After our layover day in Missoula, Felkerino and I rose early for a 135-mile day over to Kooskia, Idaho, via Lolo Pass.
Lolo Pass was a fairly gentle ascent for around 20 or so miles. Just before reaching the summit, we entered the Pacific Time Zone, which I called the “magic hour.”
Since our day was long and our pace stuck on touring, the magic hour really helped us not worry too much about time. We arrived at our planned dinner spot in Lowell, with plenty of time to sit and have a nice meal at the Wilderness Inn.
After our climb up Lolo Pass, the remainder of our day was spent on a gradual descent– 90 miles of downhill, to be precise– as we paralleled the Lochsa River.
So much downhill! The shifting winds in the valley meant we were still working steadily, but the overall descent certainly helped the miles go by. I was impressed by the road sign noting 99 miles of winding road as we began our descent to the river.
Apparently, the Lochsa River is low this year, due to the lack of snowfall over the winter months. The man at the Lolo Pass Visitors Center said that the Lochsa is generally more turbulent, but if it had a personality, right now it is depressed.
The road from Lolo to Kooskia was pretty empty. Traffic gave us plenty of room, and it was overall good highway riding.
There are a lot of touring motorcyclists on the roads we’re traveling, but hardly any cyclists. We saw three during our ride to Kooskia.
Overall, I’ve found the areas we’re touring to be fairly solitary. Not much traffic, not many communities. Towns are around 50 miles apart. There is so much forest and river space sandwiched between steep canyon walls.
I’m not lonely yet, though. Of course, I always have Felkerino, but there’s more. The earth is alive and talkative. The rivers speak to us as we pedal. Clouds occasionally roll in to cool us and encourage us to maintain some forward momentum, just in case of you know what. Winds buffet us around a bit and chap my cheeks and neck to remind us that not all forces are visible ones.
And these mountains! The aloof, steep mountains that guard the rivers silently remind me to respect this land. The mountains don’t dislike our passing through, but they aren’t ready to be friends.
That’s okay. I’m not ready to be friends yet, either, but I am open to the possibility.