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Day 5: Lewiston, ID to Lowell, ID

Remember how I said I was limiting my days to 80 miles or less until I’m over the Rockies? Today was the exception that proves the rule. But there’s a good reason! I now have two very short days of climbing over the Bitterroot Mountains coming up.

The day began with another late start. I was exhausted and set my alarm for 6:10, but still had difficulty getting up. Jim very nicely cooked breakfast, so I did get some good food in my stomach before hitting the road. And then since Christy wanted to get in a bike ride before work, she actually escorted me the first few miles out of Lewiston. She also took a photo for posterity.

When I said goodbye to Christy, we were on US-12 following the Clearwater River, which was basically the story of my day. At the start of the ride up the river, the landscape was pretty open.Not sure what the deal was with those boxcars. They were lined up for miles and not moving. 28 miles along, I arrived at the Lenore rest area. Importantly, it not only had toilets but also potable water. It was also just such a tranquil spot I started relaxing and was pretty reluctant to leave.But the day was progressing and there were many miles left. Continuing up the river, I arrived at the city of Orofino, which at 3000 people is probably the biggest thing I’ll hit until I get to Missoula. By this point it was also 11 and getting to be the heat of the day. Also, I had my first serious self-doubt of the trip. I know I’m physically capable of completing the ride, but the enormity of what I’m undertaking just kind of hit me like a sack of bricks. I wound up having a very long lunch and finally hit the road again at 12:30, not even halfway done with the day’s ride.

After Orofino the Clearwater Canyon became decidedly more forested, with scenery like this.The road also became somewhat narrower. In places there was no shoulder at all, and given the number of logging trucks going by this was very disconcerting!

At about 67 miles I arrived at the small city of Kamiah, which has the completely unintuitive pronunciation of CAM-me-eye. It also has Clearwater Brewing, a brewery-to-be. While they don’t yet make their own beer, they do have 12 craft beer taps. The highlight was definitely “Son of a… Baptist”, an imperial stout with coffee and cacao nibs by Epic Brewing in Utah. It was on nitro and delicious!

8 miles later was Kooskia (pronounced with a silent ‘a’), the last real town of any sort before I cross into Montana. After that it was just tiny villages like Syringa, with this cool-looking bridge which was sadly gated off.And finally I arrived at Lowell, population 24 23, where I’m spending the night at a motel with barely serviceable Wi-Fi. Then again, getting any Wi-Fi at all here is pretty impressive!Total distance: 98.0 miles
Average speed: 15.3 mph

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