3 Day Mileage: 60.9 + 68 + 44.8 = 173.7
Total Mileage: 4,182.1
3 Day Average Speed: 12.9 / 15.5 / 11.3
3 Day Elevation Gain: 2,652 / 1,098 / 2,783
Before leaving my favorite city on this trip, Missoula, we had to make the much anticipated trip to the ACA (Adventure Cyclist Association) whom I have mentioned previously.
I walked in blasting in "Chariots of Fire" by Vangelis. The epic song you usually see in movies where the hero is crossing the finish line in a race in slow motion. Funny part is, nobody working at the ACA even looked up at me. To them, I am just another cross country, Transam traveler. To me, this is a big moment and marks the final stretch of my saga. In my story, I enter like a hero in triumph.
I was treated to everything that was promised. My picture was taken and placed on the 2016 "wall of fame."
I got my free ice cream(s) which made it into the picture, because what would be more fitting and then got the tour of the place. It was very cool to see the history of the Transam in greater detail and to dive into inner workings of the ACA. I could see myself working here! I'm sure everything thinks the same...
|I spy M2V sticker!|
Unfortunately they had no coffee, which I thought was crazy... All cyclist LOVE coffee. I am living proof and have noted every cyclist on this trip loves their coffee (except Colin).
Last, we got our bikes weighed. Mine came in at 90lbs! That is after sending home 10lbs of clothes and then whatever my front panniers and rack weighed. So up until Nashville I was pushing over 100lbs!
We were told we'd have no services for a few days until Kooskia so we were properly stocked up on peanut butter, ramen and the like. The only thing we couldn't carry was cell service.
So off Wally, Dan and I went up and over the Lolo Pass into my 14th state, Idaho, and my 4th and final time zone!
Dan, like me, is 26 years old and has riden from Massachusetts to Missoula all on Google Maps. He didn't even know about the ACA and their maps until sometime, somewhere, someone told him. Dan is so awesome. Always happy, always smiling, always seeking a doughnut and has a thick, blonde beard so pronounced you would think he's hiding something in it.
|Dan far left and Wally riding caboose|
The not-so-difficult Lolo pass actually snuck up on me and was a little more difficult than I anticipated. Luckily it was over right as we entered Idaho and were able to enjoy free coffee at the visitor center before our final 12 miles of the day to Powell Campgrounds.
The descent to camp was glorious. I mean... It's downhill, how could it not be.
We flew down the pass to meet Lochsa River and rode the river's edge for the next day and a half.
Powell Campground rested just off the river. I went to check it out and I was floored. It is very shallow with rocks littered about like the freckles on my sunburnt shoulders. The light flow of the water resonated deep in my ears soothing my emotions and once again reminding me how lucky I am to be right here, right now.
We woke up outside... NOT COLD! Nobody is more happy about this than Mr. No Tent Wally. I walked back down to the river for breakfast :)
We rode up to the camps restaurant for, what else, coffee, and met Hudson. Hudson is from Oregon and is riding all around on his bike while his mom meets him at his next campsite. He mentioned he stayed with Marion and David at this campgrounds and they took off an hour ago. We figured we'd catch them or at least see them in Lowell soon.
So the ride down Lochsa River continued. I will speak for everyone here, Lochsa River is our favorite river. We followed the winding river on a casual descent for almost 70 miles to Lowell.
As you ride directly west, pine trees lean over the road as if to shield you from the sun. Then a left turn approaches and the river widens, clearing the pines to open up views of the surrounding hilltops. As you lean into the left turn you can pear down the river to see the upcoming right turn in the river. The pine trees then reappear as you bear down the short straight away to the next right turn. Then repeat... Over 50 times repeat. Each time different, but just as beautiful as the first.
Unfortunately there are a few forest fires occuring and leaving plumes of smoke all across the river. However, the smoke was relatively light and provided a clearer viewing of the many dimensions in the Clear Water National Forest.
