Carrie’s knee had a decision to make: was it going to cooperate and allow us to continue our journey, or was it going to throw in the towel and force us to devise a new trip without cycling?
We broke camp early and started to ride. Okay knee, which will it be? Carrie pedaled gingerly at first, and when her knee made no fuss, we picked up the pace but still took it easy. It was slow going, but the road surface was pretty smooth and the grade gradually took us higher.
Before we go any further with this narrative, we need to discuss campground toilets. For those of you who’ve had the pleasure of relieving yourselves above a campground pit toilet, you’ll understand there are various levels of sanitation and odor when you enter an outhouse’s sanctum. Idaho Forest Service toilets have so far been impeccably clean. Yes, there are some flies, and yes, there was a wasp guarding the hand sanitizer dispenser at the Chapparal campground, but there’s been no sewer smell and plenty of toilet paper. A true luxury pit toilet experience!
After about 3.5 hours of riding, we reached the base of the Dollarhide Summit, the highest pass on the Idaho Hot Springs Route at 8719 feet. It was about noon, so we decided to pitch our tent in the shade at a primitive campsite for a siesta and to determine if we’d tackle the climb that day or the next.
While we were relaxing in the tent, a couple in a SUV stopped at our campsite. A guy named Dave popped out and proceeded to chat with me about our trip, as he was familiar with the Hot Springs Route and Adventure Cycling. In fact, Dave had led some Adventure Cycling tours in the past, including portions of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Dave had just completed a one-year tour around the US with his female companion, who remained in the SUV and chatted with Carrie. Dave said he kept a journal on the Crazy Guy on a Bike website, so check it out.
Around 4:30pm a thunderstorm rolled through just as I finished making dinner. The storm brought in some cooler temperatures and a short-lived sprinkle. With Carrie’s knee subdued by Ibuprofen, we decided to climb Dollarhide Summit. After climbing the pass into Featherville, we were concerned that Dollarhide would also be painfully steep, so when we crossed the small bridge that indicates the start of the climb, we were happy to look up the road to see a mild grade going up.
The climb up Dollarhide was fantastic. It was cool and the evening light made the views spectacular. The descent on Dollarhide was also a blast. We cruised through a huge swath of freshly burnt forest on surprisingly smooth dirt.
By this time it was getting dark. We knew we wouldn’t make it to Ketchum, so we made camp at one of the many primitive campsites about seven miles from town. It was the first night we were encouraged to slip into our sleeping bags before calling it a night. The previous nights so far had been too warm. With the gurgling of the nearby creek providing a soothing white noise, it was a nice end to great day of riding. Thank you Carrie’s knee for allowing us to continue.
- Miles ridden: 53.5
- Climb of the day: Dollarhide Summit (FR 227); sandy; moderate effort; an even grade the whole way up; the descent was sandy but smooth; be careful of grading equipment because of recent fires and landslides.
- Notes: The steepest climbing occurs before turning right over the bridge to start the official Dollarhide Summit climb. About a mile before the bridge is a nice, shady, primitive campground with easy creek access. There are plenty of primitive campsites available between Dollarhide Summit and Ketchum.