Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 6: Anaconda, Montana to Salmon, Idaho

This was billed as a lazy day and I ran with it. I bunked with Greg (Mully) Mullinax and we awoke wanting food and coffee in a hurry. McDonalds was right across the street and we ended up meeting Ryan and Thor there for breakfast. I love small towns! After breakfast Mully and I thought it would be a swell idea to wash our bikes at the car wash behind the hotel. A fun waste of $1.25. But afterward we spotted the Anaconda Copper Smelting Plant Memorial and went to see the site. Very interesting. Anaconda was a mining town but the mine shut down in the early 80's. And sure enough you can spot the most ostentatious building in town and see the old bank markings all over what was most recently a Subway. That's what is happening to this old town as a transient service industry sustains the remnants of a once proud mining town. The notion of "Economically Stranded" occurred to me toward those that carried on in this town.

I buddied up with Dan Bowman today and we threw in with Greg Calhoun and Bob Shields to head out of town on he planned route. It's a small town so you get off of main street a few blocks and it turns to dirt. Fine, we're on dirt bikes! But dirt turned to serious ruts and serious incline and then serious rocks. Calhoun was leading, I was second, and it wasn't long after I thought "this is getting hairy" that I came upon Calhoun with his bike parked on it's side perpendicular to the trail. I stopped, slid backward, and eventually parked to help Calhoun right the KLR. That thing is a load! It took Calhoun, Dan, and I to get it up and turned down hill. And after that I took my turn at dropping and picking up my bike to get turned around. This morning had gone downhill in a hurry. When everyone was turned around and pointed back downhill I was wobbly from the effort. I asked Dan if he would be agreeable to taking the easiest route to Salmon and he graciously agreed. I Dan.

Our route took us right by the hotel and we met John Therkleson headed out on the same route so we all traveled together. We went a bit south and then took a western turn over the mountains we'd traveled the day before. And once again it was all big impressive ranches as far as you could see until we got into the Forest. The views were amazing. I mean post card quality! Being on the street actually let us see more of the sights and it was a nice turn from a surprising morning. At some point we passed the end of he trail we started in the morning: it was a snowmobile trail. That explains alot.

We ended up at a road that paralleled a winding river for about 20 miles. It looked like fly fishing nirvana (we later found out it's very famous). The road was under construction so we had a lead car pace us through it and that allowed us to really take it in. I really wish I knew how to fish. But if I did I would've veered off he road and never come home. The construction ended and we rolled into Wisdom, Montana which judging by the lure-to-anythingelse ratio must really be the fishing destination I've been led to believe. We had a nice lunch and ran into Mark Cambron and Scott Nelson which was pleasant surprise. I visited every merchant in town for a souvenir but came up empty.

From there we got back into Idaho and eventually headed south toward Salmon. But we found ourselves passing the road to Shoup, Idaho where we'd had those delicious shakes and had bought the fuel from the hand pumps. Dan and I knew we had to go back! The rest of the guys agreed and we took off toward Shoup. About 15 miles down the road to Shoup I realized I left my jacket at the last stop. I went back while the other guys carried on to the store. I was flying down the road too. On the way back I came around a turn as fast as I dared and there were maybe 4 mountain sheep in the road. I was committed and just held my line. They sprinted up what appeared to be a shear rock face which was distracting enough to nearly make me crash. Amazing!

I arrived at the store, got a shake, and settled in for naptime like the rest of the group. What a nice respite beside the Salmon river. And such gracious proprietors. I tried to spend all the money I could with them. Afterward, Dan and I spied a cool direct route with no backtracking on the GPS. Sweet! So we took off with the Mark, Scott, and John following a few minutes behind us. But after ~7 miles we ran into a gate. We tried to route around but the trail became overgrown and we gave up on it. But not before I dropped my jacket during another nature break! I'd figure this out near nightfall on my way to Salmon.

No sooner had Dan and I given in to backtracking about 25 miles than we ran into Scott, Mark, and John who we turned around to come down with us. Scott took the lead and we made a spirited pace down until I came around a turn and found Scott laying in the trail. That's really unexpected because Scott is a really good rider. Turns out Scott had a flat rear tire that brought him down. We put air in but later it went flat again and he had to change the tube. Dan and I pressed on as I was now without a jacket in rapidly dropping temps. We made it into Salmon with Llloyd marshaling us into the parking lot. I think we'd worried him with our late arrival. The rest of the group came in a bit behind us.

We had a great dinner at the restaurant next to the hotel. We had a big table and there were more stories flying than you could keep up with. This was another really cool moment for me as the group that set out together that morning had such a range of unique experiences that it entertain us all for the evening. Now that's an adventure! Dan and I roomed together this night and Dan was gracious enough to volunteer to re-route back my jacket with me the next day. Now that's a good friend. At some point this friendship needs to help Dan out of a jamb!

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