Somewhere in Middle America: A Coast-to-Coast Bicycle Trek

Baker City, OR to Missoula, MT

Wills here.

Baker City, Monday June 15th

After leaving the Baker County Library, we headed to SafeWay to get some well needed groceries because we would not pass a city of over 1,000 people for over 3 days. At the store, we met Joy Berryhill. A truly nice lady who offered to let us stay in her RV that was outside her house. Of course we accepted and to sleep in a warm place, use a cotton towel, and not set up camp was fantastic.

Tuesday, June 16: Baker City to Oxbow

We woke up after a great night of sleep and coffee with Joy. After chatting a while, we decided to get out on the road. As soon as we started, I found out my front rack was missing a screw. We headed to Ace's Hardware to get some spare screws and so Caroline could get a tool to change her cleats (the clips on the bottom of her shoes). Thanks to Skip and Ernie for taking care of us by finding some replacement screws and changing the cleats. Afterwards it was almost 11 so we decided we might as well go to SubWay and grab a bite to eat before getting on the road.

We flew to Richland (40 Miles) across some of Hell's Canyon but it was beautiful with snow covered peaks in the distance. After a quick snack in Richland, we had a monster climb that was 7% for 3 miles of it. It was an absolute bitch to climb, but the ride down it was amazing. We rode to Oxbow as it was getting dark and stopped at the Hell's Canyon Cafe for dinner. We grabbed a couple beers and dinner then headed to Copperfield Park along the river.

Getting into camp, we found out we had lost an hour as we had entered Mountain Time and it was almost 10 o'clock. Also, we couldn't find any open camp sites. Then, someone came over to offer to let us share theirs, and it turns out it was Allison and Frank, whom we had met passing through John Day (I think it was John Day) a few days before. We hung out and chatted with the other people in camp before getting to sleep around midnight. All in all, we did around 75 miles that day.

Wednesday, June 17 Oxbow to Council, Idaho

 It was tough getting up this morning after losing an hour. We hit the road and after 11 miles of riding, entered IDAHO! It felt great leaving the state of Oregon. We stopped for some pictures and then had a tough climb. I was really sore and unsure how I was going to make it 13 miles to the top. As soon as I was thinking this, Sheryl, a bus driver hauling a trailer pulled over and asked if we wanted a ride to the top. I said absolutely, but Caroline refused it. I loaded up my bike and all of Caroline's bags for a quick trip to the top. Caroline really wants to ride every mile  whereas I'm just out for the adventure and meeting the people, so I had no problem catching a ride. At the top, I hung out under a big tree, in the shade of course with a view of rolling hills and snow covered peaks and dozed off for about an hour nap. I read a little while and in about 30 more minutes, C made it to the top where we had lunch with Frank and Allison, who came up shortly after C.

We quickly made it 17 miles downhill to Cambridge, where we met 4 bicyclists from Minnesota headed the other way. 22 Miles later, we made it to Council. We decided to camp out in the city park because it was free. We made dinner using a microwave at a nearby gas station and ate at campe. After eating, a man (Dwight) with 2 black labs dogs (Bonnie and Clyde) came to the park. We talked to him for a while and then decided it best to go to Wilson's bar a block away for a few beers. Dwight drive us over to the bar with the labs in the back (remember this). It was $1.25 for a pint. We hung out and talked for quite some time. Dwight suggested a breakfast place acrsso the street, the 7 Devil's Cafe. Eventually, we said goodbye and headed back to camp to get some sleep.

Thursday, June 18 : Council, Idaho to New Meadows

This morning was tough getting up. I really wanted breakfast at the 7 Devi's Cafe and had to talk Caroline into it. When we got there, the waitress came over and asked us if we were the bikers Dwight sent. She told us that Caroline had left her sungalsses in Dwight's car last night. So, we gave Dwight a call, who lives 30 miles or so away in Bear, Idaho and was kind enough to bring them to us. Breakfast was simply amazing, the best I've ever eaten hands down, from the bacon, to the pancakes, cheese eggs, syrup, coffee with honey, orange juice, or water. All in all, wonderful.

Dwight met us at the cafe at about 11 and offered us a ride to the top of hill, about 10 to 15 miles away. I of course wanted to take it so we could make it to Missoula for C's birthday, but she wants to ride the whole way. We thanked Dwight but decided to ride it. Being brother and sister, it means we get into fights about stupid things. This one was no different. In the end, we rode 30 miles and stopped in New Meadows, opting for a motel room. The motel and dinner really helped both our moods.

