Knickerbiker Lewis and Clark Adventure
June 15-29, 2007
In June 2007 Fifteen Knickerbikers embarked on a "Lewis and
Clark" trip in Montana, Idaho (mostly) and Washington. Gail
and Forrest Roberts, Sandra and Larry Zinn, Anne and Phill Babcock,
Susan and Merle Vogel, Ron Manherz and Marty Hambright, Walter Schmitt,
Will Cronyn, Gail Markewicz, Bonnie Brennan and Ken King are pleased
to report that the scenery was spectacular, the weather tolerable,
the traveling companions compatible, the humor abundant, the traffic
light and the climbs challenging but doable.
Lochsa Lodge, ID Sunday June 17: We climbed over Lolo Pass (5,233
feet) on this 60-mile day, which would have been easier that it
sounds (we started at 3,300 feet) if it weren't for the 53º
weather and the light rain for much of the day. Twelve miles out
three cyclists missed one of the two turns we had today and rode
an extra 5 to 26 miles, depending on whom you believe. The weather
only got colder, reaching 41 degrees at Lolo Pass. Nevertheless,
we enjoyed tracing the Lewis and Clark route, and the 12-mile downhill
to the end!
Three Rivers Resort, ID Monday June 18: Our route descended from
3,500 feet to 1,500 feet, so even with the headwind the ride was
much easier than yesterday. Also, the temps were comfortable, starting
at 60 degrees and reaching 72 by the time we reached the Three Rivers
Resort. We all had little rustic cabins right along edge of the
Lochsa River, a very scenic spot indeed. We paralleled the "wild
and scenic" river the whole way, though a heavily wooded region.
Since there were no turns, no one got lost. Yesterday we met Ed,
a Tennessee resident who is completing the forth and final leg of
his Transamerica cycling trip. We had seen him on the road and chatted,
learning that he had started this leg in Pueblo Colorado and was
planning on reaching the Pacific Ocean. When he arrived at Lochsa
Lodge, there were no rooms, so Merle and Susan offered to share
their room with him. We also met a fellow named Rick who was similarly
stranded, so Will shared his room. Today when Ed pulled into the
Three Rivers Resort, he joined us for happy hour and dinner. We
saw and chatted with several other cross-country trippers all of
whom seemed to be enjoying themselves. One couple from Sacramento
was planning on riding to RAGBAI, doing that ride, and finishing
up in Boston.
Kamiah, ID Tuesday June 19: This will be remembered as one of the
most pleasant days ever. We gradually descended about 260 feet along
the Clearwater River, passing dense forests, virtually no development,
and more Lewis and Clark (and Nez Perce) interpretive signs. Along
the way, we stopped at the birthplace of the Nez Perce nation and
read their creation story. The history, light winds, cloudless skies,
and temps that started at 60 and gradually warmed up to the high
80's by the time we finished combined to create a day to be remembered.
We stopped for lunch at Kooskia, a healthy-looking restored town
of 600 that seems to be drawing its wealth from tourists like us.
Brick buildings lined Main Street and included antique shops, a
saloon, and a nice café or two. Kamiah's Main Street is equally
charming. Tonight was "Tijuana Tuesday" at the local bar.
This means $13 for a bucket of Coronas and two tacos for $1.00.
Most of us took advantage of the tacos but not the bucket of beer.
Winchester, ID Wednesday, June 20: The Winchester Lake Lodge was
also a place to be remembered, but not necessarily in a good way.
The lodge's proprietor was away, and his helper didn't seem to be
expecting us. We fended for ourselves, found bedding, places that
resembled beds (including a trailer) and a place to shower. It eventually
worked out, but not without some frustrations!
Here are some comments by Bonnie about the day: "We were up
early knowing that we had a tough day ahead so started with a hearty
breakfast at the newly remodeled Victorian style Hearthstone Bakery
and Tea House. Ken, Gail and I stopped within a mile of Kamiah to
pick sweet ripe cherries that sustained us through the 90+ degree
day. The first 11 miles were grueling uphill followed by rolling
hills. We were now into farmland of mostly barley and the gorgeous
yellow fields of canola (rapeseed). Before our lunch stop we visited
the Dog Bark Park which has a dog-shaped 2 story bed and breakfast.
