Location: Powell, ID (USFS campground)
I slept like a rock last night and woke early this morning. I think today was the first day I woke up before Brian. Other mornings I have woken to find him sitting up in his tent. Today, he was face down and asleep in his little green tent. As I packed up my sleeping bag, the sound of rubbing nylon roused him.
We left the campsite as early as we ever have. I don’t have a watch, but I would guess it was around seven thirty. The morning was cool, but the northerly winds typical of the hot afternoon had mustered at dawn and blew steadily in our faces. I anticipated a tough day. The wind was already against us and all of our miles were gradually uphill.
We cycled about twenty five miles by 10:30, a pretty decent amount. I was pretty winded. We stopped for a break at the Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. I was pleasantly surprised with what we found there. Two volunteer hosts greeted us at the visitors’ center. They were from the area and very knowledgeable about the station. They pointed us to the self-guided tour of the ranger’s house, several cabins, a few workshops, and the corrals where horses and mules munched on hay. The buildings and exhibits were much like the small cabin I visited a few days ago at Slate Creek, except the Lochsa exhibits were on a much grander scale. There were audio recordings in the different buildings and rooms of buildings which told a little about the history of the place, the lifestyle of the forest servicemen, and the tools they used. I thoroughly enjoyed our break there.
Before we left, Brian and I went to say goodbye to the knowledgeable hosts, an elderly couple. They volunteered one week out of the year to man the station and greet visitors. They had been at it five years, since they retired from school teaching. In the course of conversation, Brian asked them where we could get an Idaho baked potato. They said we wouldn’t come across anymore restaurants in Idaho, but the woman went to her cabin and brought back two Idaho potatoes. She also brought aluminum foil for us to wrap them in. She insisted that we take them, and the man told us how to cook them, burying them in the coals of a fire.
We packed up the potatoes and pushed out onto the road yet again. We still haven’t taken a day’s rest, though we’ve biked twenty days straight. We put another twenty five miles behind us and rested for a while on the shaded banks of the clear and cold Lochsa River. I napped a spell in the shade of the tall pines, but nagging flies kept me swatting at my arms and legs. It was pleasant by the river, and great to escape the unforgiving heat of the Idaho sun. We biked another fifteen miles after the break, all along the scenic and wild Lochsa River.
We have made camp at Powell Campground, another USFS designated campsite. National forest is all around us. It’s legal and free to camp in the forest as long as we are a certain distance from designated campsites and paved roads. However, Brian and I think that four dollars is worth the stay at a campground, where we have running water, a privy, flat ground for sleeping, and a picnic table where we can spread out all our stuff. I find a picnic table is crucial to my comfort out here.
Tonight, for the first and probably last time, we made a fire using the sticks we could gather in the woods at the campground’s edge. We did this so we could cook our Idaho potatoes. We built up a large fire and let it die. We buried our potatoes in the hot coals and let them sit for about an hour. They cooked perfectly, and Brian and I ate our Idaho baked potatoes for dinner. We even had some bacon bits that Brian was able to pick up at the small lodge beside the campground. The hot potatoes were excellent. Tomorrow, we leave Idaho, without having missed our chance to have a real Idaho potato in Idaho.