June 4, 2001
So, I'm in Montana and it's been almost two weeks since you last heard from me. Finally I can put some new pictures up. After leaving Eugene, I climbed the 5000'+ McKenzie Pass to cross the Cascades. To my luck, I had about 30 miles of road to myself. It wasn�t open to cars for another three days. It was a nice slow day with the 22-mile climb. On the other side I was surprised to find desert so close to lush forest. And there aren't many campgrounds in the desert. My choices were 35 miles or 70+. I pressed for the 70 and it nearly killed me. I had to travel 5 miles off the trail to a campsite without water. Took it easy the next day when I sent the last email from Prineville. I try to follow tough days with breakfast. I miss Coffee Cup Caf�.
I have learned one major thing in the last two weeks. The Cascades and Rockies aren't the only mountain ranges in the Northwest. I can't even name all the different Ranges I've traversed. I've learned to like the climbs because the downhills get the adrenaline flowing. I�ve learned to like small towns too. They rock because most of them let you camp in their city park. After passing through the John Day Fossil Beds, I ended up in Prairie City. When I got into camp, the camp host said I was lucky because the high school seniors were using the pavilion for a BBQ tomorrow. When I returned from the store I realized she had had her days miscalculated. So my one night in Prairie City will be remembered by kids chugging Sprite to prepare for college (?) and lots of free graduation cake.
Three camel back humps over 5000' followed the following day with a descent by the town of Sumpter. Three times a year they hold a gigantic flea market. And of course, I chose one of the three weekends to pass through. It was kinda fun watching all the truckfuls of junk heading to the fairgrounds. Continued on to Baker City which was the largest city since Eugene. I spoiled myself with a motel room because I couldn't justify spending $14 to pitch a tent when a room with free breakfast was $30. Isn't that strange. Leaving Baker, I crossed over the Oregon trail then dropped into Idaho.
Dropped into Hells Canyon, that is. The deepest canyon in the United States, and probably the hottest (hence the name). On the other side of the river lay Potato Land, AKA Idaho. My first night in Idaho I was camping in Cambridge Town Park when at about 9:00 PM I thought to myself, I feel scared. Now, that�s not a thought that goes through my head too often out here. After pondering for a couple minutes what I could be scared about a wind storm with sixty to seventy mile an hour winds came sweeping through town. It was a bit scary being in a tent with that wind. Being outside for so long, you end up with a connection with nature that can�t really be explained.
As I continued north through Idaho, things just got better. Another thing I can�t explain about this part of the country is the change in weather. It went from 90 degrees to 30 in less than two days. I woke up after camping on the bank of the Salmon River to freezing temperatures. Luckily I had the Whitebird Grade to climb. 7% for eight miles warmed me up right quick. I took a picture but it didn�t do it justice so I left it out. White Bird is where the Nez Perce Indians fought the first battle that lead to them fleeing thousands of miles along a similar route to the Lewis & Clark trail. It�s nice to follow history while you ride. And when you�re only riding 60 miles a day you have time to stop at EVERY historical monument sign you see along the road. I�ve learned a lot about this area and it�s heritage.
Sorry this is dragging on so long. I�m not sure when I�ll be able to write again so I figure I might as well spill my guts right now. Kinda like when Chunk tells the Fertelli�s everything about his life in Goonies.
A little quiz for y�all. I finished reading Little Big Man, which was good and sorta tied in with the area I�m in, and picked up a new book. Now I had to choose between three and I�m wondering who knows me well enough to figure out which one I chose.
Send me an email with your guess then I�ll report back the findings next time.
Now, the super fun part. The only road from Central Idaho to Missoula is Highway 12, which zig-zags through over 100 miles of wilderness along the Lochsa River then over Lolo Pass into Montana. While camping at the confluence of the Lochsa, Selway, and Clearwater Rivers, I met a guy who was a rep for Maravia Rafts. He said the Lochsa River was one of the best rafting rivers in the world. After a night of contemplation I decided to take a day off and run the Class IV+ Lochsa. I wasn�t disappointed. After a mellow start I jumped into the front and started screaming like a cowboy. Everyone was all dolled up in their full wet suits and helmets because the water was so rough and cold. That didn�t keep them in the boat though. Four out of the seven people on the trip joined the swim club. Pretty scary in 44 degree water with class IV+ rapids. I almost went swimming. I tried to reach a gal that had fallen out when I over extended and had to scream �Somebody grab my feet, Somebody grab my feet�. Needless to say, it was a blast. Hopefully I�ll have some pic�s in the future. The only one right now is the kayaker surfing below. If anyone is ever in Northern Idaho, I highly recommend they give rafting a shot. Check out Three Rivers Rafting for more details.
I�m trying to meet with the local breast cancer group here in Missoula today or tomorrow. As soon as I can, I will send another update with info from that meeting. I think I�m gonna return to town tomorrow night for the Breast Cancer Resource Network meeting in town. It�s been hard to meet with organizations because I�m traveling thorough such small towns. Once I get back east, it should be a little easier. Next major stop � Fargo, Yippee!
Big thanks on this last leg of the tour to: Dan and Emily in Missoula (they kept me out of the rain and snow), Michele with Breast Friends for helping the Curry General Hospital Breast Health Network by sending some books, all the small towns that let you camp for free in their parks, my mom (always), Dino the web guy (always as well), Aaron and the gang at Fingerprints for the new tunes (reviews in a month or so), All the restaurants for free coffee and discounted breakfasts (Its happened a few times and I still cant figure out if they mean to charge me less or not ?), the sponsors and supporters, and lastly YOU.
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The doctor recommends bowling,