Route: Lowell to Kamiah, Idaho
Saya's (age 6) quote of the day: "Daddy, may I get totally soaked by the sprinkler?"
Enjoying our pleasant spot next to the beautiful Lochsa River, we did not rush out of Lowell in the morning. We finally started cycling at 11 a.m., and I didn’t realize that would be a problem until we began to get close to Kooskia, 23 miles away. One of the most memorable parts of this section were the private gondolas used by locals to cross the broad and sparkling Clearwater River to their property on the other side from Highway 12. Sho and Saya thought commuting by gondola would be “insanely awesome.”
When Lewis & Clark passed through here, coming in 1805 (nearly starved) and going in 1806 (impatiently waiting for the snows to melt), they spent many weeks with the friendly Nez Perce Tribe. The Corps of Discovery was following a path that had been in use for more than a thousand years. Called the “Buffalo Trail” by the Nez Perce, it linked the Native Americans living in the Columbia River Basin with those in the mountains. Around seventy years after Lewis & Clark passed through, a large group of Nez Perce used the same route to flee from the U.S. Army. In 1871, during the build-up to that confrontation, Old Joseph, father of the famous Chief Joseph, told his son, “A few years more, and the white men will be all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son, never forget my dying words. This country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.”
Although the clash of civilizations was settled long ago, the echoes still reverberate from the conflict between private ownership by the encroaching white settlers and the worldview of the various Native tribes, who had a different relationship with the land. In my own life, I have felt this tension between the allure of material wealth and the call of deeper relationships with my own family and with the natural world. I do not reject the market economy, but I can also prioritize the dwindling wild. We are living in a time of inexorable loss, of mass extinctions and an explosion of the human population that threatens the balance of nature. But there is always hope. And there is so much natural beauty in the world. I hope to teach my children to seek it out and treasure it and preserve it.
By 12:30 p.m. the temperature had shot up to over 100 degrees, and we fled inside a diner in Kooskia to cool off with some deliciously cold milk shakes. I had planned to ride about 55 miles to the town of Orofino today, but decided to stop riding after 30 miles in Kamiah. Saya used a sprinkler at a local motel to cool off (see pic). After a short exploration of Main Street (where we just missed being able to see the Wooly Mammoth Exhibit by five minutes), we retreated to the safety of air conditioning. So much for my desire to spend time in the wild with my kids – I am indeed a product of modern society. We’ll get an earlier start tomorrow, but may cut the ride short. When the temperature hits triple digits, it’s a mistake to ride for many hours, especially with kids.
Here are some pics:
Gondola over the Clearwater River
View from the ride
Too hot to ride far
"Yes, Saya, you may get totally soaked by the sprinkler"
Still 97 degrees at sunset