Wouldn’t you know it? I am having fun once again, and the snow drives me away! I guess I am always having fun – maybe THAT is the problem? Well, I was really looking forward to exploring around Bryce Canyon and the Dixie National Forest, and a winter storm drops in to say hello – DAMMIT! I did get the velocipede out for some pics and exercise, found the perfect campsite 4 miles away, and BOOM – Mother Nature comes calling – the slut!
Well down into the valley and Cedar City, to regroup and decide on a non-snow-laden destination south of here. Any suggestions?
Engineer Pass is part of the Alpine Loop, and I have been up there 4-5 times, and it is always a breathtaking ride and experience – much like a rollercoaster, and it never gets old. The temps drop about 20 degrees from Ouray, and it is always good to bring another layer or two. Being up here makes me understand why people climb mountains like Everest, and sometimes die trying. It is truly exhilarating, and your loss of breath can be blamed on the altitude, or the view. I did some exploring on the way back, and ran into some old mining structures I noticed from the top of the mountain. Turned into a great side trip, and pointed out all the fantastic finds I have been missing by blazing thru in the past.
I only had 3 more weeks before they close everything up on Grand Mesa – 40 feet of snow prevents much activity. The punctured sidewall of my tire prevented me from having any REAL fun up there, so once again I moved for repairs, by-passing more of awesome Colorado. Fortunately there is much more awesome to be had in this state (if the bus holds up). Hanging out in Montrose for a few days waiting on packages, and a tire in the morning. Lots of awesome within range of this town if I can get a tire mounted in the morning.
Spent a couple days in Bridger as consolation for the smokey Tetons, and I could not have been happier. First real rain I have seen in weeks, that turned to icey snow. Weird. On down south in Wyoming to explore some of these weird canyons before heading into Utah and Ashley NF.
Rolling out of McCall, north towards the Payette was harder than it sounds. McCall is a beautiful lake/snow town, and no, I did not get any pics, as it seems I was always gathering or doing something else in town, other than relaxing. Night 2, I moved up to a nice hillside spot above Burgdorf – an old hot springs resort right off the road. I did some exploring the next morning, to get my bearings and find what all I needed to see in the coming days. I had talked to Alabama-Jared from Boise, and coincidentally, he was to be at an event, less than 3 miles from my camp, with his new hardcore-singletrack friends from TVTMA. While he got his soul-crushing single-track-fix, I did more exploring around the endless wilderness along the Salmon River.
I never did find the 2 hidden hot springs, or the prepper’s hilltop bunker, or any of the old mines, but I did find many other gems.
I also found it so hot in the valley, I had to go for a dip in the birthday suit – I did not expect any more paddlers, as the nearest upstream put-in was in Montana. I guess that explains the flag on the lead-boat of four, all with small children on board. I did have my pants on by the the time they came around the bend
Total number of animals almost killed while riding:
Tiny foxes = 4
Rodents(squirrels, etc.) = 50+
In fact, this morning while leaving, I realized the visitor I had the night before had either returned, or was still inside the bus. I have no pics, but somehow, a chipmunk got into the bus. I should know by morning if he hitchhiked all the way to Boise?
Rolled down some amazing switchbacks into the lower Samon Valley, and on into Riggins. I passed thru here a few days ago but missed the turn up river. It is much cooler up a few thousand feet by the lake anyway, so I am happy. This some amazing country.
Arriving on the Red River Thursday evening, I pulled the bike off for a quick stroll around the hills, and get a feel for what was surrounding me (other than rivers and deep canyons). The hills above camp did not disappoint.
On Friday, I did some exploring on Magruder, to get a feel for distance and difficulty, and found the real difficulty was not the surface of the road, it was the distance – 113 miles, one way. The terrain was not easy, as some sections were a bit tricky, and good tires are a must. Paying attention to the road may be the hardest thing to do, as the views are endless and spectacular. The series of burns in this wilderness area have left it mostly open, and allows for miles of viewing, not only scenery, but also your path – it can be seen for miles. In fact, the only thing blocking your view of the path is mountains, at times.
Day 2, Saturday, was spent exploring off the Corridor. I had seen enough 4-wheeler traffic coming in on Friday, I decided to avoid the dusty chaos that was sure to follow. That was a good choice, as it turned out to be a much better day spent foraging for the elusive mountain huckleberry. The huckleberry pancakes I made for the next two days were worth every bit of the effort.
Sunday turned out to be a much harder day of riding than I expected. Initially, I attempted to blaze across in 3 hours, so I could take my time and explore on the way back. Of course that did not happen. I did too many stops, and HAD to explore a little bit on the way over, and it took closer to 5 hours. Well that chewed into my explore time coming back, as I really did not want to ride the largest wilderness in the dark. A 40-mile side trip up a river really threw me off my time coming back. This place is truly incredible. Of course, wildlife is everywhere, including wall-to-wall deer and elk.
Rivers and creeks split the immense wilderness, and formed deep canyons that traced the water. Hard to imagine how the early settlers, trappers and miners traversed this landscape without the aid of machinery.
But then again, I am constantly amazed at how rugged everything was back in the days of Lewis and Clark, and the Nimiipuu. The more I read, the more I am in awe of those who have traveled these lands before me. I do not doubt the reasons the Nez Perce fought so fiercely to KEEP these lands.
Like so many forests in Montana and Idaho, I could spend weeks more riding around and exploring in the Nez Perce. Since it was rainy and cold this morning, I decided it was a good day to pack up and head on south to McCall, Id.
112 miles across the knarliest forest road I have ever ridden, crossing the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states, all just to drink beer and eat this pizza.
It started raining again, but lucky me they have more Big Sky IPA. When it slows, I will try to cross back over the pass. It took me 5 hours with 5 Stops, and 1 interview. I will try to make it back over in 3 hours.
Gonna try to setup camp near the center of Idaho today. From everything I have heard about central Idaho, there is really no reason to ever leave Idaho….until the snow starts falling. This state is one of the most diverse I have found. In fact, it appears they have just about everything except ocean, and with some of the lakes I have been on, that is even hard to tell you are not on an ocean (except you are surrounded by mountains). The plan is to explore the central mountain, attack the Magruder Corridor, a 100 mile single lane dirt path skirting two wilderness areas, one is known as the River of No Return Wilderness – let’s hope that does not apply to me.
While preparing lunch, around 50 sporty cars came racing up the twisty mountain road below. Come to find I have a front-row seat for the Dust Ball Rally. The cars are still trickling by, as it appears to be a moderately paced event.