After leaving Montana, we climbed Lolo Pass and made our way into Idaho. The state greeted us with beautiful riverside rides and scenic mountains in the distance. We spent several days traveling through the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, which felt largely like any other place in America. For example, we happened to stop in Kooskia on Kooskia Days, the town’s annual summer celebration. The festivities centered around live music at the park as well as various food vendors and stands. It was also nice to soak in the river in town after a long hot day.
One particularly memorable piece of Idaho was Hells Canyon, which has certainly earned it’s name. While biking down the zigzagging road into the canyon, we were shocked to encounter a black bear! Luckily, he was more afraid of us than we were of him and he promptly retreated to the woods. We camped that night at the base of the canyon, alongside a beautiful resevoir. The next day, we woke up early to beat the infamous heat of the canyon, but were delayed by a series of flat tires. This was also the morning that we crossed into Oregon midway through the canyon. However, Oregon didn’t feel like Oregon until we climbed out of Hells Canyon.
By the time we reached the town of Mt.Vernon, the desert had given way to fields, rivers and mountains. In Mt. Vernon, we were pleased to find the Bike Inn run by a local family. The Inn is comprised of a guest house and outdoor hang-out spaces. We were once again impressed and thrilled by the generosity of other cyclists and the members of those communities that the trail passes through.
Another memorable stay was in the town of O’Neil, where we stayed in the only house in O’Neil. There, we stayed with our first couchsurfing.org host, Greg Garretson. Greg is a local climber and artist who welcomed us into his home and shared lots of good stories and information of the area. He also had the cutest dog, Ruby. Here is Greg’s blog.
A few nights later, we found ourselves in Paradise, Paradise Campgrounds that is! There we met the camp host, Larry. After telling us about a very special tree, the Trinity Tree, in the campground, he reimbursed our camping fee and passed on some magic fire starting material for our future campfires. It was very nice to speak with Larry and we hope to come across more campgrounds like Paradise in the future.
Leaving this beautiful river-side campground, we approached McKenzie Pass, one of the best rides we’ve found on the trail. As we ventured up this gradual incline, we passed through thick forests of pine trees and eventually encountered a surprising site. The last few miles to the summit were bordered by tall igneous rock formations from ancient lava flows. The twenty-two mile decent on the other-side of the pass was a much appreciated reward.
Eugene, Oregon was another great stop. Largely, because we got to stay with the Heart and Spoon Community. This spot was similar to the Dickinson College Tree House, in that it is an intentional community composed of a variety of environmentally and socially conscious people. We especially enjoyed spending time playing with Magnolia and Ash, the cutest kids you could ever come across. It is inspiring to see that others outside of the collegiate environment choose to live communally. We’ve also enjoyed the facilities for bikers in Eugene, including bike lanes on all major roads and bike racks.
Finally, Megan Kemple, the coordinator of Farm to School programs in Oregon. She took the time to meet with us and talk about her past, current and future projects for the program. About four low-income schools in Eugene have partnerships with nearby farms where kids can be involved in harvesting and food production. This organization is truly inspiring and we hope that similar programs will thrive across the U.S.
In just four days, we will be reaching our endpoint in Astoria, Oregon. Wish us luck!