Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 20 - 21, 2013: MIM Day 5 and 6, Hamilton to Lochsa Lodge to Lowell

Greg was camping at an RV place on the other side of town, so we picked him up as we passed by. After a mile or so we found the bike path and stayed on it for the 37 miles or so to our turn onto US 12 in Lolo. Thanks to a steady tailwind, we made good time and used minimal energy. The weather was cool and very cloudy, but we did not encounter any rain on that leg of the trip. 

When we arrived in Lolo, we had lunch in a restaurant/saloon/casino -- one of many in Montana. The weather was still just as cool and unpleasant as it had been all day as we got back on our bikes to start the climb up the famous Lolo Pass, which had come close to being the undoing of the initial Lewis and Clark expedition. There are very limited services on this portion of US 12, and we had run into some rain on the long approach to the pass, so we were more than ready for a warm break when we reached the Lolo Hot Springs resort. At that point we were still about seven miles short of the top of the climb.

After warming up and refueling, we started the more difficult section of the climb. By the numbers this pass should not have been as hard as previous ones, but I found it to be the hardest of the trip so far. It was cold and windy and the grade tilted up to 5, 6, or 7 percent for extended portions. Just as we finally made the summit, the sky opened up. Luckily, once again, there was a handy rest area right there, so we ducked in to warm up and to put on our rain gear. When it let up, we started our descent, still wearing our rain gear in spite of the fact that it was barely raining any more. Underneath our rain jackets and pants were many layers of sweat-soaked clothing, thanks to the exertions of the climb.

Taking refuge from the cold and rain in a convenient visitor center. Inside there were many displays about Lewis and Clark as well as the local area.

Waiting out the rain.
At the top of the pass, we left Montana and entered Idaho. The road condition was terrible by comparison to that of neighboring Montana. In conjunction with the wet pavement, switchbacks, lack of ride-able shoulder, 6% downgrade, and more than a smattering of large trucks, I quickly determined that in spite of feeling increasingly chilled, I had to keep my speed down. By the time I reached the end of the steepest part of the descent, about five miles, I was very cold indeed. I had to find a way to warm up, or stop to do a road-side replacement of my cold, wet clothing. I decide to try to warm up by pedaling hard. That worked to some extent, and the sun came out by the time I reached the beautiful Lochsa Lodge. In the ten minutes that it took for Fred and Greg to catch up, I had gotten my rain gear off and was feeling much better.

The day's ride was 82 miles with six and a half hours in the saddle and 3,000 feet of climbing.

If you are ever looking for a really nice, very reasonably priced get-away, you can't go wrong with the Lochsa Lodge. There is no cell service or television (you can borrow a DVD from the library at the front desk). The only thing connecting you to the outside world is wifi at the main building. Speaking of the main building, a large portion of it is the dining room, which served us an excellent dinner and breakfast. Both featured huckleberries in some form or another. Our waitress at dinner assured us that huckleberries are "like blueberries, but a thousand times better." In spite of the fact that my stomach was still not right, I had a big dinner, which was probably not wise.

The main building at Lochsa Lodge
At breakfast the following day I had half an Immodium, along with a bowl of oatmeal with berries, which was good but there were plenty of other choices I would have made had my gut been in better shape. After breakfast I took my time getting ready, just to be sure I would not be stuck somewhere along our 65 mile service-free route answering an urgent call of nature. I stuck a new roll of toilet paper in one of my panniers, just in case!

Our cabin at the Lodge. Inside, everything is modern and new. Really nice! 
There were plenty of other people there, but it never felt crowded.

Some more photos on the grounds:

The day's route was simply 65 more miles down US 12. It started out cool, but SUNNY, in stark contract to the past couple of days. In addition, there were no climbs and our destination was 2,000 feet lower than our starting point. The entire route ran alongside the beautiful, crystal-clear Lochsa River, bounded by spectacular forested hillsides. We stopped several times to better enjoy it.

At about mile 50 or so, the sky clouded over, the slight head-wind freshened, and rain started falling. We put on our rain gear as three river rafts full of adventure-seekers finally caught and passed us (temporarily). Ultimately, they caught up with us again at Ryan's Wilderness Inn, where we are staying for the night, and where their outfitter brought them at the end of their white water raft excursion.

The ride was 65 miles, four and three quarters hours of saddle time, and just 200 feet of climbing.

Tomorrow is the seventh day of the bike trip and if things go as planned, it will be a 30 mile "rolling recovery" day.

No comments:

Post a Comment