Day 3 Recap of Ultimate Adventure 2020 in Montana #UA2020
Over the Great Divide, through a ghost town, and driving through a mile-long abandoned train tunnel!
Day 3 of the Ultimate Adventure started at an elevation of roughly 8,500 feet as the group awoke for our 7:30 a.m. driver's meeting next to Caruthers Lake. We did our morning thing, ate our eggs and sausage, packed our junk, and hit the trail we had negotiated the day before in the opposite direction. After reaching baseline elevation we topped our tanks and hit the road for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The road quickly gave way to graded dirt as we crested the Champion Pass: one of the many times we'd be crossing the Great Divide on this Ultimate Adventure.
We meandered along until we arrived at the abandoned town of Comet, Montana. Comet is privately owned land, so while we had plenty of old mining buildings, houses, cook shacks, and even abandoned cars to check out, you can't actually enter any of the buildings. Still, it made for a nice 30-minute break to stretch legs and appreciate Montana's late 19th- and early 20th-century mining history. From Comet we locked hubs and started climbing in elevation back into an absolutely stunning portion of Montana's backcountry. We eventually approached the town of Boulder, which holds a hidden gem in Montana's early mechanized history: a mile-long train tunnel that goes smack through a mountain. Officially called the Boulder Tunnel, but known in local parlance simply as the Wickes Tunnel, each end of the tunnel is housed on private property. With special permission from the land owners granted, we were allowed the unique opportunity to drive the mile-long stretch. To say it's eerie is pretty accurate. The tunnel is full of water that reaches about the middle of our 38s through most of the trail, and as soon as you enter the temperature drops to what can only be described as damp, chilly, moist, and Halloweeny. Running a bit late, after travelling through Wickes Tunnel, rather than continue on to our original route we pulled a U-turn and enjoyed a second trip through the tunnel before heading out to our campsite.
But this year is this year, so the sh!%show that is 2020 impacts even the Ultimate Adventure. We were greeted along our route by some very polite forest service workers who told us the area we were planning on camping was on fire and the whole area was closed. We thanked them for what they do and wished them a safe battle and turned back around to regroup with Ted Livingston and Rory Edwards from onX Offroad. With the help of our onX Offroad app, we found a bitchin' campsite close to where we were turned away from our original route. Now it's time to hit the onX Offroad app and come up with an alternate plan for tomorrow.
Tune in to fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adventure to see what we come up with and keep an eye on #UA2020 on social media to keep up with what's going on with UA2020 each day!