Idaho Day Four: The Lochsa Lodge to Missoula, MT
Not sure where our next meal would come from, we decided to make it a good one and headed back to The Lochsa Lodge. Two lumberjack Benedicts later we were out to tackle the last 12 miles of the pass. We had been warned of the steepness ahead but found the rumours unfounded. Low traffic allowed us many stops for bug pictures while leaving the river and winding out of the watershed.
Finally the mountains broke and we headed to the Lolo Pass visitors center. Sipping free coffee, learning about the geology, and revisiting historical events; recovery set in. Suddenly three more cycle tourists pulled in and we dominated the entrance; a grumpy ranger came out instructing us to move. There we met Thane, Bobby, and their briefly observed companion. It was a quick information exchange before we began the hot descent into Lolo.
Sparse Ponderosa and the high whine of cicadas told us we had crossed to the dry side of the Bitterroots. Stopping briefly, Laura met a horse at Lolo hot springs. Continuing on, the drop turned to a mellow grade with temperatures rising. With little water and no shade we swooped into Lolo. The hellish expanse of boiling pavement and acrid exhaust drove us into the nearest casino.
Nevada déjà vu. We recuperated and prepared for the last 8 miles into Missoula with ice cream and French fries. We braved the scorching highway interrupted only by a box of canned food, pilfering supplies from the abandoned cache.
Rolling into the Miller's garden oasis slightly heat stroked, we quickly recovered in the shade and breeze. Ultimate refreshment awaited us at the Clark Fork river - we joined the Miller family bike caravan and followed Missoula trails to the natural water playground. The evening was topped with delicious antelope tacos.