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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 river view.
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 store.
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!

Ken King