Day 5 - Lowell ID to Lewiston ID (98 miles)
I had an early breakfast at the cafe and as I was grabbing my bicycle I chatted with the driver of a Harley Davidson motorcycle who had stayed in the adjacent room. He was kitted out like many of the Harley riders I had seen, leather pants, no helmet, and a leather vest. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to bring sunscreen and he was bright pink on the arms and head. My sunburn was niggling, but he must have been suffering something fierce. Since he was so overweight there was also the effects of the larger surface area to deal with. Poor fellow. And his wife was no better.
Lowell was at the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway rivers and from here they became the Clearwater River. The area was exceptionally beautiful with the river winding its way down the valley. It was good to be alive.
I cycled west along the Clearwater past some vacation homes and farms. There were several 'skyways' consisting of cables running across the river with a motorised 'booth' that crossed the river. These provided access to some large and expensive farms across the river.
There was a noticeable change in the climate; it was getting drier. Where up until now there had been dense forests on the sides of the hills, it was beginning to become more sparse. In fact, before too long I reached a place where there were dry, barren hills denuded of most vegetation. Desert. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was also where the Nez Perce Indian Reservation started. As I mentioned a few days ago, they were treated very poorly by the US government. Initially, they were given a reservation covering a large swath of land. The discovery of gold saw the government decide that in fact they should only have 1/4 of the previously assigned area. Then a few years later they were assigned about 80 acres per person. There were regular historical markers detailing the history of the Nez Perce, both before and after their mistreatment.
At Kamiah I was faced with the choice of continuing along the Clearwater or taking an inland route. The map stated "the Idaho Department of Transportation and local cyclists do not recommend cycling [this route] and we concur." The Clearwater route closely followed L&C's original route so I decided to opt for it, even though the map said the route was "narrow, curvy and occasionally shoulderless". At least it was a Sunday so there wouldn't be too many heavy trucks so I decided to go for it.
Good call. Although the traffic was heavy, it at least came in waves, with what were often long gaps between bunches. Since I could (usually) hear them coming well in advance which gave me time to edge over towards the shoulder. As you can see from the photograph below, they weren't exaggerating that there was not much space!
I was graced with this beautiful cycle for most of the day. At Orofino I took a break and had lunch. A large Pizza and lots of water. The woman who served me laughed the way I spoke but that didn't bother me. I have a funny accent at the best of time and sometimes my stammer also contributes. Anyway, she told me that her step-father was a Kiwi and that the most beautiful part of the USA was Oregon.
After eating too much I waddled onto my bike and headed onwards. There were people floating down the river using inner tubes, boaters, canoers, and others making the most of the wonderful day and the exquisite nature.
The river widened as I approached Lewiston, and the wind also picked up. As it was now Sunday evening the traffic was picking up and the road became quite busy. Fortunately, it merged with another highway and had 4 lanes with a wide shoulder so the traffic didn't bother me.
There were a number of signs advertising 'Pemmican' and I stopped at a lay-by to read a historical sign where the vendor was parked. When I cycled over to chat to him I saw that he was a double amputee which surprised me since he was driving himself in an old camper van. He told me that he spent winters in Utah/New Mexico, where he made the pemmican, and then travelled the Pacific NW in summer where he parked where he could and sold his wares. Several people stopped and tried it, but none bought any. Had I not told him I was a vegetarian I would have probably done so just to help him out.
Lewiston was an uninspiring town, but I was pleased to find a nice motel on the outskirts. I ordered a pizza and relaxed in the air conditioned room. It was another 100+ degree day and I was tuckered out after almost 100 miles of riding. The last two days were some of the most beautiful riding that I've ever had.
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