Wed, 10 Jun 2009
Wilderness Gateway Campground -- Bitteroot Wilderness, Idaho
Today we left front country civilization. The day began with an exhilerating descent from Winchester into the Clearwater River valley. We then followed the Clearwater upstream to its middle branch, then upstream further to the Lochsa Creek.
The Clearwater river, reminds me of the big Pine Creek that flows through the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania." The size and volume of the two creeks seem similar and the gorges through which they flow are also similar in size. One ironic difference is that the walls of the Pine Creek gorge are covered with Oak, Maple and Birch. The walls of the Clearwater are covered with Pine.
The paddling difficulty of both creeks seems similar. The part of the Clearwater that I saw seemed roughly 1+ with sections that might approach class 2. This is roughly the same as the Pine Creek. The Lochsa, on the other hand, quickly becomes a real whitewater stream, with big volume waves, eddys, and holes -- although usually followed by ample flatwater for rescue.
Another difference, relevant to our ride, is that Pine creek has a rail trail alongside that does not permit cars. The Clearwater and Lochsa have US 12, a shoulderless road with some heavy truck traffic. This traffic problem was exacerbated by the road construction underway and the tandem gravel trucks zooming through in support of that construction.
But despite these flaws, the ride up US 12 along the creek was highly enjoyable. This is a very pretty river, we had a moderate tailwind, and the temperature was just about perfect. Consequently, we hardly noticed the 1000 feet of elevation gain.
Gary is riding strong again. Today he was motoring along, seemingly happy as a clam. I know better, however. I think he has some concerns about Lolo pass. How do I know? Today, at lunch, he refused a beer. Yes, you read that right. He said that he didn't feel like having a beer. They even had a decent selection.
As we all know (or should know) this riding business is 90% mental. Gary is concerned about his climbing, but he is actually climbing well. Eventually his brain will align with his body, probably when he zooms up Lolo without the least bit of difficulty.
I'm not too concerned about the pass. It's on Google street view. It looks like a long, 6% grind with a narrow but useful shoulder. After my rando experiences courtesy of the "Easton Sadist", including Fox Gap, Little Gap, Lower Saucon Rd, etc..., I can't get excited about a 1500 foot climb over 7 miles.
|© 2009 C.T. Nadovich|