Since I already had the bike today, I was able to be on the road by 6:15am – a much cooler time of the day. Today my trip was 350+ miles or so, in a loop from Coeur d’Alene through St. Regis, MT, Plains, MT, Paradise, MT, Noxon, MT, Sandpoint, ID and back with a few side trips thrown in for good measure.
The departure was great, cool enough for the occasional shiver in while in the shadows but a welcome change from yesterday. I told myself that I would long for a shiver later in the day and to just accept it as a gift. I stopped at a couple of turnouts along I-90 to take some pictures, just couldn’t pass them by. It was a really scenic ride through Fourth of July Pass and Lookout Pass, you just don’t see that kind of terrain in northern Illinois. Tractor-trailers inching down the east side of the pass at 20-25 mph is just not a common sight in the flatlands of Illinois. There were a couple of lakes along the south side of I-90 with mountains in the background that just begged for pictures so I reluctantly accomodated them. Hopefully they will turn out.
My first stop since leaving Coeur d’Alene was in Wallace, ID. I decided that I needed a cup of coffee since my last coffee was in the hotel lobby as I was leaving. A small, sleepy on Sunday morning kind of town, I found the Briggs Hotel and got a cup of coffee. I took it outside and sat at a table on the sidewalk relaxing and watching things wake up. I could be at home in a place like that. The coffee cup was empty and it was time to saddle up and get going.
The next stop was in St. Regis, MT at the MT-135 exit. Time for fuel and a stretch. I met a couple of bikers from Washington, they were headed for Colorado, then New Mexico and finally Arizona. Quite the adventure, I’m sure. I headed north on MT-135 looking for MT-200. From the signs I was on 135 for about 20 miles or so, nice scenery, elevation changes, and the river (at least initially) was on the right. I made some pictures along the way. Got to MT-200 and turned west. Fairly soon after turning west I was in paradise. Paradise, MT to be specific. The town looked to be easy to miss, but I guess Paradise is only for those folks paying attention. The next town was Plains, and just before town was MT-28 that heads towards Glacier National Park. I stopped at that intersection and seriously considered turning on 28. Ultimately, I chose to skip Glacier and continued on 200. Several reasons, primarily distance, heat, and time. I may rent again the next weekend I’m out here and if I do will probably head to Glacier on Saturday, stay the night, go through the park and return on Sunday. Much more reasonable riding schedule and I wouldn’t feel rushed if I did it that way. From all accounts, Glacier is worth taking the time.
The Clark Fork river is really nice on the south side of 200. On the north the terrain rises quickly and there was a turnout describing a trail from the 19th century and continuing to describe the Thompson Falls mountain sheep herd. I didn’t see one but didn’t really expect to given the heat. I did see a warning sign the likes of which will never be necessary in Illinois – “Watch for Big-Horn Sheep”. As you get closer to Thompson Falls the Clark Fork widens and appears to slow down. Past Thompson Falls towards Noxon the reservoir is much larger than I thought it would be. You can go to the lower side of the dam and see the resulting water flow on towards Lake Pend Oreille.
I’m a little confused about the river’s name. Signs called it “Clark Fork” out by Plains, but as I got closer to Sandpoint, the signs were calling it “Bull River”. Maybe I missed something.
I stopped and read the signs describing the glaciers and melting that created the lake, very interesting. The volume of water that must have flowed when the ice dams melted would be breathtaking to witness. On northwestward around the lake to Sandpoint, and the intersection with 95. The temperature seemed to rise 20 degrees or more from the lakeshore temperature, the ride south on 95 was brutally hot. The news had the temps topping out at 105 and I believe it. I was glad to get back and relax in some cool air in the hotel.
I still have to get pictures developed (taken using my trusty Rollei 35 TE). I’ll post an album when I get them back.