Two and a half weeks of vacation! My destination is west...somewhere. I don't care much for schedules or agendas. This trip is all about finding where the universe takes me. When you give in to trusting God and the Universe amazing opportunities happen! Believe it! I loaded my car with a bike, playboat , and creek boat. I included my rock wrapping materials for my quiet times. My first fun stop was Bozeman. Special to me because I bought my Occoee canoe there. I asked a local for a good mountain bike trail and was directed to Sypes Canyon. A beautiful trail! Then I drove on to Missoula and spent the night in a wayside. The next day I did Blue Mountain on my bike. Again the scenery was amazing! That night the Northern Lights were predicted to be at storm level. If they were out I wanted to see them in a great spot.
The Lolo Pass has always been special to me. Back in 1966 our family was taking a trip back to Wisconsin. The Lolo at that time was a winding two lane road through the Idaho and Montana wilderness. I remember as a child how beautiful the Lochsa River was. I couldn't get enough of watching it from the car. We stopped to explore and my sister was ahead of me on a path and she came running down in a panic saying there was a bear!! We left!
We drove on and just before the top of the pass our new car blew the engine! I remember being towed to Missoula and having to stay in a old motel for a week while the car receive a new engine. The only thing I recall from that stay, other than burnt pot pies for dinner every night was the movie we went to see. Run Appaloosa Run! That movie literally changed the direction of our entire family. Upon returning home to Oregon, we purchased an Appaloosa mare and colt. It was only the beginning of many we would own. Lolo will always be very special to me.
My plan upon leaving Missoula was to drive to the wayside at the top of the Lolo Pass and wait and see if the lights were visible. Another wonderful thing was the Wifi I could access right from my car at the rest area. Reports were coming in from Wisconsin and I was excitedly waiting. Usually I seem to scare them off. Then the street lights came on...dang! I knew there was one of those gravel roads across the way that went up and into no man's land. I started driving my car up for a good northern view. The road became very steep and narrow, read that as scary, so I backed it down to a safer spot and waited.
Then my mind went to work. "No one in the world knows you are up here by yourself." "This IS grizzly territory." "You do have food in this car including the honey you used in the Off Road bars." So I waited. Then all of a sudden pillars appeared huge across the sky. Then it faded to a soft green that would send pulses racing overhead. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world up there watching my own personal show!! I watched until I couldn't stay awake any longer. I tried to go to sleep but the mind kept sending me a mind movie of me waking up with my face against my window and a grizzly face pressed up on the outside. I gave it up and went back to the wayside. On the drive down it was much more steep than I remember. Ooops! I saw no bears that night. I haven't seen one yet this trip. I will admit I am afraid of grizzly bears. Black bears I'm ok with. I would say I'm normal.
I now have followed the impulse to make my next destination Kelly's Whitewater Park in Cascade Idaho. I have it in my mind to see if I can get my groove back on in playboating. I came in late in the evening and walked out to watch the few boaters left on the river. To my surprise I heard some one say "Hi Nora!" Aaron and Jim from Team Papst were there! So good to see someone I knew from my home area. Then I saw Clay! I hadn't seen him since Chile. I ended up staying with Jim and Aaron in the parking lot and while early the next morning I was sitting on the stairs with Aaron I heard "Hi Nora" again! Amy E!! She came up from Boise. Such a wonderful day today. Catching up with Amy and just hanging out. Could it get any better? Yep! It did. I took some advice and paid for a tent site right next to the park at a local motel. The energy at the Birch Glen motel was so great I was thinking of staying another night. I was also considering the cost as this needed to be a cheap trip. The lady who runs the motel came over to chat and I gave her the heads up that I was probably going to stay another night. She said the next night was on her! There are few times when in life you know you are exactly where God and the Universe want you to be. This is one of them. Although I am doing a solo trip I am not traveling alone by any means. The sun is setting in a twilight blue sky with salmon pink clouds catching the last rays of the sun. I'm sitting here writing this blog post and thinking...tomorrow is going to be fine. So grateful for life.
