After cycling 42 miles and getting drenched, the comfort of the Roosevelt Inn beckoned. No wooden-ruler-wielding teachers roam the Roosevelt school-house these days. The old building, now listed on the National Register of Historic places in Coeur D’Alene (CDA), houses a bed and breakfast guaranteed to provide restful nights and lively breakfast conversation. Old class pictures line the hallways and individual rooms honor well-remembered teachers.
On day three of my adventure, I woke to the smell of coffee, blue sky painted with puffy clouds, and a forecast of afternoon thunder and lightening storms. On this day, I was determined to ride a loop on the Trail of the CDAs. I had no trouble finding the trailhead at Enaville. The first segment of my ride would be on pavement, heading in the direction of the previous day’s bike ride. Again, I sailed along, enjoying myself immensely. Muddy moose tracks ambled across the path and horses grazed contentedly in belly deep grass. I rode over several bridges and pedaled past Cataldo. Several campsites looked like inviting alternatives for cyclists who prefer to rough it.
At Latour Creek I stopped to consult my map and route instructions. Holy cow! I was within 3.7 miles of where I had stopped the day before—almost connecting the dots; but this meant I had overshot the turnoff by almost two miles! I backtracked to Cataldo. I reread the instructions on the Friends of the CDA Trails website, which bragged that riders from age 8 to 60+ ride this loop each year to commemorate the Summer Equinox. I had to find the old CCC Road which begins the dirt climb. I pedaled in circles around Cataldo looking for this CCC road. “Go over the bridge and turn right,” said the bartender at the Cataldo Inn (which is really the Cataldo Roadhouse.) Hmm. I saw the bridge that crosses I90 and dumps traffic onto the freeway. I saw the bike bridge on the CDA trail I’d just gone and come on—multiple times. Finally, I saw a bridge heading east on Canyon Road. And there, on the other side of that bridge over the CDA Rriver, was my CCC Road.The dirt road looked innocuous. I was prepared for a bit of a climb, but heck, if 8-year-olds can do this, how tough could it be? Right? Perhaps I should have paid closer attention to the text that said, “the next couple of miles rise at 6-7% grade.”
By now, I’d burned valuable time looking for the trailhead and the predicted storms were brewing not so far away. I negotiated the first hill with no problem. This’ll be a piece a cake! Then came the next rise. Whooee, this is a bit steeper . . . and longer. Good God, will it ever stop rising? That’s about when I looked across a canyon and saw a road rising waaaay up. That can’t be this road. . .can it?” I pedaled. I pushed. I grumbled. Mind you, dear reader, I am not one of those paragons of fitness who barely fills out a Size 3. No, I have a Size 12 ass to haul uphill. And the freakin’ clouds were lurking—ominously. How the hell high is this gonna take me? I’ll probably crest the summit just as the lightning storm hits. Cheeerist, Linda!” I briefly considered retreat. Briefly. I hate to give in, even to my own stupidity.
Accompanied by thunder inside and outside of my head, I finally summited. The view was spectacular, but I had time for only a hasty photo. Next I had to keep my wits about me so I wouldn’t repeat the mistake of the young whippersnapper who flipped his bike in front of me on flat, smooth pavement yesterday! I coasted carefully down, down, down, till at last I recognized the paved trail below me. Just as I thought to congratulate myself, a fire-breathing border collie rushed from a ramshackle property. “Ha! Smell ye a letter carrier, eh?” I growled as I hurtled past flying snot without missing a stroke.
My lone car welcomed me back to the parking lot at Enaville. The mileage was only half what I’d done the day before, but calorie for calorie, it was a hell of a work out. I was just locking the bike to the car when the sky opened up and the rain came sheeting down.
That wrapped up the biking portion of this adventure. Next, let’s see what urban mischief I can find.
Continuing from the last post, another drive through dense forest brought me to Harrison, Idaho. Like most of the little burgs in Northern Idaho, in its youth Harrison supported the timber industry. Its location southeast of Lake Coeur D’Alene (CDA) has aided its survival and transformation into a cutesy tourist town. Again, I struggled to locate the bike trail; although it was at the city marina—right under my prodigious nose.
The Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes is a paved bike path built upon an abandoned railroad line. The trail begins in Plummer Idaho, crosses Lake CDA on a huge bridge and then follows the CDA River for 72 miles to Mullan. At Harrison, I was 15 miles from the official start of the trail, on a portion known as chain lakes, as it passes through marshes that seam a series of lakes into a rich wetland. Storm clouds swirled around the mountain tops that bowl the river valley.
I pedaled a little over 20 miles to the ghost of an old lumber town called Dudley. Once home to 300 rough and tumble loggers and a few hardy women, all that is now visible from the south side of the river are falling-apart wooden lumber slides from which I assume logs were rolled down the embankment to boats waiting in the river.
The experience was worth the long drive and the hunting and pecking that lead up to it. Eyeballing roaming storms in all directions of my horizon, I kept thinking, Ya oughta head back to the car before all hell breaks loose. But I was mesmerized by the rich community of marsh birds on either side of the path. In addition to the mundane ravens, crows, robins, geese, ducks, and sparrows, hundreds of herons, stoically posed, still as stalks of marsh grass, as they waited for breakfast to swim by. Osprey nests graced nearly every power pole in sight. I saw bald eagles, pelicans, swans, grebes, orioles, red-winged blackbirds, killdeer, terns, swallows, tanagers and a comical trio of vultures feasting on a fish head in the middle of the path. Actually, I saw so many lost fish prizes dotting the path that I thought it might better be called the Trail of the Lost Lunches.
At one point, an osprey flew over my left shoulder clutching lunch to her belly. If she’d lost her grip, I’d have been stuck with her smelly lunch in my hip pocket! The going was effortless; a small voice harangued me: If it is this easy, the way back will be that much harder. You’re probably benefiting from a slight decline and maybe even a tail wind. But another voice tempted and taunted: Just a little farther, what’s around the bend, on the other side of this rise? Sure enough, after several hours of lazy cycling, frequently interrupted by picture taking and gawking in general, I stopped for a snack at one of many picnic tables beside the trail. Munching an apple and some nuts, I imagined the sights and sounds of Dudley in the 1800’s, before this railroad line even existed. And then it came. I knew it had to happen. The errant storms had gathered. A fierce wind whistled down the path from the direction of Harrison . . . and my car. A fierce rain storm was cradled in the headwind.
Even with water dripping off my helmet and my soaked pants plastered to my thighs, my spirits tread water. The birds, though mostly hunkered down, still trilled and whistled as I puffed against the headwind. Exertion kept the damp chill at bay. In about ten miles, the rain diminished and little shafts of sunlight stabbed the clouds. Birds emerged—back to the business of the day, fishing.
I’d almost given up on seeing a moose on anything but a trail brochure, when I glanced at a distant marsh over my shoulder and there she was! Check! Moose—from a safe distance.During my hours on the trail I saw one pair of local cyclists, a father and son thru-travelers spinning from Butte, Montana to Spokane, Washington, and 12 to 15 college students who may have been part of a cycling club. As a reminder to pay attention, one of them performed an unplanned flip in front of me. Young and rubbery, he got up, dusted himself off and confessed, “I was going too fast.” I think he clipped the guy in front of him.
What does 60 feel like?
Well, no surprise. It feels no different than 50, or 40, or dare I say even 30? It does feel different than 20. A Christmas Eve or Christmas Day birthday is special. On the one hand, once they learn about it, it is easy for people to remember your birth date. I mean, you can see Christmas Eve coming two months in advance! On the other hand, it can be challenging to share your birthday with all the fuss and festivity associated with the Christmas holiday.
One thing is certain about a Christmas birthday. You will never celebrate milestone birthdays in a traditional pub crawl. I never gave much thought to my birth date till the year I turned 21—legal drinking age in the US—and realized that all the bars would be closed early in the evening and besides, the 24th was always our family Christmas meal and gift opening night. No time for a drunken riot with friends.
Through the years I learned to celebrate my birthday happily and quietly inside my own head. When I’m with other people, I like to open my gifts early in the morning and spend the day doing something I particularly enjoy. I never shop on the 24th! Then by evening I happily celebrate Christmas with everyone else. I try to downplay my birthday because it is an awkward imposition to add one more detail to a host’s already stressful evening. And invariably someone in the group is blind-sided and feels badly for being unprepared. Despite my remonstrations, usually someone in the group knows that it’s my day and makes a fuss and then I feel silly—but appreciative.
Aside from the big 21, my milestone birthdays have been pretty nondescript. For my 50th, I organized a January heli-ski trip that involved an all-day drive across the state. We rose early the next morning, suited up, jazzed and excited, only to discover that the avalanche danger was too high. The trip was cancelled.
I don’t remember doing anything special for my 40th. I believe I celebrated my 30th solo. This 60th birthday sort of snuck up on me and stood me on my head. I realized I really needed to do something special to hallmark the event of six freakin’ decades. (Hey, that sounds better that 60 years—6 decades, I think that’s what I’ll be calling it from now on.) So I began scheming. A trip to the coast was too lengthy and the roads too unreliable this time of year. A visit to friends in nearby cities would involve crashing their Christmas festivities. Not far from where I live is a winter recreation lodge, tucked into the mountains between Stanley and Sun Valley. I’ve driven past it many a time during summer and winter, longing to stop and check out the extensive trail system. Galena Lodge also has three yurts to rent out during the winter and they had one opening on the 24th. Bingo!
After opening my birthday gifts on Monday morning, I cooked up a delicious breakfast and left the cat with an overly full bowl of food, water, plus extra water in the tub—should something happen and I didn’t make it back when expected. Off I went.
I took the dicey, but drop dead gorgeous route through Stanley, Idaho, recognized as one of the coldest places in the continental United States. The Sawtooth Mountains were shrouded in weather of their own making.
Then had just enough time for a quick snow shoe exploration of the surrounding area before the sun began to drop.
Then, the three-hour drive back to Boise, this time taking the easier route through Sun Valley and Fairfield. Home in time to open my Christmas presents. This was so much fun I plan to make it an annual event. There’s even plenty of room for company in the 8-person yurt! Perhaps two nights out next time.
I apologize for the length of this post and the poor quality of some of the images. If I keep fiddling with them, I’ll never get the post up. 😉 Happy New Year to all!
So I put more miles on my car than I do on my feet. For one week a year, I shove my gas consumption phobia under the rug. I queue up a recorded book on my I-pod and gaze hungrily at the map for unexplored terrain, of which there is always plenty.
I explored several side roads which lead me to some ridges with awesome views. At one point, I saw a sign for Pittsburgh Landing, a famous put in for Snake River boating excursions. I’ve always wanted to see the place, but I balked at the additional 50 mile round trip of dirt road driving. Maybe next year. Instead I headed for Windy Saddle, the hikers’ put in for the Seven Devils. I’d been there years ago and knew the vista was stunning.
The first third of paved road gave way to graded gravel. The higher I went, the more hunting rigs clung to tiny patches of flat land; one camp was set up inside a hairpin turn and spilled out on the other side of the road, horses on one side, kitchen on the other side, dust everywhere.
The Seven Devils hide from view until the road pops out at the top of the saddle. Suddenly the granite peaks leap into view, jutting arrogantly from the spine of the mountain range. I went as far as the road goes and then hiked to Heaven’s Gate Lookout, hoping for a legend to the peaks that mark the Salmon, the Snake, and the Imnaha drainages. The lookout was closed and there was no map or legend. But the view was enchanting.