North Shore Lodge to Ponderosa Campground

Carrie and I broke camp early so we could be first in line for breakfast at the North Shore Lodge. Since the lodge’s convenience foods consisted of not much more than ingredients for s’mores and some candy bars, we were planning to rely on a hearty breakfast to fuel us for the day. And fuel us it did. I downed a large stack of pancakes with blueberry sauce, whipped cream, and syrup, with a side of two eggs and hashed browns. Carrie got the same, including all of my bacon. Carrie probably ate about 1000 calories in bacon alone!

Our supplies purchased from the North Shore Lodge are calorie-dense but nutrionally-empty.
Our supplies purchased from the North Shore Lodge are calorie-dense but nutrionally-empty.

While we waited for the lodge to open, a quick thunderstorm rolled through, dropping buckets of rain in short order. Jay, Harry, and Vicki happened to still be breaking camp, so their tents got a good rinse just before they were able to pack them up.

After breakfast, the five of us began our ride north. We were a regular bikepacking peloton, or perhaps since we were in Idaho, a regular bikepacking posse, the Idaho Posse. The day’s ride from the North Shore Lodge to the Ponderosa Campground was almost entirely downhill on pavement. Yes, that’s right. In the middle of nowhere, Idaho, there’s a paved road that runs from the Warm Lake Summit to about 45 miles north. On either end it connects with dirt roads. It’s like an oasis in the desert. This wonderful road also runs by beautiful rivers and possibly the nicest hot spring in Idaho.

At the Mile 16 Hot Spring, Jay, Harry, and Carrie alternate between the hot pool and the cool river.
At the Mile 16 Hot Spring, Jay, Harry, and Carrie alternate between the hot pool and the cool river.

The Idaho Posse decided to stop by the Mile 16 hot spring for a midday soak because Harry had been told it was top notch. Although it was a fairly warm day, we were eager to experience this hot spring. When we found it we were not disappointed. The hot spring is fed with a metal pipe that pops out of the cliff face, the hot water splashing on some rocks before entering a rock and mortar pool about 2 feet deep and big enough for 6 people. The pool was built just above the South Fork of the Salmon River, so it’s easy to hop into the river to cool off and then to hop right back into the hot spring for another soak. It can’t get better than this.

While we were enjoying the hot spring, another couple showed up. The guy approached me and shook my hand like he knew me. It took a minute but then I remembered him. It was Dave and his female friend, don’t remember her name, whom we met just before we were headed up Dollarhide Summit. Dave offered us all beers, which we gladly accepted, and then the merriment ensued.

Eventually it was time for the Idaho Posse to roll on down the road. We said goodbye to Dave and his friend and continued our lovely, paved descent to Ponderosa Campground. Once at the campground, we met up with Jean, Vicki’s boyfriend, who had driven to the campground in his truck, loaded with food. Jean had turned his campsite into a luxury outdoor patio, complete with tablecloth, tarp roof, and a cooler full of beer and fresh food.

That night we chowed down on a delicious meal and met a solo cyclist named Thaddeus, who had been riding on forest roads from Denver. We all shared stories from previous trips, and in general, had a great time chatting. Although we did end up traveling about 40 miles, this day definitely felt like a rest day.

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