June 28, 2015
The last two days have been wonderful in every way. I left the town of Cascade Idaho early with my intended destination being Tamarack Mountain. It's a ski resort, downhill mountain biking and zip line wonderland of fun. So the website says. What I found was a ghost town. Condos half built and left. No-one around. I asked some people who were setting up an archery competition and they said something about it being bankrupt and opening again after the fourth. They recommended going to Brundage Mountain. So onward I went. They day getting on. After a trip through the Payette Forrest by accident I found the resort. I saw they had an event going on. I walked up to the sign in table and asked how much for a lift ticket. They were doing an event for the food shelf and admittance was canned goods or a dollar donation! I was flabbergasted! I had two bucks cash and donated them both.
Next up. With my ankle still injured, I can't clip out of my egg beaters very well. The bike mechanics changed my pedals for free. I packed my knapsack with what I thought I'd need for the day and went to the lift. Scott, the lifty, explained how it goes to ride the lift with a bike. Very simple and easy. This was also my first time riding a mountain lift. Woo! That's high up there. At the top the view was beyond words. More mountains and lakes in the valley. They also had bike patrols that just hang out and talk to people. They recommended Elk trail for me. Seven beautiful miles of just about everything. This trail let you experience all the beauty the mountain had to offer. The profusion of wildflowers was more than I've ever seen. Every color and type. Natures beauty is beyond compare! But always stop your bike to look. In fact I recommend stopping to look at everything. You will need full concentration for the trail as you never seem to slow down.
This is my first time doing this kind of downhill riding. I know I used up a bit of my brakes on my first few runs. The trail starts on the top of the mountain. Dead trees sculpted by nature into works of art. Wildflowers everywhere. Rocks and packed dirt with occasional sand. Then you hit the field of yellow daisy like flowers. So many personalities of this trail to explain. I'll try to do my best. Then you come into some trees. A bit of technical downhill through rock and dust. You'll cross a tiny stream several times on your descent. My favorite stream crossing was the high berm to bridge to uphill mound and then a portion of really fast single track through the pines. The steam flowed over rocks in a special petite waterfall. You'll also pass through pristine mountain meadows. Then at the very bottom the trail takes a tight hairpin turn in deep dusty dirty and you are back on the lawn of the lodge but the fun isn't over yet. The lawn spreads down around ponds in a stair step manner just perfect for multiple small jumps. I got the idea watching a hotshot young man fly down them. What a great finish.
Over the two days I was there I did Elk Trail nine times. I gave Growler trail a try but it didn't overall have the fun factor of Elk. But there were some really great sections on it. They have cut a new start to this trail so you aren't following the gravel road down and that new section will be open next year. I did this trail once.
I have always been in love with my bike. It's perfect for me in everyway. These two days I was able to really let the bike do what it was built to do. Each run got faster. The second day I rented some knee and shin guards. Funny how good protection makes you more confident. The second day I was flying. First one on the lifts in the morning and I was able to get six runs in. Each run going faster. The fourth run I timed. 33 minutes! I shared it with Scott and we timed the fifth run at 30 minutes! I know I flew on that run! But it was a long hot day. I'd taken only one lunch break and only ate a tiny bit of my salad. I knew there were a couple of mistakes that I'd made which told me the end of my ability was near. I did my second run leisurely. Stopping at my favorite views to take a photo or just breathe in the energy of the immense landscape. I came to the bottom and was looking forward to putting in everything on the last lawn jumps. I wiped out on the hairpin turn just feet from the start of the lawn. No damage done but since it was powdered deep dirt I was covered in it!. I righted my bike and hit the jumps. I dropped down to my car and grabbed a couple of NA beers. My lifty enjoyed his the day before so I tipped him another. I was back at the lift just minutes before they shut down. I decided to take the scenic tour. I drank my beer as I rode up to the top looking at the place I'd just spent two days and 68 miles getting to know. I think I had met most of the crew that worked there from the store to the restaurant to the liftys and patrols. I think they only hire the most wonderful people in the world. They were all great and it was very, very hard to leave. I could live at a place like that. It felt like home.
I left the mountain with Bend, Oregon programmed in my GPS. I drove until I could drive no more and slept in Burns, OR. I made the drive to Bend and decided on a rest easy day. Plus everything I have is dirty. Laundromat first where people sit with their beer and wine while their clothes get washed. Car wash second and now just writing my blog at Starbucks in the air conditioning. Very hot outside. I'm going down to the Gear Store to see what kind of deals they have. I still have over a week of vacation left.