Finished 7:15 pm
Average 8.8 mph
Saddle time 8:18
Warm Lake to Bollings Springs
Let the adventure begin.
We woke up extra early to get a jump on our long day. We were hoping to make it to McCall and the huge pass around mile 50. The steam was sitting on top of the lake like a beautiful moving blanket. We left at 7:40 am. The air was crisp and chilly. Even the small hill was not warming up my hands. As we reached the second mile, the sign said ‘road closed’. I thought it said 8 am to 4 pm, and it was a good thing we got an early start. That wasn’t the case. The truck driver gave us directions and back towards North Shore Lodge we went.
We found the correct turn to McCall. This road, too, had a ‘road closed’ sign. We decided to see if we could talk our way through. Our first try was unsuccessful. As we got closer to the closure, we saw a camper and asked about the road. She didn’t know much so we kept going.
I stopped to talk with a truck driver who was filling up his water truck from a healthy stream. He thought they might let us through. Then we were passed by a semi-truck with gravel and we got a good sense of how tight the road was.
When we reached the real road construction, I got scared. They were working on the steepest part of the road: the cliff. Plus, the mountainside had a huge concrete barrier. In other words, if the semi came up the hill,our options were going over the cliff or getting squished into the barrier. We could see the crew working about a mile or two down the steep hill. I could just imagine them being mad at us and turning us around. Climbing the hill, I worried about semis coming towards us. We made the painful decision not to go through. Many blogs and people have shared that it’s the most beautiful part of the trip.
Biking back toward North Shore Lodge cost us two hours and added 11 miles to our morning.
Thank goodness there was a way to get back on track. Warm Lake Road went directly to the town of Cascade just 20 miles away, or so we thought. We still hadn’t done a hot spring and not getting to McCall cut out our 5 chances. On the bright side, Cascade would allow me to stock up on some food, and more importantly, get back on track with our map.
Warm Lake Road ended up being a summit. The paved road wound its way through the forest and we climbed. Around 10:30 we pulled over for a snack of cliff bars. A couple we had seen at the road closure stopped by to check on us and offered us a ride in their pickup to Cascade. We have found that people on the trail are always incredibly kind.
When we reached the summit, it was around 1 pm and I knew that Cascade would not be our final stop of the day. As we descended, the only street sign was the crossroad between Horse Thief and Warm River Road. This made me chuckle. Only in the backcountry do you get to see these names.
We started to see many sandhill cranes so I knew cattle were close. Sure enough, a large field of bulls appeared (man were they big). We had been passed several times by the same woman truck driver, once on the closed road and twice on Warm River road. We were now waving friends.
The weather has been great for us. Cool in the morning, sunny all day, and cool at night. It wasn’t too hot by noon. As we entered town on highway 55 on a Friday, it was bumper to bumper traffic. We found the local pizza place and boy was I excited. We got a table and I went to wash my hands. I was stunned when I saw myself in the mirror, my zinc sunblock that can go on white looked like it had melted. It gave me the appearance of a very scary clown. No wonder people stared as we walked in the restaurant.
We pulled out our maps to check our options. We had gained a day or two because we didn’t hit McCall. Cascade is on a lake with plenty of hotel rooms and restaurants. But if we push through we might get home in time for our son’s birthday.
Our options were an RV campground about 10 miles out or hot springs and a campground 25 miles and a big summit away. On the map, I calculated that the summit was around 1,700 vertical which we had been training for all summer, but we weren’t on a dirt road nor did our bikes weigh 95 pounds.
The 10 miles to the RV site was incredible; slightly downhill, and running along the lake shoreline. There was even a golf course. Someday I would love to come back here. At the end of the lake was horse country with small farmhouses, cattle, and a valley view to the surrounding mountain range that was nothing less than spectacular.
We saw cars and trucks lined up on the side of the road, and as we got closer to the river, we could see why. It was the launch spot for boats. As I took photos and videos, the locals chatted with me. The river is mostly class 1 & 2 this time of year.
The RV campsite was on a busy street. Our legs felt great and even though we had biked almost 50 miles I knew I could do more. We stocked up on ice and two giant Gatorades.
The next two and a half hours we worked our way up the hill. Sometimes walking, some shade, a lot of sun, spectacular views. I tried my best to capture where we had come from and I am always surprised that in two hours you can be in a whole other world. There was not one car, motorcycle or bike to be found. This isolated feeling can freak you out a little, especially if you are coming from a big city.
Our legs were feeling the burn when we reached the summit. From the map, our campground looked to be downhill. We were careful not to go too fast as the dirt road was sandy and sometimes would suck us onto the cliffs’ edge.
When we got to our camping area there were hundreds of choices. The Boise National Park is one of the most impressive camping friendly places we have ever been to. I found myself saying I want to bring so and so here next year. They will love it.
Pulling into the first campsite that waved, we talked with two guys, their dogs, and a 2-year-old. We were looking for a paid campsite so we could have a fire pit, a toilet, and water. But as we were talking, the two-year-old put on his helmet and begged for a ride. I gladly put him on my bike where he sat touching all my equipment on my handlebars for the ride of a lifetime. The National Forest campsite was just across the bridge. When I put the little guy down he started to cry. He really wanted a ride.
We were grateful that there were three campsites available on a Friday night. As we pitched our tent, our camp host was so happy to see us. Steve was a sweetheart and we chatted for some time. He gave us some firewood and later we met his two-year-old Saint Bernard puppy, Lacy. Lacy immediately took to me and she licked my salty face all over. She wanted to play play play.
We ate more pizza for dinner and took an amazing bath in a private area Steve told us about just where the hot springs release water. It was like taking a hot bath after a long bike ride. I felt like a new person, totally regenerated.
John made a campfire, our first one on the trip. It was a beautiful way to end the day.