A Day Alone

Before we left Hamilton this morning, Jeffrey learned that today’s route reenters Idaho at Lost Trail Pass—7,014 feet (2,138 meters) above sea level.


Blewett Pass in Washington, our previous high for this trip, is ”only” 4,124 feet.

On the Rides, it’s “Don’t stew, just do.” We take things as we find them. No way out.

Today was a day without close encounters. We said hello to two people taking photos of a cattle ranch. Our machine and perhaps our Human Rights First sign attracted some motorists’ attention. Most lookers were quiet or tooted a greeting. A car with Michigan plates hung behind us long enough to photograph our Web address, then passed us with a friendly call and wave.

We may have raised consciousness today, but it was a bust for talking.

Yet the Rides aren’t just about talk. Human Rights First can’t stand up for refugees without our support. Please donate if you can. All donors will receive a genuine Beatles postcard, autographed by Jeffrey and me.

We made good time on the flats south of Hamilton.

Darby is a town with an Old West feel.
We saw touristy shops alongside local-culture businesses like this one for skull bleaching. Note the brickwork on the facade, spelling out ”IOOF”: Independent Order of Odd Fellows, an old non-sectarian fraternal order that probably met there.
Snowy mountains line the valley.
Trapper Peak. In the foreground is part of a wheel line (or sideroll) irrigation system.
Incongruity gets noticed.
The Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery camped here in 1805.
Beyond this sign, the road’s wide shoulders disappeared. We lit flashing lights on our pool noodle and on Jeffrey’s helmet. Traffic was sparse. The few vehicles that overtook us, passed us carefully. We never felt afraid.
On high ground, tree trunks were scattered like spilled matchsticks. Some looked scorched. We suspect wildfire. Bark beetles may have played a role.
The road’s wide smooth shoulders reappeared higher on the mountain.
We climbed into numbing cold and a wind-driven snowstorm mixed with sleet and freezing rain.
Deep snow at 7,000 feet.
After over 5 hours and 48 miles on Montana roads, we crested the pass and reentered Idaho.

Jeffrey read that at 7,000 feet, it takes 5 breaths to inhale as much oxygen as one gets in 4 breaths at sea level (NYC). He believes it.

We didn’t see an elevation sign. This was the reading on our phone’s compass-altimeter.

We have no photos from our freezing, winding, 17-mile descent. Jeffrey’s hands went numb squeezing the brakes as we followed a smelly tractor-trailer shedding clots of fur or feathers and holding its speed to 15 mph. After several miles, a car came up from behind and crossed the double yellow line to pass the truck. Jeffrey followed the car, reasoning that if a vehicle came up on the other side of the road, it would hit the car and not us. We passed the truck too and rolled down at 25-30 mph, to an altitude low enough that we could stop and shake off the numbness.

Below the snow line again.
After 73 miles, we stopped in North Fork, on the Salmon River. The town consists of a few houses and two small motels, one of which has a shop. No restaurant. No supermarket. No matter. We carry supplies, scrounge, make do.
The view behind our motel.

Time to thaw.

See you tomorrow!

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