August 7, 2006
I heard a deer snort and take off into the woods as I crawled out of my tent this morning. I’d first woke an hour earlier, but it was a chilly night… so I wasn’t motivated to move from my sleeping bag until the sun shined over the treetops.
I packed up quickly and went to a nearby restaurant, where I warmed up with the usual coffee and pancakes. The menu said they were “dinner plate sized,” and they were – but they weren’t especially thick, so I handled three of them with ease.
When I was ready to hit the road, Mark stopped me on his way into the restaurant and said, “Come on, I’ll buy you breakfast!” Too bad I’d eaten already, and chose to decline and start riding out.
So I’m making my way out to the main road, and who do I run into but Troy and Mel Clough! I hadn’t seen them since before Yellowstone.
It ended up that I didn’t start my riding for the day until at least another hour later, because Troy & Mel, Mark & Anna, an eastbounder named Joseph (Pulling his dog in a trailer!), and me were all talking on the front porch of the camp store, sharing stories and talking shop.
Finally we all started the long stretch for the day – 65 miles along the Clearwater River, through Clearwater National Forest, and zero civilization… not even a small gas station. There was some light, steady traffic – because this seems to be the only road through here.
It still managed to feel remote despite the occasional traffic – just a gradual, winding descent along a beautifully scenic river with forested mountains on each side. It was easy enough to imagine that I was taking a secret passage through the mountains. That was true in a way… Lewis and Clark had taken this same route with native guides some 200 years ago.
And better yet, most of the countryside still looks just like Lewis & Clark would have seen it. One of the first things I saw this morning was a big fat eagle’s nest perched high atop a tree, with the young ones chirping inside. Then I saw an eagle fly over, and land on the peak of a dead tree. Awesome.
Another rider said he saw a “brown bear” today. I missed it by no more than two hours. He said it walked right across the road, apparently.
It became hot this afternoon so I sat in the river for a while, reclining all the way up to my chin.
Beard submersion. It felt great. I rinsed my hair and all my clothes. Everything was dry within a half hour of riding again.
Toward the evening we made it to Lowell, where Troy and Mel called it a night. I had some Coke and a can of Pringles, and rode on into the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, and Kooskia.
Tonight for dinner I had a pound of spaghetti, and a can of tuna with some newly acquired lemon pepper seasoning to spice up this common meal of mine. My sleeping bag is set out on a picnic table beneath a pavilion, where I’m enjoying the Issac Asimov book amidst an army of automatic sprinklers. They’ve got me surrounded on this dry island. Life is good.
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Google Map Route may not be 100% accurate.