6/27/17. Day 10. Ione to Priest River
Miles: 64.4 (that’s about 10 miles more than we thought). Total Miles 545.6
Elevation gain: 1745.4 ft. Total Elevation: 21,863.3
Break Camp: 8:00am - Make Camp: 5:00pm
This was intended to be an “easy” day, riding a fairly quiet road along the Pend Oreille River until we get to...Oldtown, Idaho! Once we are in Newport (Washington) right next to Oldtown (Oregon) our plans change to continue on to Priest River.
It was only a little windy overnight in our tent spot in the cedar grove. We enjoy the luxury of a coffee pot (instead of our 1 cup pour overs) and get a relaxed start to the day.
The weather has cleared, not much wind, we think it's a relatively flat day ahead We say goodbye to Gabe and pedal back through Ione for our turn-off a mile away.
Doug and Gabe Gabe's dad's metal artwork - so fun! Our favorite
Instead of HWY 20 on the other side of the river, we rode on quiet Le Clerc road as it undulated along the bank of the Pend Oreille River.
The road was flanked by pine forests and shoreline homes and cabins. At about 19 miles into our ride, we pulled into the Panhandle campground for a little rest and to check it out (this is where we had originally intended on staying). We chatted with the parks contract manager for several national parks who was checking on the site - the thunderstorm that barely hit us the night before had wreaked havoc here. He thought for sure that several trees were going to come down. He has a range of over 240 miles of parks to check on and he described his concerns and travels. One of the best things about our trip is taking the time to talk with people and hear their stories. Thank goodness we stayed in Ione! We ate a snack, filled our water bottles, and were on our way.
Our next stop was at the Kalispel Indian reservation tribal office and wellness center. We were really just pulling off the road to get off our bike seats for a few minutes and ended up having a great conversation with a woman who worked at the wellness center and wished she had more time for long hikes. She pointed to the herd of buffalo on tribal lands. We should have just eaten lunch there but decided to keep riding until we got to a campground - until it turned out the campground was too many miles away. So we just set our bikes down and ate PB & bagels on the side of the road at the turn off to the town of Usk (but there wasn’t a town that we could see).
Back on the road, Doug suddenly starts yelling, swerving his bike, and grabs his chest. We throw down our bikes and he’s grabbed a fistful of his shirt with a bee (or some other flying biting thing). He rips off his helmet, strips off his shirt, and the darned thing had stung/bitten him 3 or 4 times. YOUCH!
We pulled into Newport and immediately got some cold drinks at the grocery store. As we were sitting on the sidewalk at the front of the store, we noticed that we were surrounded by people who did not look very healthy. We sure appreciate our ability to live a healthy life and sometimes think of Bellingham as this wonderful bubble of healthy living. Our camping prospects around town were not good - $50 for a private campground “resort”, ride back 5 miles to a wooded campsite, or..continue on to Priest River 8 miles away. Onward we rode.
We were unsure if we were in Idaho or Washington - there were no welcome signs until we left Newport. Welcome to Idaho!
Our welcome to Idaho was not very nice. The road out of Newport (HWY 41) was by far THE WORST road yet - NO shoulder, super rough, BIG Semi-trucks going 50 mph, and a giant hill to take us away from the river. Thankfully, after only a couple of miles, we turned off to the Old Priest River Road which again was quiet and lovely.
It was the end of a long day, hot, and Google did not help us find the grocery store. Road construction made it difficult and dangerous - but with only a few cross words to each other, we made it to the store. The Campground/recreation area called “Mudhole” was just 1.7 miles away and was not a mud hole at all. Biker tent spot was $5 in the woods. We went for a cooling dip in the swimming area then the best $0.25 hot shower ever.
We met Owen, a fellow biker, who is camped near us. He is following the Northern Tier route (Adventure Cycling route) to Maine and has 3 months. He chose to travel very light - is carrying no tools and no cooking supplies. Sure, we might be slower with more gear, but Doug and I enjoy cooking at our campsites. Tonight we were swarmed by mosquitoes while we cooked (thank goodness for DEET - so we weren’t bitten much) so that we walked our dinner out to a sunny picnic table in the sunshine in the park to eat in peace
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