June 7 - 19: Idaho and Montana (and Idaho again)

6/14 - Lolo Hot Springs (68 miles 3184.5 total)
'twas cloudy this morning as we got our breakfast in the parking lot at our super 8 in hamilton. temp was 58 degrees....probably 20 degrees warmer than the morning before in jackson.
sari & i left town around 6:30. we had a tailwind most of the 22 miles to stevensville, site of today's pie. by the time sari & i arrived at the cafe sarah was already eating her belgian waffles topped with ice cream. others had their usual breakfast fare. sari & i asked the waitress which of the pies was the best & she raved about the caramel apple nut, so we ordered it. i'm not a big fan of apple pie, but this one was different, not too sweet, & had nuts. the caramel swirl on the top crust was a tasty addition.
a local fellow started talking with sari & me & before long he sat himself down at our booth. he's been ranching in montana for all but 5 of his 60-something years. he--like so many others that we encounter at cafes & elsewhere--asked about our route over the next few days. little did he realize that we usually don't know the route to that day's overnight town without stopping to check the route sheet every 10 miles or so.....let alone our routes tomorrow or 3 days from now. he extolled the beauties of the lochsa valley, which we'll be riding through tomorrow. like others, he tried to draw out for us the "best way" to get to the next stop on our route. folks never seem to realize that we're on a set path. plus they're often thinking of getting us there the fastest way; it doesn't occur to them that we don't want to ride on interstates or other heavily traveled roads. but i know they're just anxious to help.
the fellow also asked whether we'd seen the rainbow people at jackson. yes, we had....a few. they're hippies left over from the 60's. there's a big get-together of the rainbow family coming up soon; they'll be camping in the hills just outside of jackson. locals are expecting 10,000 of them....& they're not particularly happy about it, either.
because today was mostly cloudy, with an occasional light sprinkle, i again didn't take many pictures. furthermore, the landscape was very similar to yesterday afternoon. after all, we're still riding up the bitterroot valley. we hit some construction at mile 43 before getting to lolo. i figured you'd seen enough construction photos lately, so didn't take another one. actually, this time i couldn't have stopped to take a photo anyway.
claudine, today's sag driver, came up with a scheme to get us through an especially dangerous stretch of the construction zone. we were on US highway 12, so traffic was heavy. through one 2-mile stretch there really wasn't room for us bikers & the other vehicles---especially the huge trucks. claudine had us all go ahead of her in the subaru & she kept vehicles from going past us. sure made us feel lots safer. thanks, claudine.
after lolo we started up another narrow valley...again with a river running along the road & high hills on both sides covered with pine trees. for most of this last 20 miles we had gusty headwinds. we'd gotten very spoiled by the brisk tailwinds we enjoyed this morning.
you don't necessarily think 'llamas' when you think of montana, but sari & i saw some along the road today. i get such a kick out of those creatures. they always have such an imperious look on their faces.
i can't get over how much irrigation there is in montana. even big wide-open grazing pastures are often wired for water.
here's a photo of one of the irrigation gizmos i see often. the irrigation pipes are on big wheels so they can easily be moved along the pasture. notice also the bright yellow flowers. they're everywhere along the roadways we've traveled this week.
as we pedalled along this afternoon we saw 3-4 long-distance bikers going the other way. we've seen a few off & on for weeks. i called out to a couple of them & asked to take their picture. i wanted you to see what REAL cross-country bikers look like; they've got all their gear on their bikes. oh my, it seems to me it's tough enough getting over all these passes with only our measly little bike bags.
these 2 fellows were on their way from portland, oregon, to new york. they had camped at lolo pass last night & were headed to missoula to overnight with friends.
i hadn't realized that lolo hot springs was simply a wide place in the road containing a gas station, restaurant, & the resort where we're staying. here's a biker's view of our accommodations for tonight.
it rained while we were eating supper tonight. (supper was beef stroganoff over noodles, great green salad, & sliced fresh strawberries over shortcakes. since i'm not a big beef eater, i was overjoyed that there was some shrimp curry left from last night; patty added some chunks of tofu. everything was scrumptious.....again.) but the skies were clearing as we had our map meeting. we hope that trend continues.
tomorrow we'll bike 86.5 miles to lowell, idaho. the first order of business will be a 1200-foot climb to lolo pass (5,235 feet). once we clear that hurdle, it's downward to the town of powell at about 20 mi. that's the last chance for food 'til lowell! supposedly after the pass it's downhill the rest of the day. if we can keep those headwinds at bay, it should be a breeze.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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