|07-04-2011, 02:23 PM||#1|
Long time Idaho rider
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Boise, Idaho, USA
Recycling Idaho memories: Ride with my daughter to college
Laura, our oldest daughter, will begin studying neuroscience at Washington State University in Pullman this fall just a few miles from where I grew up in northern Idaho, where much of my family still lives.
North Idaho is also where Laura was born, slipping into my hands, the first to touch her, in a small apartment bedroom eighteen years ago under the watchful eye of a midwife. In spite of knowing what to expect, I was struck with awe at seeing the tiny life emerge in front of me.
Our lives have followed a scenic route since then, sometimes on different paths, sometimes the same, schools big and small, here and there. Through it she has found interests, aptitudes and herself, graduating a large high school with a perfect GPA, awards and honors.
As she travels the road to adulthood, I plan another scenic route. A long spring has left snow to linger in Idaho’s mountains, precluding plans I’d made earlier to follow dirt or gravel most of the way north to her college orientation. As with life, we improvise.
Cartwright and Dry Creek Roads to Highway 55
We set out under an azure sky across the temporarily green, but usually brown, Boise Foothills on Cartwright then Dry Creek Road to Highway 55. We enjoyed a lazy morning so it’s already lunch time when we descend the grade into Horseshoe Bend.
“I think there’s a Subway or something in the gas station on the other end of town,” I say to Laura. “Shall we stop?”
“Yeah, I think I remember that too,” she answers. “Sounds good.”
A rider on a V-Strom parks alongside after we’ve finished our sandwiches and are getting ready to leave. “Where ya headed?” he asks as we pull on our jackets and gloves.
“Up to Moscow for my daughter’s college orientation. How about you?”
“Just doing the local loop,” he answers, meaning up Highway 21, across the Banks Lowman Road and back to Boise on Highway 55. Or vice versa.
“Nice,” I say. “Beautiful day for it.”
I enjoy the implicit camaraderie of riders, though am curious of its substance. It must be more than owning a kind of vehicle. Do we see ourselves in the same way, perhaps a little defiant, at ease in the elements, frontiersmen without a frontier?
Laura and I exchange waves with oncoming riders as we follow the Payette River, roiled with spring run-off, up to Long Valley where we turn from the highway to circle the west side of Cascade Reservoir. Blue that was above Boise has curdled grey.
West Mountain Road around Cascade Lake
“That road looks interesting,” I say of a jeep trail heading into the trees above the Payette River on our left. “Shall we try it?”
The smells of a wet forest—moldering autumn leaves, soil and sap—fill the air as we swing around and begin up the shadowy trail. Before I can click to the next gear, we’re stopped at a gate.
“Oh well.” Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We happily return to the road and speed on.
North Fork of the Payette River
Dark windows make secret the occupants of an overbearing black pickup that stops to join our juxtaposition with Bambi at the side of the road. “That’s so cool,” Laura exclaims. “I’ve never seen one that small.”
We quietly watch a fawn struggle to its feet. A doe waits beyond but cannot compel. She paces nervously, anxious to dart for cover.
We leave the deer in peace and dance our way under leering skies through forests and across meadows, bending and bowing as the road requires. “This is a pretty ideal way to travel” I comment to Laura as we glide between wood pole fences.
West Mountain Road
Signs urge caution as the road suddenly sprouts driveways left, right and everywhere, a change of tempo. Something about these crowded cabin hamlets strikes me funny. We choose to live in tidy homes along straight streets but travel to ramshackle lodging on unkempt grounds to enjoy ourselves. What does it mean?
I am glad when, after some miles, the congestion, the unanswered question, is behind us, and forests again flow uninterrupted from lithic heights. We periodically pause to enjoy the snow-topped ridges above trees, above grass, above a plane of water. At one place we watch two bald eagles circle over a shore festooned with flowers, purple, yellow and white.
“That’s weird,” Laura remarks at old world lampposts, fanciful arches and clean pavement appearing abruptly after miles of dirt. In a moment we realize we’ve come upon the entrance to the storied Tamarack Resort.
