I’m not sure how to start this blog update, so I suppose I’m just going to jump right into it. If you haven’t already read part 2 (click here) because the story will probably not make any sense.
I left off with Eric and I checked into a motel in Ketchum, Idaho. We had several decisions to make on how to get through this trip with our fully loaded bikes. After 2 major climbs (Steel Mountain and Dollarhide Summit), we knew that something needed to change. We packed for a bicycle tour not a mountain biking tour. After covering 175 miles, we now had more knowledge on the type of terrain, insight into our strengths/limitations, and a better understanding of what we really needed to survive. How do you revamp your entire setup when you are stranded 159 miles from home? Funny you ask, I now know.
If in Ketchum and you find yourself in the same situation (and I hope you never do thanks to us!), you simply hop on Mountain Rides and with 1 simple transfer, you’re standing at a long narrow sidewalk that leads to the Friedman Airport in Hailey. It is here that your motorized chariot will be waiting. So yeah, we rented a car. That afternoon we stuffed our belongings in the back of a Subaru and the next morning, with our tails between our legs and sorrow in our hearts, we drove back to Boise.
I felt a bit defeated until choosing to have a more positive outlook on what we had accomplished in 7 days of full time biking and what we had learned in the process. It was then, we decided that we would go home, re-pack with only essential items, rent another car and then pick up where we left off. Okay, so this vacation may costed us more than we had initially planned, but we felt determined to get back on route—We were having an amazing time! Of course, with the exception of toting roughly 80-90 lbs of crap up a mountain. Ah, the little things!
I have to say, it was a weird feeling walking back into the house only 9 days after we left. A wave of emotions hit again, I felt like I had failed, my ego bruised. Thankfully, they were fleeting thoughts that faded nearly as quickly as they arrived when Eric put our journey into perspective. When our dreams come to pass and they are not exactly how we imagine them to be, it is important to demonstrate the mental flexibility to move forward.
It is in the unexpected, not the expected, where the true adventure lies. -Me
After a day of rest, Eric and I began the re-organization process. It was a lot easier than I imagined. I literally left behind every single item that I thought I could live without. By the time it was all said and done, I had 1 handlebar bag for shelter/rain gear and a back bag for food related items, a water filtration system, 1 spare shirt, and a single pair of underwear. I’m so happy my husband can love me even when I stink because everything else was left behind, forgotten—Unnecessary. It is amazing what you can learn to live without when you know you’ll have to lug it up a mountain.
The next morning, we hopped on our bikes, rode to the rental car location and picked up the car. Excited to get back to the trail, we eagerly popped the front wheels, shoved the bikes and gear into the back, and sped off into the rising sun. Three hours later, we were back in the saddles following the 13 mile Wood River Trail from Hailey to Ketchum. After a supply stop for some ChapStick and hand sanitizer, we found our way to the Harriman Trail as we continued our journey on towards Stanley.
Here are the accounts from this section of the trip.
Hailey to Stanley (86.79 miles)
With the exception of “Bone Road” from my write up in part 2, the ride from Hailey to Stanley was undoubtedly my favorite part of this trip so far. I was on an outdoor high, a visual bender, a….you get the idea. It was nothing short of magnificent! Yellows, reds, and greens popped in the clear blue sky. The terrain was rugged, the views stunning, and the climbs quite doable with our new lightweight setup. I slipped right back into my happy place like I had never left and it happened just a day and a half shy of my 41st birthday! Life was good.
Eric found the perfect little hidden camp spot along a babbling brook and we made camp roughly 20 miles outside of Ketchum. Not a soul around except for the two of us in our own private Idaho. <3 We had dinner, washed up, and nestled in for the night. The view from our tent wasn’t bad either!
Accent: 1259.84 ft
Total Ride Time: 5:36:32
The next day we were early to rise as the moon was on it’s way out a sunrise on the horizon. It’s interesting how the body and mind adapts so quickly based on what you need. After a long day of riding some fairly difficult roads (especially on those days with a lot of elevation gain) Eric and I both found we were ready for bed soon after dinner. Most nights we were in bed by 8pm and wide awake by 5 in the morning. If it wouldn’t have been so cold, it would have been easier to get an early start! Most of the time we’d snuggle up and stay warm for as long as possible before our bladders felt like the’d explode if we waited a moment longer. Let me tell you, when you’re sleeping next to a swift flowing body of water of any kind, it’s not as easy as you would think to control the urge!
There were so many times along this stretch of trail that I wanted to just lay down in the middle of the grassy knolls and just BE in the moment. Sometimes that is possible and sometimes, you just have to get to where you’re going because of limited daylight, water sources, and/or food supply. Today, we climbed the Galena Pass so there was not enough time for afternoon daydreaming or lollygagging. But there is always time for lots of photos 🙂
I think by now you can see why this may be some of our favorite mileage of the trip. It wasn’t the easiest 20 miles I’ve ever done, but the views were worth every ounce of sweat that dribbled down my brow that day. There are no adjectives to describe the beauty we saw and I assure you, while my photos are nice, they nowhere near do this place justice.
