Day 50 – Kamiah, ID to Lewiston, ID

Along the side of the road, there have been lots of informational signs about the history of the area. I have been keeping an eye out for one about a rock from the Nez Perce creation myth, and Aidan was looking for one marking the place where Lewis and Clark stopped to build canoes after crossing the mountains. So of course each of us missed the one we were looking for, but saw the other one. 



Our gradual downhill continued, and we were able to pedal through the heat today, making it to Lewiston (elevation 745!) at about 2:00. The next couple hours were spent in a coffee shop, and then we started off to ride the 3.6 miles (easy, right?) to our hosts for the night. After about .5 miles, we started going up. And that continued for about 2 miles. Not the calm, graded uphills that we’ve gotten used to in these western states, but a seriously steep hill all the way! 

Jill and Justin were our hosts, and they instantly made us feel right at home. We met their three sweet dogs, got organized, showered, and settled in for dinner. They just kept pulling out more delicious food, and we just kept eating. Quinoa salad, ridiculously good Idaho potatoes with cheese, meat for Aidan, gluten free spaghetti and sauce, salad, and lots of fresh fruit! We were overjoyed and impressed. They even had dessert for us – ice creams with and without dairy! Thank you, Jill and Justin!

Day 49 – Powell, ID to Kamiah, ID

It was quite a cold morning, so we bundled up before getting on the road. We were in bike shorts, fleeces, and rain coats, and we did everything we could to add some warmth to our heads. I pulled out my Skida headband and used my bandana as a neckwarmer, and Aidan tied his under armour pants around his head, the legs doubling as a scarf. I’m sure we were quite a sight, pedaling down the hill, freezing despite our snazzy outfits. 

But the early morning light on the mountains was gorgeous, and Aidan once again came through with some stunning photos. 

It was the perfect morning to pass a sign for hot springs. We parked our bikes stealthily in the bushes, locked them up, and walked the 2 miles until we saw a little steaming pool! 


After getting used to the warmth, we had to run back and forth from the icy river to the spring to get that extra temperature difference. We knew exactly where the source was – one corner of the pool was much hotter than the rest. It was a beautiful natural hot spring, especially since it has been left undeveloped for anyone willing to hike a bit to enjoy. 

We snacked all the way back down to the bikes – Fritos, granola bars and fishy packets..the usual. 


Aidan was delighted to pull out the straps on his handlebar bag, transforming it into a fanny pack. He totally pulled off the look (complete with the sock tan and chacos) and probably just started a trend. 

We stopped eating just long enough to look around at all the charred trees. It’s amazing to see the marks left behind by a fire that must have come right through where we were walking. 

We spent the entire day today on a gradual downhill! And the road went right along the Lochsa River – a gorgeous scene all day! I thought people must have been exaggerating when they said it would be all downhill from there to Lewiston, but I could probably count on one hand the number of actual uphills today – and we biked over 100 miles. 

At one of our water stops, we met someone from the Adirondacks! He spends his summers on the very top of a mountain in Idaho as a fire watch, and that was the first time since July 1st that he’d hiked the 12 miles (each way) to the town below his cabin. 
We pulled off at a campground for lunch, a swim in the river, and a nap. It had been so hot for those last 15 miles, so we desperately needed the cold water! What would we do without rivers? 


The evening riding was lovely, and in we made it to Kamiah, in the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. 


We pulled over to ask a police officer for advice on campsites, and we learned that our options ahead were limited, but that the town park allows camping! They even had signs warning us about the sprinklers that were scheduled to come on from 3:00-6:00 am! So we avoided those by setting up our tent directly in the center of the amphitheater. 

Day 48 – Missoula, MT to Powell, ID

Jamie made us breakfast this morning, which was not only extremely luxurious for us, but it was also a fantastic spread. Scrambled eggs with greens, bacon, croissants with homemade cherry jam, yogurt… I’m getting hungry writing this. 

We packed up, and Jamie and Petunia drove us back to the main part of Missoula (her house wasn’t quite on our route) stopping at the grocery store and the post office on the way. 

When we went to put our panniers back on the bikes, we were horrified to discover that we’d forgotten the tent in her garage! But without a hint of irritation, Jamie turned around for it. Aidan went along while I stood guard by our bikes at the gas station. After saying goodbye to Jamie and Tunes, we pedaled off into the wind toward Lolo Pass. At times, it was one of our strongest headwinds of the trip, but we settled into our saddles and were content to just take the time we needed to get up the mountain. We tried not to keep track of the miles we’d covered, but I think the first 10 miles took us more than 2 hours. It was uphill, but barely so – just enough to notice. 


