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Ottawa Gulch Rd via Lost Horse Rd(sh)

North of Helena the continental divide is sufficiently low and tame, so that three named passes can easily cross the divide. Even more good small dirt roads criss cross the surrounding hills and form summits. They could keep a gravel biker busy a long time. The name "Lost Horse" is also a common occurence in Montana. But there is only one "Lucky Llama", and it is a ranch and a haven for GDBMR cyclists, who meet here to enjoy Barbara and John's hospitality for a night or two, before they continue on their way. The most part of the southern approach to this summit is part of the GDMBR, and I had great company on this ride.

From the highest point of this road there is also a short out and back climb to Mount Belford, which contains a transmission tower, and a great view (even though it was a smoky, great view during my visit). It is the highest bikable point in the immediate area.

full screen slideshow of pictures from this page +addtional

1.START-END NORTH:jct US279 - Little Prickly Pear Rd
2,jct Little Prickly Pear Rd - Marsh Creek Rd
3.profile turns left up Lost Horse Rd
4.GDMBR route stays right on Ottawa Gulch Rd, profile stays left on Empire Creek Rd
5.TOP: 6840ft, jct Ottawa Gulch Rd - Blossburg Rd; also turnoff to Mt Belmont
6.profile turns right onto paved road; left goes uphill to ski area
7.turnoff to Marysville
8.START-END SOUTH: US279 - Marysville Rd


From North.
The profile turns from Little Prickly Pear Road onto Lost Horse Rd, lined by forest all the way. A good climbing workout leads to a few open spots with good views on the next range to the west. At a triangular intersection the Great Divide crowd take their leave, while the profile for this page climbs a little further, cresting above treeline.

From South. A short unpaved downhill leads to a paved road between Marysvale and the ski area. Uphill goes to the ski area, and downhill leads to most laid back town, in walking vicinity of a ski area, that I have ever seen - no condos and no apres ski bars. Instead there are two church buidlings, both the size of a mountain hut, each one of a competing congregation. I don;t think they actually hold services there now. But it would be a fascinating scene if they did.

Sidetrip to Mt Belmont:

From the high point it is only a short out and back to the top of Mt Belmont, all above treeline, and lined with a kind of cactus, containing strange purple flowering parts. Looking down in an easterly direction you see the town Marysville, which in my case helped restore a sense of direction.

1.START-END NORTH:jct US279 - Little Prickly Pear Rd
2,jct Little Prickly Pear Rd - Marsh Creek Rd
3.profile turns left up Lost Horse Rd
4.GDMBR route stays left on Ottawa Gulch Rd, profile stays right
5.Empire Gulch Rd(sh);  profile turns left
6.TOP: 7320ft, Mt Belmont

Slideshow of Lost Horse Rd approach and the one way climb to Mt Belmont

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

Dayride with this point as highest summit:

( < FR485 Marsh Creek Rd s(u) | Flathead Pass > )

Ottawa Gulch Rd s(u) , additional out and back : Lucky Llama Ranch > up Little Prickly Pear Rd > up Lost Horse Rd > Ottawa Gulch Rd s(u) <> out and back to top of Mt Belmont(ow) > Marysville with sightseeing detour > Long Gulch Rd(shp) > jct with Little Prickly Pear Ranch Rd <> out and back to jct with Cr279 >> back to starting point at Lucky Llama Ranch : 34.7miles with 4030ft of climbing in 4:48hrs (garmin etrex30 m3:20.8.21, t20_20).

Notes: A day at the Lucky Llama Ranch:

As you roll down from the summit to the north, you suddenly notice a few old bicycles and rims, posed on the side of the road and realize: "somebody likes people on/and/or bicycles around here. Next - the colorful wood cutout of a cycist -  posed behind the clean straight lines of an old Centurion bike - sure to have been a trusty touring companion in some past decade. The colorful cutout raises its arms in a welcome gesture. That is the first impression, when passing this GDBMR haven of hospitality, Barbara and John's Luck Llama Ranch. Barbara got this advertising cutout from a hardware store when they were done with it, painted bike shorts, a helmet and sunglasses on it, and voila "cyclists welcome". When I first saw it , I heard a voice :come join us, and take a sandwich from the refrigerator if you want. It would not be the last time that I heard this offer, and it is a good introduction to the hospitality, that is about to be heaped upon the visitor. But you will only know the full extend by experiencing it yourself.

So this is how the evening went by on this particular day.  The teepee and hut were occupied by three parties on this particular night. A young biking couple: Saxon and Elle He attributed everything that was best in live to bicycling in some way, and that includes meeting his girlfried, and his job, which consists of working for a bike company. Accompanying the two was Art, who had the technology at the ready, weather it be Ivan Bugaloo on the phone controlled speaker box for the evening:  or a quite well worked out explanation of mapout.com.

The second team, heading north, consisted of a fascinating female duo from two generational groups, but a common love for cycling: Sheryl and Ally. Their website boomerandbloomer.online peaks interest in this decades-spanning relationship.  And then there were also, two traveling musicians, who have left their instruments behind for now, in favor of two bicycles, and scrambling up the Grand Teton.

Lucky Llama Ranch slideshow

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

The hosts, John and Barbara, invited everybody for dinner on their porch, and nobody had even the slightest chance to leave hungry.  It goes without saying that there was no food to be left behind, and no food was left behind. The last of the 18 hamburgers remained uneaten for the time being, but the guy/girl with the fattest tire on the bike was awarded lunch for tomorrow. The prize went to Collin, of the Mike and Collin team.

Hosts Babara and Johns's philosophy is to ask to "pass the favor forward". Whatever they do for us, we should pass it on to the next person -  a sort of pyramid scheme of good will and kindness. And they have a few stories of the times it worked out that way.

Late after dark, Karl from "Where is Karl now fame" first appeared in the form of a bopping headlamp in the dark. He anounced a rattlesnake in the driveway, and also his arrival - his 6th day on the GDBMR from the start in the north. When he joined us to settle down for the evening, conversation around the conversational topics around the picnic table seemed to drift closer to the Darien Gap and the mysterious things that await the cyclist on the other side, assuming he can find a way to cross it. A found bottle of whiskey was used to disinfect drinking cups and sterilize whatever needed to be sterilized.  To the best of my knowledge we all survived.

The next morning pictures were taken. Coverage of this particular day of history on the GDMBR should be available on at least three websites: Karl's "where is Karl now" youtube channel (but i haven't been able to find it yet), boomerandbloomer.online and this one. "Everybody is a promoter these days" observed Saxon, as Karl lined up people to enunciate the best reasons why more people should bike the GDBMR. All the promotion and documentation are just fine with me, as long as they involve some aspect of cycling. And so I documented the documentation.  This was one of the busier days in the history of the Lucky Llama - but not unusual. John tells me they get roughly as many cyclists a year as their are days in it, but of course none in the winter, and unevenly distributed.

And so, the next morning, all parties continued their journey in two opposite directions. As for me, I was accompanied by Lucky Llama John himself, who rode to Helena for a dinner date with friends that evening. We split at the junction towards Mt Belmont. There I also saw boomer and bloomer, Sheryl and Ally, one more time. We had passed them when they missed a turn. How refreshing - some people still have old style adventures, like getting lost without a gps, that whispers directions in the forest, or sounds an alarm, Now does that wrong turn go to boomer's or bloomer's credit ??