Tuesday, July 7, 2009
We left SLC and headed straight up to Idaho. Eric has been itching to get back to cooler weather for awhile now. I am not sure if he was really thinking lows in the upper 40s, but hey, who's complaining? We set up camp just out of town. For 4th of July weekend, you would think the camping would be at its limit when actually they were probably more available sites than sites taken. On Friday, we scoped out town, stopped into bike shops and basically planned our next 10 days or so. On Saturday, we went on our first big biking adventure. We decided on a trail system, close to town, called Fox Creek. Here we saw many joggers, hikers, bikers, equestrians, dogs, you name its. It wasn't until we got a few miles away from the trailhead did the number of recreationalists drop off. What did we expect for 4th of July on a Saturday? Unfortunately, we were having too much fun and took a wrong turn which could have shortened our riding day by 10 miles. Although we were disappointed with our error in navigation, we decided to do the big loop in reverse of what everyone had told us. This started out as and a-okay decision. Later though, it was questionable. The reason most people recommend riding the Oregon Gulch trail in one direction and not the other is because one direction is too steep to ride up. Oh well, once we made it to the top, all the downhill was super fun. Instead of being super steep (what we had just pushed our bikes up) it was smooth and turning. I would almost suggest doing this ride as an out and back. During our big decent, dark clouds were gathering overhead. I was glad to be off the ridge, but the rumbling from the heavens was disturbing. In the trees, it was a little less frightening. The trail crossed through treed sections out into meadows. The sky was never silent, it just kept rumbling. Soon, we were on trail that we had ridden on before, but the GPS batteries died. We weren't sure how much further down the trail the car was. Eric stopped to change the batteries. I waited until he said to go, but he actually may not have said to go. I took off on the trail for the car, but we weren't fast enough. The sky split open and rain crashed down on us. We had rain coats with us, but we were already soaked. It would still have been worth putting them on because the next burst from the sky came as bee-bee sized hail, which stung when it hit my bare arms. I stopped and turned around, but Eric wasn't right behind me as I had thought. Panic! Panic! Panic! Did I miss the turn? Is Eric okay? More grumbling from the sky. Finally, Eric appeared. He didn't understand my hysteria. We made it back to the car wet and muddy, but safe. Phew! We sat in the car for, mmmm, five minutes and the sun was already back out. Seriously, that was the difference, 5 minutes! During our ride I had managed to break another rear spoke. I had been replacing spokes, but it was now time to question a new wheel. We changed into dry clothes and went to the Sturdos bike shop. The mechanic, Todd, said he could rebuild my wheel instead of buying a new one. Great! Back at the motorhome, we cooked up some dinner, showered and got ready for day 3 in Sun Valley.
I was pretty much counting on my wheel not being ready by the time we were ready to hit the trail. We considered demoing a bike for me, but instead I opted to switch it up with a trail run. We headed to an area called Adam's Gulch which has many loops in various lengths, which was pretty optimal for Eric to ride and me to run. My adventure was fairly short due to side stitches and trail closures. Eric's ride was pretty extreme due to rugged trails. I made it back to the car and headed into town for some reading at my favorite place (Starbucks, duh!). I had a coffee frap and an ice water and snuggled into some good reading. I met Eric back at the motorhome later with a new wheel in hand. We relaxed the rest of the afternoon. Relaxing included a motorcycle ride to the top of the pass. It was beautiful, but both our bums were happy to be off the motorcycle 40 miles later. HA!
Yesterday, we rode at the Greenhorn Gulch Area. When we arrived, a fire fighter approached us and told us that a woman was up of the mountain somewhere with a broken leg. She had her cell phone and had called her husband who had called in the emergency. The only problem was they didn't know exactly where she was. (I thought the directions were quite clear, but if you are dispatching several rescue personnel, you better be right on the money) No one that was returning to the parking lot had seen her. He asked us to take the Imperial trail up and call if we happened upon her. Honestly, I would hope that if I were stranded up on a mountain with a broken leg, that the rescue team wouldn't be waiting for 2 recreational bikers to find me before sending up the squad. Luckily, they were already on the way with 4-wheelers and gurnies. Quite the production. When we finally crossed paths (~1500-1800 vertical feet later), she was calmly waiting for the transportation down with a medical officer and her dog. The dog seemed much more concerned than the lady did. We had not planned on taking this route in the beginning, but the views were spectacular! Just amazing! We were not disappointed with the change of plans, but it did mean that we were planning a new route as we were riding. I am opposed to doing this for several reasons. The main being that I like to know how much further I have to climb and how much further we have to go. If we are still improvising a route, this isn't possible. We made it to what seemed like the top of the world, with great effort. These trails are open to motorcycles, which does a number on the trails. A lot of the climbs were too loose to ride and we had to push our bikes (seems like the usual for this area, hike-a-biking). When we finally found downhill, we were both ready to let it fly. Unfortunately, I can't handle this and went too hard around a banked corner. My wheels slipped of the top edge and I went splat! Again! We had maybe gone 20 vertical feet down and I am already rolling around in the dirt. Skinned my elbow and my knee. No real damage though. Just sore. I took it easy for the rest of the way down. We went through some really neat burn sections. Washouts had claimed some of the trail and we had to traverse large shale areas. Finally we made it to some easy (that's what I like these days) downhill. Gentle turns and minor whoopties back to the car. All the emergency vehicles were long gone and we headed back to the motorhome for showers. Oh, but we didn't actually. We just ate and then headed back to a new trail. This one was just right up my alley. It was easy climbing with fun easy downhill. It added about 10 miles to our day for a total of 25 miles and over 5000 vertical feet. Now it was shower time and ice cream time. I sure deserve it!
Today, we drove to Stanley Idaho to see about the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. This stretch is permitted, so we printed off some signs requesting help filling spots on a trip leaving in the next couple days. There are not very many places in Stanley to hang such flyers, but we managed to litter the town pretty well. Now we just sit back and wait for the phone to ring. It is a long shot, but it would mean a break from riding, which would be welcome. There is a day stretch up there too that Eric and I checked out. The river looked super fun with safe rapids and no super slow spots. If we don't get on the Middle Fork, we are definitely going to do this stretch. Eric called in on the Selway and they had a cancellation! This is the river we have been dreaming about. We have been calling in daily for cancellation permits on the Selway. We were hoping for the next couple days, but this permit is for July 28th. Anyone want to go? The water level is probably going to be so low that we will have to do a backpack style trip with the mini-me and maybe a ducky. Our gear will be minimal. The trip is 5ish days, so it isn't roughing for a long time, just a short time. Consider that they only let one trip on the river a day (16 people max). About half of the permits go to commercial outfits and many of the permits go unused do to dangerously high waters or too low to float. What it boils down to is, you have to be really, super-mega lucky to get on a Selway trip. If we are lucky, Idaho will get a little more rain in the next couple weeks and we will be able to go. Yeah! Eric noticed that one of our tires was flat (14psi) on the Explorer, so we had to skip our planned ride and head to the Dean's Tire for repair. Both of us are pretty excited about the Selway possibility or even Middle Fork. My bike says she is tired of dumping me too.