Biologist on a Bike

Day 16: Stites ID to Clearwater National Forest, ID

Distance: 54.65 mi
Average Speed 11.2 mph; Max Speed: 25.4 mph
Elevation gain: 3,215 ft
Average Temp: 83.3 F; Temp Range: 59.0-96.8 F


Last night around 9 PM, as I was reading a bit before going to sleep, a group of kids came into the park I was camped in.

“Whose tent is that?”

When there’s a tent set up in the town park, what are the odds that it belongs to somebody who has a home (and presumably a bed) in town? I might just have rolled my eyes a little.

Another kid pointed out my bike. Then there was an exchange that included “I bet he’s asleep” and a dare to look in the tent. There was no way I was going to sleep anytime soon.

The kids were there to play baseball, and given the lack of an impartial umpire, there was a fair bit of arguing over ball or strike, safe or out, fair or foul. The silver lining is that they cut the game short and went home when it began getting dark, so I didn’t lose that much sleep.

This morning I woke up a bit after 5 AM and decided that since today would be a short day, I would sleep in. I didn’t reemerge from my tent until a bit after 7 AM, and I took my time packing all my gear. The park was right next to the trail, and I even saw one of the TransAmerica racers go by while I was eating my breakfast.

Where I woke up, Day 16. Well, technically, the view from where I woke up. I had already taken the tent down.

I rode half a block down the road to the post office to mail some postcards, and then set off somewhere around 9AM.

The grocery store in Stites is almost entirely empty, so my first stop of the day was Kooskia, a town 3 miles down the road. Their grocery store was surprisingly well stocked, and I was able to pick up some more granola, babybel cheese, and a few other things to keep me going until Missoula.

Outside the store, where I was repackaging things to better fit into the panniers, another TransAm racer pulled in. I can’t blame him for not missing this stock up point. There are no real services for nearly another 80 miles.

The TransAm Racer’s Bike. He’s a little more heavily loaded than most of the people I’ve seen so far.

And then, it was off into the wilderness. Shortly after Kooskia I entered a no-cell-signal area, and I don’t expect to regain a signal until I’m over Lolo pass. I’m on route 12, a beautiful road following a river, first the Clearwater River, then the Lochsa River, up a mountain. The climb was slow today, but that’ll change almost first thing tomorrow.

That’s fine with me.

The rushing river next to me and the nearly empty road surrounded by mountains and forests was gorgeous, but after a few hours began to suffer from a sort of sameness. I couldn’t even hear the birdsong over the river. So after playing another alphabet game (In my anatomy class we learned about: the aorta, bursae, cartilage, duodenum, epidermis, foramen….) I cued up Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. When I finished with those episodes, I tried a new (to me) series called Love and Radio. This is made up of stories based around a theme. The first one I heard was about guns (one person was scared of them, another going to a range to shoot for the first time, a tale about an adult child finding a gun that was really a starter pistol in her father’s underwear drawer), then there was one of ghost stories and another about online dating and relationships. I think I prefer The Truth, but this was a different distraction.

A typical view today.

It wasn’t ALL the same. This dino mounted on a home made an interesting change of pace.

I stopped in at the Lochsa Historical Ranger Station and talked to the older couple who were volunteering there that day. The station was less than a mile from where I had planned to stop, but it wasn’t even 3 PM, so I asked about other campsites. The nearest one was another 28 miles away and had been closed because of fallen trees. But this is a National Forest, and dispersed camping is allowed, so if I headed there I could set up camp.

I did check out the campground I was aiming for, but I wasn’t very impressed with it, so I moved on. Not two miles down the road I passed an old campsite where someone had built a fire ring out of river stone. It was used often enough that there were tire ruts down the slope to it. Looks good to me. I’m 20 feet off the road, visible if somebody looked that way but not in an eye-catching kind of way, and maybe 30 feet from the river, with easy enough access to the water.

I enjoyed the scenery for a while, then set up camp and made dinner. I finished, packed up my food and put it far from my tent (just in case) and checked the time. Quarter to 5! Most days I’m just about rolling into my destination by then. That’s what a short day with minimal climbing will do to you, I guess.

For the first time, I’m disconnected from the world. Yes, I have my tablet to write out blog posts on, but I can’t upload anything or check comments. I can’t call my family, although I did warn them that I’d be out of touch, or play any of the games on my phone that require internet access. I’m glad I brought my e-reader, because I intend to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying my little hideaway and re-reading some an old favorite.

Roadkill: 1 beaver, 1 skunk

Map Day 16

7 thoughts on “Day 16: Stites ID to Clearwater National Forest, ID

  1. Arlicia Corley

    So far I have seen some beautiful pictures and you accomplish some of your goals this summer! Congratulations!

  2. Andrew Roth

    Very pretty country. I remember riding a lot of interstate highway out there. I was a young idiot though and didn’t do a whole lot of planning. Your route may be squiggly and steep, but it sure looks nice. National Forest is great for dispersed camping as you say.

    Do you have flat-proof tires? Maybe the technology is far superior nowadays but I used to have a bunch of flats. Sometimes I worried about running out of patches/spare tubes out in the middle of nowhere.

    Wish I could be riding with you!

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      They’re not flat proof, but they are on the sturdier side of things. Puncture resistant, I think. I have two tubes, a patch kit, and a spare beadless tire if things come to that.
      Maybe you should join me for a day or two when I get out your way.

  3. Jan Ashton

    Love the roadkill count and all the photos. Sounds like you are both smartly wary of and open to strangers as it’s safe to be out there on the range. Hope tomorrow is an easier ride.

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