We all noticed the logging trucks going both ways. How could we
not, being on bicycle?. But the question that occurred to many of
us was, "Why are they going both ways?" Forrest's theory
is that the Teamsters Union is very strong and the drivers are paid
to drive logs around whether or not any logging is actually being
done. Ken asked a local who told him that there are contracts for
different types of wood which are then processed at a variety of
locations. I promised Gail M. some wine, so I visited 2 stores and
2 bars before I was able to buy some wine in a "to go"
cup! The bartender gave me several choices, one of which was sherbliss,
so I opted for "that one" after asking how it was spelled!"
Clarkston, WA Thursday June 21
After an early start with breakfast in Winchester at the Lake Café,
we enjoyed an 11-mile, 2,500 foot descent that everyone agreed was
one of the best. After passing Culdesac, we climbed a hot, dry hill
and then enjoyed a nice descent to the Snake River and Hell's Canyon
Park. That evening most of us hopped on a jet boat for a ride up
the Snake River about 30 miles for a prime rib and salmon dinner.
The ride was enjoyable, and we saw some deer, mountain sheep, and
many birds. The return ride arrived at dusk; it was a good way to
celebrate Summer Solstice!
Clarkston, WA Friday June 22
The layover day allowed us to do laundry, shop for groceries, wash
the van, fix bikes, nap and relax. Lewiston is a delightful little
town, full of shops and charm. Batteries charged, we are looking
forward to three more days of riding before our next layover day.
Colfax, WA Saturday June 23
This 50-mile ride had a total gain of almost 3,500 feet; good thing
we are now in condition! The day was special for several reasons:
The first was the 2,000 foot climb out of the valley where the Snake
and Clearwater Rivers converge (between Lewiston, ID and Clarkston,
WA). The '"Old Spiral Road," or "Spiral Highway"
twists its way up very steep brown treeless terrain. The 8 mile,
5% grade had a smooth wide shoulder and very light traffic. We were
wondering what the temperature would be, since the high yesterday
was in the high 80s, but we didn't get warm on the climb at all.
From the top the views were spectacular! Second, we will remember
the "Sage Bakery" we stumbled upon in Uniontown. About
two years ago an 1890's brewery was converted into this charming
shop with tasty pastries and cappuccino. Less than a mile out of
town Gail M. noticed a picturesque barn, so we pulled up and found
an "artisan colony." It was donated to the city so sculptures,
painters and the like could work and display their wares. Rumor
has it that Will got locked in a porta-potty, but the truth was
that he only got locked into the field where the (private) porta-potty
resided. Darn automatic gates! His pleas were eventually successful.
Worley, ID Sunday June 24: The "Core of Discovery" team
seed no apples in Washington, failed to eye any potatoes in Idaho,
and they didn't know beans about any of the crops around, except
for a sign explaining that the fields along the road are garbanzos.
Actually, almost everything else was wheat. Tailwinds, light traffic,
good roads and weather combined to make this a good day. We had
lunch at Tekoa, pronounced Teeko, and afterward visited the weekly
farmers market for cookies, ice cream sandwiches, and fruit. That
evening's destination was a casino, and was exactly what you would
expect: loud, smoky, and big. The food and rooms, though, were first
class, so we put up with the gambling glitz.
Wallace, ID Monday June 25: Imagine a newly-paved smooth bike path
(no cars) about 10 feet across and virtually flat (no hills). Add
a fairly strong tailwind. Then add wildlife (deer, moose, bald eagles,
ospreys) and lakes, rivers and forests. That's what we had for 66
of our 75-mile day today. It's called the Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes.
It used to be a railroad through the forests, primarily for the
lumber and mining industries, but we cyclists can enjoy it now.