From there we pass several state campsites along the edge of the reservoir then accelerate away from the water on straight gravel roads toward McCall and the highway. It’s nice to pick up the pace.
The probability of snow in the highlands keeps us to the highway along the Little Salmon River north from New Meadows. “Need to stop for anything?” I ask Laura as we enter Riggins.
“Nope.” We roll through.
Banner Ridge to Free Use to Fish Creek Road
Not an odd onomatopoeia, this Skookumchuck beside us, but Chinook jargon for strong water. Indeed, the narrow creek is frothing at its banks. We’ve turned from Highway 95 onto a gravel road that should lead us east across the mountains to the South Fork of the Clearwater River.
We follow the creek for some miles then begin switching back and forth to climb the ridge to our left. Verdant views are unveiled as we ascend higher and higher, stirring memories.
Climb to Banner Ridge
A smooth stone
White Bird grade visible behind Banner Ridge Road
I am arrested by august mountains and meadows swirled round as we summit Banner Ridge. I’ve never been here but it is familiar. It is a spring day on the Palouse when I was ten, the stark mountains of northern Nevada, the family at Freezeout, and a rainy ridge above Riggins, where I sat alone thinking of places my dad enjoyed after he was gone.
Now it is the place my daughter and I stand at the edge of her childhood.
Free Use Point
Road follows ridge a few miles before entering the forest of filtered light that alternates grey and yellow with passing clouds. I follow a whim to drive off the road onto faint tracks up a hill of flowers. The bike bounces and growls until we stop under an old pine tree.
Laura and I walk together a short distance for a clear view past the few trees. Rocks alternately faced and fractured form steps in time, palisades on the far side of the canyon before us, like rings of a great tree marking mega-annum from antiquity. Our lives seem so small in comparison.
South Fork of White Bird Creek Canyon
“I always love seeing Indian Paintbrush,” I say of the flowers around our feet as we stroll back from the view.
“Me too,” answers Laura. There are many other flowers whose names I don’t know.
Shadows grow deeper as we continue through the woods. We are starting to see snow along the road’s margins. “Getting kind of chilly,” I notice.
“See, you should have put on your liner,” Laura suggests. Or maybe chides (as daughters do). She put on her own liner earlier.
“No, no,” I answer, “I’m warm.” Which is true enough since I’ve turned on the heated grips.
The roads are a little different from the GPS map but with a few recalculations we continue heading in the right direction. And then a little surprise, a highway. Or at least nicely striped asphalt on the Grangeville-Salmon Road.
Soon a second surprise: snow not just in shadows but across the whole road. It’s funny that a veritable highway should end up being the road that’s impassable. And sad if it spells the end to our adventure. I don’t know of any alternatives.
Laura on the Grangeville-Salmon Road
I have been lured many times into fighting through snow only to be forced back to where I began, exhausted. What should we do? I think for a moment. “Laura, do you mind hopping off while I try to ride through this?”
“Not at all,” she answers enthusiastically. Is she excited by the challenge, as I am, or just glad to stretch her legs?
The pig tries to wallow a time or two but I manage to stay upright. Laura gets back on. “Sorry about that,” I tell her. I always feel bad when I ask a passenger to walk. “I’m just worried there could be ice under the snow.”
There are a few more long patches of snow but where it isn’t covered, the road is quite fun, like getting to ride after the zombie apocalypse. Look mom, no cars, no laws!
We stop to look at the gravel road that should cut over to Highway 14 along the South Fork of the Clearwater, our route. Now that’s too much snow. The happy feeling fades a bit when I realize we’ll have to loop up to Grangeville and then back down to the river, a considerable detour.
Impassable Cayuse Canyon Road
We have settled into an impatient pace on the pavement when the bike lurches dramatically. I know immediately what has happened. Laura’s heavy bag has swung down from its high perch. I brake hard for the side of the road.
“Can you fit your stuff in this?” I had asked Laura the night before, handing her a single dry bag.
“Sure,” she answered in a tone that also said, “whatever, dad.”
