Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wild Horse Plains, Montana to Clark Fork, Idaho Aug 19

August 19.     - 82.36 in 7:33.     In general terms, today was a day of rolling hills. The elevation never really changed, as the Clark's Fork River is dammed up by two hydroelectric dams, but I climbed  over 2600 ft of rollers, and descended 2700.
 I started out the morning in perfect conditions, and followed the river until the mountains narrowed in on me, and the road lost its shoulder, and was abutted by rocks on my right. A roadside plaque said that this was the Bad Rock Trail, and it was a very rough area. Big horn sheep warning signs started to appear, and as I looked to my right, I could see the sheer cliffs that they like to roam. I saw four bighorns along the road just before Thompsons Falls, and Pam saw a big one very near the road as she was driving. When I stopped to read the plaque about the Bad Rock Trail, I got into some gravel, and couldn't get my foot unclipped from my pedal before I tipped it to the right, and landed pretty hard. When my shoulder hit the ground, my head snapped real hard and smacked off the ground also. My helmets outer decorative shell broke, but the helmet did it's job and saved my pumpkin. My sunglasses somehow cut the bridge of my nose, but the most notable result of the tip over, was a fantastic chiropractic treatment on my neck when it snapped off the ground. My neck really bothers me when I'm straining into a headwind, and I have been doing that for a few days now, so the relief was welcomed, and I didn't even have to show my Blue Cross card! 
After about twelve miles of narrow roads, I came back to the rivers edge, only now it wasn't flowing like it had been. I knew there was a dam downstream, and the back up had begun. I was happy to be off the narrow part of the road, because traffic, especially trucks, picked up significantly on this Monday. Yesterday was Sunday, and traffic was significantly less. Today, every worker with a pick up and a trailer was flying by. No problems, but people around here just drive really fast on the curvy roads. I have been noticing large amounts of dead deer, and even more deer skeletons every where, and that also is a result of high speed travel on these roads.
      I finally came to a tourist town, Thompson Falls, about 25 miles into the ride, and the development that I noticed was missing yesterday, began.  I grabbed a quick lunch at the Subway there, and was on my way through rolling ponderosa pine forests with huge cedar trees mixed in. As a result of the development, all the riverfront (lakefront) property, was filled with homes, camps, and ranches, and the road veered away from the water for quite a while. Somewhere in the forest, the afternoon wind began to fire up and smack me in the face again, so that slowed progress.  There was a lot of logging and rock quarry work in the area, including the biggest logging mill I've ever seen. I have noticed that they don't waste a tree here in Montana. Most forests I've ridden through have lots of fallen timber on the ground, but there is very little downed timber here. Everyone has massive supplies of firewood around there homes, and I think they are allowed to forage through the forests for it. In some states, they don't let people clean up the dead wood, and it just lays there and waits to be fuel in the next forest fire. In Montana, they keep there forests clean. They also harvest a lot of commercial timber, and the forests are not nearly as dense here. 
As I came eventually back to the water, I saw a sign for the Noxon Rapids dam, so I went a few miles down a side road to see that. After the dam, the river took on its previous flow, until a few miles went by, and I noticed that the river was widening and slowing again. As it turns out, the dam I saw was Montana's hydroelectric dam, and the water was backing up again, because as soon as the river gets into Idaho, they have a dam too. For all the recreational opportunities I've been seeing, and even with increasing development, there still aren't many people around these parts. Another thing I noticed was that  everything is for sale! Everyone has a for sale sign on their house, their property, their old truck, their antique tractor, anything. I did see a beautiful ranch for sale with a log home and 50 acres for under a half million. That same half million could get you half an acre and one of the cheaper houses in Southpointe, where I made my living. If you want to spread out a little, Montana is the place to be! Less than a million people live in this huge state, and they like their isolated homes.
     I finally crossed over into Idaho, and the roads deteriorated significantly. The shoulder disappeared on the road, and they became 'Texas Chipseal', which I hated so much. Fortunately, the roads are so worn that the roughness is gone, but I see more potholes than I have seen anywhere since Pennsylvania. Pam found a campground five miles into our new Pacific time zone, so its going to get dark an hour earlier for us now. The place we stayed is a 'resort' of privately owned sites, and it was pretty wiped out from a flood a few years ago. We got a site that was hard for Pam to get into, but we were right on the Clark Fork River. A beautiful, private place with no one else around. I celebrated being in Idaho by eating a baked potato for supper, and spent the evening watching the Steeler preseason game, which ended early enough for us to sit outside with binoculars and a camera, and watch the near full moon come over the mountains while the sun was still shining, and watch for wildlife along the river banks. Another really, really, nice place. 'The road goes on forever, and the party never ends! '


Bighorn sheep

Lumber mill 

There's a lot of logs here!

Yup!  Their welcome sign is on a little island in the water!

Moose antlers on the ranch entrance

You do see some weird things on the road!  Like this mannequin in a bikini!

Another Montana white cross



Noxon Dam







Our campsite overlooking the river

Isn't it lovely?

Mike was experimenting with full moon pictures - here are two of them


The Wampus Cats????!


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