I spent yesterday evening having supper with Tim, Ruth, and Jane. They are all retired teachers, and had done some cycle touring in the UK and Cuba prior to doing this trip. Tim and Ruth are riding a tandem bike, but aren’t carrying any kit (as they have the support van). They prearrange points throught the day to meet Jane who cooks for them – so they have 3 hot meals a day with no effort! Thanks to crossing over to Pacific Time yesterday I had an exta hours sleep, so when I woke up I felt fresh and refreshed.
I was on the road for 06.00 – the first couple of hours were great, I was slowly losing altitude and so could maintain a great average speed. One advantage to starting the day 60 miles from civilization is that the roads are empty for most of the morning – I didn’t see a single car in the first hour of today’s journey. I spent the entire day following the Lochsa River which made for stunning, if slightly monotonous cycling. The road was so winding, and the forest so dense that there were stretches today where I could go for hours and only see the 100ft directly in front of me. There were places however, where the trees thined and I could see the sparkling river flowing beneath the vertiginous slopes of rock and timber – the vibrant green shades of the trees were in direct contrast to the more arid terrain I’ve enjoyed over the last few weeks. I crossed the northern edge of one of the largest areas of wilderness remaining in the world – to the south there was nothing for over 200 miles. Highway 12 parallels the Lolo Trail which was used by the famous exlorers Lewis and Clark, who became the first white men to enter Idaho in 1805. The expedition undertaken by their corps of discovery’ travelled over 8000 miles between May 1804 and September 1806 exploring the land Jefferson bought from Napoleon in the Louisiana Purchase. The trail was also used by the Nez Percé Indians as a buffalo trail, until they were forced of their lands by the whites.
After 70 miles of nothing I came to Lowell, I hadn’t planned on stopping, but I saw two loaded bikes leaned outside the store, and so went over to say hi. Eric and Dave from Alaska, started in Astoria, and are riding to New York via southern Illinois. They looked in quite bad shape despite not having come too far, and weren’t the most talkative pair. They were both wearing casual clothes that didn’t look like it would cope too well with the weather up in the mountains and Eric had a big hole in one of his panniers courtesy of a pitbull in Portland. It’s funny talking to cyclists planning on crossing the northern US – they are all petrified of the mountains, despite only having to cross the continental divide once. After meeting them, I pushed on through several small towns until I reached Kamiah where I’m spending the night. I just managed to beat the rain which rolled in around 14.00 and has kept up a steady downpour all afternoon. I don’t have too far to go tomorrow so I should be able to rest my legs after a big day today.