Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Day 75: Powell, ID to Kooskia, ID (91 miles, 3574 total)

Today, we rode 91 miles, and I kid you not, it was downhill for at least 88 of those miles. Since Lolo Pass (yesterday), we have been slowly dropping from above 5 thousand feet to just above 1 thousand feet. None of it has been steep (except for right after the pass), but it has been all down except for the occasional roll of a slight hill. But, at the same time, I don't want to give you readers the mental image of AK and I sitting back and sipping on wine and snacking on cheese as we glide 91 miles downhill into Kooskia. No, that wasn't the case. The grade down is very slight, not enough to zip down efforlessly, but enough to notice that it is helping us ride a little faster than usual.

We got up at 6 (we are still acting like we are on Mountain Time) this morning and packed up camp. The sound of the Lochsa River made for a great night's sleep. By 7:30 we were back up the hill at the Lochsa Lodge for breakfast.

Our maps indicated that between Powell and the town of Lowell there exists 66 miles of nothing but national forest and the occasional campground, no cafes, no stores, no food, and no cold drinks. For that reason, we wanted to make sure we got a good breakfast before we pushed of into 66 miles of almost nothing.

Fortunately, the Lochsa Lodge offers some great breakfast food. We highly recommend the huckleberry pancakes, and the french toast. Actually, the Lodge would be an awesome place to visit anytime of the year. It's main building is this magnificent log building, while smaller cabins surround it. We looked over the prices to stay over, and they were pretty reasonable (38 to 100 bucks), or you can just camp nextdoor like we did for 8 bucks (probably not a wise choice in the winter).

By 9AM, we were rolling out. About 10 miles down we decided to stop at the Warm Springs Pack Bridge to check it out. By chance, there was a group of about 10 cyclists on a week-long supported tour of the area. We stopped and chatted with them for some time before taking a look at the bridge. They were all very interested in our ride, and I handed out an FFB card to each of them. They were headed to Lowell for the day, so we told them we'd see them down the road, and off they went.

We quickly checked out the pack bridge and moved on. Down the road we passed the large group and then stopped when we saw an eastbounder coming our way. Nick said he got a late start and left Oregon in mid July. He told us that about 10 miles down the road a lumber truck dumped his load all over the road and traffic was stopped in both directions. Apparently, this trucker flew past Nick at a speed that seemed unsafe, and a few curves later Nick came across this same trucker smashed into the hillside with his lumber all over the road, the driver was fine. Nick had to carry his bike over the gaurd-rail and walk around to get past. We thanked Nick for the heads-up and pedalled on.

Down the road, we came across the large group of cyclists again. They were taking a break, eating some awesome homemade "Martha Bars". We let them know about what was ahead, as we knew it would affect the van that was following them.

Sure enough, a few miles down we came across a line of cars about a mile long. They were all waiting for the road to clear. Knowing no traffic was coming, we just cruised in the left lane all the way to the front where we asked permission of an officer to pass.

It looked as though the trucker had taken a hard curve to the left a little to fast, bounced off the guard-rail, crossed the on-coming lane, and smashed into the hillside where he came to rest. His lumber had come to rest all over the road and hillsides.

On the other side of the accident, another line of cars waited for the road to be cleared. "Nice day for a ride," one guy yelled from amongst the crowd of people standing on the road (and not sitting in their cars). I pulled up to a group of about five motorcycles and said, "They are letting real bikes through." They were hardly mildly amused by this comment, and in retrospect it is probably not wise to taunt dudes with shirts and do-rags with skulls and flames on them.

For miles after the crash site, traffic remained extremely mild until they cleared enough lumber to let a few cars through at a time.

The road to Lowell was beautiful. I really enjoy riding on these roads that follow rivers for miles. On both sides of us, cliffs and heavily forested mountains climbed into the sky. Several creeks dumped into the Lochsa River, at times as often as one a mile. Even if we didn't see the creek, we knew one was there as we could feel the cold air being blown over the tree-covered creek and on to us.

We grabbed a quick lunch at Lowell and carried on with the ride for the day. By then, the temperature had climbed to as high as we've seen since Kansas, and we noticed that the woods were not as thick as they had been.

Out of Lowell, we began following the Middle Fork Clearwater River to Kooskia. As we went down the road, we followed the river on the right hand side. We passed ocassional homes on our right and what should be some really expensive ones on the left. The way the terrain worked out, these homes on the left had access to the road by a private bridge, or by a gondola-like device. It was pretty impressive, but I was more impressed by roadside berry picking.

Soon we arrived in the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. The tree-lined hills around us had now thinned out to be lined with brown low-lying brush (much like Central California in the Fall). With the thining of trees, the temperature climbed again.

Finally, we arrived in Kooskia and set-up camp in the city park. We are right by the river, although it is not flowing fast enough to be heard. It did suit us well for psuedo showers though. With Nick's warning, we were carefull to not set-up our tent on the green grass. Apparently, he woke up in the middle of the night to the spray of a sprinkler into his tent.

The best part about the city park so far: it looks like some locals were trying to break the record for the smallest square dance ever. Four couples and a dude with a PA system gathered up in a nearby pavillion for a mini ho-down. It was hillarious, but they all seemed to be having a blast.

"Swing your partner now... now, swing to the left... now, swing to the right... dosi-doe now..."



At July 29, 2005 7:55 AM, Anonymous said...

I demand a guest column from Rebus when he joins up. No more of this "the creeks are beautiful" crap. I want to hear about the pain and suffering of an out of shape Hawaiian joining two hardened athletes.



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