Day 97, to Wilderness Gateway Campground, IDAHO: I guess it gets hot in Idaho, too - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 28, 2022

Day 97, to Wilderness Gateway Campground, IDAHO: I guess it gets hot in Idaho, too

Dani shot this photo as I rolled ahead down U.S. Highway 12 as it curves along the banks of the Lachsa River, seen at left. Tall evergreens line the hills to the right and in the distance.
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Dani shot this photo as I rolled ahead down U.S. Highway 12 as it curves along the banks of the Lachsa River, seen at left. Tall evergreens line the hills to the right and in the distance.
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Thursday stats

Start: Lolo Hot Springs, Mont.

End: Wilderness Gateway Campground, IDAHO — new state and new time zone!

The Daily Progress: 60.6 miles

Cumulative climb: 1650 feet

Cumulative descent: 3651 feet

Elevation at endpoint: 2178

Ice cream flavors: N/A

Lodging expenses: $20

Food expenses: $28

Dani's daily digest

About a week ago, I mentioned to Chris that I had some interest in biking a century (100 miles) one day on this trip. For context, I have biked more than 100 miles in one day exactly twice in my life, and both times were more than a decade ago. Our 71-mile day from West Yellowstone to Ennis is the longest I have biked in a day in more than 9 years.

Today seemed like a good candidate for a 100-mile ride, at least from a topographical perspective. We were in for 7 miles of moderate climbing and then a gradual descent for at least the next 100 miles, to the town of Kooskia, Idaho. 

Meteorologically, the conditions were mixed. No rain and a gentle tailwind were in our favor, but a heat advisory was not. So, would we make it to Kooskia?

The climb to Lolo Pass was a nothingburger. At the summit, we refreshed our water bottles at the visitor center and watched ground squirrels forage for human food in the parking lot. One ground squirrel was about half the size of his buddies (young of the year?) and exceptionally cute, even by ground squirrel standards. We read that ground squirrels enter hibernation in August, so they have just a few more weeks to fatten up. I also caught a glimpse of the ears of a fox. 

The scenery after the pass was pleasant but monotonous. A typical view included the following elements, from left to right: a pine-covered slope, the Lochsa River, a two-lane road with Chris biking ahead of me, and another pine-covered slope. 

One point-of-interest along the way was the DeVoto Memorial Cedar Grove, a grove of old cedar trees on the south side of the highway. Trail of the Cedars was one of my favorite places within Glacier National Park. I can't remember any place that I've visited in my life that felt as sacred as that cedar grove, and I wish I could have visited at a time when there were fewer people present. The DeVoto grove wasn't quite as powerful as the Trail of the Cedars, but it was similar, and Chris and I were the only ones there. It made my soul feel good to walk the short trail and enjoy the majesty of the trees and the beautiful plants of the undergrowth.

Dani, at bottom right in her green biking jacket, walks among the tall cedars.
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We stopped at the only store we passed all day (Lochsa Lodge camp store) for some snacks. There we saw a boss cat being boss. 

We saw three deer, including one young buck with velveteen antlers. 

Occasional roadside interpretive signs provided stimulation and diversion. The road we traveled (US 12) paralleled an old Indian trail on the mountain ridgeline. The Nez Perce (who generally lived to the west of these mountains) called it The Road to the Bison. The Salish (who generally lived to the east of these mountains) called it The Road to the Salmon. A Shoshone guide led Lewis and Clark over the trail in September 1805 and it was rough going. A road wasn't built through these mountains until the 1930s and the two-lane highway wasn't built until the 1960s. Of course, now that the two-lane highway is here, the difficulty of traversing these mountains is basically invisible. I covered 53 miles with virtually no effort.

The only challenge of the day was the heat. The day started in the 50s but the temperature climbed well into the 90s (and beyond?) as the day wore on. Because of the heat, our plan was to stop at a campground 60 miles into the day to refill our water, eat, and rest before continuing on. 

We reached the campground just after I sucked down the last of my water. The first source of water at the campground was non-potable and the second was out-of-order, but the third was cold and delicious. We doused ourselves, drank greedily, cooked a meal, then fell into deep naps (or, at least, I did. Chris kept getting woken up by flies and his own snores). 

After our naps, it was time to decide if we were staying put or heading to the next campsite down the road (Kooskia was out of the question, we agreed). After researching the route, we determined that no matter what we did today, we would end tomorrow in the same place, so it was a choice between a 80-mile day today and a 30-mile tomorrow or a 60-mile day today and a 50-mile day tomorrow. We chose the second option. The decision was easy to make as we broiled in the infrared energy radiating off of everything. Biking is so much more comfortable in the cool of the morning. 

But I don't know that I've ever felt so disappointed in a 60-mile day. 

Today's ride: 61 miles (98 km)
Total: 3,480 miles (5,601 km)

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Dani MooreOops. I forgot that we biked 75 miles to Dubois. THAT was my longest ride in 9 years.
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