Three miles in, I’m thinking that me riding alone to the Herbert Glacier was a bad idea. Maybe if I were on a mountain bike it would be okay. But I’m using my touring bicycle, hoping that its 29 inch tires can handle the trail’s rocks and roots.
I haven’t ridden to the glacier since Aki was a puppy. That day the tiny little guy chased my bike the four miles to the glacier. She has hated bicycles ever since. I have always regretted bringing her along.
The highway is my bike’s natural home. When I left Glacier Highway to ride onto the trail, I promised the bike I would turn around if things got too rough. After I’ve traveled on it for a few thousands miles the bike and I have developed that kind of relationship. Because it knows me, the bike expects my promise to be broken.
We do fine the first few miles. The trail is flat and covered with fallen spruce needles that cushion the ride. As we climb toward Herbert Glacier ugly lumps of rock start appearing above the needles but I avoid most of them. Just a mile before the glacier the trail turns into a rock strewn single-track. I should turn around but we are so close. The bike will understand. So I proceed with caution, cringing each time a tire slams into an unavoidable cob.
When the trail becomes a narrow path between cliff and river, I finally park the bike and proceed on foot to where the glacier can be seen hanging above a forest of yellow green cottonwoods and alders. It’s cloudy, but here and there blue holes in the grey appears. One lets enough light through to bright out the best in he glacier and its forest.