On the Road: Lochsa Lodge, ID to Clarkston, WA

Currently taking some time to explore Portland.  I reached Portland with Jon earlier in the week. So far my take is that this is an awesome town with a lot to offer cyclists and anyone looking for urban culture. Here are a few more tales from earlier in the month.

August 5: Lochsa Lodge to Kamiah (95 miles)

Arguably one of the most beautiful rides of our trip. After a large and completely necessary breakfast, Jon and I hit the trail which is Route 12 along the Clearwater River. This is over 70 miles of a slight downhills ride that winds around the north side of the river. The views are so gorgeous, it belongs with the natural beauty of Yellowstone. The only thing that differs is the fact that the trees are much larger and the mountains seemingly steeper.

The road seemingly belongs to us and many bikers. Jon and I continue the country long game of seeing how many bikers we can get to wave to us. It’s always an unknown as these people, mainly men, ride around with looks of disgust on their face. It’s hard to understand as they are in some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. Typically  we find Harley Davidson drivers wave the least.

We pull off for a late break at the Three Devils Beach. It’s a huge sand embankment that all locals enjoy on hot summer days. The cool water gives us a break from the day’s heat. We head back to the massive picnic table that hold our bikes upright. Jon is quickly back in his cycling kit. I putz around. Knowing we will have plenty of light and a few more hours of riding I tell Jon I am gonna hangout for a bit and close my eyes. He begrudgingly joins in and we end up resting for over an hour, both falling asleep completely.

We eventually make it into Kamiah. The drivers are a bit aggressive. Not sure why there’s such hostility towards us. Before we make it to free camping in the city park, we find a KOA and decide that showers are in order, as the previous night’s river wash was pleasant, but some soap would be useful. We set up camp and do laundry. I almost get attacked by ducks from the fish pond on my way to the showers.
August 6: Kamiah to Winchester (48 miles)

I wake up in the middle of the night to relieve myself. As I stand at the edge of woods next to my camp I hear something large lurking in the shadows not 30 feet from me. I quickly turn my headlamp on and see something black and moving laterally. I return to my tent post haste and have the bear spray in hand. I hear some movement, but nothing comes close to my tent.

When my heart rate slows, I begin to fall asleep again. Just as I drift off into never never land, my tent rattles with a bang next to my bike. A guttural yell escapes my lungs. As clarity returns  I realize that a crab apple had likely fallen off the tree above and hit my tent. Once again my heart rate normalizes and I fall back to sleep.

As Jon and I pack up our Canadian neighbors tell us a huge buck had come through camp. Apparently this horned bear likes to eat the crab apples. The remainder of the day is spent climbing the dry, golden hills of Idaho. The first climb is long steep and hot. The large trucks passing us are not interested in sharing the road.

We originally planned on a big day and making it about 90 miles to Clarkston. With about 3 miles left till we pull into Winchester, we are ok with cutting our day short. We had climbed 4300 feet in elevation in pretty extreme conditions. A few of the rest stops we anticipated on getting lunch and rehydrating we’re closed, as it was Sunday. We actually found water and shade in Ferdinand. The City Hall had a sprinkler that I ran through and we eventually unhooked it to fill water bottles. We slept in the shade of the awning of the closed brewery next door. Hour long naps appear to have become a must.

Once we enter Winchester, we stock up on supplies at the local gas station and set up camp at the state park. It’s very picturesque on the lake. Jon and I journal, eat tuna by headlamp, listen to music and go to bed early.
August 7: Winchester to Clarkston (40 miles)
Jon and I get a giant, but bland breakfast. We take a photo with the random and massive gun hanging above a side street. We ask a woman for directions to the road out of town. While a local of ten plus years, she is unaware of the road as she “does not go out much”. We turn on to what will likely get us in the general direction of the day’s road. It was the right choice as it magically turns into our road!

Sadly the road condition is poor, constant potholes, gaps and gravel. Our bikes take a beating. Jon notices my rear wheel may be out of true. We decide that a stop into a Lewiston bike shop is on the day’s agenda prior to getting to our Warmshowers host across the river in Clarkston, Washington.

The road conditions become significantly better as we hit a recently paved road. Great timing as we come to one of the trip’s best descents. With the customary smoke on the horizon, Jon and I peer off into a massive valley. We can see a few switchbacks in front of us, but have no clear idea of where we will eventually be headed. As the descent continues so do the switchbacks. The road leads us in directions we couldn’t have guessed, back into the mountain almost behind where we started. All nooks and crannies seemed to be explored on 4 miles of twists and turns.

Jon is ahead and kicks up a stone. I realize the stone is not a stone as my left knee stings for minutes after contact. The hornet must have bounced off me at 35 MPH, only placing a small amount of poison into my skin.  I’m guessing he did not survive the collision. Nor did his buddy who hit my right shin. I did not realize the second sting until we finished our descent.

The remainder of the day was hot and flat. We found the Clearwater River again, riding on a newly paved highway. The road smelled of steamed broccoli. The left lane was closed and Jon and I took serenity in this fact as we rolled unobstructed far from the many trucks zooming past us. Upon arriving at the bike shop, the owner showed that the rear wheel was not untrue rather the rim had actually cracked with six or so spokes pulling away from the outside of the wheel.

An expensive fix, I had to replace the wheel. I could have ridden further on the cracked rim but there was no telling how long it would last before collapsing. There was no guarantee the next town’s bike shop would have the correct parts. I opt for the immediate fix to avoid a breakdown in unknown country. After some food and a few beers to take the edge off the expensive fix we head into Washington. Our host, Greg is amazing and his set up unique. After a few hours of resting inside from the heat and smoke, we realize we are not the only guests tonight. The gang reunites for the evening as David appears with the Aussies, Vic and Howard. Jon and I plan to be up before 5 AM to set out before the extreme heat being promised by the weather forecast.

3 thoughts on “On the Road: Lochsa Lodge, ID to Clarkston, WA

Add yours

    1. Thanks, Peter! I’ve slowed considerably, but the final destination is Astoria OR (where Goonies was filmed) and will likely be a week from today. I’m spending this weekend in Corvallis where I will be for Monday’s eclipse.


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