Ahh, shucks. Do we have to leave Idaho? We’ve had such a good time. We’ve met some of the friendliest people on Earth. We’ve ridden through some beautiful landscapes. We even managed to soak in some hot springs, but there were so many we missed.
We had a decision to make today. Do we continue on route over the big pass outside of Idaho City, camp at Cottonwood Campground, and then retrace our tracks on the unappealing exposed washboard road back to Boise, or do we head straight for Boise on Highway 21, arriving in Boise a day ahead of schedule? We opted for the highway.
As planned, we arose early and arrived in Crouch before 9am, where we stopped at Wild Bill’s Cafe for a hearty breakfast and then stopped by the well-stocked grocery store for a few rations. The town of Crouch consists of a handful of humble buildings scattered haphazardly in close proximity to each another, like the town planner was on vacation so they asked the grocery clerk to provide the town layout in an afternoon.
The Idaho Posse arose to a rather frigid morning. Harry made a fire that we huddled around while eating breakfast and breaking camp. We then moseyed on down a quiet residential road before hitting the dirt. Our climb du jour was steeper than we expected, but the road condition was decent and it hadn’t gotten too hot yet, so I at least enjoyed the effort.
In the morning we headed to The Pancake House, which our rafting guides from the day before recommended. At The Pancake House we met up with part of the Idaho Posse, Jay and Harry, who said that the portion of the Secesh Singletrack section that they attempted was extremely difficult, almost all of it requiring hike-a-bike. They seemed to be a bit upset about the experience, believing that more of the route would be rideable. They also warned us that the portions were huge at The Pancake House. I figured that the meal would be comparable to our huge breakfast at the Noth Shore Lodge. Boy was I wrong.
Our rafting guides from Salmon Raft picked us up at the Scandia Inn early in the morning. Drew, Stephanie, and Greg were to introduce us to the wonderful world of rafting. Both Carrie and I were a little nervous, as neither of us had ever been. The guides reassured us that it would be safe and fun. They were right on both accounts.
Today is the day the Idaho Posse disbanded. It was a glorious one day as a posse, despite the lack of gun fights and hangings. Jay and Harry headed north to check out the Secesh singletrack option of the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route while Carrie and I headed to McCall on the main route via the Lick Creek Summit. Vicki was also planning to head to McCall but got a later start than us.
Carrie and I broke camp early so we could be first in line for breakfast at the North Shore Lodge. Since the lodge’s convenience foods consisted of not much more than ingredients for s’mores and some candy bars, we were planning to rely on a hearty breakfast to fuel us for the day. And fuel us it did. I downed a large stack of pancakes with blueberry sauce, whipped cream, and syrup, with a side of two eggs and hashed browns. Carrie got the same, including all of my bacon. Carrie probably ate about 1000 calories in bacon alone!
Although it did rain overnight, we awoke to sunny skies and cool temperatures, a perfect way to start a bike ride. We rolled about five miles until we stopped at an intersection for a snack. While stopped, a guy came out of the woods to tell us his car needed a jump start. Since we lacked jumper cables and a motorized vehicle, we couldn’t offer much help, but we did agree to stop by the Deadwood Lodge, which was on our way, to ask if someone could help the guy out.
Today, I have to confess, we cheated. Casey Greene and Adventure Cycling went through all this trouble to create another off-road touring route and here we go and decide to ride on the highway out of Stanley for the first 20 miles. But I tell you what, it felt really good to cruise on some smooth asphalt at 17MPH instead of some washboarded, sandy, dirt road at 8MPH.
We awoke dirty but well-rested after our ride from Ketchum the day before. With a four-mile, paved downhill into Stanley, we had he whole day ahead of us to eat, relax, and eat some more. We also had to figure out if Carrie would be able to replace her lost toiletries, including the all important contacts case and solution.
The day started off great. We broke camp before the sun popped over the Boulder Mountains and made our way to the Russian John Hot Springs for a sunrise soak. The hot springs weren’t terribly hot, but it still felt good to soak in warm water, and it was our official first hot springs soaking on the Idaho Hot Springs Route!
Since we had camped close to Ketchum the night before, we rolled into town mid-morning with a clear agenda: find a bike shop to get our chains lubed (they’ve been squeaking since day one), find a sewing kit so Carrie can repair the hole in her pants, eat lunch, hang out at the library (for blog posting, weather checking, midday sun avoiding), stock up on food for the next leg, eat dinner, get the heck back on the trail. We did those things in that order. Oh wait, before we left town we also got some delicious ice cream at the town square. This was our first ice cream of the trip, and I hope not the last.
All night at the Abbot Campground our closest neighbor was running the generator for his RV, while during the day his 10 year old boy was driving through camp on a grumbling ATV. We also chose a campsite that didn’t have a lot of trees protecting us from the afternoon sun. The idea of resting in these conditions didn’t sound appealing.
As soon as we broke camp at Neinmeyer, a pair of cyclists rolled up to say hi. They had started in McCall and ridden the route clockwise. They warned us that the climb up Galena summit, which we’d be facing in a few days, was rocky and steep and would probably require some hike-a-bike. They however made no mention of the beast we were about to climb that day.
It was hard to do, but today we left our beloved Boise. We decided to leave early in the morning to get most of our miles ridden before noon, as the forecast was calling for triple digits.
Instead of following the prescribed route from the Adventure Cycling maps, our warmshowers hosts Dan and Kristi suggested we take the Greenbelt out of town. So we rolled along the Boise River, continuing to admire the natural setting nestled in a state capital.
We now know where we want to live. Yeah, San Jose has the great job market and the temperate climate, but it also has terrible traffic and unbelievably high housing costs. Boise on the other hand may have more extreme weather, but the capital of Idaho feels more like a university town.
After a two-year hiatus, we’ve finally managed to scheme up a new, extended bicycle tour. In 2012, we had a fantastic time cycling along a portion of Adventure Cycling’s Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) from Banff, Canada, to Whitefish, Montana. Touring off-road was a completely different experience. Instead of hugging a white line along a highway with the sound and smell of motor vehicles whizzing by, we were hogging forest service roads with the sound and smell of the wind through pine trees. Needless to say we wanted more.
On our twelfth day we spent the day in Glacier National Park. Carrie was especially excited to see the nation’s second oldest park. However we were only able to visit a small fraction of the park due to several rock slides on the famous Going to the Sun Road. We enjoyed a hike up to Avalanche Lake in the morning, followed by ice cream and an early dinner, and then an evening hike with a dip into Lake MacDonald to cool off. It was a nice, relaxing day in a beautiful park.