My Long Way Round – Part 5

Origin: Couer D’Alene, Idaho
Destination: New Meadows, Idaho (Last Chance Campground)
Mileage: 271

I had about a day and a half off the saddle and I was anxious to get back on. I headed south to wrap around the mountains that split Idaho in half. There were no roads that cut through them so I didn’t have much choice. I thought I would push myself and try for another 500-600 mile day but I only made it shy of 300. The mountain roads slowed me down but the ride was full of great roads and beautiful scenery. I was surprised by the variety of landscape that I traveled through. Within an hour I would ride through curvy switchbacks and climb in altitude, and then I would coast back down the mountain and suddenly enter into a clear open field. I didn’t drop below 6000 feet so I was still pretty high up. The fields had open ranges with cattle along side the road. There were no fences, but they couldn’t get to far. The mountains acted as natural barriers and the long straight roads made a perfect scenic outlook. I passed by fire threat level signs many times. They all read, “Extremely High.” I saw smoke off in the distance on at least three occasions, and fighter fighting helicopters passed overhear twice. I was too entertained by the spectacle to feel like I was in any danger.

The sun was starting to set and I was looking for campgrounds along the way. I would pass one after the other thinking, “Eh, I’ll go a little farther.” Finally I saw a sign: “Last Chance Campground.” I took this as a sign…figuratively speaking, and turned in. I was met with two miles of loose gravel road that led to the campground. I had never ridden on gravel for more than a couple feet so the idea of continuing made me very uneasy. In the end the reason I kept going was for the sake of a new experience. So i crawled along at 5-10MPH with my eyes locked on the road, looking for large rocks. I barely looked beyond 5 feet ahead of my bike. What seemed like an eternity finally ended once I made it to the campground. I unpacked all my gear and prepared for my first night of camping. The sound of a nearby creek drowned out all the weird and creepy sounds that would normally cause me to wonder what thing and how big it was that made it. Overall my camping experience was very enjoyable . I got a good nights rest and hoped that the next day’s pace would be quicker so that I could make it to Yellowstone on schedule.

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