Saturday, July 4, 2015

Day 18--Happy 4th From Hoppin' Stanley, Idaho--Pop. 63

So the sign says, anyway.

To start my 4th of July, I woke up at 12:45am to the sound of something splashing in the creek. It sounded big and heavy. My first thought was a bear. After all, I was in Bear Valley. I looked out my open rainfly, but could see nothing. I checked to make sure I knew how to get the safety off my bear spray. After awhile, having heard nothing else, I went back to sleep. At 5:30 I sat up, looked out my tent door to see a big buck walking down the creek. Now, my tent was mere feet away from the creek. Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera into my tent last night. It was pretty cool though.

Since I was wild camping, I did not have toilet access. I packed everything up and got on the road. Not much more than a few miles down the road, I spied this.
Ahhh...a potty shack when most needed!

From where I was camped, I had about 9 miles to the top of Cape Horn Summit. Fortunately, the climb didn't really start until I had gone about 4 1/2 miles. When I was near the summit, I met a couple coming the other direction. They were from Salt Lake and are also doing the whole thing. They are the first couple I've met who are making the whole loop. In theory, that means I will see them again!
Vince and Angie--see ya on the backside!

We parted ways, and I continued up to the summit.
Kind of a high one!

The descent was great! At the end I came to the hwy that is also the Lowman cut-off (most people I've met are doing this).
Lowman Cut-off--last chance to bail! Nope! I turned left!

I rode the hwy for about 3 miles before returning to the dirt. This was a narrower dirt road. There were a number of turns, so I had to watch my mileage so as not to miss any of them. Here's one part.
You can barely see the Sawtooths in the distance.

Here's some more.
Getting closer to the Sawtooth Mountain Range (zoomed in).

Riding through the meadow.

At one point my directions said to turn onto Valley Creek Trail. Okay! Time for some singletrack (well, more like narrow double track). 
Not too bad, except the corners were pretty rutted from the motorcycles. Then I came to this.
I went around it (JP was not too thrilled with the idea of going over it).

I came to a bridge that had a really rocky lead up to it, then a step up onto the bridge itself. I made it over the rocks (JP bouncing like a superball behind), but had to get off to get everybody up onto the bridge. Then there was a steep curve after the bridge. I hauled MC and JP up. There were 4 motorcyclists waiting for me to get out of their way. Not one offered to help me push up the trail. That's okay, I didn't need their stinkin' help!

Then the trail ended and I was back on a dirt road. The dirt was so soft it was like riding on talcum powder (not that I've ever ridden on talcum powder...). I was toddling along when I met another couple on touring bikes! They were Pam and Walter. I think they were maybe from California. They were also taking the Lowman Cut-off. It's possible I will see them again. 
They gave me the lowdown on what was coming up. Including what was happening in Stanley, and where I could camp.

One of the things coming was fording a creek. Walter advised me to stay to my right. 
After crossing the creek. I just walked through with my shoes on. There was no fear of them not drying, and it felt good to have cool feet for awhile.

Unbeknownst to me, I had one more climb to go. It was more of a trending up roller coaster. I could see a guy ahead of me on a mountain bike (not touring). I slowly caught up to him (I know, right? I caught up to him!!!). We got to the summit, and he said it was downhill from there to Stanley. Woo Hoo! And, a good downhill it was!

So, I arrived in Stanley. Apparently, the 4th is their big day of the year. There's a ton of people here for a music festival, and fireworks later (troublesome as it is rather dry). There is this big grassy place that had a sign saying "Tent camping". The field is marked off in rectangular sites. It costs $16.50. There are sani-cans (out of tp--good thing I carry my own), and access to water. If I walk 100 feet to my left, I can see the stage where they are playing music. There is another stage also playing music. It reminds me of being in Oslo on June 21st last summer. The concert goes until midnight. Not an early night for me tonight! Oh, and there was a parade too. I could see some of it from my tent site. This is one hoppin' town!

One thing there isn't, is showers. This means I've not had a proper shower since McCall. I have been swimming a couple of times, but I'm becoming one with my stinky self. I've come to understand why PCT thru-hikers don't bother with deoderant. Pam said there's an opportunity for a shower in Ketchum...that's still a couple of days away...
My 4th of July home!

