Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 62, Missoula and then pretty Idaho

Day 62 Darby to Missoula. I was keen to get the 60 miles to town early so was on the road by 7 and only stopped quickly for a coffee outside Hamilton before stopping again for another at Lolo. It was mostly bike lane but I felt it was more effort than riding on the road. After chatting to interesting characters at the gas station and also to a Kiwi cyclist I pushed onto Missoula on the shoulder of the busy highway. A marathon had just finished so it was easy enough for me to get a room at the Days Inn (free upgrade to king size bed) around 1pm which left me time to meet Norah and go for a few beers at the Tamarack Brew Pub and for food at the Old Post. Both were excellent and set me up nicely for a relaxed evening of laundry, grocery shopping and Netflix. Missoula really does have a nice atmosphere, lots of good coffee shops and bars. I wish I'd had more time to visit the Big Sky Brewery outside town - next time!

Day 63 Missoula to Idaho (Powells campground). Nights sleep was interrupted by drunk middle aged bikers. Otherwise not too bad :) First stop today was the Adventure Cycling Headquarters where Julie gave me and Tim a full tour of the building and then Beth weighed my bike (90lbs!!). A really great place with some cool memorabilia adorning the walls including bicycles used on the first Trans Am in '76. After spending a couple of hours hanging about it was time to head out and over the state line. Back along the highway to Lolo and then along highway 12. Narrow shoulders but relatively light traffic. Unfortunately the surface was quite bumpy and there were headwinds so it was tough getting to Lolo Hot Springs. Even so, I was determined to get up and over the pass. A long, sweaty and exhausting job! The descent into Idaho though was worth the effort - a deep valley with enormous pine trees was on the other side of the mountain. The soft evening sunlight really made the last few miles memorable. I stopped with Time at Powell's campground where we camped behind the store for free ($5 for showers).  

Day 64 Powell to Harpster. This included a 66 mile section through the Clearwater national forest without services so I started at 6.40 and carrying extra food and water. Tim had started earlier so i could take my time today. The road follows the Lochsa river along the valley so it was a spectacular ride. I stopped to make sandwiches on a bridge at Eagle mountain pass as well as stopping at an old historical ranger station on the route. I eventually hit Lowell around midday and could order some cooked food from the cafe there. I pushed on to Kooskia and then to Harpster where I stayed at the RV park ($6). A total of 102.5 miles (mostly downhill) so I was pooped. I accidentally left my credit card in the shop so have to wait for it to reopen tomorrow to get it back. 

Day 65 Harpster to Riggins
I also temporarily mislaid the toilet key this morning so it was touch and go till the shop reopened. I also got my card back so both morning crises averted. On the road at 7.30 and riding solo again today. First 11 miles were on a steep grade with heavy truck traffic. It took me 2 hours to reach Grangeville where I promptly sat down for a big (omelette) breakfast at Oscars (were a big dead stuffed bear is posed on the wall). Another big climb on the way to White Bird but the summit has fantastic views of the valley. The downhill is on old highway 95 and had no traffic. The downhill was very twisty, fast and a lot of fun (10 miles long). Soup and a brownie at the bottom and then onto Riggins through the arid looking Salmon river canyon. Back on Highway 95 proper but there were some shoulders and traffic was moderate. Another RV park ($15) and a swim in the river (very refreshing!) and then to sleep. Riggins looks to be a good place to go white water rafting/canoeing - another place I'd like to come back to if I get the chance. 61.5 miles today. 

Day 66 Riggins to Council. On the road at 8.20 but felt slow getting to Pollock. A coffee and a snickers bar seemed to get me going up the uphill grades. Lots of logging trucks and also trucks carrying other trucks (?!) so the road wasn't that pleasant. More relatively easy climbing into the town of New Meadow where a couple of east bounders, Shawn and Paul, stopped to chat at the coffee shop. They warned me about some upcoming roadworks between Council and Cambridge and that the Weiss river trail is tough going on road bikes. I said goodbye and then I was on my way. Also just near the town I passed a sign stating that i was half way between the equator and the North Pole - strange place to have it! Anyway, I only got a couple of miles out then had to return because I'd left my water bottles behind! Not a bad detour but a little annoying. I needed those bottles though as the temperatures were close to 100F on the last 26 miles to Council. I got in around 3pm but it was so hot I decided to stay. The free camping in the city park is a good option and is close to shops and the library (where I filled out my upcoming Australian holiday visa app). Also had an interesting chat with Misty the local yoga teacher about indigenous people in South Africa. Interesting place Idaho!