Your Own Private Idaho
North of Grangeville, down we go into a deeply forested valley.
Well, it is said that if you flattened out all the hills and mountains in Idaho it would be
the size of Texas! What a state. The narrow panhandle in the north resembles my native
Berkshires as the Cabinet mountains and the bitteroots begin their march (and steady ascent
as they do so) to the southeast. The eastern borders with montana and wyoming boast mighty
peaks that often span the continental divide, snowcapped much of the year. The interior boasts
the vast Bitteroot wilderness area. Cycling thru this region requires alot of zigs and
zags to follow river valleys and paved roads. It is generally dry, low humidity country and
pleasant cycling; many areas to camp on the road side and in formal campsites. One time when
I was in North Riggins, Idaho, I camped in the front yard of a fellow who was tending his
garden and hailed me when I went by! That was long ago, and far away; many have the miles
rolled under me in these years; and yet to this day I remember waking up that morning and
sharing a cup of coffee before i left. The world is a better place because of mountain people,
and I do not forget it. Despite horror stories of Aryans in Idaho, or rednecks in Tennessee, or
Muslim fanatics in Pakistan, or guerillas in Colombia: I have almost always opted to give
the locals a chance to show what they are really made of. Rarely have I regretted it.
Rolling over submerged stones and boulders; its a long way to the Pacific!
The ascent to those Bitteroot mountains takes most cyclists up the valley of the Loscha river,
show here and also on a page of the same name a bit further below in my list. It is a
classic climb to Lolo pass; starting slow and easy, you start to sing and roll along. After a
hours you begin to realize this is no ordinary climb into the heart of the northern rockies,
and you camp by the riverside while the bubbles and gurgles of the river put you to sleep.
I was awoken several times by a rabbit thumping! It is a popular river for rafters as
well. Occasionally a small bridge (usually barb wired closed) stretches across to someone's
private home. The final few miles to Lolo pass itself can be strenuous--get the sleep ya
need and enjoy a solid breakfast as you cook under the crisp forest air.