Howard writing: I’m beginning this post from the porch of the bunkhouse at the incomparably beautiful home of our friends John and Nancy Cassidy in Stanley, Idaho. The Sawtooth Mountains cover the view shed from end to end, and the Salmon River is flowing less than 20 feet away. We have come 640 miles since we left Newport, OR.
The days since our last post have been filled with much mountain beauty, some mundane days, mostly wet and overcast weather, a rendezvous with Reed in Boise, and a bout with food poisoning.
The cycling day after leaving Vale was pretty dull, by comparison to the glory of nearly all of the previous days. We passed through flat farm country, some of it lovely, headed for Emmett, ID. We decided to ride an additional 12 miles further east to the Roystone Hot Springs.
En route there, another road angel came to my aid. During a stop for a drink at a roadside café, I had chatted with a woman, Annie, about life goals. She told me that one of her main goals was to ride a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. She related an experience a few years back when she had helped a cyclist who had a wheel problem, and said she liked to be helpful to people. About 5 miles from the café, a pickup truck honked me over to the side of the road. It was Annie. She had chased me down to give me my bike helmet, which I had left in the cafe. She said, “I’ve got your back!” And she did.
Roystone was an old resort from the 1880’s that has been updated. We didn’t have time to enjoy the pools, because we had to get down to Boise (50 miles south) to pick up Reed in the early afternoon.
After picking him up, we went to a bike store for some more spare tubes, and to have his bike checked out and tuned.
Then we resupplied our groceries, walked in a mural alley, and returned to Roystone.
The other two viewers – also Warriors fans – were two men from Oroville, California, who are here in Idaho to hunt black bear. Starting during the game, both Wendy and I began to feel pretty funky. That night, we had a round of digestion problems, which we later attributed to a day-old turkey sandwich left over from the previous cycling day. Who knew that a nitrite-free turkey sandwich could create such chaos? Wendy was hit very hard; me less so, but still I was not at my best for my first cycling day with Reed. The stomach issues have persisted, but today we both seem to be better.
After Roystone, Reed and I cycled up into the Sawtooth Mountains on the Banks-Lowman road.
This was a spectacular route along the South Fork of the raging Payette River. The river was flowing along at probably 25 mph.
We saw one lone kayaker who was running a stretch of river that I couldn’t imagine touching as a white water boater. We reached the lovely campsite Wendy had selected right on the banks of the river above the town of Lowman. We had some concerns about the river overflowing its banks, but it stayed steady the entire time we were there.
Yesterday, we rode one of the premier bike routes in the country – from Lowman to Stanley. We met just one other cyclist, traveling the opposite direction. He was outfitted for off-road cycling, and even had a bell on his handlebar that doubles as a shot glass. We shared a shot of bourbon that he was carrying to fortify us for the 11-mile climb.
The route climbs out of the Payette drainage over 7200’ Banner Summit to Stanley, in the Salmon River basin, at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains. Every mile is glorious, especially the approach to Stanley – where Wendy joined us – through meadows with meandering streams and wildflowers (and ravenous mosquitoes).
Today we spent in relaxing, talking with some local folks with some very different world views, touring an old gold mining town and dredge, and Wendy and Reed enjoyed a soak in a hot springs (literally a cauldron installed at the edge of the Salmon River) two miles from where we are staying.
Reed also did a bike ride in this beautiful region. We ended the day with a merry dinner with the Cassidy’s and a group of Stanford students.