Day 98, to Kooskia: Kooskia Days - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 29, 2022

Day 98, to Kooskia: Kooskia Days

Editor's note: It occurs to me that our switching between the two voices in this blog might be confusing. So here's what I haven't said but now feel like I should say, just in case: In the text under "Dani's daily digest," that's Dani writing, and "I" refers to her. However, in all other text — including in editor's notes and in all photo captions, even those that fall under Dani's digest — I (Chris) am the author. It was probably clear from context, but you know, being an editor, I can't help but think I could have done this more elegantly. Anyway, enjoy today's entry.

— CG

In the early-morning light, with rays of sunshine streaming in from behind a mountain on the left, the Lochsa River curves in from the left toward the center of this view, with Highway 12 following alongside.
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Friday stats

Start: Wilderness Gateway Campground, Idaho

End: City Park, Kooskia, Idaho

The Daily Progress: 49.7 miles

Cumulative climb: 478 feet

Cumulative descent: 1285

Elevation at endpoint: 1276

High temperature at endpoint: I think the temperature here was forecast to reach 103 or 104, and I'd believe every degree of that. It was reminiscent of downtown Phoenix, even if a few degrees shy of that.

Lodging expenses: $0

Food expenses: $42 for lunch, $50-ish for groceries, $20 for dinner at the fry bread fundraiser for the Class of 2023

Entertainment expenses: $2 for eight Bingo cards (four rounds for each of us)

Clearest sign of facing reality: I bought a train ticket today, to leave from Portland, Ore., on Aug. 23, which should give me enough time to cross the country by train, pick up our car and our cat, and be back at work on Aug. 29. I have exactly one month left. I had been hesitating to buy a train ticket until I was confident that we could make it to Portland in time for me to catch a train. It might be tight, but I'm confident that we'll make it, especially now that I've set a hard deadline: I aim to reach the Oregon coast and then turn back east and make it to Portland by the night of Aug. 22. This makes me want to move faster so that there's some extra time for the Oregon coast and Portland. Guess that means I'd better move faster in the mornings so that we can cover more ground before it gets too hot in the afternoon, because it is downright stifling out here. Here we go!

Dani's daily digest

Today I am halfway through my 2022 TransAm ! One month ago (June 29) was my first day on the road with Chris. One month from now (August 29) will be the first day of my new job as an environmental educator on Catalina Island.

I was anxious to get on the road early after yesterday's experience in the afternoon heat. We set our alarms for 5 am mountain time (our phones not yet having made contact with a tower in Idaho) and left at 6 am Pacific Time, a chronological sleight-of-hand that disguises the fact that Chris took TWO HOURS to get ready this morning. [Editor's note: Damn, I guess Dani noticed after all. — CG] I did my best to be patient. Chris is patient with me when I slow him down on the road. I should have left when I was ready and let him catch up to me; that solves both of our problems. But instead I stretched and enjoyed watching the Lochsa River swirl under the bridge to the campground.

Today's ride was a lot like yesterday's. Gentle downhill grade. Pine trees. River. Interpretive signs recounting the heartbreaking story of the Nez Perce being massacred and driven off their ancestral lands by the US Army in the 1870s. I saw a turkey and a turklet, which are not native to this part of the country (<-- also info gleaned from interpretive sign). Chris would have them annihilated with helicopters (a reference to an untold story of Chris's full-throated support of a National Park Service plan to remove invasive mountain goats from the Teton Range using sharp-shooters in helicopters). We stopped briefly at the campground we would have stayed at last night if we had continued the additional 17 miles. After using the pit toilet there, we are very glad we chose to stay where we were.

As we drew within 10 miles of Kooskia, evidence of human habitation grew thicker. I love nature and wilderness, but I generally find lightly peopled land the most interesting to bike through. For example, today we passed a house with a 5-foot tall bronze tyrannosaurus on the roof.

Despite our slowish start, we made it to the day's destination, Kooskia City Park, by noon. [Editor's note: We reached the destination by 11 a.m. — CG] We cleaned up in the park bathroom and then headed back to main street for lunch, groceries, and a cool afternoon in the public library. When the library closed, we returned to the park, where we met two more westbound cyclists. 

This was a great reward for our ride: Here I'm soaking in the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River next to Kooskia City Park. I'm sitting in the shallow — and unbelievably warm — water, submerged up to my chest, and smiling and chatting with Ali, one of the other westbound cyclists we met today, who is not visible. The water is clear. In the background are some bushy trees along the banks downstream and a blue, cloudless sky.
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The four of us soaked in the South Fork of the Clearwater River, then Chris and I returned downtown (which is two blocks away from the park) to participate in the Kooskia Days festivities. We got fry bread tacos and played Bingo at city hall. We did not win any rounds of Bingo, but we had a nice conversation with a couple from Ohio who are house-sitting in Grangeville.

Dani, seated at a cafeteria table in the gray room that is Kooskia City Hall, holds up her Bingo cards between rounds of Bingo, at a fundraiser for the Class of 2024 as part of Kooskia Days.
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Today's ride: 50 miles (80 km)
Total: 3,530 miles (5,681 km)

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George HallLoving your journal as it reminds me of my own crossing. Your decision to leave early is good - it's actually going to get even drier and more challenging as you make your way across Idaho and eastern Oregon - in fact, the heat can become quite dangerous. Carry more water than you think you need and consider getting up even earlier (I know that sounds crazy, but I was given this same advice in 2015 and was glad that I followed it). Hell's Canyon area can live up to the name.
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