When I lifted the bag this morning it seemed to weigh 75 pounds. “What do you have in here, a bunch of books?” I asked, joking. When I saw it was books—so typically Laura—I asserted my vestigial dad-authority to have a few removed.
It is still a heavy bag but to be fair to Laura, I know few ladies who could pack for four days of public interaction in that space.
I glance over the bike at the side of the road. It looks fine. Laura’s bag is intact but a few of her things peak through small holes. We’ll have to find out later how her laptop fared.
A little rearranging, a solid yank on the straps and we’re off again. We skirt the eastern edge of Grangeville and head on highway toward Kooskia. At Orofino we will leave the highway and river to cut across the prairie to Kendrick.
Dworshak to Cavendish Road to Kendrick
Before trekking across the countryside, we take the Bruce’s Eddy access road for a quick view of Dworshak Dam. It is an impressive structure even if counter-productive as some believe.
The road out of the canyon curves sharply through trees that offer glimpses of the river below, valleys and forests beyond. We occasionally slow for a few extra moments to savor spectacular views but the arrival of dusk and already eight hours of riding propel us onward.
The highway to my childhood hometown, Troy, passes near Bethel Cemetery where my dad rests near his mom on a hill near the farm he grew up on. I stop more for Laura than myself, to emphasize her connection to the place she’ll occupy in the coming years. She comes from here.
The long day has drained whatever profundity we had. We just stand quietly a moment as the scent of lilacs fills golden air.
Jason Abbott screwed with this post 07-27-2011 at 02:44 PM
|07-04-2011, 02:50 PM||#2|
Get Out and Ride!!
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Nampa, Idaho
Nice story, Jason. Sorry you got detoured by snow. Makes me grumpy too.
Ride your own ride & enjoy your ride.
|07-05-2011, 09:25 PM||#3|
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: NP, ID
Nice start to your report Jason. Looks like you are making some nice family memories.
DO WHAT YOU LIKE - LIKE WHAT YOU DO
Explain to me again why enjoying life when I retire is more important than enjoying life now?
|07-05-2011, 09:37 PM||#4|
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Simpleville, SC
Nice report...I lived in McCall until July 09 and with Tamarack falling, I was forced to move. Your report make my gut twist. I miss it so much. I hope this detour in my life ends soon, here in the land of no dirt roads. Subscribed, and hoping you post some more pics to carry me through. Enjoy, Idaho is by far the greatest state.
|07-06-2011, 08:31 AM||#5|
Long time Idaho rider
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Boise, Idaho, USA
|07-06-2011, 02:20 PM||#6|
High speed drifter
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Wherever I go, there I am
"Confiar es bueno, pero no confiar es mejor." -- El Tejano en la pelicula "El infierno."
"A cheeseburger, a tank of gas, and the hell out of here!" -- Graffiti, Men's Room, Fontanelli's Tavern, Norman, OK c 1974
|07-11-2011, 01:58 PM||#7|
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Boise, ID
|07-15-2011, 12:21 AM||#9|
Joined: Oct 2005
Location: Boise, Idaho
Good report! Congrats to your daughter for starting her college career and taking the adventure to get there. The cemetery looks like a peaceful one for you dad. I'm in the planning stage of a northern Idaho ride late summer and will probably pass through Kendrick, Troy and Dreary.....I'm heading to check out the St. Joe River and Moon Pass road.
Boise to Baja, 2 weeks, 2 up, 1200Adv
DVDaze 1200GSA 2UP
Idaho West Mountains - Payette River
Southern Utah - 2UP - A Photographic Journey
Riggins - Burgdorf - 7 Devils
Selkirk Loop & the Canadian Rockies - 2UP - 1200 Adventure
Along the Magruder Corridor and More....
Into the Mountains - North of Boise
|07-15-2011, 09:13 AM||#10|
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Bend, Oregon
Very sweet and poetic. Too bad about the snow...that's pretty much been my year too!
Some people claim that there's a woman to blame. But I know. It's my own damn fault.
|07-15-2011, 12:35 PM||#11|
Long time Idaho rider
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Boise, Idaho, USA
A sizzling sound and the smell of eggs, hashbrowns and coffee promise a good day. Laura and I arrived safely at my mom’s last night and this morning my mom is preparing a big breakfast. Hallelujah.