Total miles: 39.57
Ave. speed: 7.68


Day 17--A Three Summit Day!

This morning I woke up to find another tent sharing my site. It was Rick and Mary. Rick had ridden in last night, looking for a place to camp. Picnic Point was full, but I had plenty of room at my site. He said he would go find Mary. Well, they didn't return before I went to bed (okay, so I went to bed at 8:30). I figured Mary had found another spot. But, no, they had just ended up hanging out with some Canadians. Anyway, we got to chat while we were packing up. They are doing half of IHSMBR counterclockwise (the smart way). They've also done the Great Divide. They said this is very similar (very good to hear as I'm kind of treating this as a shakedown for the GD). Stupidly, I didn't get a photo of them before they left.

I headed out knowing I had a mother of a climb right off the bat. And it was too!
See the lake? That's where I started. See the curvy road? Yep, I rode up that.

The climb was 6.9 miles. I was doing 2.6 mph on the really steep parts. At one point, I came to a spot where there were a bunch of chipmunks. One was eating a dead one in the road! I had no idea Alvin was a cannibal! The little bugger even dragged the carcass off the road as I got closer! Of course, maybe he wasn't trying to eat him. Maybe he was trying to do CPR??? Little dude, your buddy is flatter than a pancake! I think he's a goner.

I finally reached the summit.
I took a break, deciding a Payday bar was earned.

The descent was good, but only about three miles. Then I hit the dirt. 
Notice the washboard surface. It comes and goes, but it is not pleasant. Riding to the far left or right is sometimes possible, sometimes too soft sandy.

I came to this meadow.
Quite nice.

As I was riding along, I saw 4 riders coming toward me. The first one even had a kid in a Wee Hoo bike trailer. He didn't stop, but the other three did. They are also doing half of the route.
Erin is pulling the BOB. The other two are her parents just out for the day. You can see Erin has fashioned herself a Da Brim of sorts. She ordered a real one, but it didn't come in time.

The next climb was to Deadwood Summit. It was the easiest summit I've ever done.
Still I'll count it as number 2.

The descent down Deadwood was pretty steep and long. Once again, I stopped to let some air out of the tires. Back on the flats, about 25 miles in, I came to Deadwood Lodge. Rick and Mary had told me about this place. I stopped in and had a bottle of Gatorade and some homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. The gal also filled my two empty water bottles. We had a nice chat. There was a gal with a two month old baby boy named Zeb. Made me miss My Sweet Baboo! After a decent rest, I continued on.

Soon enough, the road began to climb again. At about mile 37, I finally passed Deer Flat CG. This is where I was supposed to have gone yesterday. I must have grossly underestimated the mileage because there's no way I would have set myself up for that (it would have been a total of 64 miles)! It was a good thing I stayed at Picnic Point. 

A ways further and I came to Deer Creek Pass.
Number 3 for the day!

I had a gentle descent into Bear Valley.
Pretty huh?

I was heading for Bear Valley CG. When I got there, it was full. There were a couple of sites that would have room for my tent, but no one was around at those sites to ask. So, I went across the road where more people are camped along the creek. I noticed there was a nice spot by the water, so I set up camp.
There are no toilets, but there are at the campground. There's no piped water, but there's the creek. I still had three bottles of water. I boiled up a pan full that I'll let cool overnight to fill my bottles for tomorrow.

Total miles today: 44.3
Average speed: 6.51

Day 16--Hot Springs and Warm Lake

I went to bed really early last night (for lack of anything better to do...and I was a bit tired). Consequently, I woke up at 5:00. I laid there for awhile, but then thought I may as well get up (also, my pillow had mysteriously deflated during the night). It was actually quite cool this morning. I even put my jacket on!

I was on the road at 7:00. I was on the lookout for Teapot Hot Spring. It's, supposedly, a soakable pool at the river's edge. Welł, I never saw it. The next one was Mile16 Hot Spring. It was supposed to be between Milepost 15 and 16. I passed 17, but never saw a sign for MP 16. I knew I had to be getting close. There was a pullout from the road, and a set of stairs. I figured, although there was no sign, this must be it. I jackknifed MC and JP, and walked the trail down to the river. It was a very steep trail. My bike shoes were, perhaps, not the best footwear.