We were welcomed at the top of the pass by a new state and time zone! 


We gained an hour as we passed into Idaho and the Pacific Time Zone – and we took a much-needed break in the visitor center. They even had free tea and hot chocolate available! We had Meg’s Indian food up there too, and all the motorcyclists and other tourists were jealous. And they were right to be jealous, because it was a wonderful meal! 
We met another biker on a tour across the U.S., who is from Germany but has connections in Montana from a high school foreign exchange. We enjoyed meeting him, and ended up camping in the same spot later on. 


The downhill was so much fun, especially when we caught up to a parade of cars behind a truck and got to draft! 


Well, it was fun until my pannier broke. I heard the rattling noise of the little plastic attachment thing falling off, and stopped quickly to turn around for it. After a few minutes of searching that section of the road, I was fairly certain it had rolled under the guard rail and gone sailing over the cliff. But just before I gave up, there it was! I was still missing the bolt though, and was unable to track that down. So we temporarily fixed the pannier on with the remaining fastener and lots of duct tape, and rode down 12 more miles to Powell, Idaho (another Powell!) and got to camp for free by the convenience store/restaurant/cabins/entire town. 

Once we got there, I was able to find a bolt the same size on my fender, and with some swapping of bolts I got everything held in place! I can’t believe how lucky I was to find that little piece on the ground – unlike the almost universal bike bolt, it wouldn’t have been easy to find a replacement. 

Overall, it was a great day. 

Day 47 – Hamilton, MT to Missoula, MT

We had a great time talking with our hosts this morning as we ate our typical vast quantities of cereal. As we biked through the little town of Hamilton, we ran into the biking trio who we’ve been leapfrogging for the past couple days. We were biking almost as a group for awhile until we stopped for our first snack break – then they pulled ahead. But we were probably happier thanks to the Clif bars. Not that it was a competition. 


There was a bike path all the way from Hamilton to Missoula, which apparently opened two weeks ago! So we didn’t have to worry about traffic except for the few times we had to cross the road, and we saw countless other bikers. 


It was still smoky in the mountains, but luckily the wind didn’t blow the dark clouds in our path. 



The first thing we did after arriving in Missoula was to head straight for the post office. We picked up our care package from Meg Berlin, and sat by all the little mailboxes for the next little while, exclaiming over our delightful supply of food. So many Vermonty goodies! And I was no longer sad about having left my snack pocket open this morning, tragically losing a Clif bar (cool mint chocolate). Thank you so much, Meg! We are so ready to take on Lolo pass now! 


We spent the next couple hours at a bike shop – Hellgate Cyclery, a similar shop to Old Spokes in Burlington. They did some fine-tuning of our derailleurs and we made sure all the details of our bikes were ready to go.


We met up with Maddy who’s headed off to Colorado College this fall! Now there will be a familiar face there when Aidan arrives next year. We hung out with her in a coffee shop (where someone came up to us as we locked our bikes and offered to buy our drinks!) where we talked about our mutual appreciation for the outdoors and adventure. Great to meet you, Maddy!

The main office of Adventure Cycling is in Missoula, so we stopped in there! We met Al’s friend Greg, who took our picture for their collection and then let us take a selfie with him! 


He also weighed our bikes at their station – they’ve been a good deal heavier at times, but even today mine was 75 lbs and Aidan’s was 85! I would feel bad about carrying less weight, but Aidan seems to have no problem on those steep hills. 

We’re spending the night in Missoula with Jamie and Touring Tunes! Jamie biked with her dog Petunia all the way across the country a couple years ago (that was her second xc tour!) and met Aidan’s parents as Wendy did her tour around Lake Champlain. We had an absolutely wonderful dinner with her and her friend Perry – Jamie made grilled veggies with rice and salad, then we had ice cream and strawberries for dessert! Thank you, Jamie and Perry! 

Day 46 – Wisdom, MT to Hamilton, MT

This morning was so chilly that we decided (without any discussion) to sleep in after the alarm. So we left at 9:00, well after all the other bikers who stayed in Dillon. 


There was a forest fire not that far away yesterday, so although we were in no danger, we saw the mountains in the distance to the west through a haze of smoke and ash. We talked to people yesterday and this morning to learn what we needed to know about the fire in relationship to our route, so we knew that the highway was open to traffic this morning. 

We passed the couple we’d met last night as they were taking a snack break. (We found out later that we had witnessed their only snack break of the day! How did they stay sane all day?) These two were on a tandem recumbent bike, which they say is amazing on the flats, extremely challenging on the ups, and a bit sketchy on the downs. But they are comfortable in their seats. To recap – they’re comfortable in their saddles. All day. Comfortable. 



