Location: West of Lowell, ID (Full Goose Campground)
The locals last night were loud as expected. A few times through my earplugs, I heard the rev of an engine, the screech of a tire, or the overly loud laughter and hollering at the bar and in the streets. Of course, I can’t blame them for having a good time on Friday night. They only woke me once or twice, but the noise kept Brian awake for a while. I can’t feel sorry for him because I offered him earplugs, and he chose not to take them.
We packed up quickly and pedaled slowly out of the still town. I assume everyone that was at the bar was sleeping it off that early in the morning. It didn’t take long to ride through town and emerge from the well-irrigated lawns to the brown fields and mountains we have become accustomed to seeing. I was well rested for the climb this morning, though the scale of the climb didn’t turn out too difficult. We climbed up a long way, but the road, Old State Highway 95, was overloaded with switchbacks. Switchback after switchback after switchback, we wound our way up the mountain. After a couple hours in the warming morning, I found myself at the summit, about an eleven mile ride from the bottom.
We coasted down some pin hair turns to Grangeville, where we picked up some groceries to get us through the rest of Idaho. I tried to shop healthier than usual, buying extra fruit, a loaf of bread, and less candy bars and chips. Those processed foods just make life so easy out here, so they are hard to avoid. Fruits and breads are hard to keep.
I loaded up my bike and followed Brian out of town. We stopped briefly to speak to some westbound TransAm cyclists that had stopped for a rest in the park. They gave us bits of advice about the trail ahead, but it was basically the same information that we had heard before from other cyclists. We left town around eleven thirty with only sixteen miles under our belt.
Most of our day was spent riding on flat roads that wound along the Clearwater River. We churned out the miles and kept moving. We quickly covered almost fifty miles. Almost out of water and dying from the heat, we decided to take a rest inside the air-conditioned River Dance Lodge and Café. I was desperate for something cold to eat and drink. I had a Sprite and a bowl of vanilla ice cream. The only other flavor was huckleberry, so vanilla it was for me. As I sat in the café, letting the fans cool the sweat on my neck and chest, the waitress returned to the table to tell us that the temperature in the shade was 108 degrees. I assume that meant it was around 115 in the sun. The knowledge of the temperature devastated my morale. The thought of biking in such heat exhausted me, and knowing that I definitely did have to bike farther really disheartened me, though we only needed to another eight miles or so to reach our planned campsite.
Brian and I filled up our Camelbacks in the bathroom and set out for the campsite. As we biked along the Clearwater River, we decided we had the desire and the time to go for a swim. We found a small parking area on the side of the road where we left our bikes, and we climbed down to the river. The water was absolutely frigid, but I inched my way in and swam around a bit with the fishes. It felt great to cool off, but even better to wash all the salt off my body and out of my clothes. Salt deposits build on my body every day: in my hair, my eyebrows, and behind my ears. The ones behind my ears have actually led to problems. The earpiece on my glasses works the grainy salt back and forth all day. Small bloody cracks have formed there.
Anyway, we swam for a bit in the river and then sat on the rocks to dry. We rode another couple of miles to the campsite and set up camp in the woods. I’m full on pasta and exhausted from the heat. I can’t stay awake any longer.