As I worked my way down, I saw there was a guy just getting out of a pool of water. Ah ha, I was in the right place! 
The water was very hot. There was a pool just below, but that was cold from the river water. I took off my shoes and socks, and my baggy shorts. At first the water was too hot, but finally I got used to it. It felt good on my heat-rashed, hairy legs. 
Nice hot spring water. After a bit, I got out, let my legs dry a little, and put my shoes and socks back on for the hike back up.

Back on the bike, I began the climb up to Poverty Summit. I'd go up for awhile, then I'd come down a little, then back up. I kept thinking I was at the summit. But then, I'd resume climbing. I got very good at knowing if the hill was at least 8% grade (I could tell by how slowly I was pedaling). I spent much of the morning in super granny gear. The views were pretty though.


Finally, I knew I was at the summit. There wasn't a summit sign, but the place was called Poverty Overlook. Here's a panorama from the overlook.

From there I had a some real downhill. But, before I could relax too much, I was climbing again...*sigh*.
Just before the end of FS 674 (or 474 depending on which sign you look at), it flattened out some.
The "stick" forest in the distance. There was a major fire in 2001.

I came to a stop sign and turned onto a two-lane road for about .6 miles. Then I turned onto a gravel road. This was my only gravel for today.
This road took me to North Shore at Warm Lake. Here there are 4 campgrounds (all pretty small, except Shoreline). I'm at Picnic Point, a walk-in campground of 8 sites. Only 5 and 8 were still available. I'm on Site 8, and it is quite nice. Site 5 had a view of the lake, but no shade. I treated myself to lunch at the lodge (nothing fancy here, and not a big place). While I was eating lunch, a couple I had seen at Poverty Overlook came in. I said hi again. They are brother and sister, Tony and Angela. I think they are staying in one of the cabins. After I set up my camp, I went for a swim in the lake. There I met Lisa and her son Dylan. Lisa is a flight attendant based in Seattle. They have friends who have a cabin here.
Warm Lake (curiously, not that warm--of course, not that cold either. I think it should be called Tepid Lake).

This area, the lake and the route I rode today, is all about the salmon right now. Everyone I saw today was fishing, or looking to fish. I didn't see anyone catching any, though. I guess it's the thrill of the hunt. There were RVs, campers, and tents parked all along the edge of the road. There are a lot of campgrounds, but most people seem to just park on the road next to the river (I believe roadside camping is free).
Picnic Point CG. My site to the right.

I didn't go as far as I was supposed to today. Since I climbed for most of the day, and next up is the climb to Warm Lake Summit, I just didn't feel like doing that 7 mile climb. We'll see where I end up tomorrow. After some more pavement, I'll be back on the dirt.

Total Miles today: 27.3
Average speed: 6.02


Day 15--What I've Been Waiting For!

Gravel at last! Even though, as soon as I came into McCalł, I was officially on the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route, it didn't feel like it until today. I had about 5 miles of pavement until the gravel road started. I went by Little Payette Lake.
Very quiet here (as opposed to the other Payette Lake).

Finally, I saw this sign.
Woo Hoo! Of course, Mama Cass was also thrilled to get to the gravel/dirt. Now she was in her element! 

The road started going up pretty quickly. I was soon in super granny gear. That was like ringing the dinner bell for the mosquitos. A swarm settled down to dine upon my legs and arms (biting through the sunsleeves). Never fear, Ben came to my rescue. I had, wisely, placed the bottle of Ben's 100% Deet in a small pocket of the mountain feed bag (the one holding my bear spray). Quick as you can say, "Dinner's done!", I had coated my legs, and arms (I know you're not supposed to put Deet on clothing, but I didn't care). That did the trick, and I was soon back to pedaling. 

There were a few short downhills, and some flats, but mostly I was climbing. Here's what the road looked like.

I was going to top out at Lick Creek Summit at 6880 ft. Other than the fact that it was a steep climb, the worst part was the surprising number of vehicles. Everything from cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even dune buggies (maybe they are called something different when in the mountains). See how dry the road is in the photo above? So that made for some pretty good dust being kicked up. At least most of the vehicles slowed down when they got close to me. 

