the sun, in my sugar-deprived, confused state it was hard to choose what to gulp down first...

Parched from the sun, in my sugar-deprived, confused state it was hard to decide what to gulp down first... The deer head wasn't helping.

Worth a close up.

Worth a close up.

I phoned home for the first time in two and a half months.

I phoned home from this phone barrel for the first time in two and a half months.

The Northern Lights Saloon. Outside its sporadic opening hours, the piano could be heard pounding away. The food there was quite delicious.

The Northern Lights Saloon, which had actually lost its liquor license for reasons I didn't manage to glean. Outside its sporadic opening hours, someone could be heard pounding away on the piano. The food there was quite delicious.

Suitably satiated, I headed over to the traveller-renowned North Fork Hostel, run by cycle-tourer Oliver, where I pitched my tent in the garden.

Sunrise. As I peeled myself out of my sleeping bag cocoon, Oliver was off for his morning run.

Sunrise. As I peeled myself out of my sleeping bag cocoon, a rainbow was gracing the sky.

I soon made myself at home in this most characterful of abodes, unearthing its strange and wonderful quirks – I leant the secrets of lighting its propane lamps and delighted when the old fashioned pressure dials flickered to life, like a mad scientist’s experiment, on the kitchen tap. The main building was once a dude ranch, transplanted from Glacier National Park and floated across the river.

German Oliver has toured here, there and everywhere, before finding his way to Polebridge. He's run the North York hostel for seven years, and liked it so much he bought it...

German Oliver has cycle toured here, there and everywhere, before steering his way to Polebridge. He's run the North York hostel for seven years, and liked it so much he bought it...

With a hiss and a clonk, water spurted out of the tap, like it was the very first time it had done so.

With a hiss and a clonk, water spurted out of the tap, like it was the first time it had done so for years.

That evening, Oliver invited me to some of the venison from the deer he’d hunted the precious winter, dished up alongside the salad he grows in his bountiful greenhouse, and washed down with a glass of wine and some great conversation.

Yes, I’d found a home away from home…

Don't forget to turn off the (propane) light. Polebridge is off the grid.

Don't forget to turn off the (propane) light. Polebridge is off the grid.

Montana = Big Skies

Montana = Big Skies

Funky old trucks.

Funky old trucks parked up in the fields.

XXX

Autumn is here. Winter next. Time to head south.

The ride there, along the rather ominous sounding Graves Creek, was lovely too.

The ride from the Eureka, near the US border, wound its way along the rather ominous sounding Graves Creek. Another beautiful, remote spot.

Kintla Lake, Glacier National Park.

Just 15 miles away, you can cool off in Kintla Lake, Glacier National Park.

The road to Polebridge. One I'd highly recommend.

The road to Polebridge. One I'd highly recommend.

6 thoughts on “Paradise Polebridge

  1. Simon G

    Cass…best pictures so far. So atmospheric that it makes me feel like I am there. I think I’d have found it hard to leave. Glacier National Park is stunning…hope you’re well…S

    Reply
  2. otbiking Post author

    thanks Simon, great to hear from you as always. The Great Divide ride really is a stunner, as much for the quiet roads and lack of traffic as the sheer beauty and remoteness of the surroundings…
    btw, did you see the pic of the Hunter 29er tourer?

    Reply
  3. Colin Trees

    Wow, some absolutely awesome photos, you’re a brilliant photgrapher, and I’m sure more brilliant riding, keep it up. Can’t be that long before you catch up with Daniel now. Cheers, Colin

    Reply
  4. Tom Allen

    Cass, I’ve been following your trip from the start and these are the best photos yet! Been dreaming of this route for years – keep up the great blog posts and bon voyage :)

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *