Sixty-Two: Here be Ents (Weir Creek to Grangeville)

by davidharries

Miles: 98
Total: 3,986

Well, no one came to check out the flaming tree last night, and the sound of rushing water put me right out. It was a great morning of riding — again along the Lochsa River in deeply wooded forest. The river is undeveloped, largely because of the 1962 Scenic Rivers Act, which restricts bridge and dam construction.

I finished the 45-mile stretch without water at a historical ranger station 20 miles in, where I made a cup of coffee and spent an hour talking with the guide. The station’s set up as it would have been in the ’20s, complete with mule-packing station and ranger homes you can walk through. It would be a mighty lonely existence, and the station closed during winter when even mules couldn’t make the trek. Highway 12 wasn’t completed till 1962 — that’s how remote this area is.

The guide told me that there’ve been lots of fires this year, especially in Oregon. That explains all the hotshot equipment I’ve seen headed back and forth. She also said that policy is to monitor, but let fires burn unless they come close to watershed or inhabited areas. Even then, special permission is required before action’s taken.

I came across London-based EBer Kat shortly after. She’s cycled through the US before, and told me about her so-called “Florence of Arabia” scarf, which she soaks in water and uses to keep cool. Good tip.

In Lowell I emerged from the wilderness, and started following the Clearwater (the Lochsa and Selway meet in Lowell). The Clearwater was pretty, but not as nice as the preceding 90 miles.

Entering the Nez-Perce Reservation outside Kooskia, the heat really ramped up. I took a long lunch and when I started cycling again, it was 95 degrees. But it’s a dry heat, right? Right.

I climbed out of Kooskia into Grangeville, which is home tonight. It’s partway up the mountain, so tomorrow’ll start uphill. A good way to warm up. I’m camped in Lions Club Park, following very detailed instructions that place me in the SE corner, on the east or west side of the creek. This should ensure that (a) I’m out of sprinkler reach and (b) that I’m in the middle of the Frisbee-golf course. The city pool offers showers for $3.

I spent most of the evening talking with Josh, a CU graduate student studying hydrology (re: ephemeral streams). He came up for a five-day rafting trip through Hells Canyon and is staying a few days longer since his ’87 4Runner threw its timing chain. Hopefully he’ll be on the road tomorrow, assuming no bent valves.

No bear box tonight! The most menacing creature spotted was a skunk skulking through the grass.