Friday June 19 : New Meadows to White Bird

We left the motel super early to get on the road and get some miles in. We passed Riggins, Idaho's Whitewater Capital, and it was packed with tons of fisherman looking to catch Salmon on the fitting name of the Salmon River. After Riggins it started to rain on us. We saw a sign for a fruit stand and pulled over. This was definately the highlight of the day, as the store had fresh fruit, honey, and jelly samples. We both got Huckleberry milkshakes which are quite probably the greatest thing ever made. We also got some Huckleberry Honey, fresh peaches, and cherries.

We made it to White Bird in the early afternoon. There were already 4 Bicyclists in camp and they had one driver hauling all their gear. Me and C sat down for dinner. The other bicyclists were gathered around talking to us. This is one of my favorite parts of the trip so I'm trying to help everyone visualize this. It had been kind of rainy so everyone was hanging out in this veranda type thing with a fire pit in the middle. We were all sitting down, me and C by the pit on one side. The other 4 cyclists and driver were about 5 feet away on the other side. Now our stove is a bit tricky. The fire burns clear so you have to be careful if it's still lit or out. The fire in the stove was out, but since we were using a pit, there were still lit ambers in the bottom. C added some more Heet (our gas) to the stove. The flame and fire shot out of the pit and over 5 feet onto Wayne, burning a few holes in his jacket. Fortunately everyone was alright. Wayne was truly nice and relaxed about the sitatuion while Caroline kept apologizing for setting him on fire. Thank goodness he was wearing a jacket and it's funny to look back on because he was retired and out doing the trip so he could have some good stories to tell and I'm certain that will be one of them.

Caroline here.
We made it to our third state, Montanta!!! Here's a re-cap of our last week, which continues to offer endless laughs...

Saturday, June 20: White Bird to Syringa

We'd been dreading White Bird "hill" for sometime. The climb is about 12 miles long and comprised of constant switchbacks. We stopped in the Silver DOllar Cafe and treated ourselves to bottomless coffee for 25 cents and a full-on breakfast for about $10 for the two of us. Wills graciously let me use the mug that said "Life's a bitch, but so am I." Then, We took Dwight's advice and climbed up Old Highway 95, or Old White Bird Hill, and LOVED IT! One of our favorite days/climbs!!! Also, we got to share a vicotry at the summit with Frank and Allison who we met up with on our ascent. We got to Grangeville and feasted on Subway before taking the primarily down hill trek into Syringa. We went through the Nez Perce Indian reservation and followed the path that Lewis and Clark took in 1805 as well as Chief Joseph when he was retreaing from the US Army.

We were pretty much exhausted by the time we arrived in camp. I bought us some Bitch Creek, continuing with the theme of the day, and we had some Chef Tamer's Chicken skillet. Then, we decided to be really classy and ordered a PBR and a large fries. Showered, and got into the tent. Wills gave me my bday present that he had sneekily bought at the store, Les Miserables. I read about 12 sentences before face planting.

Sunday, June 21: Syringa to Powell, and my 26th birthday!!

Woke up to another rainy morning and headed into Lowell, ID, the last water/food stop for 66 miles. We had oatmeal on the ledge of the service stop and began our ride through some lovely country along the Clearwater River. The pines trees covered the mountains and the white water provided some pleasant noise as we rode. Did I mention that NOT ONE tractor passed us the ENTIRE day!!! It was heavenly. Except for the rain that poured on us, we had a nice tailwind and, despite the 2500 foot climb, felt like we were cruising the whole way. I guess our legs must be getting stronger!!

The rain finally let up as we were rolling into Powell which is made up of a lodge, cafe, and historic Ranger station (which we completely ignored). We bought some canned beans and Mac & cheese and sat on the front porch of the service station with a 6-opack of beer and ate a lovely birthday dinner. Camp was about a mile down hill so after our feast, we set up the tent and choose to just pass out rather than trouble with riding back up to the ldoge for a shower. It poured rain all night. Fun times.

Monday June 22: Powell to Missoula

Woke up this morning and continued our microwave friendly cooking regime and made oatmeal packets while sitting on the front porch of the Lochsa Lodge stairs. We donned our yellow rain suits and looked rather scary, but smelled worse at this point. 13.5 miles later, we finally summited the epic Lolo Pass at 5300+ feet. It was 41 degrees at the top and miraculously the ranger station was serving coffee -- for free!! Wills and I each had 3 cups and began to get feeling back in our toes. That didn't last long because the descent at over 30 mph in 41 degree weather was nothing short of painful. 25 miles later it was 60 degrees and we'd finally made it  into Montana!!

The ride into Missoula along a major highway was nothing short of miserable, but we made it in alive and are happily holed up at a Motel 8 staring hungrily at the Pizza Hut across the parking lot...until West Yellowstone...