“How’s your laptop?” I ask Laura, curious how it survived the fifty mile per hour bounce along pavement.
“Just fine,” she answers, upbeat. “There’s a crack in the case but I can just glue that.” I admire her attitude. I’m usually more irritated when things are damaged.
A couple of my mom’s kittens
Laura’s college orientation doesn’t begin until tomorrow so she and my mom have plans to play with the horses and Jesse’s two little boys while he and I ride the hills around Laird Park.
Palouse OHV trails near Laird Park
After breakfast I gear up and head the few blocks to Jesse’s house where he takes the lead up Moscow Mountain Road. We think we might follow the ridge but a locked gate limits our options.
Moscow Mountain ridge road
Recent rain has made a deceiver of the dirt road down the other side. It looks firm but tires break into a greasy, uncontrolled slide with each small change in speed or direction. I go slower and slower.
“Man, I almost lost it back there,” Jesse laughs when I catch up to him.
“I know, me too,” I commiserate. “I was fully expecting to go down.”
Northwest from Moscow Mountain
As we join the highway at Potlatch, I look over to see the school Laura attended in first grade. The old building and playground equipment appear unchanged from the day I spent there with Laura’s class. It even looks like the same merry-go-round the kids asked me to push them on until one threw up and a teacher asked me to stop. It seems so long ago and so recent at the same time.
The sky is getting darker as we pass the Bennett sawmill. I think my cousin Jeff Abbott still works there as an engineer. He’s a couple years older than me and used to ride me around fallow Palouse Hills before I had my own motorcycle (about ten-years-old, I guess).
One day Jeff showed up at our place with a new, baby blue IT 175. My dad, who rode a lot when he was younger, asked to take it for a spin, twisted the throttle, wheelied and promptly fell over. Jeff could not have been happy about the scratch left in his tank but just said, “that’s okay.”
Jeff’s was like this photo of Doug Howell’s 1983 Yamaha IT 175
I realize that, to my knowledge, my dad never asked to borrow another bike after that. I went through a few motorcycles in junior high and high school but he rode none of them.
Rain seeping through my pants and jacket, cold on skin, brings me back to the present. I should have put my liners in rather than leaving them packed in the bag behind me. Figures. The highway ahead fades to wet oblivion in shrouded hills. I’d like to stop and properly suit up but Jesse leads on. I figure he’s aiming to pull off at a bar, a café, something.
Instead, he continues on even as the rain increases from steady to pelting, even as I think he must be mad. He turns from the highway and leads us into the Laird Park campground where we dash under the best approximation of shelter, a stand of trees.
Rain at Laird Park
Now what? We strip off wet gear and work to make a fire of damp wood and pine needles. Rain makes embers smoke and hiss as we search continuously for usable fuel. It isn’t much but we’re glad for a warm place to stand, chat and snack.
After about an hour, the sky begins to clear. Our jackets are still wet so we leave them to continue drying while we walk in search of the nearby park area along the Palouse River.
Instead we find some fun. We can’t remember playing on one of these before. We giggle like children as we swoop and swing around the tall iron pole, grasping the long chains. It’s more fun than it should be.
We find our way to the river, confirm it’s still there, and steel ourselves for the soggy trails in our near future. I did some research on the Palouse OHV System and am anxious to see how my carefully selected route works out.
Traction up the climbing dirt path, leaving the gravel road behind, is surprisingly good for the soaking we just had. I was worried it would be nasty but I think this will be a nice time.
Dappled shadows, cedars and soil create a tapestry of sights and smells that bring me home. I really enjoy going through woods like this.
“Isn’t that where you got a bee in your helmet?” Jesse asks, referring to the last of the trail we’ve just ascended. Recognition hits. We’re going exactly the way we rode last time here! Here I was thinking I’d concocted a unique route, leading us on some new adventure.
As in life, we have a funny way of repeating ourselves even when trying to do something new, trying to make a fresh start. Is it genetic destiny? Cosmic fate? Or aerial photos not clear enough to show me I’d been this way?
Jesse hears my dismay. “That’s alright,” he reassures. “It’s a cool trail.”
Water had nowhere to run from flatter sections near the hilltop. Momentum is the only thing getting me past some of the mud challenges. If I stop on even a slight incline, it’s tough to get going again. This riding is less pleasant here.
On the phone out here?
We stop in the clearing atop Sand Mountain, same as we did last time here. “There’s some pretty steep stuff ahead,” Jesse says thoughtfully. “Sure you want to keep going?”
I think he’s wondering if I’ll be alright maneuvering the monster motorcycle on worsening trails. I don’t know. I don’t like to think that far ahead. “Yeah!” I answer.
View from Sand Mountain
We encounter the first patch of snow about midway along the ridge between Sand and Micah mountains. It’s around a bend, up a hill, of course. We stop to check it out. Jesse wanders down a little alternate trail to the right. We decide that’s a worse option.
So it’s forward—Jesse goes first. He doesn’t get through the first time but with a push from the back, he breaks past and builds enough momentum to struggle through the next patch of snow on his own.
He fights his way to the top of the muddy hill then beeps his horn for the all-clear. I feel exhilarated. I’m fairly sure I can’t make it through this but trying sure sounds fun.
The big knobs churn through the snow with surprising effectiveness. I saw Jesse get stopped on a stair step root in the middle of the next patch so I build up momentum for a different line—and break through again. This is going great!
But I’m only halfway up and slowing fast. I’m doing my best to modulate throttle, keep traction on the muddy hill, but I’m quickly coming to a stop. I can’t let that happen so I hop off while keeping my hand on the gas, the bike rolling, and push.
It helps some but my boots have no traction either. The bike leans away from me a little as it spins to a stop. Not a big deal except my feet just slide as I pull it my way. Down it goes.
Jesse hurries to my side and together we strain to right the thing. “Man, this is heavy!” he exclaims. We start it back up and both push alongside, with tire spinning, to reach the top. This is hard work!
The ridge continues to challenge. We detour through the woods, over small deadfall, to get around a tree across the path. Then we push our bikes through a five point turn to get around another tree across the path.
Finally we are close to the top of Micah Mountain. After that the trail should clear up as we descend to lower elevations. But what’s this? A final climb, steep, nasty and deep with snow. Darn. I can see the attempt would be pointless. I motion Jesse back.
We are going to be in trouble with the ladies. There’s no chance we’ll be to the family barbecue on time. But rain and snow—we can’t control that. We ride quick as we can back down the trail, back down the gravel road, back down the highway until we pull up an hour late in front of Joel and Jill’s house.
My mom comes from the back yard to greet us. “Jason, what happened?” she asks, concerned.
I am a little confused. “What?”
“Jesse said you wrecked.”
“Oh jeez.” Apparently Jesse called and mentioned the bike tipping over. I’m sure he was just ambiguous enough to create concern. “I wasn’t even on it. It just tipped over,” I insist.
We recount a bit of our ride around the fire. “It sucks to stand behind that thing,” says Jesse of my motorcycle. “It throws crap everywhere.”
I enjoy food, fire and family but I’m tired from the day and retire early. I’m almost asleep when an unfamiliar number rings on my phone at 10:30 (11:30 Boise time). I debate answering.
“Hello?” It’s Laura. She’s borrowed a phone since hers has died. She wants to know when I’ll be over with her stuff. She made a last minute decision to stay at WSU tonight.
“Laura, I’m in bed,” I say, thinking it’s an answer.
“Well, can you bring some things over on the motorcycle?”
“Um, no.” I love my daughter but getting out of bed, gearing up, riding to the next town and figuring out where on campus she is really doesn’t seem necessary when my mom will be there for work first thing in the morning, in seven hours. So I tell her, “send grandma a text so she knows how to find you and she’ll drop your stuff off in the morning.”
As she’s hanging up the phone I hear her answer someone nearby: “No, my dad is lame.”
Jason Abbott screwed with this post 07-27-2011 at 02:45 PM
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