Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Update July 11 - Hell's Canyon ID to Jackson, WY

CAMPSITE, CHALLIS NATL FOREST
I got up at 5:45 am after a cool night (46 degrees). I put my riding gear on to get warm and fixed myself a cup of coffee and a nice instant oatmeal breakfast with raisins and chopped walnuts. That felt great! I packed up and was on the road by 7 am. 

I had to take an indirect route to get across Idaho. The GPS wanted to take me south to Boise and follow I-84 across to Idaho Falls. Of course, I couldn't take the easy way. 
It's a good thing I got an early start, that was a lot of winding highways and small towns and scenic rivers to get across and through. It turned out at the end of the that would be 529 miles!
Here is a terrain map to give you a better idea of why I took the long way.

The day was spent riding along various rivers in winding valleys. The rivers were very full and some were solid whitewater - I can't imagine rafting down those but I saw some outfitters getting ready to do just that. Other rivers weren't so bad. The green you see in the map above is very mountainous and gorgeous country. I think Idaho is my new favorite state!

As I rode along the Salmon River it was interesting to watch the terrain change from forest to barren rocks and rolling hills. Here are a few pics.


Several years ago I rode south down hwy 93 through Stanley but this time I rode across hwy 75 through the Challis Natl Forest and the Sawtooth Mtns. Here are a few pics of the mountains there.



But then I got to Challis and started heading southeast. This was a fast, straight highway through wide open, low brush and almost desert looking country. It was a long 150 miles or so down to Idaho Falls.

Along the fairly boring highway I came to a tall rocky mountain and the road seemed to go right through the middle of it. As I got closer that's exactly what it did! The wind was very strong and as I went through the canyon I was buffeted left and right as I took some pics.
It was probably a mile to go thru this canyon



Here coming out the other side and back to the flat windy country
Here is what it looks like on the map.

The Big Storm
About 30 or 40 miles short of Idaho Falls I saw some large dark clouds forming off in the distance to the south (I was traveling southeast). As I rode along a large black cell developed just to the right. It was a black cloud with rain that completely obscured the horizon. I knew it was a strong rain cell. Fortunately it was still off to the right.

Then in another 5 miles miles I could see on the GPS that the road turned slightly to the right. Uh-oh! The cell was moving slightly northward and still several miles off and the GPS showed me going right through it!

As I got closer I could see it was going to be a heavy rain but there was no lightening at all. So I tucked in behind a pickup truck. I knew if I got into heavy rain I might need to follow his lights or ride in his tracks if the rain started ponding too much.

I could see the edge of it and then in we went - but it was not rain - it was HAIL!! OMG it started as dime-sized and I tucked down behind the windshield as larger hailstones smashed against the windshield and left large clumps of what looked like snowballs. Some larger ones hit my exposed upper arms and shins and HURT! It got rather dark and the hail was coming down in sheets and was accumulating on the highway. Just enough to see it but it was slushy, not really more slippery than a wet road. This continued on for a minute or so (seemed like longer) and I rode out the other side. The road turned dry instantly.

I thought "Whew! Glad I am out of that!" I rode along for a minute and looked at the larger black sky over my right shoulder further south but was building. I wondered what that monster looked like so I looked over left shoulder. The sky was completely clear and I could see the entire horizon of the mountains behind me! That rain/hail storm had completely dissipated in the few minutes since I went through it! Unbelievable!!

So it was another 20 miles into Idaho Falls where I stopped briefly for a butt break, drink of water, snack, and check the GPS and map. I had 90 miles to go to Jackson but I had another mountain pass to go over so it wasn't a quick road.

So I arrived about 8 pm in Jackson, WY. I will take a day off and visit and relax and rehydrate and plan ahead a little. At this point I have no idea of what route I will take back south to Texas but everything south of here is experiencing a heat wave. I may plan a day or two of early departures (like 4:30 am) and ride till mid-afternoon and then maybe hotel it if it is too hot. I won't know till I get down there.
David's place in Jackson - Thanks David!

View of the stormy evening sky in Jackson
By the way, if you have read this far, you have to check out David's web site. He is a professional wildlife and natural photographer based in Jackson but has done photography all over the world and makes a serious living from it. You can see why at his web site at
www.davidstubbs.com. 

Nuff for now!

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