I started today with a lot of trepidation about my route. I really wanted to take US-12 across Lolo pass and into the 99+ miles of twisty road on the far side, but the weather reports made me nervous. They were predicting snow. The morning in Missoula, MT was cold – around 40F and partly sunny. I could see the rain clouds off to the North, but I was going to go south to Lolo. Just before I left the motel, I checked the live webcam Lolo Pass Live Webcam and saw it was snowing with lots of snow on the sides of the road. arg.
I mustered up some courage and decided to go for it anyways. I talked myself into riding up to see how far I could go. At the worst, I’d have to turn around like the cow from a few days ago (ok worst would be crashing and getting hurt). Luckily, neither of those things happened.
I filled up in Lolo as per the recommendations from the Internet. It was supposedly 120 miles between gas stops, and I wanted every little precious drop to get me to the other side. The wind was bitterly cold coming down off the mountain. It felt like it was blowing through my clava right onto my neck. I pulled over and put another layer on my neck, and then all was good. The heated coat and heated grips did their job nicely. I was also very happy to have the hippo hands too.
The sun was shining at first while the snow flakes flew onto my face shield. An experience I am familiar with after almost four years of no car in Minnesota. The three winters I’ve ridden have been good teachers on dealing with these conditions. I just focused on being smooth and steady while keeping a close eye on the constantly changing road. I don’t have the Ural’s 3rd wheel to save me from a fall here!
I made it to the top of the pass quicker than I expected. I stopped to take all the requisite pictures.
The parking lot of the pass’s visitor center was empty. It was closed. The snow banks were almost two feet high along the road. Just after the pass, I found the sign Fuzzygalore wanted to see “winding road next 99 miles”. Click through to see the exact location on a map.
Going down was the same as going up. The road was a bit more wet with snow on the Idaho side though.
Once I got off the mountain, the snow changed to rain, and then cleared up.
It was beautiful scenery.
The road was nice too. As those of you watching on the SPOT map, I was making slow progress. I stopped a LOT, so I could enjoy the views (check out all the pics on flickr). There is a gas station about 48 miles west of Lolo at the Lochsa Lodge too, and then again at Kooskia (65 miles west of Lochsa). No need to worry about gas.
The scenery at first reminded me of Colorado with some bits of the Swiss Alps sprinkled in, and the later half of the “Northwestern Scenic Passage” reminded me of Colorado mixed with the Yangtze River Three Gorges area in China. When I told me wife about my day with those references, she complained she’d never been to any of those places, so it didn’t help her picture it. No worries. I took a bunch of pictures (and video). I’m not sure when I will get the video up.
I stopped for a few pictures, and then went back for my snacks. I found a sunny spot on the rocks along the bank of the river and devoured my goodies I had purchased at the bakery earlier.
It was great. The only sounds were the river, and me making mmmm noises. The blackberry muffins were good!
A few hours later I stopped for lunch again along the river. It was great to sit in the sun and relax. I could get used to this.
I took time to smell the flowers too.
My last big stop on US12 was at one of the rest stops on the Scenic Passage. I was quite tired, so I took a quick nap on a picnic table. The only noise was the river gurgling away. I woke up and had another snack. A Idaho highway patrol was also taking a break. He smiled and waved, and so did I. How can you not smile with such nice scenery?
There were several waterfalls along the route today too
and lots of bridges
I followed US12 to Lewiston, which smelled horrible. Some industrial plant making something smelly. Yuck. Without delay, I got on US95 and headed north up one of the large hills that had flanked the river for the past few hours. It was called Lewiston Hill and had a great view from the top. The Old Spiral Road looked like fun, but I was too tired to explore it. It is the noodle shaped road in the photo below.
US95 wound it’s way north through farm lands and around the large hills as it passed through several small towns. One was named Moscow.
I was tempted to stop there for the night, since Missoula to Moscow has a better ring to it than Missoula to Coeur d'Alene (CdA), but I wanted to get closer to Canada. I wanted to stop before CdA, but didn’t find anywhere to stop. There wasn’t much of anything north of Moscow, so I just rode.
Tomorrow I intend to cross into Canada. I hope I can continue this regular posting schedule, but that will greatly depend on finding reliable Internet which I feel will be more sparse the further north I go.
Thanks for all the comments, likes, and tweets. I appreciate the support!
I saw this sign in a bathroom somewhere today. I was confused why they went through the trouble make it in the first place much less frame it. “don’t flush it, it will flush itself” huh?! I let it flush itself. I didn’t want it to explode or something.