We weren’t without our daily obstacle. Some may see them as a hassle but obstacles have come to be both expected and weirdly welcomed. In this photo, Eric looks ahead (see photo to right) as we plan how to cross. A few wooden pieces held together by rusty nails wasn’t going to do us much good. Luckily, 40 yards back there was a small opening in some bushes that led down a steep ravine eventually leading us back on track (see photo below)
Several trees were cut like this one pictured here, but many were not so we’d have to lift the bikes up and over them. Nothing impassible, but after a long day it was just one more challenge to put us to the test. My personal favorite, said with potential sarcasm, was when we crossed over hwy 75 (a perfectly good road mind you!) to hike-a-bike on an extremely narrow patch of passable rock alongside a mountain (see photo below). At times, I didn’t have room to stand and push my bike, I would have to walk behind the bike, slowly guiding it with both my hands and my mind—one slip and I was a goner. Yikes! In the moment though, I felt my concentration levels rise as the adrenaline coursed through my veins. Looking back, it was probably those moments that I enjoyed the most. Well, maybe second to spending day-after-day in nature with only one goal—get further ahead.
After cresting the top, we endured a bumpy, butt-clinching decent. The large dust covered rocks, hidden by the shadows, seemed to be plotting our demise. The strategic way they were aligned unveiled their master plan to launch us into outer space if we dare sneak a glimpse of the spectacular views as we elegantly shake-rattled-and-rolled down the mountainside. Julie Andrews was right, the hills are alive!
About half way down, we were tempted to stop here (as you can clearly see why!). Colorful Aspens led to a tree laden campsite which butted up to a near vertical incline back to the top of the mountain. Complete with a running stream and about 8 different types of animal tracks from bobcat to elk, it seemed like the perfect spot. Due to the higher elevations and cooler temps we decided to make our way into the meadow below. It would be well after 9 in the morning before this gem of a spot saw any sun and our old bones need the warmth it graciously provides. So, on we went.
It all worked out because the views from our camp that night were spectacular. Surrounded by mountains on both sides, we made dinner and watched the sun fade into night. Delightful. The entire experience sums up why we went on this trip in the first place. Solitude at its finest.
We had this all to ourselves. <3
Accent: 2050.53. ft
Total Ride Time: 4:49:40
The night passed and we rose with the light of day. Much to our surprise, it wasn’t nearly as cold as we would have imagined. I woke to the crinkle of an air mattress as a handsome bearded manimal emerged from the warmth of its black cocoon. Ah, yes, my wonderful husband bringing sweet words, happy birthday wishes and soft kisses. Sometimes morning breath just doesn’t matter. Then again, sometimes it does!
The previous evening views had met its match as the morning light had as much beauty to offer our rested souls. It was glorious. We enjoyed the views as we made some coffee and tucked our home safely away in its rightful bag. It really is the simple things that make life worth living.
Branching off into a nomadic lifestyle is starting to feel like a natural fit at this point. Eric and I have both been surprised at how much we’ve enjoyed exploring by bike, everything we need to survive we’re carrying with us—No more, no less. I’m sure it’s not always this easy. We’ve had perfect weather, plenty of water sources, and incredible views to keep us motivated to push forward. It’s easy to get swept away in the fantasy that this could be our lives, full-time, in the very near future. Semi-retirement. When you have little and need little you really don’t need much money to survive. A simple life.
It really was the best birthday.
The terrain was changing fast. We would go from desert looking brown fields filled with plants that dryly whispered, “Wah-ter” to partially burned hillsides with golden yellow splotches that popped against the clear blue sky. And then…..
One of my favorite spots of the entire trip! A refreshingly cold bath with a scenic backdrop will undoubtedly make you smile from ear to ear. This spot also wins the award for most grand water fill of the entire trip.
From there, the views really just never stopped. We would go through golden fields then a mile or two down the road find ourselves smothered in fresh pine with rugged mountain vistas. Best. Day. Ever. Looking back, I think I could ride this stretch of the trail over and over and notice something new every time. It’s absolutely amazing.
Eric and I were getting closer to our much anticipated destination in Stanley, however, an overwhelming sense of resistance swept over our legs and into our hearts to keep moving forward. This would have been a pleasant place to linger for days on end. I long for the day we can return.
If we would have known what was ahead, we may have just made camp for another reason—A logging road from hell.
The grade was steep and the road was filled with thick sand from heavy machinery crushing the earth below those massive tires. It was beautiful being among the trees but that’s neither here nor there. Did I mention how steep it was? Haha. Eric is a beast when it comes to hills though, much better than I. Often, when the energy I expend to ride the bike supersedes the effort of the dreaded hike-a-bike, I jump off and begin the trek upwards one slow step at a time.
Are we there yet?
It’s hard to tell from the photo above, but it was like a downed path of dead wood perfectly parted the sea of pines.
Al….most there! A-L-M-O-S-T.
After 5 or 6 miles of unavoidable road riding on Hwy 75 (which I failed to take any photos of because blah….I’m not a roadie) we finally found ourselves in Stanley Idaho!
If you have excellent eyesight and you hold the computer/phone just right you MIGHT be able to see the brown sign that delightfully states, “Welcome to Stanley”. We made it!
Happy Birthday to me indeed. What a day!!!
Accent: 1345.15 ft
Total Ride Time: 4:13:33
We checked into the lodge and had a nice dinner and of course……Eric always has room for dessert!
The hot, gooey chocolate brownie goodness hidden under the vanilla ice cream was heavenly. Indulgence is sometimes necessary.
Reflecting on this section of the trip I’ve never been happier that Eric and I are both mentally flexible and determined individuals. It would have been easy to give up and throw in the towel. This trail is tough. There are several obstacles (both physically and mentally) to overcome. We had to revamp our entire setup after 7 long days of pushing extremely heavy bikes up mountains. Despite all of this, we owned it hence the title of this blog—Switching Gears. We recognized our mistakes and didn’t let a reset stop us from what we wanted to accomplish. I’m really proud of both of us and I know now more than ever that we can do anything we set our minds to.
Until next time.