Day 99, to Slate Creek Recreation Area: Cooling off as we go - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 30, 2022

Day 99, to Slate Creek Recreation Area: Cooling off as we go

Dani and I smile at the camera while standing in the Salmon River at the Skookumchuck Recreation Site. Behind us and to the left is a sandy beach and on the other side of the river is a grassy mountain.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Saturday stats

Start: City Park, Kooskia, Idaho

End: Slate Creek Recreation Area, Idaho

The Daily Progress: 50.9 miles

Cumulative climb: 4376 feet

Cumulative descent: 3956

Elevation at endpoint: 1607

High temperature: Forecast called for 108. I believe it. I didn't use my phone most of the day because it was so hot. 

Ice cream flavors: A "moochino," or chocolate milkshake with espresso, at Canyon House in White Bird. 

OH MY GOD, we failed to mention the Popsicle Lady in yesterday's blog post! Her name is Trina and she is driving an RV while her husband, Doug, rides his bike on the TransAm, and she gives really good popsicles to all the cyclists she meets. I might have missed the Cookie Lady, but in this heat, popsicles are even better than cookies.

Also, after lunch at a cafe in Kooskia yesterday, we had peach pie a la mode, or as Dani describes it, ice cream in the ratio it's supposed to be — a scoop of ice cream with an entire slice of pie.

Lodging expenses: $10

Food expenses: $4 for groceries, $8 for milkshakes

Saturday's story

Today, like every day since we left Missoula and also the next couple of days to come (at least), was all about beating the heat. The winning strategy, to no one's surprise, is starting early. We woke at 4 a.m. today and left at 5:07 — no time zone sleight of hand today. We wanted to get the uphill part of the day out of the way as soon as possible, and we're so glad we did. We climbed a hill that reached 14% grade at one point. We knew it would be steep and even planned the previous day or two around it, but I didn't really expect it to be THAT steep. In the early hours, it was actually quite a nice ride and the wide-open hay fields at the top were beautiful.

We covered more than 40 of our 50 miles well before noon and took a break with a milkshake in White Bird before heading another five miles for our next break to cool off at the lovely beach along the Salmon River at Skookumchuck. Then another five miles (wow, were these miles hot!) to Slate Creek Recreation Area, where we chilled in the river some more.

Along the way, we had a thrilling descent down U.S. 95 and a brief stop at an overlook viewing the White Bird battlefield where the 1877 war between the United States and the Nez Perce tribe began. The tribe won — but they knew the U.S. army would be back in force, so they immediately started packing up to leave their homeland, rather than wait to be annihilated. The army pursued them anyway. I know I'm not getting the entire story and I'm certainly not summarizing it very well, but it's enough to remind me that we U.S. citizens have the freedom to visit many places on this continent only because our government took them. I have a brochure to read, which Dani picked up (thanks, Dani!), so that should give me a little more background on the history and culture of the Nez Perce. That will make for interesting bedtime reading.

Dani's daily digest

Another winning day for the Chris Cross America Tour!

First of all, I slept like the dead under the pavilion at Kooskia City Park, rousing just once in the night to glance at my phone, see that it was 12:30, and fall back into a sepulchral sleep until just a minute before my alarm was due to ring at 4 am. 

We were on the road by 5:07, a MUCH better performance than yesterday. Good hustle, everybody.

The first challenge of the day was climbing Lamb Grade which was HOOOOOO steep. At one point the grade was greater than 14 percent! But it was also the first time since I've joined the tour that we were on a back road instead of a highway and that was a delight. Really pretty to climb with the rising sun and watch the valley shrink to the scale of a train set. 

After summiting Lamb Grade, our efforts were rewarded with... a more gradual incline! But we were still on a back road and it was still really pretty. I saw a gobble of turkeys (if that's not the name for a group of turkeys it should be) and a foxyote (fox? coyote? not sure) and two foxyote pups. We decided that my name, if I be were a racehorse, would be "I Like Watermelon" and Chris's name would be "You Don't Have to Hit Me With That Stupid Stick." 

We typically take our first substantial break between miles 15 and 18, but this morning I was motivated to make it to Grangeville at mile 24 because we had hatched a plan to get ice cream there (even though it would be early morning when we arrived). The Ohioans we met at Bingo last night told us that one of the grocery stores in town sold hand-dipped ice cream, and we were hopeful that they would sell it to us regardless of the time. Well, *I* was hopeful. Chris confessed on the way to Grangeville that he wasn't that interested in ice cream. Believe me, dear reader, this proclamation shocked me as much as I am sure it has shocked you. Because of his professed ambivalence, I saw malevolence when Chris reached Main Street and turned the wrong way. When we pulled up to the wrong grocery store, I threw a small fit and ate my granola bar angrily so that Chris would REALLY know how he had hurt me. Chris was all "dude, I made a mistake, we can go back to the other grocery store and get ice cream" and I was like "NO!" and he was like "it's only two blocks away" and I was like "fine." We went to the other market and found that they didn't start selling ice cream until 10.

By this time it was starting to get hot and we had another substantial climb, but to my surprise and delight, the next climb was also up a back road and had SHADE! It was also less steep than our first climb. We beasted the climb singing snatches of Hamilton. 

After the summit of our second big climb we got a huuuuuuuuuuuuge descent toward White Bird. We missed a turn and didn't take the old, switchbacking highway known as White Bird Grade, but we decided that our route was the better option for westbounders (eastbounders should definitely take the old highway). At White Bird, we got espresso milkshakes -- "Moochinos" -- from a cafe where the barista also offered us ice water for our water bottles. (Yes, please!)

White Bird was our intended destination for the day, but thanks to the shady climb and the massive descent, I felt like I hadn't gotten really hot yet and that we could press on to a campground ten miles down the road, especially since there was an enticing swim hole halfway there. Chris agreed. 

We biked. We got hot. We soaked in the Salmon River at Skookumchuck. We biked. We got hot. We found a shady campsite at Slate Creek Campground then soaked in the Salmon River again. We did camp chores. We got hot. We soaked in the Salmon. Our neighbor gave us a beer and we shared it in the hammock. We set our alarms for 3:30 (this was not my idea but I am into it!) and went to bed. 

Today's ride: 51 miles (82 km)
Total: 3,581 miles (5,763 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 4
Comment on this entry Comment 0