Tour Divide 2012 – Part 3: Idaho

Although we spent only a very short time in Idaho—there is only 115 km of riding—the unpleasantness of the riding means that Idaho punches well above its weight.

After cresting Red Rock Pass and entering Idaho there was a few miles of unpaved road and then we were blessed with a section of paved road.  It was a nice, if short, downhill run and I stopped at an RV park where I was met by a ‘Blue Dot Junkie’ who was expecting me. Although the shop was closed, he got it opened for me so I could stock up on some calories. He mentioned that Prentiss had camped out there the previous night. I was impressed at the jump he had on me. I was told that there was a ‘Subway’ at the next town so I headed down there and arrived just before they closed. I left with 3 x vegetarian subs: one for dinner; one for having when I woke up hungry in the middle in the night; and a third for breakfast. No, not a lot of variety but better than may of the other options!

I got some more supplies from the store. They commented how relaxed I was compared to the earlier riders: apparently they ran through the store and were very impatient at the time it took to ring up the sale. Lots to be said for being a middle-packer. There was a campground a few miles ahead at ‘Big Springs’ so I headed there to camp for the night. It was full of mosquitoes and since there were a few more hours of potential riding ahead I decided to head on to the trail, which I had been dreading.

The maps note that the trail is “…EXTREMELY soft volcanic soils …” Not only that, but it also was very corrugated just to add to the displeasure. So you’d be riding along and enter this dip DSC_0353filled with soft soils. You either power through it—if possible—or slide around and potentially stop/fall over. There was no use riding at the sides as they were not better, and you ran the risk of going off the track. So I rode along until it got dark, and then continued with my head lamp. Eventually I decided that this was not very safe so I camped out next to the trail.

DSC_0354 The next morning as I was packing things up Martin from Germany rolled by. He commented how impressed he was that I would be willing to ride so late and then just crash next to the trail. Seems quite normal to me. But then another rider commented to me how difficult it was for him to get his head around sh***ing in the woods. He was a city boy whereas I was shipped off to summer camp from the time I was about 10 years old. As long as you don’t use poison ivy as toilet paper.

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It was back to the grind of the trail which was very tedious. Eventually it turned into a better trail, at least insofar as the volcanic soils were replaced by larger stones. I was impressed at the achievement of engineers over a hundred years ago who put this rail line through here.

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We entered into mountainous terrain with a lovely river running in the valley below. I caught glimpses of the occasional fisherman: I was impressed at the efforts they went to in order to get to a good fishing spot.

There was a rail tunnel which was closed and we had to head around it on a side trail. I thought that were my wife Lis with me she would have probably climbed over the fence and checked out the tunnel. She has a thing for caves and tunnels, especially when they are closed.

After cresting I was enjoying a downhill run on the trail when I came around the corner and spooked a horse. I’m glad that he had such an experienced rider as the horse reared up on its hind legs and spun around, galloping off. She eventually got it under control. Horses and bikes don’t mix. I got off the bike and let them pass slowly, chatting to two women who were obviously tourists. They were quite surprised by my being so considerate: not at all; I don’t want to be trampled by a horse!

After exiting the trail there was a relatively short ride on a paved road and then I turned due east: and had a tail wind! DSC_0367What a luxury; a good road, no major hills, and a tail wind. Didn’t quite make up for the trail, but still nice to have. Once I hit the ‘Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road’ it was back to a gravel road, which was not easy riding.  I was rewarded with views of the snow capped Grand Teton Mountains. Glad that I was not going to have to ride across them.

I met up with someone riding northbound but he was not at all friendly: he DSC_0368didn’t even stop and chat but zoomed by. Anyway, soldiered on and came to a very beat up sign welcoming me to Wyoming. I was so glad to be seeing the last of Idaho. 

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