When we awoke there was some ash on the tent. The forest fire was still far away, but the winds had brought some evidence of it to our campsite. The night had been cold, as they tend to be at this altitude, but our sleeping bags kept us warm. Though Kaisa did sleep with her jacket on.
But that might just have been her way of preparing for a bear attack. She was still a bit worried about bears, even though the man I spoke with said that the bear threat on the campground wasn’t anything to be taken too seriously in this neck of the woods. And that there hadn’t been a bear sighting at the site for eight years.
He then added that he would know, since he was the one who shot that bear!
It sure is a bit different over here.
We also met the mayor of Clayton, a town with a population of seven. We know that because she gave us a bumper sticker for our car with just that information on it. This happened by the towns drinking hole that proudly claimed that no minors were allowed in with a sign stating that ”this is a place were babies are made, not served!”
And as a town of seven is sure to be a buzzing center of action we also bumped into another cyclists who was on tour as well. Though he was headed in the other direction. When I commented about his significant amount of gear, he informed me that this was all his earthly possessions, and that he was actually moving. To where exactly I cannot bring myself to recall.
What I do recall is his somewhat disappointed look when we declined his offer to share with us some weed. But I tried to soften the blow by politely telling him how we come from a country with a significant problem with substance abuse.
But back to the day ahead of us. We knew the day would bring more climbing. So that kind of set the mood for the morning. It wouldn’t be terribly steep, but all that much longer. About 40 kilometers to Stanley, which was the next town on our route.
Yesterday had been one of the tougher days with a combination of heat, uphill and headwind. And smoke! Lots of smoke from the fire I mentioned earlier. So much that the entire sky was colored grey, and all other colors were muted at best.
So as you can guess from this introduction we didn’t make it all that far. Today we would need to make up for lost time. So we did what we do every morning, we hopped on our bikes and started pedaling.
And guess what? It wasn’t bad. The day was a bit cooler than yesterday, or maybe it was just us gaining altitude, but we were clearly more comfortable. And the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful once again, so there was that too.
Indeed Idaho haas been a state of many surprises for me. I didn’t have a clear picture as to what to expect, and in all honesty I wasn’t expecting much al all. But boy was I wrong! Idaho thus receives the Leka Five Star rating for being an awesome state!
Once in Stanley we treated ourselves to some of the best pizza we’ve had the pleasure of eating. We also stayed in the restaurant for the better part of two hours, awaiting the day to cool down a bit before continuing towards Banners Summit.
To keep up the good mood we ended up arguing for a good two hours whether or not a small bump in the road was or wasn’t the other, smaller pass we were to cross before getting to the actual pass. Kaisa told me I got it all wrong, but then on the other hand she couldn’t produce any logical reason for it being the only other hump that had been deemed worthy of a sign.
So even when evidence remains inconclusive I still believe I was right. (Watch for Kaisa’s vitriolic response in the comments section.)
But despite the argument we reached the final pass still as a married couple, and it was all downhill from there. The road I mean.
It quickly gets very scary when the grade is so steep that even bringing the bikes to a stop becomes a struggle. I don’t know the percentages, but the disk breaks were burning!
Luckily the worst downhill only lasted for some three four miles, after which we once again could enjoy the ride instead of awaiting our imminent and disastrous death.
After some refreshing rolling at a high speed we came upon a sign that promised a campsite next to the road. But not only that, a campsite that had hot springs! This we had to experience!
And sure enough, after pitching our tent we only had to walk for a quarter of a mile to reach a boiling stream that made its way to the small river where the waters blended into a humanly acceptable temperature.
But however quaint this was it wasn’t for us.
You see, we had already set our eyes on a ramshackle shed built probably in the early 80’s (judging by the carvings in its walls) with an old tub in it. This would be our personal spa moment!
And it was just that!
A super excellent spa experience ending our long day on the bikes. We could have wished for nothing more!
Funny how things turn out even better than anticipated even when you hardly have any plans on how that will happen.