When I got to the top, the dune buggies were there. I asked if it was the summit. The guy said it was about 3/4 of a mile more. However, the road appeared to be going down. Yes, that was the summit. Here's a photo just before, and one just after. There wasn't a summit sign anyway.
Before
After

I came down for a little while until I came to the Duck Lake Trailhead. I pulled in and had some lunch. 
Nice picnic table at the trailhead. 

Then the descent really began!
All the way dooooowwwwnnnn!!!

With the high number of rocks and washboard, and most of all, the fact that Johnny P had to come too, I had to control my speed. I think the fastest I got going was about 25. But mostly I kept it at 15 or so. All in all, it went pretty well. 

I had been thinking I would stay at Ponderosa campground (so I could say I went from Ponderosa to Ponderosa). But, when I got there, it was only 1:00. I decided to continue to Buckhorn Bar CG. According to my itinerary, Buckhorn was where I was planning for today anyway. I just added the nine miles I didn't do yesterday.

At Indian Point, the road was paved. It was only a single lane, but no more gravel for today. 
Following the river.

I came to Buckhorn Bar Teepee Loop. I'm not sure if this is the real Buckhorn CG, but there is piped water and a pit toilet. It's also on the river. There are only three sites, so I think it's not the real campground. I have a nice spot in semi-shade. I went for a swim in the river. It felt great!

Tomorrow will be more pavement, as this section is 32 miles. Here's a photo of the map of today's ride. Ponderosa State Park is near McCall. My finger is at Buckhorn Bar.
Total miles today: 41.34
Average: 7.34

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 14--A Day Off...of Sorts

The climb this morning that everyone had told me was so bad, was not bad at all. In fact, there was construction, and I had the whole road to myself for a good chunk of it.
Didn't even need the one lane as they did not let any cars through until I reached the end of the construction.

I passed this sign before starting the climb.
Hmmm...I never knew...

It was just about 12 miles to the heart of McCall. I stopped first for some groceries, then at the Visitor's Center I asked where there was an eye clinic. It was just around the corner. I went there and asked the gal if she could fix my prescription adaptor for my bike glasses. She said she could. About 20 minutes later it was as good as new, and only cost me $5.00! After that, I rode to Ponderosa State Park. I had originally planned to stay at the Super 8, but the park is very close. However, it is the most expensive camping at $35.00! Well, it's still cheaper than a motel. I told the gal that I was glad I got here early, so I could get my money's worth!

I set up my tent, unhooked the trailer, and rode back into town for wifi. The park has wifi, but it is sporadic. I also wanted to go to a bike shop (forgot to do that when I was in town) to get more chamois cream.

When I came back, I decided to go for a swim in Payette Lake. Here's a photo of the lake.
This is the swimming beach. I'm not sure it can really be classified as a beach since the beach part is about a 1 foot strip! The water was quite choppy due to the wind and the boats and jet skis. There was a woman going out on a jet ski. She was clearly not experienced as she proceeded to tip the thing over not far from where she started. The guy had to get a ride out to her on another jet ski. He couldn't right the thing either. They finally towed it back to shore with the other jet ski. Who knew they were so difficult?

When I got back from swimming, I put the spare tire on the rear. The other one was looking definitely worn (but not completely--probably would be fine). This time I got the rear wheel back on fairly quickly. 

The rest of the time, I've just been relaxing. Tomorrow I hit the dirt!

Total miles today (to McCall, and around town): 18.3
Average: 7.03

Day 13--10 Hours Along the Salmon River

Yes, it was a long day today. But, before I get to that, I have to add to yesterday's post. First of all, I misnamed the RV park. It is Swiftwater, not Sweetwater (good eye, Dillon, my editor from afar). After I had finished yesterday's post, two guys came in on motorcycles. They are father and son, Tom and Tyler. Probably, some of the nicest guys I've ever met! They're doing a route that Tyler put together. Tyler is a pilot for Fed Ex and lives in Memphis. I'm guessing Tom is retired. Even though they, of course, cover more miles than I do, they are out on the road for just as long, if not longer. They suffer in the heat just as much as I do. 

