Tour Day 24: Clayton, ID to Stanley, IDSeptember 10th, 2007
49.96 mi / 4:11:13 time / 11.9 mph avg. / 20.5 mph max. / 1909 ft. climbing
Staying at Stanley Lake Inlet National Forest Campground
There was some great star-gazing last night, where the bright band of the Milky Way inevitably draws your eyes upward, even on a simple walk to the toilet. In the morning, I stayed in the tent a little longer than usual, both because I knew I had a short day coming, and because I wanted the sun to rise over the mountains to warm things up a little bit.
When I did roll out, I happened to check my front tire for some reason, and found it completely flat. I have no idea why, since the tube seemed fine when I took it out. But since it was the front tire and I hadn’t packed up the bike yet, it was a simple tube change. Much better when these things happen in camp than when on the road!
The morning presented itself with high-pressure deep blue skies and very little wind, a perfect day for cycling in a great environment. I continued winding up the Salmon River Valley. As I gained elevation, the evergreen trees began coming down the mountainsides and replacing the sagebrush. At some point, the National Forest guys came along and said to the Bureau of Land Management guys “see, there are trees now, we can take it from here.”
Since it was a short day, I stopped at every little roadside marker and display, two of which were very cool. The first was a salmon spawning ground, and quite serendipitously, the salmon were actually spawning there (in the Salmon River, no less!) A 900-mile trip upriver, to breed and die. While I’m also traveling upriver, I’ll try to avoid the following their example too far. I guess if I had a canoe, that means I could also put in right there and float down the Salmon to the Snake to the Columbia and all the way to Portland. The other stop was at a hot spring coming out of the mountainside and flowed into the river. This was nice because, unlike all the fragile areas at Yellowstone, I could actually walk over to the spring, put my hand in it, and say “damn, they don’t call it a hot spring for nothing!”
I ate no Little Debbie products today, because the place I stopped at was a Hostess shop. Most places are either Hostess or Little Debbie; only very rarely will a place sell both, and in those cases, the racks are usually well separated. Hostess is good, but it’s not better than Little Debbie, and it’s way more expensive. Anyway, I got an Apple Pie, and then a Big Texas Cinnamon Roll from an independent bakery. The Roll actually had an emblem on the package declaring that it was 2007 Snack Cake of the year or something like that, so I had to get it. Turns out it’s from the Clover Hill Bakery, which is located where? That’s right, Chicago, Illinois.
Stanley is another town that sits at a flat river confluence, surrounded by high mountains. These are the Sawtooths, and they are aptly named, for they’re the most jagged and pointy mountains I’ve seen so far. I was expecting Stanley to be more resort-like, since it’s “The Gateway to the Sawtooth Wilderness”, but I guess maybe wilderness travelers are looking for wilderness, not resorts. The town center is actually on gravel roads. I got my third identical roast-beef deli sandwich in as many days, and then spent a long time in the library (which doubles as the librarian’s house, I think) figuring out the last week of the trip.
Then it was nine more miles up to the campground at Stanley Lake, where I got a lakeside campsite with an amazing view of the mountains. Unfortunately the air is a bit hazy (smoky?) so it doesn’t make for the best pictures.