July 6, 2001

7/6/01 - Wild Goose Camp

65.3 / 4133 miles

Passed into another time zone, and thankfully gained another hour (which I used for sleep). And I also passed the 4,000 mile mark. Out here on the road, distances like 5, 10, and 50 miles can mean things like water, a bathroom, maybe lunch or a campsite. But distances like 4,000 miles are as vague for me as anyone else.

Slept like a log (appropriate since I'm in the forest). Woke up to blue skies and cooler temps. Even after all this time, it's still weird to camp among all the cars, trucks, and RVs, and not talk to anyone. I was hoping someone would ride in to share my campsite.

The ride along the Lochsa River was spectacular, especially as the morning sun was just touching everything. I felt as if I were in Nature's church. Tall rock spires held up the sky blue roof. Majestic trees stood in the pews. The blue-green river meandered down the center aisle. And the sun warmed and lit it all up, bringing out all sort of colors. But the choir was the finishing touch. The sounds of water flowing over rocks, the wind through the trees, and the melodies of the birds created a music you can't hear just anywhere.

Other than the road, this valley is little different from the one that Indians lived in for generations, or the one Lewis & Clark saw almost 200 years ago. Early, I saw what I thought was a fox. And I only caught a glimpse, but there is a bird with a dark blue iridescent tail and wings. But it darted into the shadows of a tree before I could see more.

The ride, all 60-some miles, followed the river downstream. Around every corner was a river scene even better than the last. The camera just couldn't capture it. Hey, even my eyes had difficulty seeing it all. So many streams, creeks, and waterfalls!

As the creeks dumped more water into the river, it gained in power, creating some pretty impressive rapids. Saw two different groups of kayakers testing these challenging waters. I had thought I wouldn't see any more east-bounders, but was wrong. Dawn and Jeff are headed for Virginia. Jeff had also thruhiked the AT in 1992. I had a good chat with them both, but they had a long day ahead of them if they were going to make it to Missoula early on Saturday. Another rider, John, started in Astoria, but is headed to Maine. Sometimes I just don't know what to say to those headed east. We're all cross-country cyclists, but our experiences are so different at this point in our rides. I've been wondering today, "Where's Bubba?" I hope he doesn't take any shortcuts, because it wold be great to see him again (last time was in Kentucky).

Kayakers enjoying the ride

Because of the steady downhill, I made it to Lowell (population 23) soon after lunch. I had thought it was going to rain because, as the winds (headwinds if you hadn't guessed) increased, the clouds moved in. But, just as fast as they appeared, the wind must have blown them past. Had a sandwich at Ryan's Wilderness Inn/Café. They had a huge map of the U.S. and encouraged people to place a pin marking their hometown.

The Wild Goose Campground was just a couple of miles down the road. I sometimes feel guilty when my bike and one-man tent take an entire RV site. If it gets full, I'd even consider sharing the site. Frank and his family are my neighbors. He's a boiler operator at a lumber mill in Kamiah, near Kooskia. He's brought the whole family here for the kids', Brook and Zane, first camping trip. Zane says he has fun catching fish. And their mother, Cathy, works at the library in Kamiah. I must have looked hungry, because they fed me a few chilidogs. Because of where it is on the river, the campground borders a big sandy beach, where someone has piled up rocks to make some pools along the river's edge.