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Over Mullen Pass

Posted on June 16, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Bill and Becky own the Lawdogs Saloon in Elliston. When I left in the morning I said I just might stop by if it was ok with them and use their restroom and refill Ursa’s pack with water. I hadn’t anticipated a lunch!  I had Sierra tied up outside and Ursa got to come in and hang out in a cool saloon. She even got a bowl of water (who says a dog can’t drink in a saloon??? ;) ).  It was a nice day that was slowly warming up and today I would be riding over Mullen Pass and dropping in just west of Helena --- this would be my last pass to cross. What I was looking forward to was the gravel road. We only had a few miles on the hwy then I could let Ursa off of her flexi leash and she could be the trail dog she would prefer to be. The hard part about the flexi is that she is held back. She has to pace Sierra and I and is unable to run ahead and lay down and rest while we catch up. So it is a really big deal for her to be off leash. Honestly, I think if flexi would put about 3 more feet on their 23’ lead it would help too, not sure why I think that, but 26’ seems like the best distance…..anyway……


We left Lawdogs after a few photo ops and were to catch Mullen road about two miles down.  There was the big historic marker before we started going up the hill and there was a road right there. I thought that must be it so crossed over, we went about a quarter of a mile and nope, this can’t be right…..the bonus was we were now right next to a large creek and Ursa got to dunk and Sierra got to drink. About the time we got around the bend heading back to the hwy I saw my rig go by………ok, definitely not it. My biggest fear is passing the spot and then having to backtrack, so checking it out while we were there – always seems like a good idea to me. Another half a mile up – there it is, cattle guard, gate and all.  Blessed dirt roads J . I waited until we were another quarter mile out before I let her off leash (as Ursa thinks all cars are there to see her).  The other nice thing about dirt roads – it is easier for me to hear a rig coming and you can typically see the dust cloud in their wake. For a back road it was pretty busy, we saw 3 quads run by both directions and there was some work being done on the railroad as well as what looked like fiber optic cable being put in. The con to a dirt road with workers on it – they figure nobody else will be out there so hall ass to get to where they need to be. It was a beautiful ride through here, and a long ride. We had some ground to cover today. Another bonus for Ursa off leash.  Another bonus, there was much in the way of water.


The guys in the trucks had taken notice that we were riding and I got in the habit of jumping down when I saw a rig coming and grab Ursa’s collar. A truck came over a small hill and stopped, when I got up to him he said he wanted to let me know that another quarter mile there were some big equipment and they had guys working and I may want to walk through there – how nice/polite was that?!  I said Thanks, hopped off, hooked Ursa up and off we went. Around the bend and there they were……I think we only had to walk about a mile and a half and we came to a bend in the road that looked like what Chuck said I should go forward through, although it was posted as rail property……..dang, decisions to make. There was a fellow working there and I asked him about it and he said to follow the road around.  I had looked at 2 maps and also have a map on my cell. The funny thing about the cell map was that it put Mullen Pass before Priest Pass and I knew from looking at the others that this was wrong (Priest was before Mullen) and I had already passed Priest Pass. Chuck had said to go forward I thought here, but that would put me through a train tunnel and onto  (what I later saw) a Very long trestle bridge) …..well around the road I went. It is funny that I can think of where I second guess myself and then that stays with me …… like ok, did I make the right turn, crap….is this then right…….now is this right. ….All I can say is that I am really glad I am so comfortable in the woods/outdoors. Onward we went. Ursa was now getting tired and hot, looking for shade under each cattle guard we had to pass while I messed with ther gates (there were surprisingly a lot of gates on this road too!!) and as I get tired my patience wanes with those damn things……it didn’t help that one bit me too (right through the finger nail and drew blood – I noticed the blood as I really did not feel anything).  We finally came to a cross road with a forest service type sign……, about the time a car rolled up to ask me for directions. I had to laugh and say, “well I really don’t know as I am not from around here” (now that does give you a double take ;) ). It was getting later in the day as I came to a sign that pointed to the Continental Divide Trail – WOW, how cool is that?! Now I had crossed the Pacific Crest Trail and now the Continental Divide Trail! As I came up to what I thought was the Mullen Pass Road my phone beeped that I actually had service again. I decided to call Chuck and let them know I was headed down the pass so they would not worry (it was around 5:00 pm now) and I still was not certain I was on the right road. My message went something like : “hey Chuck, this is tracy. I want  to let you know I am headed down your side of the pass and I am pretty sure I have the right road,  if not let me know and I will find it J ). Then no service…….as we walked through the last of a snow drift on the top. Down the road we went….and downhill is always a bit faster then up;) .  I had their house number and when I came to the first house on the downhill side I thought, crap…… this is a whole nother set of numbers! Ok…….hmmmm…….worst case scenario, you stop and ask to put Sierra in a pen and use a landline to find out if they are another road out from here……. So downhill we kept going. I knew I was heading to Helena, so all was still good J. Another hour or more we were further down and the numbers started to make more sense as to where I needed to be. A little more road traffic …Oh, and then there was the kid on a motorcycle that hauled right past us. I think I freaked him out. I have a good amount of patience, but when you are on a motorcycle, etiquite is that you slow and stop, remove the helmet and let the horse go by. There were horses on this road and so…….well I am sure I sounded like a crazy lady as I yelled slow down next to a horse! (I was already down holding Ursa and Sierra  -- bonus for the kid as it is a dangerous for the motorcyclist as it is for the rider…..well, in my book anyway.  A bit further here comes another rig, I hop off and the truck stops…….”you must be Tracy” Ha – it was Chuck to come and check on me. Before he could finish asking if maybe my pup would want to ride the rest of the way Ursa was at his door ready to jump in! Evidently she onlyt wants to spend a certain amount of time with us! Sis and I only had another mile or so to go and as we rode up Chuck, Carmie and Kathy came out to greet us. And before I knew it everyone was helping to untack.  I had not kown that they had planned dinner – and oh what a dinner! I am not a fan of salmon, I just never have been. I do eat whatever is put in front of me though. And I will tell you – this was the best Salmon I have ever eaten! I even went for seconds – not because I was still hungry, but because it really was that good (and for me to eat seconds on fish – well that means it is a master piece!)


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