Enclosing us as we headed south beside the Salmon River were, to the east, the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and, to the west, Hells Canyon Wilderness. (Honest! The Americans started bigging things up real early.) It was worryingly easy even though we were going uphill in the morning sunshine with the grandeur of the scenery belying the scariness of the names. Our biggest concerns were the heat and lack of potable water … annoyingly you have to boil the refreshingly cold river and creek water due to presence of Gardia … and that takes time, in the sun and the heat.
By 9am it was hot! And set to get hotter. To avoid heat/sunstroke whilst cycling in stupid temperatures, do you go like the clappers, generating heat internally but for a shorter time, or go slowly and keep relatively cool, but for a longer time? Not being able to do the maths/physics/chemistry sums, we went for the great British compromise … somewhere in the middle … and just hoped that none of our heads would explode before we got to any shade.
It turns out that homemade rhubarb or huckleberry pie works a treat as a preventative measure. After not too many miles we pulled into a very unexpected and productive smallholding on a bend in the river, mainly to refill our water bottles and get out of the sun. It was real hokey but came up trumps … we sat in the shade eating and drinking until we couldn’t think of a good enough reason not to carry on. As soon as we started again we found one … the heat.
Yet again the landscape had changed … over millennia the river had cut a deep, wide ravine into the sparsely covered rock and a hundred years ago it was a mining area where they used the force of the water to gouge out the gold and silver in the valley sides. If you look really hard you can still see evidence of past industry but nowadays the river is in a designated National Recreation Area and is used mainly for white water rafting and fishing.
We decided to scoot through the rafting centre of Riggins and head for a store 10 miles further on which was indicated on our maps … bad, bad move. It was shut. Bang goes our shade, food and water option … we had some water left, but by now it was so hot that you could make a passable cup of Earl Grey with it! Next door, Pinehurst Lodges had shade and water so we snuck in there and sat out the heat of the day … it was 104°F by then.
When Juanita turned up some time later to find us sprawled all over her property (and by then using her internet connection as well), she didn’t even bat an eyelid but she did insist on making us lunch! Now, would that happen in England? … I think not. Two months in and the people still amaze me with their generosity.
We chilled out there slightly too long … until about 7pm in fact and then headed off for the last 20 miles in the warmth of the evening. Being this late meant that it was prime time to see wildlife as it got dark. Paul and I counted the 7 elk and a couple of Sandhill cranes as a spectacular result … Mike wasn’t quite so impressed as us Brits. The fabulous sunset got a unanimous thumbs up though, as did the showers in the campsite 30 minutes later. By then it was well dark but Al, the owner, still had time to give us a beer and chat to us about a whole range of topics that seemed to be vexing him. Eventually, with nothing resolved, we put up the tents, set our alarms for not enough sleep and hunkered down, hoping tomorrow wouldn’t be so hot.
Today’s Miles: 62
Miles since First Landing: 3695