Tom's bike
Tyler's bike. Notice the tires. They take the bikes on gravel roads if the gravel isn't too bad. 

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to both of these guys. They were overly impressed with my set-up, but I was equally impressed with what they were doing. As I was fixing dinner, Tom brought over this cool thing that Tyler had brought back from Shanghai. It was an inflatable solar LED lantern. When not inflated, it's flat. It was the coolest little light! Tyler had an extra one and gave it to me! I hung it in my tent and was able to read my Kindle by its light. The solar charge lasts about 20 hours. It's perfect for bike touring or backpacking...or, anything!

Okay, on to today's lonnnngggg ride. In my original itinerary, this was the longest day. Because of the 80 mile day with Jean-Paul, this was the second longest day. And, there was a lot of uphill. Nothing terribly steep, just long miles. Even though the temps finally were below 100 degrees, it was still warm (last night I didn't even go near my sleeping bag--I just slept on my sleeping pad). When I left Swiftwater at 7:15, it was 82 degrees.

It was beautiful riding along the Salmon River.
The skies were sort of overcast, and at one point there were even a few drops of rain (I actually wished for more!). 
Another of the river. 

There are lots of rafting companies on the river. I saw two of these rafts going through the rapids.

Just before Riggins I passed into the Mountain Time Zone. So, contributing to my long day, I lost an hour. Also before Riggins, I came to a fruit stand/market/hardware store. I had a slice of huckleberry pie and a bottle of orange juice. As I was heading out, a couple stopped to talk to me. The gal even helped me get MC and JP out of the jackknife position. They said they would wave and offer me a drink of water when they went by. I don't recall seeing them, but at one point I was off Hwy 95 on a side road through Pollock.

After the market, I met another touring cyclist coming the other direction. He crossed over to talk to me. His name was Tim, and he was doing a sort of convoluted tour from Southern California up to Glacier, then possibly to Banff and Jasper. He'd been on the road for quite awhile.

Anyway, I was riding along feeling like I couldn't seem to get much over 7 miles an hour. Yes, it was hot, and I was going uphill, but it didn't seem like I should be going that slow. Eventually, I discovered part of the problem. The front tire was losing air. Great...another flat! At least it was the front which is much easier. Unfortunately, this time there wasn't any shade. Once I got the tire off, I found the culprit. This time it was a thorn. Who knows how long it took that little bitty thorn to work its way into the tire to puncture the tube. It must have been a pretty slow leak because when I went to repair the tube, I had a hard time finding the hole. I'm beginning to wish Schwalbe made a Marathon Plus tire for fat bike tires!

Back on the road, I continued to plug along at a slightly faster, but still snail-pace speed. In Riggins, I had stopped at a mini-mart and filled two bottles with ice and water. At this point, those were gone, and I was left with hot water to drink. I still had three bottles of water, but hot water is less than delightful. I was poodling along when I came to a house that had a sprinkler going. The guy was outside. I stopped and commented how I would love to be sprayed. Then I realized it was the same guy from the pie stop! He asked me if I needed water. I said I would love some as all I had left was hot water. I went into the house and met his wife Lori, and 2 1/2 year old son, Scott (the other gal I'd met earlier was the guy's sister-in-law). Scott was adorable and very curious as to why I was in his house. They let me fill my bottles with ice and water. I was very grateful!

I still had about 17 miles to go to get to New Meadows. There was more uphill. Finally, I seemed to get to the top. As I crested it, I saw two touring cyclists coming up the other way. They were...shock of shocks...both women! They were both pulling trailers, one was a Burley Travoy. I'm guessing they were headed to Riggins, which would be doable as it was mostly downhill. They didn't stop, but waved.

I finally made it to New Meadows. The guy at Swiftwater had told me there was a Subway just as I came into town. I decided, since it was already after 5:00, I would stop and have dinner so I wouldn't have to take the time to cook. As I was ordering, my sunglasses dropped off my head and the prescription lens popped out of the adapter. I just wore my regular glasses the rest of the way to the RV Park.

