End of Week 2 — My Week in Idaho
Covered another 660k this week, through a cross-section of probably the prettiest route in Idaho. Though a bit cool still, the weather was pretty good; the traffic was light and the shoulders wide. The one word that best describes my week is rivers. Through the Snake River gorge (the deepest in North America), along the Salmon River, the Lochsa, and the Clearwater, the clear, clean, powerful rivers of Idaho were my constant companions. It was a solitary ride for the most part, apart from the many singing birds (although one angry black bird kept diving at my helmet!). I did a lot of singing myself, with apologies to Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie, who sing Blowing in the Wind and City of New Orleans a whole lot better than I do!
At Oxbow we stayed at a gorgeous campsite run by Idaho Power, with big sites, large trees, manicured lawns, and great showers for only $14. That was a good deal. The power company manages the two dams along the huge Oxbow-Brownlee Reservoir, which looks to be very popular for fishermen. Although I don’t know from experience, I think that fishing must be very hard work, because the guys were loading up with dozens of beers — to replenish their electrolytes, no doubt! At Oxbow, I met Jerry, a cyclist from Glasgow, Scotland, who was also doing the TransAm. More about Jerry later.
The ride through Hell’s Canyon was spectacular. I had trouble keeping my eyes on the road, there was so much to see. Just one big climb of about seven miles, and we made a short day of it at 100k, ending up in Council, Idaho, a town of about 86 people. Myrna had purchased steaks for dinner, and I eagerly went to unpack our brand new portable barbecue. OMG! It required assembly of about 1,436 pieces — with nine kinds of screws and nuts and washers. It even came with its own tools! Gerrick and Curtis, where are you when I need you? Well, it may have taken an hour or more, but I put that sucker together perfectly — even the electronic starter works. I was pretty proud of myself. And those steaks were among the best I have ever tasted!
Wee Jerry, the Scot, ended the day in Council as well. He was suffering big time. “Is there no public transport in this country?” he asked me.He didn’t think he was going to make it to the Atlantic by August 4th, to catch the flight home. “Ah canna believe it!” he said, “We’re still going north! This is a muckle big country!” He was looking to catch a Greyhound out of Idaho to give himself a big of a boost.
The next day took us through White Bird, the scene of a major battle between the Nez Perce Indians and the US Cavalry. 100 soldiers were killed in a sneak attack early in the morning. No Indians lost their lives, but it sparked war all across the territory. The landscape has changed little since those days and I could imagine the horrific scene in the valley below me.
Friday was a cool, cloudy day and that day I met up with fellow cyclists, Dick and Chris. Dick is from Boston. When he’s not out cycling, he works for an organization call kNOw THEM, which helps CEOs of major corporations understand and resolve global conflict issues.His friend Chris was accompanying him on the Oregon-Missoula portion of the ride. Chris works with power companies on the economics of moving to sustainable energy sources.
The road we were travelling (Hwy 12) is spectacularly beautiful. Don, Dave and Ursula, I would come back here any day and ride it again with you!
The highlight of this day, and this ride so far, was the dip in Jerry Johnson’s Hot Springs. This is a rugged, natural hot spring about a mile’s hike from the highway. I grabbed my bathing suit and towel and headed up the trail. When I got to the pool, I realized this was a “bathing suit not required” kind of place. OK, I thought. I’ll go with that, stripped down and joined four other bathers. OMG! It was heavenly! Hot, clear and completely natural with big boulders ringing the pool. Dad, you would have loved this place!
And that’s where I met up with Peter and Connie, a couple from Couer d’Alene on a two-week hot springs vacation. They knew every great camping spot and remote
hot spring in the area. I realize that although my trip is all about cycling, it’s only when I stop that I meet the nicest people.
Thanks, Peter and Connie, for the tip about the Lochsa Lodge — we ate what were possibly the best burgers in the US from the restaurant there, and stayed in the USFS campground for just $10!
Saturday morning I faced the dreaded Lolo Pass into Montana.This is where Lewis and Clark travelled through in 1805, on their way to claim the Pacific coast for the United States. Myeh! It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared. I was well into Montana before Myrna caught up to me. From there on into Missoula, our destination for the week.Yay! Today is a rest day.
Where to Next?
We leave Missoula tomorrow, bound for West Yellowstone, Montana. Until next week, then!