Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 7 Change of Weather Fortune Lowman - Challis, ID 102 miles

A very good day of riding, and a big change from yesterday. Weather is everything on a trip like this; you are completely at its mercy. This morning I awoke to find a hot spring near my campsite. It felt very good to soak in it after a cold Friday. A couple rough legged hawks flew in front of the cliff across the river as I made breakfast in the morning drizzle. I shared a warming cup of coffee with retirees.

Today provided outstanding scenery. In the morning I biked uphill along the South Fork of the Payette, and then made a long, difficult climb over 7200-foot Banner Pass. I felt a sense of accomplishment out of making it this far in a week, seven days ago I was not riding a bike loaded with gear, and only training at sea level. It was good weather to make such a tough climb – 50 degrees and cloudy is a big difference from yesterday’s 50 degrees and driving rain. The Payette River features many hot springs and public campgrounds along its course. It is home to a couple species of native trout, not surprising given its cold, clear water and boulder-strewn habitat.

In the afternoon I caught first glimpses of the spectacular Sawtooth Mountains that were just shedding their day-old rain clouds. What a beautiful mountain range. After the town of Stanley I biked down river along the Salmon River. The Salmon is a beautiful river, teeming with trout and osprey and surrounded by steep, heavily forested mountainsides. I captured this river and the Sawtooths in a photo (above). Late in the day I exited the forested hills once again and re-entered the desert country around Challis. Mule deer were abundant along the river corridor late in the day. The Mountain West provides a stunning diversity of rain shadows, landscapes, and skyscapes. The setting sun made for pink and purple-shaded clouds over the desert of eastern Idaho. It promises to be a cool, clear night.

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