I made it to the park at 6:15 (with the time change, that makes for a 10 hour day)! I've patched the tube, but I was unable to fix my glasses (I had them fixed, but when I went to pop the sunglasses part onto the nose piece, the lens popped out again). Tomorrow I will be in McCall (about 7 miles away, apparently a good climb). I think I'm going to only ride to McCall tomorrow. I haven't taken a day off, and I have 4 extra days. It won't really be a day off, just a short day. Hopefully, I can find someplace to get my glasses fixed. If not, it's not so bad wearing my regular glasses because of the shade that the Da Brim provides. Also, I can check out McCall a bit.
Here's a parting shot of an interesting sign I saw twice today. Good to know...

Total miles today: 65.13
Average: 8.56


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 12--A Fortuitous Meeting

This morning I got up at 4:30. I was on the road at 6:00. It was a pleasant 64 degrees. Unfortunately, it didn't stay that way for long. But, in three hours time, I had made it to Cottonwood. What is so special about Cottonwood? Welł, it is the home of the Dog Bark Park Inn. It's a B&B. I'd seen it in National Geographic Traveler magazine.
It's a giant Beagle!
And now there's a smaller one too! The grounds weren't overly fancy, but I still thought it was pretty cool. 

I stopped in Cottonwood for a mid-morning snack. Then, I was back out on 95 heading toward Grangeville, probably the largest town since Lewiston. I was feeling really slow, and it was getting hotter by the minute. I was thinking of calling it a day in Grangeville. When I got into the town, I saw a Subway. Even though it was only 11:00, I decided I'd eat lunch and determine my next move.

As I was eating, a couple came in. Turns out, they were also biking (or "triking", as they were on the coolest German-made recumbent trikes). They're Susan and Bob from Ohio, and they're doing the Trans Am. Lucky for me, they had the map that I, apparently, decided I didn't need to bring. I was able to take photos of the necessary panels. 

We chatted for awhile. I was feeling much better, and decided I could continue. Because I got to see the map, I knew how to go over Whitebird Hill. If I hadn't seen it, I would have just stayed on 95. As it was, the ACA route went up Old Whitebird Hill Grade. I'm so glad I went that way. It was a lot of climbing, but there were lots of shady spots, and, due to the lack of traffic, I could follow the grade of the road through the switchbacks. I found it to be quite nice, even though it was pretty warm (although, I think it would have been hotter on 95). Then I met the cows (Susan and Bob had warned me about them).
A couple of Bessies and their babies.

As I approached them, they started mooooving on up the road. I asked if I could grab onto one of their tails so they could pull me up the hill (they're quite speedy when they're trying to get away from a bike).
Hey! Wait for me!

I made it to the top in pretty good time. 
TA DA!

I started coming down, but I had to stop to take this photo.
To the right is the descent.

I came out of Old WBH back onto 95. I stopped at the summit sign for this photo.
The descent was very long and very steep (mostly 7% grade). On top of that, the hottest wind I have ever felt was blowing...sometimes in my face, sometimes from behind. I had to stop and take the rear fender off because it was getting pushed sideways and rubbing the tire. I had to brake most of the way down, just to keep it to a manageable speed. Plus, of course, it was the highway, so there was traffic. My lower legs felt like they were on fire! Down in Hell's Canyon it is 110 degrees in the shade. It must have been at least 10 degrees warmer coming down. I was very glad to get down to the turn to go into the town of Whitebird. Bob and Susan had stayed at the Sweetwater RV Park. I had planned to stay at Hell's Canyon Jet Boat place. I pulled in there (because it was before Sweetwater) and asked the gal about staying two nights, and doing a jet boat ride. Well, tomorrow, Tues., and Wed. is Non-motorized River time. So, no jet boat ride. And, since the tent sites were $25/night, I decided to go on to Sweetwater. Here it is just $10/night. Still, I'll just stay the one night. Here's the thing, after I complete the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route, I will be coming back this way. Yes, that means I will have to go up the humongous hill I just came down today. On the Trans Am, it is considered the most difficult climb. I will probably stay here again, and do a jet boat ride too (just not camp there). The timing should be good for not a non-motorized day. I'm seriously pondering trying to get a ride to the top. I do not feel compelled to ride up it! 

So, here is my site tonight. It's probably the nicest site I've had so far on this trip.
Right on the Salmon River!

And here's a cool dragonfly.

Total miles today: 59.57
Average speed: 9.72