Restrooms, picnic areas, and interpretive signs are placed along
the route. Bonnie, Gail M and Ken stopped at the 55-mile mark for
lunch at the Snake Pit in Enaville. This bar/restaurant was full
of character (and characters!). Late in the day, we arrived in historic
Wallace. Then we set off to find a local "colorful" restaurant,
which happened to be only a few feet from the center of the universe.
Wallace, ID Tuesday June 26: Here are more comments from Bonnie:
"We were a bit more industrious on this our second rest day,
taking in the many sights in walking distance of our hotel. Several
of us were surprised to meet each other in the Laundromat first
thing this morning, all obviously deciding to get the chores out
of the way before having fun. That done, some opted to visit the
Oasis Bordello Museum, which operated from 1898 till 1988 and was
left intact after a hasty departure of the employees with groceries
still in bags, phone numbers of customers taped on the wall and
cigarettes still in the ashtrays. Others visited the Railroad Museum,
and many hopped on the trolley for the tour of the area, including
one of the mines. The Coeur d'Alene Mining District ranked first
in annual production of silver in the world for many years and lead
and zinc were also plentiful. Silver continues to be mined. The
self-guided walking tour was another option as the entire town is
on the National Register of Historic Places and whole blocks have
remained intact for over a century. And how did we orient ourselves
in this town? We used the plaque in the center of one of the intersections
which declares that spot as the Center of the Universe."
St. Regis, MT Wednesday June 27: On this day scouts Merle and Will
contacted the native peoples to learn the best route over Lookout
Pass and into Montana Territories. Will was mounted on his pony
"Friday" and Merle had tough old "Novara." Wagon
Master Walter also reconnoitered for our party. Eight of our number
chose to take a gravel road after we left the Coeur D'Alene trail
in Mullen and climb to 5,100 feet from our start at 2,700 feet.
We were in total wilderness for hours! We decided to avoid the Interstate
(I-90) again later in the day, and went over the paved "Camel's
Hump," adding even more elevation. Both climbs were rewarded
with outstanding downhills going on forever! Part-way through the
ride we picnicked on sandwiches we bought in Wallace before getting
on the road: the owner of a little store helped us pull a picnic
bench into the shade of a large tree. Almost everyone we met on
the road was very friendly.
Alberton, MT Thursday June 28: We took several routes today, but
they all paralleled the interstate (more or less). Half of the people
opted for the highway, since it was clear which way to go, probably
less hilly, and probably faster. A few of us (Phill, Anne, Bonnie,
Gail and I) rode on the south side of the river on a dirt road up
a hill with no traffic and great views. After a nice downhill, we
met almost everyone else at Rosie's in Superior for a late breakfast.
Locals told us that we could continue to stay off the interstate
by taking a frontage road for a few miles. Our 10-room motel is
modest but it borders on the river, so each of our rooms had a wonderful
Missoula, MT Friday June 29. 28 miles
Our last day was predicted to be hot, so we all started early. The
temps never got above 72 until 11:00 am, and by then most people
were already at or near the motel. Four of us opted to stay off
the freeway; Gail M asked a local about side roads and he told us
that if we backtracked 100 yards and turned on the uphill dirt road,
we would hit a paved road in about a half-mile (and 150 feet elevation)
that "would take us all the way to Missoula." Well, not
quite. We had to get back on the freeway for a few miles, but then
Will found a bicycle path that he was told "would take us all
the way to Missoula." Not quite. We did manage to find other
frontage roads (by asking locals) that led us into downtown Missoula,
though, and to the headquarters of Adventure Cycling, the Mecca
for cycling tourists. After getting some water, ice cream, a water
bottle and a pat on the back, we headed for Thai food and a bike
Later that day we concluded the tour with a "farewell dinner"
complete with plenty of conviviality. Eventually we made it to the
hotel, where we unpacked and cleaned up for the "farewell dinner."
All arrived safely with a tan and lots of pictures and stories to
share! Total miles? 549. Total elevation gain? 26,000 feet. Finally,
I want to give a big thanks to Walter for all his help and to all
the others who made this trip so much fun!