GRMA Day 12: Mountain Riding at Its Best
Today’s Idaho ride got off to chilly start when I woke up to 47 degrees in Challis. But all things balance out, because it was 99 when I finished the day in Orofino. Riding in 90+ temperatures for the last two hours of the ride wore me out a little, and I was ready for a cold brew when I took my boots off at the end of the day
Today’s ride was the best motorcycle day of the trip. Almost from the time I started I was in the mountains, riding up canyons, along rivers, and surrounded by rugged peaks. I think I spent more time on the edges of my tires than on the center tread. Going north on Highway 93 to Salmon, Idaho, then to the Montana border, I followed the Salmon River or the North Fok of the Salmon River nearly all the way. When I reached Lost Pass at the Idaho-Montana border, it was a downhill race along side the Bitterroot River. Then at Lolo, MT, I headed south and west along one of the best motorcycle roads in the country: US Highway 12. Until I reached Lolo Pass at the Montana-Idaho border, the road paralleled Lolo Creek (which empties into the Bitterroot River). Then from nearly the top of Lolo Pass I kept the company of the Lochsa River for nearly 100 miles until it emptied into the Clearwater River which I followed to Orofino.
I spent some time just now talking about all the rivers because riding next to rivers generally makes for great riding. Rivers don’t go in a staight line and a road that keeps a river in sight at all times is a road with a lot of twists and turns. Not always 10 mph switchbacks but lots of recommended 20 and 30 mph curves that are great fun to take at about 20+ the speed limit. Prior to today I was frequently riding beside mountains but not always in them. Today I was almost never out of them. What a great ride!
One surprise for me was the elevation at Orofino. It’s on the western edge of the Bitterroots/Rockies but it sits at just a little over 1,000 feet. Lost Pass elevation was 7,000 feet and Lolo Pass was 5,200 feet. Today I descended 6,000 feet. If I went all the way to the Pacific Ocean following the rivers I would only descend another 1,000 feet.
Much of today’s trip (about 80%) followed the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail (from Salmon, ID, to Orofinio). I haven’t completely thought this through, but I’m thinking about riding the entire Lewis and Clark Historic Trail in the next two or three years (next year is already taken with another trip to Alaska). The Lewis and Clark Historic Trail starts just outside St. Louis where it follows the Missouri River through Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana, then goes through Idaho, Oregon and Washington to the Pacific Coast.
I haven’t done any research on it yet, but the “Trail” appears to have historic Lewis and Clark sites identified along the way. At any rate, I may pursue this as a another “Great Adventure.” Like my current GRMA, it would cover about 10,000 miles and take about 6-7 weeks. Sounds like fun to me. And I could check off a lot of the asphalt in America in my quest to ride it all.
I’m also thinking about trying to ride to all the places in the Hank Snow/Johnny Cash song “I’ve been Everywhere, Man.” I think I’ve already been to a lot of them.
No pie today. Tried a couple places with no luck. Unless you count Pizza Pie. That’s what I had for dinner.
Tomorrow is kind of an off day. No specific plans, but I may do a loop ride around the Nez Perce Reservation and take in a couple of musuems.
More pictures from today that I liked: