** Note: I just added photos to the Aug 11 and 12 blogs **
Route: Powell to Lowell, Idaho
Saya’s (age 6) quote of the day: While cycling by the Lochsa River full of boulders and white foaming rapids, “This is like a water park, but way cooler.”
We had a perfect start to the day, hiking through the forest and along the sublimely beautiful Lochsa River. Sho and Saya excitedly pointed out interesting plants, flowers and berries, and tossed rocks into the flowing water. We ate huckleberry pancakes back at the lodge, then cycled 65 miles on Highway 12 through a stunning landscape, following the meandering path of the Lochsa River down the mountain. Cars and trucks passed us occasionally on the narrow, winding road, and sometimes we pulled to a stop to let them pass us safely. But we were alone most of the time, listening to the sounds of gurgling water and wind blowing through the dense collection of trees that crowded the steep mountainsides from the river to the ridgelines far above. The forest was made up of ponderosa pines (which L&C used to make five dugout canoes), Douglas Firs, Engleman Spruce trees, Grand Firs, Sub-Alpine Firs, and the remarkable Western Larch, which grows up to 200 feet high in a nearly perfect line, and is a rare deciduous conifer that loses its needles in the fall. The combination of a rushing stream and dense green forest is deeply soothing. You can’t help but be in a good mood.
Sho, Saya and I ate lunch sitting on smooth rocks, our bare feet dangling in the cold river. During a break later in the afternoon, we met a couple in their 60’s cycling from Portland, Oregon to Missoula, Montana. It was their first self-supported bike tour – i.e. carrying all gear without vehicle support. I was impressed by their energy and fortitude, particularly because they still had to ride over 40 miles uphill to reach the Lolo Pass.
Sho, Saya and I reached the tiny town of Lowell, ID at 6 p.m. and ate Rainbow Trout for dinner at a restaurant/motel. We were told that a thunderstorm would move in overnight, so we decided to sleep in the motel.
Before going to bed, the three of us walked to the edge of the nearby river beneath a waning moon, glowing ever brighter in the darkening sky. We threw small blue flowers into the water in memory of our cat Boo Boo, who died two days ago. Saya said, “It hurts in my heart that Boo Boo died. It really hurts.” As the flowers floated away and tears ran down our faces, I held my children close. I remembered so clearly the first time I met that scrawny, starving kitten 15 years ago. I was consumed by work then, spending most of my waking hours in the office or on business trips. I was not yet a father and had no idea how Sho and Saya would change my life, how they would teach me to chase after adventures more than money. Watching the flower petals drift away downstream, I felt like I was floating too, unable to alter the relentless flow of time, powerless to relieve my children’s grief. All I could do was share that moment with them.
On our morning hike
Our lunch spot
View from the road
Saying goodbye to Boo Boo