Only a few miles from tonight's campground, I see Marion! David and Marion and finishing up a meal at the only building in Lowell. They waiting for us while we grabbed a few sodas, chips, candy bars and Danishes.
|Lunch on Lochsa|
Marion mentioned 7 miles down is a campground with showers and crappy wifi for $10. I know he loves his wifi, but I was leaning towards free.
Turns out, Wild Goose Campground is the best campground I have stayed at on this trip. Not only did it provide a gorgeous stay on the Lochsa River, but it was free!
Somehow better than the Powell Campground, I sat on the beach (yeah there is a beach here what is going on!!??) and read a chapter of a book I got from Curtis back in Darby. So serene. You couldn't wipe the smile of my face.
I love this river so much, I even took a bath in it!
Then it was time for a fire!
Hudson pulled into the campgrounds with his mom and David went over to say hello. Earlier David noticed some big muscle shells laid out on the beach. After asking Hudson and his mom, they said they were fresh water muscles and should be good to eat.
David and I went hunting in the shallow riverbed, collected some, heated them over the fire until they popped open and.... Didn't eat a single one. We cooked 6. They were giant. We inspected all of them, but couldn't get ourselves to eat one. David went as far as to lick one, but that was it. We threw them back on the beach for some lucky birds.
Late night while the fire was roaring a couple, Brendan and Rachel, showed up on bicycles and offered to bring over s'mores once they ate dinner and set up their tents. We waited and waited. Even to the point where nobody had anything to say, but we had s'mores on the mind and we all would have killed for one. It got to late and as we were pouring water on the fire they made their way over. Timing is everything.
We ended up talking in the dark a little anyways. Turns out this couple is dashing to the improvised finish line in Seattle so Brendan can get to work in Denver. They are moving there together once the trip is completed, but don't even have a place yet. I have heard this before from other people and I love it.
After saying goodnight to everyone, I rolled into my tent without the rain fly for the first time in a long time. It is warm and I get to wake up to the site of the river!
Ahhh, the Lochsa River is my new best friend! It has made me forget about having zero cell service for two days and has calmed all my nerves. Even the road we have been on has no shoulder and leaves cars and trucks little room to pass. It would be scary, but like I said, Lochsa has stolen my nerves.
Today will be a short day because we have a Warm Showers host in Grangeville and shower, laundry and free board trumps all.
The couple from last night, Brendan and Rachel, snuck out before us. We caught up to them just before re-entering civilation in Kooskia.
I got to talk with Brendan for a little. It's always nice to have fresh ears!
|Rachel, Brendan and Dan|
At last we rode into Kooskia seven deep. I shared an early lunch with new and old friends as well all huddled over our phones not saying a word to each other. Ugh, 2 days without service or wifi will do that to anyone from 26 to 65 years old. But I got everyone to look up for a picture!
|(Left to right) Marion, David, Dan, Wally, Brendan, Rachel|
We said our goodbye's and good luck's to Danny Boy, Brendan and Rachel. Dan is headed for the more direct route to Portland, the Lewis and Clark trail on the Columbia River Gorge while Brendan and Rachel dash for Seattle.
Marion, David, Wally and I continued onward toward Grangeville, but not before we hit the climb. It is the climb because we knew it was coming, but damn it was tough. It was up to 15% grade at times. I haven't struggled on a climb like this since Virginia. Also, I haven't dripped sweat like this since the heat wave ended in Eastern Colorado. I haven't soaked through a shirt like this since the Ozarks!
|Ah the incline!|
Alas we made it to the top, but we were all beat. Thank god for the short day! I barely made it to Subway for dinner.
After a rough calculation, I had 989 miles from Missoula which now puts me at 815 miles left in 17 days. Roughly 48 miles a day. I have plenty of time, but wish I had more. It is a bittersweet feeling as these days wind down. I won't react further until it is all said and done.
Now I need to prepare for another fantasy football draft!