Our sense of competition kicked in, and we really enjoyed cranking up the Chief Joseph pass. And we were met at the top by a sign announcing the Continental Divide! 


On our way down the other side of the mountain, we saw signs for Idaho – we’d spent a few minutes in a new state without even realizing it. 

We also came across what we believe to be bighorn sheep! None of them had the distinct big horns, but there may just have been females and babies there.


We welcome any input on identification!


The descent lasted all the way into the town of Sula, where we said hi to the other 5 bikers from yesterday, then continued on to the next town. By the time we got there, it was getting quite hot out, so we retreated to the shady banks and depths of a river for lunch. We spent a couple hours there, then biked in the direction of Missoula. The smoke got closer and closer, until we had an amazing view of the valleys from which the smoke was pouring out. The sun had also begun to sink lower in the sky, which caused the clouds to light up.


As it sank lower, the sun moved behind some of the smoke, and turned a brilliant shade of red. It was definitely an awe-inspiring sight, both for its beauty and its destructive power. And Aidan’s photos are magnificent. 


Just as we neared Hamilton, we found good fortune to be with us yet again. We stopped to talk with two people and their granddaughter who had noticed us from the stop sign, and they ended up inviting us to spend the night at their house a few miles down the road! A couple of genuinely kind and interesting people, who might one day do a bike trip of their own! Thank you, Joe and Denise!

Day 45 – Dillon, MT to Wisdom, MT

Our day began early, and after we wove through the streets of Dillon to find our route, the sun had just started to illuminate the landscape. It also made for some fun shadows! 


We found a little pull-off for breakfast, then continued on into the morning with our appetites satisfied for the moment, and our cereal supply sadly beginning to run low. 



There were two passes between Dillon and Jackson – the next town on our route. They were both smaller than the one on the Chief Joseph’s highway leading into Yellowstone, but they were mountain passes all the same. We accomplished the first without much trouble, and pedaled along until we got to the second. Just then, the wind really picked up, and we spent the next hour battling the wind to reach the top. But we did eventually make it, and as always had a rewarding ride down the other side. 

We couldn’t get moving as fast as we wanted to, but even so – it was quite a descent. 

We stopped for lunch in Dillon, eating in a cafe where we found fries and an outlet. And we met 2 other groups of bikers there! We commiserated over the windy uphill, and were shocked to learn that they don’t stop for snacks all the time. They mentioned a bagel, and we thought back on our apples, multiple granola bars (was it 3 or 4 today?) the usual sardine break (yogurt in my case), trail mix and jalapeño chips…did I forget anything? 


One retired couple from New Zealand, and three people from various parts of the United States. They all left town before us, and rode off into the heat while we took naps, jumped in the stream, and then pedaled off feeling refreshed. We saw them all again in the next town, where we camped in the free campground. 

Day 44 – Ennis, MT to Dillon, MT

We slept in this morning, waiting for the hardware store to open, so when we got on the road at 8:30, the sun was already beating down on us. We gained over 2,000 feet of elevation in the first 10 miles of the day, then sped downhill into Virginia City. We didn’t spend much time there, although it looked interesting – there were still many miles ahead of us! 


Today was another day filled with wind, sun, gritting of teeth, laughing, jumping into streams, eating a lot of food, sleeping whenever possible, meeting nice people, and incredible landscapes. 
The miles seemed to just fly by this morning as we traveled along through another basin between mountains. There were also hours of grueling pedaling – but that makes the downhills all the more fun.


Every few days, a dog will come running and barking toward us, but thanks to my mom’s advice, we know to pull out our water bottles. We fling little streams of water at the dogs as a gentle way to keep them away from our tires and toes. And so far, we’ve had a 100% success rate! Today’s dog encounter (a tiny but ferocious-sounding little guy) turned right around and stopped barking in surprise – and the water barely touched him! A wonderful solution. 

We’ve been thinking about the Vermont Land Trust a lot as we bike across other states, and we are so happy to be riding for our home state! And here’s our shoutout (long overdue) to Jeanne Doll-Peyron, one of the many people who donated to the cause! Huge thank you to everyone who donated. And although we ended the gofundme fundraiser before we left, we encourage anyone who’s interested to make a donation straight to the Vermont Land Trust! Their website is http://www.vlt.org. 

We stopped in Dillon for the night, camping by the side of a river. It wasn’t really a park, so we didn’t get surprised by the sprinkler system this time! (That’s happened 3 times now…)