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At first glance, nothing is special about the sign.

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The two groups may not be besties, but Dennis and Emmett obviously know each other well. Dennis did wake before 4 a. As the sun started to crest the horizon, Dennis and Emmett wished us off, and we strapped a few final items to our bags, topped off our water, and began the short-but-steep climb. Lewis and Clark Pass is the only road-less pass on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and despite also being a thoroughfare for the 3,mile Continental Divide Trail, the path to the top is faint.

The pedal took us through a huge valley of grassland, dotted by subalpine fir and creased in the middle by a pine-protected creek. Cairns and occasional traces of a rutted two-track are all that marked the top section, eventually topping out into a scrubby pine forest. By the time we reached the pass, dark clouds and a cold wind had moved in, and soon it began to mist, then drizzle. When we arrived at the top it was pouring—a testament to the fickle and extreme weather of the area, even in the depths of summer.

Aspen man, 78, finally completes the Continental Divide Trail after 35 years |

Then we spot the sign, and Mike notices the date. We spend the morning climbing into the wet whiteness, rock slides and ghostly arboreal skeletons appearing out of the mist. The trail grows faint on the particularly windswept sections, disappearing entirely in the glistening stretches of tumbled basalt. This is the CDT, one of the most famous trails in the country, and from our limited surroundings we could be in the farthest corner of some remote wilderness. The same primitive conditions also make for perfect adventure riding.

The wind tears at our coats as we re-ride a few particularly delicious stretches.

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One section snakes down an open face before diving down a steep, skiddy scree field, and we spend an hour hiking and shooting. The beauty of having short days—we have 12 miles to cover—is you can stop to enjoy the details. Still, the entirety of those 12 miles hangs at about 7, feet, which is difficult for PNW lowlanders like ourselves. Where possible, the trail follows the Continental Divide meticulously, dipping and climbing from mini-summit to mini-summit.

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At one point it dives into a burnt-out forest from a long-ago wildfire, and becomes nearly nonexistent under downed logs and tall grass. We get lost multiple times, but push onward. Even the scorched skeleton pines provide some entertainment, as Mike and Brandon rip a corridor through their ghostly trunks.

The dirt has turned to deep orange and the ridgeline is now covered with loose shale, which seems bent on dinging our bottom brackets. Mike takes a rock to the shin, and we suffer multiple flats and a torn tire sidewall. We finally drop toward our last stretch of the day, a saddle called Cadotte Pass. Rumor is that Cadotte is the location of one of the first UFO sightings in the United States, recorded by a fur trapper in , and the yurt on the other side of the valley looks somewhat extraterrestrial on the pass vast ochre expanse.

A small figure stands next to the yurt—Emmett—which means camp and dinner are close. His excitement about his lifelong hometown of Helena is nearly overwhelming, matched only by his passion for biking in general. With the assistance of two interns, he has taken the place of the horses and biked in our sleeping supplies and 10 gallons of extra water. He barely stops to breathe as he hikes alongside us on the final pitch to camp.

Using downed logs and branches, we channel our frontiersmen skills and construct shelters under the trees before sharing one final sunset beer. A storm is coming. On Jan. Today, July 8, , temps are forecasted to top out in the mids. Our intern sherpas spent yesterday caching our supplies and water along the route for the day, and so after a breakfast of oatmeal and instant coffee, we pack up our gear for the descent to Rogers. Emmett has brought his bike as well, and he bombs down loaded with a massive, clanking pack. The trail switchbacks through a vibrantly green forest, alternating between fields of wildflowers, stands of fir and loose rock and shale.

The final section even cuts between a few cliffs—the CDT is nothing if not varied. The previous night Emmett had joked about whiskey and beer at the next camp, and we wax longingly as we sip some local double-malt to prep us for the long ride ahead. CDT gcc, 26km. CDT gch, 49km. CDT gcl, 42km. CDT gco, 29km.

CDT gcr, 42km. CDT ggc, 39km. CDT ggg, 57km.

3 Tips for Thru Hiking the CDT (Continental Divide Trail)

CDT ggj, 65km. CDT ggm, 48km. CDT ggp, 43km. CDT ggs, 51km. CDT h-- Wyoming. CDT hms, 33km.

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CDT ibc, 40km. CDT ibf, 33km. CDT idc, 27km. CDT idg, 46km. CDT idj, 17km.

10 of the best long-distance trails for hikers around the world

CDT idm, 18km. CDT idq, 30km. CDT idu, 44km. CDT iic, 22km.

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CDT iif, 31km. CDT iii, 23km.

CDT iim, 14km. CDT iip, 32km. CDT iis, 26km.

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CDT iiv, 29km. CDT iiy, 31km. CDT ilc, 21km. CDT ilg, 40km. CDT ilk, 21km. CDT ioc, 20km. CDT iof, 38km. CDT ioi, 40km. CDT iol, 25km. CDT ioo, 13km. CDT ior, 30km. CDT irc, 18km.