March 27, 2009

Day 1 - Ft. Missoula to Mission, MT

near St. Ignatius, Montana
"On the morning of August 6th, an hour or more before the reveille gun had awakened the soldiers of Fort Missoula from their slumbers, many were the signs of life and activity about the bicycle shop. The tops of the surrounding mountains were lost in dark clouds and the roads were somewhat muddy from a rain during the previous night. However as all preparations
had been made and the soldiers were bent on going, we left the post at 6:20 A.M. As we rapidly glided away the old flagstaff soon disappeared in the distance, and Missoula, four miles away, was reached at 6:45. In passing through town we were compelled to roll our wheels on the sidewalks on account of the muddy conditions of the streets. Five miles beyond Missoula we struck a section of clay and after crossing it were delayed thirty minutes removing the mud from our wheels. About two miles beyond this point we crossed our first mountain. On the other side of the mountain we had good roads for six miles when we struck twelve miles of hilly, rocky and muddy roads, and in going over about five miles of this road we dismounted fully twenty times to avoid mud puddles and fallen trees.
At 12:30 P.M Finley Creek, 33 miles from the fort, was reached. That ever-important personage, the cook, and his assistant at once began getting out the flour, bacon, coffee, etc., while other men of the corps were getting wood and water. Within an hour and a half we were sitting on the side of the creek eating our first meal in the mountains, and after resting an hour resumed our journey.
Immediately upon starting we rode across Finley Creek on our wheels, two men falling off into the stream. The creek was about nine inches deep and twenty-five feet wide. We then took a high-water trail over a mountain to avoid fording the Jocko River. The ascent was quite steep and rolling our heavily loaded wheels up the grade was hard work. Just beyond this mountain we traveled a long distance along a narrow path in a densely timbered forest. After crossing a small stream on a log, pushing our wheels up several small hills and dismounting a number of times on account of the mud, Ravalli station, 44 miles from the fort, was reached. Between Ravalli and St. Ignatius Mission, a distance of 7 miles, we crossed three small mountains. The distance from the foot to the summit of the largest mountains was two miles and it took us thirty-five minutes to travel this distance. We went from the summit to the foot, 1 3/4 miles, in five minutes. At 7:30 P.M. a point on Mission Creek, about one-half mile about the Mission was reached, where we pitched our camp for the night, a distance from Fort Missoula of 51 miles. The soldiers did not seem to be very tired, as they were up until 11 o'clock, talking and getting off jokes around the camp fire."
- Lt. James A. Moss, Military Cycling in the Rocky Mountains, pg. 14-15

"The corps made its first real hike to Lake Macdonald. Starting at 6:20, they had clicked off thirty-three miles by 12:30 without much untoward happening, except for two men falling in a stream. By 7:30 that night they had put fifty-one miles behind them."
- Buffalo Soldier Regiment, John Nankivell pg. 62

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